5 matchups to watch in Chargers’ preseason finale vs Saints

·3 min read

The Chargers wrap up their preseason against the Saints.

With the roster taking shape, this will be the last stand for many players trying to make the team.

Here are five key matchups to watch Friday night:

Chargers EDGE Jamal Davis II vs. Saints OT Trevor Penning

Penning was the favorite choice of many a Chargers fan leading up to April’s draft because of his ability to play right tackle, but LA ended up going with Zion Johnson. Penning is now at left tackle in New Orleans, where he’s been the second-highest graded offensive player on the team through two preseason games. Davis, meanwhile, is still fighting for a roster spot in an EDGE room that may or may not carry four dedicated players with Kyle Van Noy’s role unclear. The stakes will be slightly higher as Davis and Chris Rumph will be out to prove their teammate was the right choice over Penning.

Chargers IOL Ryan Hunter vs. Saints DT Malcolm Roach

Both Hunter and Roach will be fighting for their football lives on Friday. For Hunter, he’s out to prove he’s worth a roster spot over the likes of Will Clapp and Brenden Jaimes. All three have had an up-and-down offseason. Roach is attempting to fend off rookies Jordan Jackson and Josh Black to retain his spot on the Saints. The winner of this battle, likely to take place deep into the game, could cement a place on the 53. The loser could be hoping for waivers to be favorable to them.

Chargers CB Ja’Sir Taylor vs. Saints WR Chris Olave

Rookie on rookie here, as Taylor has been the starting slot corner this preseason with Bryce Callahan getting his veteran rest. Olave, meanwhile, has rotated between the outside and in the slot. The Southern California native was another popular choice for the Chargers’ first-round pick and has lived up to the billing thus far. Taylor likely has a roster spot secured, especially with the injuries piling up at cornerback, but holding his own against Olave will undoubtedly help.

Chargers RB Joshua Kelley vs. Saints LB Kaden Elliss

Elliss has been the Saints’ best defender this preseason, per PFF, and is tied for the third-most defensive stops on the team. He’ll be the primary backer tasked with handling Joshua Kelley, who will be looking to bounce back from a poor performance against the Cowboys. A lot of the struggles as a rusher can be chalked up to subpar blocking, but Kelley also dropped his only target. With Isaiah Spiller nursing an ankle injury, Kelley has a shot to firm up his role as RB2 to start the season with a good performance.

Chargers WR Michael Bandy vs. Saints CB DaMarcus Fields

Fields is the closest allegory to Bandy on the Saints’ defense, as the UDFA has played more than 100 snaps this preseason while looking like a potentially solid depth piece at corner. Bandy has been the star of LA’s preseason, hauling in 15 receptions for 142 yards and 2 TDs in two games. Both he and Fields are battling for roster spots that may not even exist – Bandy is LA’s WR6, while Fields is NOLA’s fifth corner. However, a strong performance from either of them against the other could force their respective team to keep them rather than risk waivers.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire