Final 53-man man rosters will be announced by 3 p.m. Saturday, meaning the Raiders need to cut 22 players. Here then, after a mostly positive 3-1 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.
QUARTERBACKS - 3
They're here - *Jason Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller
They're gone - Charlie Frye, Colt Brennan
The thinking - The only real drama here was between Gradkowski and Boller for No. 2, what with Frye going on the IR following right wrist surgery and Brennan, signed late in camp after Washington cut him, a prime practice squad candidate. But Gradkowski quickly answered Boller's challenge, and with aplomb. Will be interesting to see how fans react should Campbell, dinged by a neck stinger and sore right wrist in the third exhibition game, get off to a slow start.
RUNNING BACKS - 5
They're here - *Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Michael Bennett, Rock Cartwright, Marcel Reese
They're gone - Luke Lawton, Manase Tonga
The thinking - Bush's fractured left thumb and an uncertain timetable for his return have this position in flux, especially since the thus-far brittle McFadden becomes the unquestioned feature back and leaves the Raiders with only one true fullback in Reese. Still, the bowling ball-like Cartwright could be a lead blocker and Lawton still has two games to serve on a PED suspension. Tonga, who had a nifty 32-yard catch-and-rumble score in the exhibition finale, is a nice practice squad candidate.
OFFENSIVE LINE - 9
They're here - *LT Mario Henderson, *LG Robert Gallery, *C Jared Veldheer, *RG Cooper Carlisle, *RT Langston Walker, Khalif Barnes, Samson Satele, Bruce Campbell, Erik Pears
They're gone - Chris Morris, Daniel Loper, Brandon Rodd, Alex Parsons
The thinking - The massive rookie Veldheer (6-foot-8, 315 pounds) has been the surprise of the preseason and appears to have beaten out Satele at center. Pears, meanwhile, gets the edge over veteran Chris Morris because Pears is synonymous with "tackle-eligible" plays.
TIGHT ENDS - 2
They're here - *Zach Miller, Brandon Myers
They're gone - John Owens
The thinking - Radical for the Raiders to carry only two tight ends? Sure. Insane? Not quite. Not when you consider the third tight end in a zone-blocking scheme, which is sure to be trotted out in the regular season after being in hibernation in the preseason, is a glorified blocker. By keeping Pears (see above), the Raiders have accomplished this.
WIDE RECEIVERS - 6
They're here - *Darrius Heyward-Bey, *Louis Murphy, Chaz Shilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jacoby Ford, Nick Miller
They're gone - Yamon Figurs, Todd Watkins, Shaun Bodiford, Jonathan Holland
The thinking - It's always dangerous to apply logic when discussing roster moves, but here goes - if the Raiders kept an injured Miller on the roster practically the entire season last year, then shouldn't they definitely keep a hale and hearty Miller this time around? Plus Figurs' uneven exhibition finale may have seals his fate. Also, the sooner Ford takes over kick-return duties, the better. Holland is on IR.
DEFENSIVE LINE - 8
They're here - *LE Lamarr Houston, *LT Richard Seymour, *RT Tommy Kelly, *RE Matt Shaughnessy, Jay Richardson, Desmond Bryant, John Henderson, Chris Cooper
They're gone - Greyson Gunheim, William Joseph, Alex Daniels, Kellen Heard
The thinking - Seymour said he actually prefers being on the inside while Henderson is the designated run stopper. Cooper's history with returning DL coach Mike Waufle tilts things in his favor but Gunheim is the wild card, especially if Richardson is unable to return from training camp knee surgery. Daniels, who made a run at fullback in camp, might resurface on the practice squad.
LINEBACKERS - 8
They're here - *WLB Trevor Scott, *MLB Rolando McClain, *SLB Kamerion Wimbley, Ricky Brown, Quentin Groves, Sam Williams, Thomas Howard, Slade Norris
They're gone - David Nixon, Travis Goethel
The thinking - The most improved unit on the team would also be one of its most diverse and deepest, should they keep eight linebackers as Wimbley and Scott can both play on the line as pass rushers. The Raiders gave up something to acquire Groves, so he makes it. Howard seemed to be on the bubble before the exhibition finale and Norris is intriguing enough to make the team if they so go with eight. Goethel sat out the exhibition finale with an undisclosed injury so he seems practice squad-bound.
CORNERBACKS - 5
They're here - *Nnamdi Asomugha, *Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, Jeremy Ware, Walter McFadden
They're gone - Joe Porter, Joey Thomas
The thinking - Johnson's woeful showing against Seattle in the exhibition finale - he surrendered 120 yards on four catches to four different receivers - all but handed the starting gig opposite Asomugha to Routt. Rookies Ware and McFadden, meanwhile, have been preseason revelations.
SAFETIES - 4
They're here - *SS Tyvon Branch, *FS Michael Huff, Mike Mitchell, Stevie Brown
They're gone - Hiram Eugene, Jerome Boyd
The thinking - You've been looking for the so-called "stunning" cut? Hiram Eugene, who has started 14 of the 30 games he's played in the past two seasons, fell mightily out of favor this preseason. Because no matter how you play with the numbers, a veteran had to be on the block and for me, it was between Eugene, linebacker Howard and defensive lineman Cooper.
SPECIAL TEAMS - 3
They're here - PK Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Condo
They're gone - P/PK Swayze Waters
The thinking - The strongest leg in the placekicking game, the best statistical punter in the history of the game and a Pro Bowl long-snapper. Any questions? At least Waters got to show his wares for the UFL.
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