Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 5, 2009
One man's guess at the Raiders' 53-man roster

Final 53-man man rosters are due in the NFL offices today, meaning the Raiders need to cut 22 players. Here then, after a preseason of observation, deduction and pure gut feeling, is one man's guess at the Raiders' Final 53. Feel free to chime in, agree or mock.

*-projected starter

QUARTERBACKS - 3
They're here - *JaMarcus Russell, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye

They're gone - Bruce Gradkowski

The thinking - Frye has the better resume and has looked far superior in practice. But something tells me that Gradkowski's history with quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett might sway things in his favor. Then again, I wouldn't be shocked if Garcia was the odd man out. Just sayin'.

RUNNING BACKS - 5
They're here - *Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, Oren O'Neal, Gary Russell

They're gone - Luke Lawton, Louis Rankin, Marcel Reese

The thinking - Fargas' trade value could alter the thinking here while Russell played his way into a roster spot in the preseason finale at Seattle. Rankin injuring himself against the Seahawks makes it an easy call, as does his being eligible for the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE - 9
They're here - *LT Mario Henderson, *LG Robert Gallery, *C Samson Satele, *RG Cooper Carlisle, *RT Cornell Green, Khalif Barnes, Chris Morris, Erik Pears, Paul McQuistan.

They're gone - James Marten, John Wade, Seth Wand, Mark Wilson

The thinking - Barnes and Pears were brought in to challenge for starting positions and Morris started at center in Seattle. The line has been below average this preseason so don't be surprised if the Raiders pick up someone else's castoff, particularly if he has zone-blocking experience.

TIGHT ENDS - 3
They're here - *Zach Miller, Tony Stewart, Brandon Myers

They're gone - Darrell Strong

The thinking - Miller is a star in the making, Stewart is a special teams standout and Myers is a sixth-round draft pick whose pass-catching ability has been a pleasant surprise. Talk about your no-brainers. Sorry, Strong.

WIDE RECEIVERS - 6
They're here - *Darrius Heyward-Bey, *Louis Murphy, Javon Walker, Chaz Shilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Nick Miller

They're gone - Todd Watkins, Jonathan Holland

The thinking - The diminutive Miller might have sealed his fate with his game-costing fumble on a punt return against the 49ers but he came on string in the third and fourth exhibition games. He can be a fan favorite and his ability to return kicks gives him the edge.

DEFENSIVE LINE - 8
They're here - *LE Greg Ellis, *LT Gerard Warren, *RT Tommy Kelly, *RE Trevor Scott, Jay Richardson, Desmond Bryant, Matt Shaughnessy, Ryan Boschetti

They're gone - Terdell Sands, Greyson Gunheim, William Joseph

The thinking - While the undrafted, Ivy League-educated Bryant is the biggest surprise, Sands and his $1.9 million roster bonus is the biggest disappointment. There are reports the Raiders are in the hunt for former Chiefs DT Alfonso Boone to shore up the run defense.

LINEBACKERS - 6
They're here - *WLB Thomas Howard, *MLB Kirk Morrison, *SLB Ricky Brown, Jon Alston, Isaiah Ekejiuba, Slade Norris

They're gone - Sam Williams, Morlon Greenwood, David Nixon, Chris O'Neill

The thinking - This is a tough one. Williams has been a special teams stud for what seems like forever and is a favorite of Al Davis. But in a numbers crunch, Ekejiuba is younger and more versatile and Norris is a fourth-round draft pick.

CORNERBACKS - 5
They're here - *Nnamdi Asomugha, *Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt, John Bowie, Justin Miller

They're gone - Michael Hawkins, Darrick Brown

The thinking - Miller had a tough game at Seattle and could be on the block, particularly if the Raiders decide to go with only four corners and make up for it on the D-line. The emergence of Nick Miller as a kick returner could also make Miller expendable. Stay tuned.

SAFETIES - 5
They're here - *SS Tyvon Branch, *FS Hiram Eugene, Michael Huff, Mike Mitchell, Rashad Baker

They're gone - Jerome Boyd

The thinking - The only real drama here is if the Raiders go with just four pure safeties, putting the future of Huff, a former No. 7 overall draft pick, in peril. Everyone is still waiting to see hamstrung second-round pick Mitchell put a hit on someone.

SPECIAL TEAMS - 3
They're here - PK Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Condo

They're gone - P Ricky Schmitt

The thinking - The ultimate no brainer. Schmitt had a wonderful opportunity to audition for other teams, or even the budding UFL, with Lechler out with a strained groin.

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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