Charger surprise by keeping two undrafted free agents

The Chargers waived 35 players Tuesday to reach the NFL-mandated 53-man roster limit.

They will begin assembling their practice squad, which can include up to 17 players including international pathway participant CJ Okoye, on Wednesday.

A breakdown of the opening roster after general manager Tom Telesco met with the media late Tuesday afternoon:

Quarterback (2): Justin Herbert, Easton Stick.

Max Duggan, selected in the seventh round at No. 239 overall in April, was among the team’s cuts. The expectation is that the Chargers will bring him back on their practice squad.

Duggan didn’t receive a lot of opportunities in training camp and appeared in the first and third preseason games, showing some running ability in the second half against the Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

Chargers running back Elijah Dotson runs for one of two touchdowns against the Rams in a preseason game.

Chargers running back Elijah Dotson runs for one of two touchdowns against the Rams in a preseason game.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Running back (4): Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson.

The Chargers opted to keep a fourth running back in Dotson, an undrafted rookie who played at Northern Colorado. He emerged in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game with touchdowns runs of 37 and 40 yards against the Rams.

In practice immediately after that effort, Dotson began receiving additional opportunities and clearly did enough to impress the Chargers.

“He did everything you need to do — especially coming from where he came from — to make an impression on this football team,” Telesco said. “He came in and earned a spot.”

Fullback (1): Zander Horvath.

Wide receiver (5): Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer, Quentin Johnston, Derius Davis.

After much speculation that the Chargers would keep six wide receivers, they instead went with five, cutting both Keelan Doss and John Hightower.

The Chargers do have a sixth receiver in veteran Jalen Guyton, who will open the season on the physically unable to perform list and must miss at least the first four games.

Guyton is rehabilitating a knee injury and has begun working out lightly on his own during practice. Telesco did not want to put a time frame on Guyton’s return.

Tight end (4): Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr., Stone Smartt, Tre’ McKitty.

 Tackle Rashawn Slater (70) leads an offensive lineman drill.

Rashawn Slater (70) leads an offensive lineman drill. His return to left tackle after missing last season because of injury solidifies the Chargers line.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Offensive line (9): Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson, Corey Linsley, Jamaree Salyer, Trey Pipkins III, Will Clapp, Foster Sarell, Jordan McFadden, Brenden Jaimes.

Coach Brandon Staley frequently mentioned the name of Zack Bailey as one of the Chargers’ better reserves upfront, making it a bit surprising he was cut. Bailey played mostly guard in camp and has the ability to also move out to tackle.

The Chargers did keep Jaimes, who is more of a guard/center. Clapp figures to be the No. 2 center behind Linsley on game days.

Sarell, who started three times last season when Pipkins was out, will be the swing tackle.

The Chargers also have tackle flexibility with starting right guard Jamaree Salyer and reserve rookie Jordan McFadden.

“We think it’s a pretty deep group to start with,” Telesco said. “Hopefully, it stays that way throughout the year.”

Defensive line (6): Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Morgan Fox, Nick Williams, Scott Matlock, Christopher Hinton.

The Chargers have a second player — defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia — who will start the season on the PUP list. As with Guyton, Ogbonnia is coming off a significant knee injury. Telesco also offered no timetable for his return.

Edge rusher (4): Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Tuli Tuipulotu, Chris Rumph II.

Linebacker (5): Eric Kendricks, Kenneth Murray Jr., Amen Ogbongbemiga, Nick Niemann, Daiyan Henley.

Cornerback (5): J.C. Jackson, Michael Davis, Asante Samuel Jr., Ja’Sir Taylor, Deane Leonard.

Safety (5): Derwin James Jr., Alohi Gilman, JT Woods, Raheem Layne, AJ Finley.

Probably the most surprising decision by the Chargers was Finley making the opening roster. He and Dotson were the two undrafted free agents to survive cut-down day. Coming out of Mississippi, Finley was one of the team’s busiest Chargers in the preseason, playing 76 snaps on defense and 41 on special teams.

“He’s very intelligent, picks up things quickly,” defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley said. “He’s tough, and he can run.”

Keeping Finley meant waiving 2021 seventh-round pick Mark Webb Jr. After appearing in seven games — mostly on special teams — as a rookie, Webb spent last season on the Chargers’ practice squad.

“It’s a pretty deep group among corners and safeties,” Telesco said when asked specifically about Web. “Just the nature of the business.”

Specialist (3): K Cameron Dicker, P JK Scott, LS Josh Harris.

Dicker’s consistency this summer plus his accuracy in the 2022 season — 19 of 20 on field goals, 22 of 22 on extra points — earned him the job over Dustin Hopkins, who was traded Monday to Cleveland.