SAN DIEGO -- Backup A.J. Feeley was waived Monday by the San Diego Chargers, whose remaining three quarterbacks have zero NFL starts and one touchdown pass among them.
The Chargers also released two draft picks and learned they'll be without left tackle Roman Oben for the season's first six weeks. As it is, the Chargers are currently down to fourth-string left tackle Cory Lekkerkerker as they try to keep first-year starting quarterback Philip Rivers in one piece. Rivers' backups are both rookies.
Inside linebacker Donnie Edwards, on the trading block since spring, returned to practice after being sidelined for several weeks with a back injury.
Coach Marty Schottenheimer shrugged off his quarterbacks' lack of experience.
"We feel very, very confident about our starting quarterback," he said.
Feeley had been second on the depth chart behind Rivers, but was outplayed in training camp by rookie Charlie Whitehurst.
"That's why we took the guy in the third round," general manager A.J. Smith said. "He's pretty talented. We gave him an opportunity and they had quite a battle.
"It's kind of more about Charlie Whitehurst than it is about A.J.," Smith added. "Charlie had a solid camp and he's getting better every day. He's had a fast development. This gives A.J. an opportunity to make a mad dash and see if he can get a job."
Feeley was obtained along with a sixth-round draft pick for quarterback Cleo Lemon on Oct. 18. As the Chargers' third quarterback, he never took a snap. Feeley previously played for Philadelphia and Miami, starting 13 of 18 games.
Rivers, a third-year pro, is due to make his first NFL start on Sept. 11 at Oakland. Next on the depth chart are Whitehurst and Brett Elliott. Whitehurst started 40 games at Clemson, winning 25. Elliott was a starter at Utah, broke his wrist and was replaced by Alex Smith, which led him to finish his college career at Division III Linfield College.
While backing up Drew Brees the last two years, Rivers threw 30 passes, one for a touchdown. Brees hurt his right shoulder in the season finale and signed as a free agent with New Orleans.
Rivers has looked both sharp and awful in three exhibition games. He fumbled three times Saturday night against Seattle, including twice in the first four snaps. He also slightly bruised his throwing shoulder when he was sacked.
Schottenheimer said he would decide Monday night whether Rivers will play in the exhibition finale Friday night at San Francisco.
"If indeed the starters were to play, it would be a brief appearance," said Schottenheimer, who hinted that the backup running backs could get a ton of work. LaDainian Tomlinson won't play as a precaution against injury, and even his backup, Michael Turner, could get shut down early.
Keeping Rivers healthy will be paramount for the Chargers, who are trying to get back to the playoffs for the second time in 11 seasons.
"Left tackle is generally a very important cog in that pass protection," Schottenheimer said. "The problem for us, quite frankly is that we've got three of those guys who have been injured. We'll try to find a way to plug someone back in there. The odds-on favorite there is Cory Lekkerkerker."
Oben was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He missed the last eight games of 2005 with a foot injury that required two offseason operations.
"I was able to jog and able to do some stuff, but it just wasn't happening as fast as I would have liked," Oben said.
Marcus McNeill, a second-round draft pick, was scheduled to start against the Seahawks but broke a bone in his left hand in practice last week. Leander Jordan, who started the last eight games last year, sustained a shoulder stinger against the Seahawks.
While on the PUP list, Oben won't be able to practice with the team until after the sixth week. He can then begin practicing anytime during a three-week window, and may practice for a maximum of three weeks before the team must either add him to the active roster or have him finish the season on the reserve list.
Schottenheimer thinks Edwards will play Friday night.
"He looked a bit rusty, but he did find one interception. I don't know if he paid somebody to throw it to him or what," Schottenheimer joked after practice.
Edwards has been at odds with Smith over the player's request for a contract extension.
The Chargers also waived kicker Kurt Smith, a sixth-round draft choice, and offensive lineman Jimmy Martin, a seventh-rounder.