Bair's 10 Raiders to watch vs. Seahawks
Configuring the final roster
The Raiders are ever-so-close to starting the regular season. They have one exhibition left, but most starters are all but finished with their preseason work. Thursday night's home game versus the Seattle Seahawks is more about bubble guys then feature players, but it'll have plenty of story lines just the same. Here are 10 players to watch, many if whom are fighting for a role, added responsibility or the right to be on the regular-season roster.
10. Guard Tony Bergstrom
General manager Reggie McKenzie’s first-ever draft pick is fully healthy after missing all of 2013 with a foot injury, and he’s behind several versatile guards on the depth chart. The Raiders probably need a ninth lineman, and Bergstrom could be that guy.
9. Defensive end Jack Crawford
The Englishman sits squarely on the bubble heading into this final preseason game. He’ll need to play extremely well to join the 53-man roster, which features several locks at his position.
8. Outside linebacker Kaelin Burnett
Head coach Dennis Allen said Burnett has done well on defense and special teams thus far, and one final push in a game where he should see significant playing time should cement his place on the roster.
7. Running back Jeremy Stewart
Kory Sheets seemed to have a roster spot secured – he was at least in contention for one – but a ruptured Achilles’ tendon puts Stewart back in the mix. He probably won’t be counted on offensively, but he’s been a valuable special teams contributor. He needs to show that Thursday against the Seahawks. He should see some carries as well, and quality offense couldn’t hurt his cause.
6. Safety Jonathan Dowling
The seventh-round pick would certainly prefer the Raiders 53-man roster over a spot on the practice squad. He’s looked like a developmental project at times, especially in pass coverage. He must play better to improve his chances of making the regular-season squad.
5. Middle linebacker Kaluka Maiava
Starter Nick Roach won’t play in Thursday’s game, and coordinator Jason Tarver already said Maiava will be tired with all the snaps coming his way against Seattle. Roach played every defensive snap last year – a difficult feat two years in a row – and Maiava must prove an adequate backup should be called upon when it counts.
4. Cornerback Neiko Thorpe
In all likelihood, the Raiders will need a No. 3 cornerback to start the regular season. DJ Hayden is on reserve PUP and Chimdi Chekwa (knee strain) seems unlikely to play against the New York Jets. Thorpe has put himself in prime position for regular season playing time. A strong showing could cement that opportunity.
3. Cornerback TJ Carrie
Information in the previous slide applies to Carrie as well. The seventh-round pick continues to impress, and has put himself in position to compete for the No. 3 cornerback slot. He’s expected to return punts on already, but could expand his workload if he continues to show improvement from week to week.
2. Quarterback Matt McGloin
The second-year pro is a forgotten man in all this quarterback talk despite an excellent preseason. His level of competition – generally third-stringers – has negated the impact of quality play. He won’t get a chance to start Thursday either, but he’ll stay in the mix should Carr falter and the Raider deem Carr unfit for regular-season duty.
1. Quarterback Derek Carr
The second-round will start Thursday’s game and is expected to play significant snaps. Is this an audition to start the regular-season opener? Don’t think so. Matt Schaub’s earned that right. But a solid showing could give the coaching staff confidence in making a quarterback switch should they need to do so.