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And then there were 53; Chargers complete roster

SAN DIEGO – The reality of the 2012 Chargers’ season has begun for head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith following Friday’s announcement of their 53-man roster. 

On Friday teams throughout the NFL had to reduce their rosters to 53 players by 6 p.m. P.S.T. in preparation for the regular season. By the deadline, the Chargers cut 21 players, just one day after their loss to the 49ers in San Francisco in the final preseason game, a loss that Turner had described as “disappointing.”

The cuts were dispersed almost evenly between the offense and defense with 10 players from the offensive side being released and 11 being released from the defensive side. Safety Sean Cattouse was put on the reserve-injured list to round out the final 53 players from the previous 75-man roster.

“To me we’ve been able to put together a complete roster,” Turner said, describing it as “balanced,” and having a “good mix of new players to the Chargers organization whether they be draft picks or free agents.”

But even in saying that, Turner said that he was sure they’d be looking at players over the next couple of weeks and that there are “possible additions or changes to the roster.” Areas he said that the team would continue to look at include the cornerback spot (the roster currently includes veterans Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer and second-year players Shareece Wright and Marcus Gilchrist), and on the offensive line.

Among some of the more notable players released were 10-year veteran defensive end Jacques Cesaire, full back Jacob Hester and kicker Nick Novak, who filled in last season for the injured Nate Kaeding.

Still, Turner said he was excited about the roster they’ve put together.

Whether those players earning a position on the team hold the fates of their head coach and general manager in their hands remains to be seen.

Following the anomaly of a fast start last season going 4-1, the subsequent six-game losing streak and missing out on the playoffs for the second straight year, the frustrated fan base was vehemently calling for the dismissal of both Turner and Smith.

Dean Spanos, chairman of the board and president opted to keep Turner and Smith in their respective roles.

Turner’s contract runs through 2013; Smith is signed through 2014.

This season Turner and Smith look to reach milestones in their careers – with one more win, Turner will tie John Madden at 112 wins for 33rd most in the NFL; and with two more wins, Smith will become the winningest general manager in Chargers history.

The Chargers open the season in Oakland against the Raiders on Monday Night Football Sept. 10.