OAKLAND -- The Raiders sat most every presumptive impact player during Saturday night's preseason opener against the L.A. Rams, an expected turn after those players received so much quality work in joint practices against the same opponent.
It’s safe to say that, with occasional exception, most of those featured in Oakland’s only home exhibition game won’t make the regular-season roster.
Here are three takeaways from the Raiders’ 14-3 victory over the Rams at the Coliseum:
Receiving corps looks deep
Tyrell Williams watched the game in street clothes. Antonio Brown is off the reservation, not with the Raiders in training camp recently or at the Coliseum on Saturday to see his team play.
Those guys will be productive as expected this season -- let’s be real; there's no way AB will give up $30 million over a helmet -- but the Raiders' remaining receivers proved against the Rams that they have some game.
The Raiders have some hard choices ahead with that position group, which should count Brown, Williams, Hunter Renfrow and return man Dwayne Harris as roster locks. That leaves one, maybe two spots for several qualified candidates.
One of those might be reserved for speedster J.J. Nelson, a camp standout who made another big-time contested catch deep downfield against the Rams and finished with two receptions for 43 yards.
Ryan Grant hasn’t shown much in camp, but his three catches for 32 yards were impactful. Keon Hatcher (two receptions for 45 yards) showed some life in the first half to complicate matters more. Marcell Ateman, who made a 19-yard reception, also is in the running after several solid practices. We haven’t even mentioned Keelan Doss, a talented pass catcher in an ultra-competitive group, who caught a 3-yard touchdown pass.
Gruden always was going to face tough choices, and his guys aren’t making it any easier with solid performances from several in the preseason opener. Oakland's sixth receiver spot might be more about a needed skill set to round out the crew, where Ateman’s size and physicality could prove useful.
Backup QB competition now in full swing
Mike Glennon was given the first crack at running the Raiders' offense with starter Derek Carr sitting out, an elevated post he has maintained over Nathan Peterman most of training camp.
Glennon, a 29-year-old veteran, was accurate and efficient during his two quarters, taking yards in big chunks while throwing to several receivers, and finishing 17-of-25 passing for 200 yards. A 58.8 passer rating won’t reflect that, as two terrible interceptions, including one thrown in the end zone, dampened that number. That seemed to be a result of a miscommunication with Derek Carrier, but it was a mistake nonetheless. Glennon also killed an earlier drive with a pick, and came away from several productive drives with one score.
Peterman won the Bills' starting job last year with a powerful, accurate arm that engineered several quality preseason performances. He showed athleticism Saturday on a 50-yard run and hit Doss for a TD, finishing 9-of-12 passing for 66 yards.
The right to be Carr’s backup will be contested deep into August, with the Raiders' unquestioned starting QB not scheduled to play much all during the preseason. Glennon is the early favorite, though Gruden likes Peterman and the 25-year-old’s upside. That could sway the decision, or at least compel Gruden to keep a third quarterback after using just two last season.
Gruden gets impact rookies' feet wet
The Raiders are counting on several rookies to play expansive roles this season, but Gruden didn’t keep them on the sidelines with the veteran starters. He let every instant impact draft pick, save running back Josh Jacobs, see the field Saturday, getting NFL-debut jitters out of the way in a game of zero consequence even by preseason standards.
High picks Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram got a few hits in before being yanked. Trayvon Mullen showed some toughness in nearly a full half of work.
Renfrow, a virtual lock to be Oakland's primary slot receiver, was targeted only once in limited action. The stats are secondary to the experience and teachable game film, which should help the rookies progress throughout the preseason.