Though none hope to go, for now, a league-best seven Raiders have been selected for the pro bowl and seven more have been named alternates.
Quarterback Derek Carr, receiver Amari Cooper, center Rodney Hudson, guard Kelechi Osemele, tackle Donald Penn, defensive lineman Khalil Mack and safety Reggie Nelson create the largest class of Raiders selected to the game since 1991.
Serving as alternates are receiver Michael Crabtree, guard Gabe Jackson, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, punter Marquette King, along with running backs Latavius Murray, Jamize Olawale and Jalen Richard.
Of the selections, Hudson said:
“Guys put in a lot of work. A lot of work to stay together, stay focused week to week, day-to-day, and just lean on each other. Not only us, but the team. It takes a whole group to put together good performances. We just stayed focused day-to-day and worked hard and lean on each other.”
If the Raiders aren’t playing deep into the playoffs, there’s a reasonable chance that four of their offensive linemen will be starting in the game, to which Osemele said:
“That’s crazy. Obviously, we’re focused on trying to win a Super Bowl, so hopefully we’re not playing in this game. Just the fact that you have seven guys on the same team, that just kind of shows you the work that we’ve put in from OTAs on forward. It’s been awesome.”
Carr will likely serve as the face of the seven, as quarterbacks generally do, but there’s no doubting that most of the selected players are quickly becoming household names, evidenced by the fact that Oakland had more players selected than any other team.
Behind the towering and powerful offensive line, Carr has completed 65.3 percent of his passes, for 3,705 yards and 25 touchdowns. Osemele said:
“Oh man, he’s been phenomenal since the start of the season, for a while now for the last couple years. For him being such a young quarterback and already showing the type of leadership that he shows just kind of shows you the amount of growth that he’s had and kind of like the sky’s the limit for the dude. You give him time to throw and he’s the type of dude that’s going to carry you to the ship.”
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.