COSTA MESA — Mike Bercovici is hoping to tell a different story.
A year ago, he was an undersized Chargers rookie trying to earn a roster spot – a rarity for quarterbacks who didn’t hear their names called in the NFL draft. Featured on NFL Network’s “Undrafted,” the former Arizona State star shared his summer journey, one that saw him play 95 snaps through four exhibition appearances.
He survived the first roster cut, outlasting former sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger. He threw his first professional touchdown pass, a 17-yard strike to Isaiah Burse, and totaled nearly 300 preseason yards.
And he found out it wasn’t enough — not even for a spot on the practice squad.
“It’ll go down as one of the worst football days of my life,” he told NFL Network after being waived.
So this is Round 2 for the 24-year-old who once starred at Taft High, less than 35 miles from the Chargers’ new home stadium. After a few fruitless workouts last fall, he re-signed with the team in January.
“It just kind of keeps you more motivated,” he said this week. “Keeps your eye on the prize.”
Like last year, he will end his preseason against the 49ers.
Bercovici is exiting August without significant buzz. He might be in line for a larger workload at Levi’s Stadium, where the Chargers will kick off on Thursday at 7 p.m., but that’s mostly relative. The 6-foot, 204-pound quarterback has played just 26 snaps this month, all of which have come in fourth quarters. He has not run particularly hot or cold, competing 60 percent of his passes for 111 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions.
But he is facing more competition. The Chargers are likely near a decision on whether to keep or cut veteran backup Kellen Clemens, who fended off Bercovici a year ago. Clemens did not appear in last Saturday’s win over the Rams, and will likely remain on the bench again this week. But even if the 34-year-old sits, Coach Anthony Lynn plans to start former fourth-round pick Cardale Jones – whom he also coached in Buffalo.
Not that that’s bothering Bercovici. Working with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for a second straight offseason has allowed him to grasp more of the playbook, something that has helped him “feel a lot more like a leader” when he takes the field. He’s hoping to reach the end zone this Thursday, but otherwise, isn’t overthinking his chances for the cut-down deadline this Saturday.
“When that day comes, I just hope I’ve put…