The Raiders trimmed their 90-man roster to 53 on Saturday.
They did not finalize it for the regular-season opener.
Upgrades will be sought. It’s also currently imbalanced, with a few moves remaining to reach positional homeostasis.
Primary objective: They need linebackers, stat.
A trio of possible contributors vanished on Saturday morning. Shilique Calhoun and LaTroy Lewis were let go. Jelani Jenkins was placed on season-ending injured reserve, with an injury settlement likely coming. More linebackers are likely on the way, off the edge or inside.
There are four inside linebackers currently on the roster. Three of them don’t have a defensive start to their credit. Again, additions are expected.
They also kept 10 offensive linemen. Temporarily, at least. Denver Kirkland made the roster but will be moved to injured reserve posthaste, giving the team an option to bring him back.
Calhoun’s draft status made him a surprise cut. Last year’s third-round pick didn’t flash in his second training camp and never seemed comfortable at strongside linebacker. A traditional defensive end in college, Calhoun struggled to make an impact in his short time as a Raider. Lewis, an undrafted free agent from Tennessee, outshined Calhoun during the preseason, but he was also let go.
Jenkins, Reggie McKenzie’s only defensive free agent signing, and the only experienced inside linebacker, is done for the year after getting hurt a preseason loss to Dallas.
The Raiders have solid numbers in the secondary, with five safeties and six cornerbacks. They’re still looking for an upgrade, especially in the cornerback corps. If they find something suitable, that group could be in flux.
Keith McGill was given a roster spot while recovering from foot surgery, but could get the Kirkland treatment and get placed on IR with a chance to return.
Here are some observations on the 53 men currently on the Raiders roster:
-- Bravo to Nicholas Morrow, an undrafted linebacker from Division III Greenville College, for making the roster. The speedy hybrid player fits well as a dime linebacker the Raiders plan to regularly use. He came on late in camp, surged onto the first team and played well in a stretch of preseason games. He earned a spot, and certainly hopes to keep it during this period of roster flux.
Morrow is the only undrafted player to make the initial 53-man roster, though that could change in coming days.
-- Johnny Holton staved off challenges from Jaydon Mickens, K.J. Brent and Keon Hatcher to earn the final receiver spot. He proved a quality special teams contributor and an improved route runner with great speed. He’ll continue to develop as an offensive threat while helping right away in kick coverage.
-- The Raiders didn’t want to expose Jylan Ware to waivers and kept him on the roster. He remains a project, but the seventh-round pick has great athleticism and the team likes his potential. He’ll be regularly inactive, especially early in the year.
-- The offensive line is talented and deep. They have stars in the starting lineup and versatile depth in reserve inside and out. Jon Feliciano and Vadal Alexander should be the first few off the bench.
The Raiders 53-man roster, as currently constructed:
Mario Edwards Jr.