OAKLAND — The Raiders enter their final preseason game Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks with a roster that’s well settled.
Some backend pieces still need final decisions, but more practice squad spots are probably on the line than active rosters spots.
Don’t expect to see the starters at all. Coach Jack Del Rio hasn’t divulged that and quarterback Derek Carr said earlier this week he didn’t know if he was playing or not.
But Del Rio sat all the starters last year in the preseason finale and has even more reason to do it this year with players such as Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper coming off Pro Bowl seasons.
Mack admitted part of him is ready to just fast-forward past this game and get to the regular season already.
“Yeah, you could say that,” Mack said. “But I’m excited for the younger guys. Get to see them take advantage of this opportunity. … It’s going to be exciting to see how they make plays.”
Here are five players to keep an eye on Thursday night at the Coliseum:
Wide receiver Johnny Holton: The fifth receiver spot — assuming the Raiders keep five — has been one of the few openings the team’s had to figure out and it’ll come down to the wire.
Holton has been the most impressive throughout camp, especially since he brings ability in the return game. He’s caught five passes for 78 yards in the preseason.
Holton should play plenty on Thursday and a big game could lock in his spot.
“I pretty much want to do the same thing I’ve been doing, just going out there playing football, having fun with my teammates,” Holton said of his approach toward Thursday night. “Overall, I just want to get better than I was last week. I want to improve every day and get better.”
Wide receiver K.J. Brent: Holton’s top competition is Brent, who has the benefit of size at 6-foot-4 to Holton’s 6-foot frame.
Brent had his first three catches of the preseason last week when he caught three balls for 54 yards. He also had a nice 28-yard catch in the first exhibition game that was waved off by a very questionable pass interference call.
Whichever of these players doesn’t make the 53-man roster will likely be brought back on to the practice squad as long as another team doesn’t sign them, so both could be part of the Raiders future.
Quarterback Connor Cook: It’s going to be Cook’s first extended run in an NFL game (and probably his last for a while). The No. 3 quarterback expects to play the majority of the preseason finale and it will be important repetitions for him and the Raiders.
Backup quarterback Matt McGloin is a free agent after this season (and currently the highest paid quarterback on the roster, ahead of even Carr). The Raiders will need to figure out if Cook is their backup of the future and they hope this will be their last real look at him until next season.
“All the stuff that I’ve learned thus far, go use it,” Cook said. “This is time to cut loose and have fun with the guys.”
Defensive end/linebacker James Cowser: The undrafted pass rusher from Southern Utah didn’t see a defensive snap in last week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Is that a sign the Raiders are trying to hide him so they may be able to sneak him on to the practice squad? Don’t rule that out, although there seems to be room on the roster for a fourth pass rusher behind Mack, Bruce Irvin and fellow rookie Shilique Calhoun. Cowser should get a chance to play a lot Thursday and it’d be nice to see him excel against some NFL backups.
Safety Dewey McDonald: The third-year player seemed to be on the rise early in training camp and then it came crashing down in the first preseason game. Keith McGill unofficially moved ahead of him on the safety depth chart and has stayed there.
McDonald’s now sitting squarely on the bubble, especially because another safety in Brynden Trawick has been making plays left and right in special teams. This is McDonald’s last chance to prove himself.