Instant Analysis: Raiders end preseason with loss to Seahawks


Instant Analysis: Raiders end preseason with loss to Seahawks


OAKLAND – The Raiders preseason has, at long last, come to an end.

Thursday’s throwaway 17-13 exhibition loss to the Seattle was the finish line, the team’s last act as a 90-man unit. Rosters will cut to 53 by Saturday afternoon, when the Raiders will pour focus into the Sept. 10 opener against Tennessee.

Coaches have certainly peeked ahead, but they had to get through this game first. The primary goal was leaving Oakland Coliseum unscathed.

Head coach Jack Del Rio ensured that outcome by sitting 42 players against the Seahawks, leaving guys on the roster bubble or certainly cut to sweep up.

Play was rarely pretty for either side in this one, but that doesn’t matter. Most everyone set for a substantial role this season was glued to the sideline.

That included the team’s brightest stars – Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, etc. – and most of their draft class.

Gareon Conley isn’t ready to play after returning Tuesday for his first practice in over two months. Obi Melinfonwu is believed to be out with injury. Eddie Vanderdoes, Marquel Lee and Treyvon Hester weren’t active to preserve health.

There were a few guys pushing for a final roster spot trying to make a final impression. Nicholas Morrow might have the best chance to make the 53-man roster of any undrafted rookie. The quick, agile linebacker was steadily active and around the ball, as he has been all summer.

Linebacker LaTroy Lewis and receiver K.J. Brent were also under the microscope tonight trying to lock down a final roster spot. Lewis finished the game with four tackles and a sack. Brent, who put together a string of solid practices with the first unit and has NFL side, was particularly good. He finished with four catches for 55 yards.

Darius Latham played a ton Thursday, and continued solid preseason performances that should lock up a roster spot despite an influx of defensive tackles this offseason.


-- EJ Manuel has been the No .2 quarterback all offseason and, as expected, should keep the job this fall. Neither Manuel nor second-year pro Connor Cook impressed during the preseason, but Cook did nothing to disrupt the depth chart.

-- First-round cornerback Gareon Conley wasn’t expected to play Thursday and didn’t, but the Ohio State product went through a strenuous pregame workout with trainers. He ran, cut, and backpedaled into a sprint during the workout.

Conley was taken off the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday in time to practice that afternoon on a limited basis. The Raiders hope to have him ready to play the regular-season opener at Tennessee.

-- Left tackle Donald Penn’s preseason was a short one. He played 19 snaps last week after ended a prolonged contract holdout, and was held out of Thursday’s action. Offensive line coach Donald Penn put him through the paces before the game. Penn is expected to start and play full time against the Titans.

-- Undrafted rookie linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster, didn’t make a great impact this summer but was put some good plays on film. He had four tackles and a sack.

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.”

Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini


Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini

The Raiders need help at right tackle, the lone vacancy along their offensive line. They signed a veteran presence on Thursday afternoon, adding 32-year old Breno Giacomini as the frontrunner to join the starting five.

He has 86 starts in 94 career games, and has been a full-time starter three of the last four years. Giacomini spent 2017 in Houston and the previous three seasons with the New York Jets.

He was a Seattle Seahawk before that, working with Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable for three of his four years there. Cable gave Giacomini his first chance to start in the second half of 2011, and held the post through 2012.

The bond between the two is clearly strong, considering what Giacomini tweeted shortly after Cable got fired in Seattle.

Coach and player will reunite, hoping to provide steadiness on the right side of the Raiders offensive line.

He’ll compete for a starting spot with Vadal Alexander, second-year pros David Sharpe and Jylan Ware and possibly a drafted player. Giacomini should be considered the favorite unless the Raiders use an early pick on an offensive lineman.

Giacomini has plenty of starts, but his Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t pretty. The analytics says he allowed nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 64 pressures with Houston last year. He had some decent years under Cable, and a return to that form might push him into the starting lineup for good. Time will tell on that front.