After sleeping on it (or was I actually put to sleep by preseason football?), here’s a guess at the Raiders’ final 53, suitable to be mocked and ridiculed until the real roster is announced Saturday afternoon:
QUARTERBACKS (3)_JaMarcus Russell, Jeff Garcia, Bruce Gradkowski. Cut_Charlie Frye
Frye was the better athlete and has the stronger arm, but Gradkowski is better on game day and also is very good at assimilating an opponent’s offense and running the scout team as the opposing quarterback each week.
RUNNING BACKS (5)_Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Justin Fargas, Oren O’Neal, Gary Russell. Cut_Louis Rankin, Luke Lawton, Marcel Reece.
The leading rusher usually gets cut, but I’m guessing Russell’s hard running and experience won him a job. That, and Rankin is eligible for the practice squad, as is Reece.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)_Chaz Schilens, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Nick Miller. Cut_Todd Watkins, Jonathan Holland.
Tough to carry six at wide receiver, but Nick Miller’s inclusion is justified if he handles kickoff returns, and he’s better as a receiver than Justin Miller is as a cornerback.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)_LT Mario Henderson, LG Robert Gallery, C Chris Morris, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Cornell Green, T Khalif Barnes, T Erik Pears, G-T Paul McQuistan, C Samson Satele. Cut_Mark Wilson, James Marten, John Wade, Seth Wand.
One of the things that escaped my notice from afar (as well as the broadcast team) _ Morris was actually in during the first series as the starter, with Satele forced to play the rest of the game. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Raiders watch closely and snag a lineman cut from a zone blocking team after cuts are announced. A good chance for movement here. Protection vs. Seattle was atrocious.
TIGHT ENDS (3)_Zach Miller, Brandon Myers, Tony Stewart. Cut_Darrell Strong.
Easy as 1-2-3. Strong is eligible for the practice squad.
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)_LE Greg Ellis, DT Gerard Warren, DT Tommy Kelly, RE Trevor Scott, E Jay Richardson, DT Desmond Bryant, DE Matt Shaughnessy, DT William Joseph, DT-DE Ryan Boschetti. Cut_DT Terdell Sands, DE Greyson Gunheim.
Another area which could be affected by new blood. The National Football Post is reporting the Raiders could sign ex-Chiefs lineman Alfonso Boone. If so, Boschetti would probably be the first to go. Joseph badly outplayed Sands, who got a $1.9 million roster bonus in the offseason for his trouble. Not sure why they simply didn’t default on it back in March. Gunheim is practice squad eligible.
LINEBACKERS: (6)_SLB Jon Alston or Ricky Brown, MLB Kirk Morrison, WLB Thomas Howard, OLB-MLB Isaiah Ekejiuba, OLB Slade Norris. Cut_MLB-OLB Sam Williams, OLB David Nixon, OLB Morlon Greenwood, MLB Chris O’Neill.
Williams may be playing better in the middle than he ever played on the outside, he’s a solid special teams performer and the owner likes him. He’ll be on speed dial and wait for the call. Don’t be surprised if he’s back before the season is over or even in a couple of weeks. The rest of the keepers appear to be solid, with only the slightest possibility Morrison could be moved. O’Neill is ticketed for the practice squad, and Nixon could join him there.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (9)_RCB Nnamdi Asomugha, LCB Chris Johnson, SS Tyvon Branch, FS Hiram Eugene, CB Stanford Routt, S Mike Mitchell, S Rashad Baker, CB John Bowie, S Michael Huff. Cut_CB Justin Miller, S-CB Michael Hawkins, CB-S Darrick Brown, S Jerome Boyd.
After the first five or six, it’s a lot easier to cut players here than to keep them. Another area where a player who is released by another team could be signed, threatening the positions of Baker and Bowie. Mitchell and Branch are seen as the safeties of the future, but the Mitchell’s hamstring issues make it too risky to cut with Huff at this point. Possibly could have jumped the gun on Justin Miller, but he was poor in coverage against Seattle Nick Miller has shown he can handle the kickoff return duties.
SPECIALISTS (3)_P Shane Lechler, PK Sebastian Janikowski, LS Jon Condo.
Higgins on punt returns, Nick Miller on kickoff returns.