Oakland Raiders Vs Seattle Seahawks: Players to Watch
David Wilson – Aug 28, 2012
Coming into the last pre-season game on Thursday, there are still several players who are on that roster bubble. They will be looking to play themselves into the final 53 that the Oakland Raiders will keep when the season starts.
Traditionally, this game will be less about the first teamers and more about the second and third string players fighting for those roster spots. Those are the players that are worth watching on Thursday, because their performances might be the difference between them staying or going.
What is interesting is that coach Dennis Allen said that the final roster will not be just about allocating numbers to each position, but about good football players.
“We’re going to keep the best 53 that gives us the best chance to win games on Sundays. If we’ve got a good football player, I’m going to find a way to make sure he’s on this football team”
That has to be the right way to do things, so here are the players worth keeping your eyes on.
Lucas Nix OG: I have banged on about Nix deserving to make the team all pre-season, and his performance this week will be critical to that happening. What might work in his favor is that Stefan Wisniewski is still out with a calf injury. Coach Allen said that Alex Parsons would start at center, and Mike Briesel would likely play there if Parsons couldn’t go for some reason. That would leave no backup at guard as Tony Bergstrom would already be filling in for Briesel.
Nix has been solid pass blocking, but really excels as a run blocker, and has shown that in the time he has been on the field for the Raiders. If he gets cut, he won’t be a practice team option as another team will most certainly pick him up.
The Raiders know that, and if Nix plays well once again, they will find a way to keep him on the team.
Jamie Cumbie DT/DE: A practice squad player last year, Kumbie is making a bid for a roster spot this year with some strong play. Against the Lions, he had a run stuff for a loss, brought plenty of pressure that culminated in a sack, and used his 6’ 7” frame to get FOUR batted balls at the line of scrimmage.
Like Desmond Bryant, Cumbie can play end or tackle, and Jason Tarver likes players with that kind of versatility. I would like to see Cumbie make the team as I like what he brings to the table. He will get another chance to show that he is worth keeping this week with some extended playing time.
Eddie McGee WR: With the signing of Roscoe Parrish as a specialist returner, he will also most probably be the sixth receiver on the roster by virtue of that role if Oakland keeps him. That leaves McGee with far less chance of making the team. He got a look with the first team last week, and didn’t play well, bobbling a Carson Palmer throw that was then intercepted. I get the feeling that the team would like to keep McGee, but with other players like Nix & Cumbie playing consistently well, there might not be room for him unless he can really show something this week.
Mike Goodson RB: Goodson had a reasonable game against Detroit, but was just awful against the Cardinals, fumbling twice. If he can hang onto the ball and show some durability he would be a nice player to have as third string running back, but if he has another bad performance in the last pre-season game he could find himself replaced by Lonyae Miller. Goodson has the talent, but has to show he can do it on game day. Miller might not be quite the talent that Goodson is, but he is solid, doesn’t turn the ball over, and is a far better blocker and special teamer.
Nathan Stupar/Carl Ihenacho/Chad Kilgore LB: Nowhere on the roster is the competition for roster places so intense than at linebacker, with these three players competing for what will probably be one or two places.
Philip Wheeler, Rolando McClain, Aaron Curry, and Miles Burris are locks to make the team, and Travis Goethel should be a keeper too. Stupar plays on the inside, and Ihenacho and Kilgore outside but that will not be the difference as either Goethel or Burris could play either position if needed. It will come down to who plays best.
Stupar was the Raiders final draft pick, but has not really stood out on the field at all to make his mark. Ihenacho has brought some good pressure off the edge in passing downs. Whilst a little undersized, Chad Kilgore has been flying all over the field and shown some real energy.
My feeling right now is that Ihenacho leads the field, but that could all change against the Seahawks on Thursday night.
Don’t be surprised if whoever makes the final roster is cut before the first regular season game anyway.
There will be plenty of linebackers cut around the league and Reggie McKenzie will be scouring other teams' roster cuts for useful players. If he finds someone he likes, then he is going to have to cut someone to make room for them.
Taiwan Jones RB: I don’t say watch Jones because he is fighting for a roster spot, he isn’t. He's a lock to make the team. I reccommend watching him for sheer entertainment value, because he really puts on a show. It has been said that Jones is the fastest player on the team, and with a roster that includes Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford, and Darrius Heyward Bey that is quite a thing.
Jones’s game speed against Detroit was obvious, on one play he turned what looked like sure loss into a ten yard gain.
If he can just stay healthy, Jones will put together some highlight reel plays this year, and he really suits the zone blocking system.
So one more pre-season game to go, and then the hitting really starts. Under the lights of monday night football on September the 10th, we will find out exactly what sort of a team Dennis Allen has put together.
I can hardly wait.
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