Chargers make noise by cutting veteran safety

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

The San Diego Chargers indicated at the beginning of their bye week last week that there wouldn’t be any bombshells, a la the firing of defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell last season.

However, on the first day of the team’s preparation for their first game after the bye -- Monday night at home against first-place Denver -- the Chargers made some noise by releasing starting safety Clinton Hart. Cutting a starter during the season has to be considered a blockbuster.

The release of Hart, though, was considered several months too late by many observers. Hart wasn’t very good last season and the Chargers considered replacing him in the offseason. One of the few free agents San Diego pursued was safety Jermaine Phillips.

It looks like rookie Kevin Ellison will get a crack at replacing Hart, who struggled in coverage situations. Ellison is a hard hitter, who San Diego drafted out of USC in the sixth round.

The team started to believe Ellison had starter’s potential in training camp and the team had hoped Ellison would be ready to compete for a starting job in mid-season. His progression helped expedite the decision on Hart. Steve Gregory will likely also be called on and could play in nickel situations if Ellison is the starter.

The Chargers re-signed defensive tackle Ian Scott to replace Hart on the roster. The Chargers are still trying to find the right mix on the line in the aftermath of losing Jamal Williams for the season with a triceps injury.