With the preseason now over and the cut to 53 players looming on Saturday, Thursday’s 30-19 win over Seattle seemed to solidify some roster spots.
Traditionally the fourth game of the NFL preseason serves as the last chance for players living precariously on the roster bubble. It was no different for the Raiders this night in Seattle with about three or four spots possibly up for grabs before Jon Gruden and his staff makes cuts by Saturday’s deadline.
On this night, one of Gruden’s biggest questions to be answered was who would win out as the second quarterback behind franchise signal caller Derek Carr.
EJ Manuel had a forgettable first three games but bounced back strong hitting on 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns and playing most all of three-quarters of the game before Cook finished up. At this point, it would be a shock if Manuel doesn’t win out and Cook finds himself on the waiver wire come Saturday. Manuel, who has been a starter in the league, looked more confident and made better decisions throughout the night. With the exception of a few plays where Manuel was still a bit tentative, he looked like the wily veteran quarterback you’d want behind your young stud.
“I was really impressed with the way EJ came in played tonight,” Gruden said after the game.
Cook was never able to get back on track after a stellar performance in Week 1. The fourth round pick of the Raiders in 2016 came into the league with promise and raw ability but never seemed to take the step needed to stick in the silver and black. Cook made the most of his time closing out 3-of-5 for 37 yards and a touchdown.
On the offensive side of the ball, preseason superstar Chris Warren III didn’t rack up the rushing yards he did in the first three weeks, but did progress and improve away from the ball as Gruden said publicly he must. That included picking up a rusher on a first down in the first quarter when reserve right guard Jordan Simmons couldn’t handle his man. Warren picked up the defender allowing Manuel to complete a long pass to Keon Hatcher. Despite playing extensively during this final game, most observers agree Warren should make the final roster.
At wide receiver, Johnny Holton and rookie Marcel Ateman almost assuredly secured roster spots to round out the stable of six wideouts in Oakland. Hatcher performed at a high level against Seattle (three touchdowns) but it most likely won’t be enough despite an emotional Gruden praising the young wide receiver.
A receiver many Raiders fans and media thought would be hitting the road in 2018 was Seth Roberts. Roberts had a good camp and preseason and didn’t dress leading many to believe he’s made the roster. Gruden confirmed that assumption stating that Roberts would “be an Oakland Raider this year.”
On defense, Fadol Brown impressed yet again giving him a great chance of staying a Raider. Shaliqie Calhoun also made it harder for Gruden to cut him loose as he played well again too. As our senior NFL analyst Chris Reed said tonight, Calhoun most likely makes it, especially if Khalil Mack 0n the “did not report” list for the Raiders.
Players who most likely played their last games as Raiders: tight end Pharoah Brown and defensive lineman Mario Edwards, Jr.