Eldra Buckley (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images Sport)
The San Diego Chargers have announced their eight-player practice squad, bringing back seven of training camp’s most impressive undrafted rookies and one three-year veteran who has bounced between NFL practice squads and NFL Europa.
The 2007 practice squad consists of defensive linemen Andre Coleman, Keith Grennan and Louis Leonard; linebackers Jyles Tucker and Nick Roach; safety Tra Battle; running back Eldra Buckley and offensive tackle Tony Pape.
Pape is the only non-rookie in the bunch. The former Michigan standout was a seventh-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2004. He spent two years on the Dolphins practice squad and also played for the Berlin Thunder. No word on whether his practice squad invite was a sympathetic move following his alma mater’s defeat to Appalachian State.
There is no surprise that the team brought back five players to the defensive front seven, as that was where training camp’s most heated battles took place. Nick Roach was only overtaken by Brandon Siler during the final week of the preseason. Also, Jyles Tucker fought Marques Harris down to the wire.
Coleman would have made the team over Derreck Robinson had the team kept seven defensive linemen. Leonard was unable to challenge Brandon McKinney but has equally impressive size (6-foot-4, 330 lbs.) and impressed coaches by staying late after practices to refine his techniques. Grennan stuck because of his high motor and ability to hold ground at the point of attack.
Buckley benefited from the toe injury to Germaine Race. Had Race stayed healthy, he would be on the practice squad instead of Buckley. Nonetheless, Buckley impressed in the preseason finale by carrying 18 times for 56 yards and adding a 10-yard reception.
The practice squad is the first place the Chargers look for injury replacements, giving these players a chance to get called up midseason. Last year, McKinney and Steve Gregory started out on the practice squad before being called up. Both made the team again this season.
The practice squad is also a great vehicle for players to fine-tune their skills in preparation for a roster push the following year. Jeromey Clary spent last season on the practice squad before breaking through and winning a job on the active roster.
Lightning Quicks: Two players waived by the Chargers this weekend quickly landed on their feet. Greg Camarillo and Cory Lekkerkerker both signed with the Dolphins, reuniting for their former offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron. The Dolphins offense also features former Chargers Jesse Chatman, Justin Peelle and Cleo Lemon. Additionally, Chase Page, a seventh-round pick of the Chargers in 2006, won a spot on the Dolphins defensive line.