Raiders still have roster questions after preseason
Nobody stood out. At least for the right reasons.
The Oakland Raiders concluded their preseason with more questions than answers Thursday night. Which is a rough thing since final cuts are due Saturday afternoon, and coach Jack Del Rio will convene with general manager Reggie McKenzie and scratch their heads plenty.
Many of the players had their spots solidified — probably around 45 or 50 men were making this team regardless of what happened when the Raiders played the Seahawks.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington dueled for the backup running back spot, and neither impressed. The tandem combined for 21 yards on 10 first half carries, with Richard proving to be the more efficient rookie.
Neither were stellar, though, and the Raiders’ questions at the position remain. A new one emerged, though: who will be the backup quarterback?
Both candidates, Matt McGloin and Connor Cook, underwhelmed with poor decision-making and indecisiveness, along with accuracy issues. Neither did much to wow the relatively packed Oakland Coliseum — not full, but not nearly as empty as a preseason stadium could be.
Del Rio said:
“Some good, some bad. It was a great opportunity for him to learn, and he’s really done a nice job growing as a young quarterback. The game is not too big for him and he showed some mobility tonight, which is real nice. Extended some plays and made some plays on the bootleg.”
“I wasn’t really that happy with my performance. There were some good things, some bad things. But, you know, it’s a learning experience. It’s preseason. It’s my first season in the NFL, so as long as I don’t make the same mistake twice, learn from it, improve from there, that’s all you can ask for.”
Cook threw a terrible fourth quarter interception that was returned for six points by Seattle linebacker Ryan Robinson. There might have been more if not for the outstretched hands of hungry receivers.
The Raiders must choose three of seven offensive linemen to keep as backups. Austin Howard, Vadal Alexander, Hon Feliciano and Matt McCants are the names to know — there’s a good chance that one of the three won’t be on the team Sunday, while offensive linemen Mitch Bell, Denver Kirkland and Oni Omoile are almost certain to be released.
The Raiders could theoretically roster nine offensive linemen, and have done so before, but it’s less likely the team will do that with established depth and needs elsewhere on the roster.
Perhaps the toughest decision will be whether to roster five or six receivers, with Johnny Holton entrenched as the fifth wide out on the depth chart, but K.J. Brent making a strong case for a roster spot. It’s not unforeseeable that a receiver needy team put in a waiver claim for Brent, should the Raiders cut ties with the rookie.
Del Rio said:
“Usually when you get as much tape as we have on these guys, it’s become apparent who’s earned a right top be here and who maybe needs a little time on the practice squad and who’s going to have to take a shot somewhere else, perhaps. We have a lot of good tape to look at to finish that evaluation and we look forward to doing that.”
Third-year defensive back Keith McGill entered the day listed third at safety on the unofficial depth chart, and though he has more playing time than any other bubble player on the Raiders’ roster, might not be with Oakland Saturday evening.
McGill switched from cornerback to safety full-time, and while he has size (6-foot-3, 210 lbs), the writing — like being listed as a third stringer — is on the wall. McGill was used as an upback — the lead blocker on punt returns — during the fourth quarter, and looked good for that play.
He is a player who can make real contributions, and someone who the coaches are likely having trouble figuring out what to do with — even if he’s a few years older (27) than other guys.
Sorry, George, pro football is not your game. George Atkinson III, son of the Raiders great with the same name, is not making the roster. He has speed, but his lack of ball security was on display, again, Thursday night.
Defensive backs Kenneth Durden, Antonio Hamilton and Nieko Thorpe seem unlikely to make the team. Same goes for linebackers Kyrie Wilson and Daren Bates, along with defensive linemen Drew Iddings, Branden Jackson and Greg Townsend Jr.
Receivers Marvin Hall and Jaydon Mickens will also need to find work elsewhere.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Raiders football.