After trimming roster to 53, Raiders must upgrade one position immediately


After trimming roster to 53, Raiders must upgrade one position immediately

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:

Rodney Hudson
Gabe Jackson
Jylan Ware
Kelechi Osemele
David Sharpe
Donald Penn
Marshall Newhouse
Vadal Alexander
Jon Feliciano
Denver Kirkland

Derek Carr
EJ Manuel
Connor Cook

Marshawn Lynch
Jalen Richard
DeAndre Washington
Jamize Olawale

Amari Cooper
Michael Crabtree
Cordarrelle Patterson
Seth Roberts
Johnny Holton

Jared Cook
Clive Walford
Lee Smith

Khalil Mack
Darius Latham
Justin Ellis
Treyvon Hester
Eddie Vanderdoes
Jihad Ward
Denico Autry
Mario Edwards Jr.
James Cowser

Nicholas Morrow
Bruce Irvin
Marquel Lee
Cory James
Tyrell Adams

Sean Smith
Gareon Conley
Dexter McDonald
Antonio Hamilton
TJ Carrie
David Amerson

Obi Melifonwu
Shalom Luani
Reggie Nelson
Karl Joseph
Keith McGill

Marquette King
Jon Condo
Sebastian Janikowski

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”