Chargers Preseason Week 2: Who Is On The Hot Seat After The Loss Against Saints?

Which players should be worried after the Chargers preseason loss to the Saints?

In the second Chargers preseason game, they lost to the Saints 22-17. Here are the players who really need to step up in the last preseason game to have a chance of making the 53-man roster:

Chargers Preseason Watchlist

  1. Left Tackle Austen Pleasants

Pleasants didn’t have the best game on Sunday. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed one sack, one hit, two hurries, and the most quarterback pressures of the team with four. His pass-blocking grade was the fourth lowest of the offense. The sack allowed actually led to a fumble which was recovered by Saints defensive tackle Bryan Bresee. The turnover started the first touchdown drive for the Saints during the second quarter. Pleasants hasn’t looked solid on pocket protection, so fingers crossed that changes for the next Chargers preseason game.

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers
Aug 20, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver John Hightower (84) makes a catch in front of New Orleans Saints safety Jordan Howden (31) during the third quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Wide Receiver John Hightower

I was singing Hightower’s praises a few weeks ago, but after an injury, he sat out for several practices, including the last preseason game. And on Sunday, he didn’t make much of an impact. Granted, some of Easton Stick‘s throws were not great. For instance, the deep shot during the second drive of the game when Hightower was in double coverage.

On the reception he had, Hightower got a first down, and the play after, Stick had his longest rush of the game of 21 yards to get inside the 25. Stick got a touchdown a few plays later. So Hightower’s first down was a big deal, but out of the five targets he had, he only made one reception. He’s certainly been playing at a very high level during camp, but with a wide receiver room this full, he’ll need this next Chargers preseason game to gain a spot.

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Quarterback, Max Duggan

Duggan didn’t get any snaps at all on Sunday as Stick played the entire Chargers preseason game. During his post-game press conference, Brandon Staley said they did that because they wanted to give Stick the work and that he needed to play in a game like this. Duggan’s been doing okay in training camp and looked like a typical rookie last week in his NFL debut. We’re probably going to see him in this Friday’s game, but the fact that they didn’t put him in at all seems to say something about his abilities. Maybe he’s not progressing the way he should.

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Defensive Lineman Jerrod Clark

Clark missed Jameis Winston on a tackle during the first quarter, and then on a 3rd and 10 during the second, he wasn’t able to catch Winston as he scrambled out of the pocket. During that second miss, he was held by offensive lineman Nick Saldiveri, and a holding penalty was called. Still, despite the penalty, Clark ultimately looked like he couldn’t keep up with the quarterback. He did have three STOPs this game and last, which is promising, but the fact that his tackling grade was 30 for this matchup and the previous one is concerning for a possible backup.

  1. Kicker Dustin Hopkins

Hopkins was back in training camp action last week and split some of the kicking responsibilities with Cameron Dicker on Sunday night. Both made their extra points attempted and Hopkins got a 25-yard field goal during the second quarter of the game. Is it too little too late for Hopkins? Staley said last week and this week that they’re still making a decision, but Dicker has had so much time in camp and played the entire last preseason game. So does Hopkins realistically still have a shot? These next few days and this next game will tell, but it looks like Dicker has a big advantage.