SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers cut their roster to the maximum 53 before the NFL's deadline on Saturday, releasing 27 players from their preseason squad.
"I'm excited about the makeup of our football team," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "I think we have a good mix of veteran players and young talent that can grow together."
Rookie quarterback Scott Tolzien was also released after a productive preseason, but the team hopes he clears waivers and can be added to the practice squad.
Among the players to make the cut is veteran inside linebacker Stephen Cooper, who has continued playing despite a torn biceps tendon that will require surgery.
Outside linebacker Darryl Gamble is the only undrafted free agent to make the squad, earning a roster spot with a productive preseason where he played the majority of snaps because of injury to veterans. Even after a solid preseason, Gamble wasn't sure if he'd have a job.
"I spent the entire practice thinking this might be my day," he said. "It was strange because they don't say anything to you and you feel like your name could get called at any moment. Thankfully, mine didn't."
Turner said he felt for the rookies trying to earn a roster spot without the luxury of an offseason training program, which was lost due to the NFL lockout.
"I felt bad for the young players because they didn't have May and June to get ready for training camp that guys have had in years past," Turner said. "This year more than any, there will be guys that get cut that end up being really productive in this league. We did what we had to do, which was pick the best players for our team right now."
The team also signed linebacker Na'il Diggs, a 12th-year veteran with 139 NFL starts, most recently with the St. Louis Rams. He will play inside linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4 defensive scheme, adding experience to a young group of linebackers.
The team will add eight players to its practice squad on Sunday after players have had a chance to clear waivers.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press