SAN DIEGO — The Arizona Cardinals have to cut their roster to 53 players no later than Saturday.
A lackluster 12-9 loss to San Diego in the exhibition finale on Thursday night, in which the starters sat out, will help coach Bruce Arians decide which backups stay and which get cut.
"I was pleased with a couple and very disturbed with some others," Arians said. "They made the choices easy."
In a scheduling rarity, the teams will play again at Glendale in the season opener on Sept. 8 in the second half of a Monday Night Football doubleheader.
Both teams rested their starters, leaving backups to compete for roster spots.
Arians said rookie safety Deone Bucannon is "more than ready to play. He knows his job. I wanted to get him out there as soon as I could."
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, signed Wednesday after being cut by New England, was in for 15 plays.
"He got a little push in the middle," Arians said. "It looked like getting off the boat he did pretty good."
Trips inside the 20-yard line were rare and neither team scored a touchdown, leaving the field goal kickers to fight it out. The Chargers did get to the Arizona 6 in the closing minutes, but third-string quarterback Brad Sorensen took a knee on three straight snaps.
San Diego's Nick Novak was good from 35, 39, 55 and 37 yards.
Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro kicked field goals of 42, 38 and 35 yards.
Leading 9-3, the Chargers went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with 2 seconds left in the first half, but Kellen Clemens' pass to Dontrelle Inman was intercepted by Jimmy Legree, who returned it 68 yards before being dragged down on a horse-collar tackle by Inman.
That gave Arizona the ball at the San Diego 20 and Catanzaro kicked a 38-yarder to pull within three.
San Diego's Torrence Allen fumbled the second half kickoff and Arizona's Jalen Parmale recovered, setting up Catanzaro's tying 35-yard field goal.
Chargers rookie Tevin Reese had a rough game with several drops. He also fumbled in the third quarter, but center Khalil Wilkes recovered and Novak kicked a go-ahead, 37-yard field goal on the next play.
Arizona rookie quarterback Logan Thomas played the whole game. He completed 9 of 21 passes for 73 yards. He was intercepted by rookie Alden Darby in the closing minutes, giving the Chargers the ball on the Arizona 17.
"They played great defense and there were some things here and there that I could have done better personally, but I've just got to watch the tape and learn from it," Thomas said.
Thomas was "just very, very average," Arians said. "You can't take a sack at the 1-yard line. Either throw it away or get it to the check-down. It was a good learning experience for him."
Clemens, San Diego's backup quarterback, was 14 of 25 for 158 yards.
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