Chargers' 53-man roster projection has Mike Williams on PUP list

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers must cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.

The Chargers get some help on the decision-making process in this final roster projection by placing rookie receiver Mike Williams on the physically unable to perform list for the regular season.

The former Clemson star has been dealing with a lower back disc herniation since suffering the injury during rookie minicamp in May and did not participate in training camp. If he begins the regular season on the PUP list, Williams will not be available for the Chargers until Week 7 at the earliest.

The Chargers will also be without defensive end Tenny Palepoi for a week as he finishes serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Center Max Tuerk also will miss the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on PEDs.

Here’s a final 53-man roster projection for the Chargers:

QUARTERBACK (3): Philip Rivers, Kellen Clemens, Cardale Jones

The Chargers have not carried three quarterbacks on the active roster since drafting Brad Sorensen in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. Jones has good physical tools and appears to be progressing in the offense, so he could be worth the roster spot. Mike Bercovici could stick as a practice-squad candidate if he doesn’t make the active roster over Jones.

RUNNING BACK (4): Melvin Gordon, Branden Oliver, Andre Williams, Kenjon Barner

Barner is listed as the team’s starting kick returner, so he gets the roster spot here as the team’s fourth running back. Undrafted rookie Austin Ekeler flashed during training camp and in preseason games. He could be a practice-squad candidate.

FULLBACK (1): Derek Watt

The Chargers haven’t run two-running back sets very much during exhibition play, but Watt also contributes in special teams and continues to improve as a lead blocker for Gordon.

WIDE RECEIVER (5): Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman, Geremy Davis

Wide receiver is one of the deepest position groups for the Chargers if everyone stays healthy. Isaiah Burse and Jamaal Jones are potential practice-squad candidates if they do not make the active roster.

TIGHT END (4): Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Sean Culkin, Jeff Cumberland

With the production of Culkin as a movement tight end and run blocker, Sean McGrath is the odd man out because of his inability to recover from a knee injury in time to get back on the field. Cumberland flashed playmaking ability early on during training camp, and gets the roster spot once he returns from a hamstring injury.

OFFENSiVE LINE (8): Russell Okung, Matt Slauson, Spencer Pulley, Kenny Wiggins, Joe Barksdale, Dan Feeney, Chris Hairston, Tyreek Burwell.

Only kept eight here because I thought the Chargers could have a better shot getting Brett Boyko through waivers than one of the team’s young, talented defensive players. The Chargers could use more depth here, particularly with Tuerk starting the season on the suspended list. Donavon Clark and Sam Tevi are practice-squad candidates.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8): Joey Bosa, Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Melvin Ingram, Damion Square, Jeremiah Attaochu, Chris McCain, Darius Philon

Seventh-rounder Isaac Rochell has flashed and deserves consideration, along with nose tackle Ryan Carrethers. Caraun Reid also played well last season before his knee injury. The Chargers have some depth here at defensive line.

LINEBACKER (7): Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown, Kyle Emanuel, Korey Toomer, Nigel Harris, Nick Dzubnar, James Onwualu

Depending on his time table for recovery, Perryman could be placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list, freeing up a roster spot. Joshua Perry is a good special-teams player and could carve out a role here.

CORNERBACK (4): Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Craig Mager

Undrafted rookie Michael Davis had a solid training camp but struggled in games. And Trovon Reed is a playmaker when healthy, but remained unavailable most of training camp with a hip pointer.

SAFETY (6): Jahleel Addae, Dwight Lowery, Tre’ Boston, Desmond King, Dexter McCoil, Adrian Phillips

Keeping six safeties is more than usual, but they all play special teams and King also can play corner in a pinch. A fourth-round pick, the Chargers could choose to find room for Rayshawn Jenkins, whose play has been uneven during the preseason.

SPECIALISTS (3): Josh Lambo, Drew Kaser, Mike Windt

Lambo and Kaser were more focused and benefitting from the competition from Younghoe Koo and Toby Baker during offseason work and in training camp. Windt is a pro’s pro and steadying influence for the specialist group.