Every year I attempt to tell you who will be on the final 53-man roster, and this year is no exception. In spite of the Raiders playing in the final preseason game of the year, I’ll still be able to squeeze this out before those cuts are made. This year it is harder than previous years because there are so many young players on this team, so the team’s instinct would be to keep them and try to develop them even if there is a decent veteran playing behind them. The last thing you want is for another team to swoop in and sign somebody from your practice squad after you worked to progress them all through training camp. Without further ado, here we go.
The Raiders were smart not to play Terrelle Pryor in this game. When week six rolls around, he could be pushing Edwards out of town, but without teams having any tape to evaluate there is more of a chance that nobody will sign him if he is delegated to the practice squad this year. To be honest, Hue Jackson seems more annoyed than happy about the situation.
Running Backs (4)
No surprises here, but Michael Bennett and Louis Rankin will be on speed dial if there is an injury. Cartwright is a special teams ace and is not going anywhere.
Manase Tonga will be on the practice squad for another year, but will be ready to be called up if needed.
Wide Receivers (6)
This is without a doubt one of the hardest cuts to make this year because guys like Nick Miller and Shaun Bodiford actually showed up to play this year in the preseason. Ideally you would like to keep only five guys at this position, but that injury to Louis Murphy in addition to keeping the oft-injured but effective Schilens makes that more difficult.
Tight Ends (3)
Richard Gordon proved he is worthy of a spot on this roster in the preseason, so I would not be surprised at all if the Raiders dropped Brandon Myers and went with two rookies here. But for now, I’m putting Myers in there based on the fact that he is going into his third season and Gordon is practice squad eligible.
Offensive Line (9)
Here is a spot where I almost like the depth more than the starters. But to a man, Carlisle and Satele both proved they are the Raiders’ best offensive lineman this preseason, and the starters kept Jason Campbell clean and upright for most of the preseason. Don’t be surprised if Wisniewski takes over for Loper and Barnes is replaced by Heyer at some point this year.
Offensive Unit: 26 players
Defensive Line (8)
Basically the same unit as 2010 but with one more back-up defensive end who earned his keep in the absence of Scott. No shockers here.
Bruce Davis II
It’s pretty clear cut who the defensive front seven consists of even if there is injury. Sam Williams is another special teams ace who is not going to be parted with yet. Blackstock is a developmental player who has shown potential in preseason. Davis is probably the most well rounded back-up in this unit.
With the loss of Hiram Eugene earlier this preseason, Boyd and Brown are almost shoe-ins to make this team in 2011. Boyd has been playing that rover position that was occupied by the injured Mike Mitchell.
Demarcus Van Dyke
If Jeremy Ware makes the roster over Sterling Moore, it is tragic. Moore may actually be better than Van Dyke, but he won’t get that nickel cornerback position over the guy Al Davis drafted. The coaching staff has already invested a lot of time into making the DVD experiment work out this preseason. The poor guy has been made to look bad though, against some really talented receivers. Also keep in mind that Huff and Branch will move to cornerback if they are needed there.
Defensive Unit: 24 players
Special Teams (3)
Punter – Shane Lechler
Kicker – Sebastian Janikowski
Long Snapper -Jon Condo
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