Five Raiders to watch during preseason finale against Seahawks
CB Nick Nelson
Thursday’s game might be the Wisconsin product’s last stand, the final chance to show the talent clear in his college tape that hasn’t presented consistently enough this preseason.
Last year’s fourth-round draft pick missed the preseason opener, but he has allowed 10 catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 targets. That’s not a good line, especially with undrafted rookie Keisean Nixon balling out at Nelson’s position.
His fate might’ve been sealed already, if not for some cornerback setbacks. Isaiah Johnson hasn’t practiced since the preseason opener, dealing with a concussion and a facial injury. He seemed set to make the roster, but it’s possible he ends up an IR stash at this point.
Nevin Lawson was a roster lock, but he’ll be suspended the first four games for a PED violation. That opens up another spot on the original 53, meaning Nixon and Nelson both could make it if the Raiders keep six cornerbacks.
Nelson has to show something positive against Seattle to put himself in good standing. Gruden likes Nelson and has praised him at times this summer. It’s time for the young cornerback to support Gruden’s kind words with action
QB Nathan Peterman
The 25-year old, well-traveled quarterback has received lots of “Hard Knocks” airtime as Gruden’s reclamation project. He’s clearly an improved, more confident player than he used to be, and has a real chance to earn a roster spot.
Mike Glennon’s still expected to be Derek Carr’s primary backup, but the door’s cracked just enough to make you think anything’s possible after this game. Peterman could be the No. 3 guy, maybe the No. 2. He could get traded or cut. Another strong performance this preseason would increase his value to the Raiders and other teams, securing his place as a wild card heading toward Saturday’s final cuts.
DL Ethan Westbrooks
Westbrooks seemed set for the 53-man roster halfway through training camp, but that status is in jeopardy since Corey Liuget got signed. The versatile veteran newcomer will make it, pushing Westbrooks into dangerous territory despite strong preseason game play. P.J. Hall hasn’t been great this summer, but last year’s second-round draft pick is young with upside the Raiders might not be ready to abandon at this stage.
Justin Ellis is banged up, so even the veteran’s roster spot isn’t secure.
Defensive tackle will have the toughest cuts ahead, and Westbrooks finishing strong could help the Oakland native represent the NFL’s last ride in his hometown.
DE Maxx Crosby
The fourth-round draft pick returned to practice after missing time with a fractured hand, but he hasn’t played since the exhibition opener against the LA Rams. He’s working with a club over his hand, though the Raiders are trying to find a way to give him the use of his fingers while playing.
It’s ultimately uncertain if Crosby will play but, he should if he can. The edge rusher needs the work, even in a small dose, to establish some sort of rhythm before being thrust into high-leverage situations in a game that counts. Being glued to the sideline would be a bummer for someone who needs to pressure the passer in a game setting.
OG Lester Cotton Sr.
Gruden said the Alabama product will play some left guard coming up Thursday, with veteran Jonathan Cooper on the right, as the Raiders try to configure their interior offensive line with Richie Incognito suspension and Gabe Jackson recovering from an MCL injury.
Denzelle Good’s practicing again after missing significant time rehabbing from back surgery but he hasn’t played in a game. He could be a factor inside as well, as the Raiders clearly aren’t satisfied or comfortable with their guard predicament. That could open a window for Cotton to join the conversation for early playing time or a practice squad spot. Standing out against the Seahawks would keep him in a positive light to end the preseason.