The Chargers signed defensive end Ben Gardner to the practice squad, according to Michael Gehlken of The San Diego Union-Tribune. Gardner, 24, spent this offseason training with the Cowboys. Entering his second season with an NFL squad, he has yet to play a regular-season game in the league. He played his college ball at Stanford.
In a corresponding move, the team released linebacker Ryan Mueller from the practice squad. The undrafted rookie free agent out of Kansas State barely missed the cut for the team’s opening-day 53-man roster, being cut on the final day in which teams had to reduce their rosters to the regular season totals.
Mueller finished in the top-5 of the defense in preseason tackles.
The Chargers most likely added Gardner to provide depth along the defensive line due to Corey Liuget leaving Sunday’s loss to Baltimore in a walking boot. Although Gardner is currently on the practice squad, adding him as a back-up plan and getting him acclimated to the playbook makes sense.
Due to having only five draft picks this year, the Chargers added 20 undrafted free agents to bring their roster total to the 90-man maximum (It was 21 but the team released Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt when they signed Chase Rettig). Historically, they have had great success finding key contributors in undrafted free agent rookies. Names like Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Kris Dielman immediately stand out. You can even throw in players like Jahleel Addae and Branden Oliver. Both are younger players, but they have been key contributors in their short careers.
In part one of this two-part look at the undrafted free agents signed by the Bolts, there is a list of the 20 undrafted rookie free agents acquired by the team. The second part will highlight some of the signees that will have a good shot at making the team as a member of the practice squad or the 53-man roster.