In Tough For The Final 53

NFL writer Jerry McDonald

Posted by NFL Editor and ANG football writer Jerry McDonald
A few thoughts on some players the Raiders may watching very closely as the final cut down approaches:

  • WR Randal Williams. Has special teams experience with Dallas and has been a solid receiver ever since he arrived shortly after training camp began. Faces an uphill climb with roster spots already locked up by Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Ronald Curry, Doug Gabriel and Alvis WhittedÂ…with Johnnie Morant as a probable No. 6. Any chance of getting help at running back, in the secondary or a mid-range draft pick for Gabriel probably ended when he underwent surgery on his left hand.

  • RB Justin Fargas. He’ll probably stick because the Raiders are so thin at running back, but he’s nursing an injury again (a knee) and his play has been spotty. The only locks at running back are LaMont Jordan, Zack Crockett and Chris Hetherington. Oakland may be watching the waiver wire very closely on Saturday.
  • TE Teyo Johnson. Can’t believe they’d cut a former second-round draft pick, but he could be trade bait. Johnson is clearly not a favorite of coach Norv Turner. Turner routinely glosses over most of Courtney Anderson’s mistakes and seizes on the errors of Johnson. If Johnson were traded, Rickey Dudley could end up making the roster behind Anderson and Zeron Flemister.
  • LB Jay Foreman. Former starter in Houston looks to be on the bubble. The Raiders seem willing to move forward with the huge OLB duo of Grant Irons and Tyler Brayton, and can move rookie Kirk Morrison outside of they seek someone smaller or faster.
  • DT Kenny Smith. A veteran who suffered a knee injury at the worst time. Meanwhile, Ed Jasper has three sacks in three games and Antaj Hawthorne is an intriguing rookie.
  • DE Akbar Gbaja-Biamila. Hasn’t stood out as he did last preseason, and the Raiders have a lot of versatility at end with Brayton, Irons and DeLawrence Grant all capable of playing with a hand down. The starters are Bobby Hamilton and Tommy Kelly, and Turner has made it clear the role of Derrick Burgess will expand once the regular season

  • SS Calvin Branch. He’ll either make a cool half-million dollars or so as a veteran player or considerably less as a talent scout. Problem is the Raiders historically go into the season with fewer safeties than most teams, utilizing converted corners instead.
  • CB Chris Carr. With Gabriel out for the first month of the season or so, Carr looks to have locked up a roster spot based on his skill returning both punts and kickoffs.
  • WR Carlos Francis. As much as Al Davis loves his sprinter’s speed, there appears to be no way Francis will survive the final cut after a pulled hamstring kept him out all of training camp.
  • DT Lorn Mayers. With Warren Sapp, Ted Washington and Terdell Sands on the roster – plus Jasper and Smith – the 20-year-old Brit could be headed to the practice squad. And that might have been the plan all along.

    Good Answer
    Turner gets his share of heat from the media for his tortured, circular answers and fractured syntax. But he hit the right note when asked Wednesday about the prospect of the New Orleans Saints possibly having to play their entire season on the road in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

    “To me, it’s not even an issue compared to what you see when you see all those people, the loss of life and millions of dollars in damage,” Turner said. “I don’t know if you can even start to talk about how it affects an NFL football team or season.”

    A dose of perspective from a man in a profession that often is lacking in that quality.

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    Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer