Raiders receivers coach Edgar Bennett breaks down stacked position group

Raiders receivers coach Edgar Bennett breaks down stacked position group

Edgar Bennett has sincerely enjoyed coaching this Raiders receiver corps. A vastly upgraded group has the talent to spare, with more worthy competitors than he has roster spots.

That units position coach has tough decisions ahead, but he isn’t focused on that quite yet. The Raiders have two preseason games left before trimming the roster to 53 and 11 receivers to five or, more likely, six. Thursday night’s exhibition against Green Bay in Winnipeg will provide another evaluation point for Bennett to chart his group’s growth.

He expects another productive night, even with frontline starters out, considering how they’ve practiced and played.

“It has been fun, and it’s certainly unique from an energy standpoint,” Bennett told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday in Napa. “Every guy brings so much every day. I love their mindset when it comes to preparation, and they attack each practice. They apply things well from the meeting room to the practice field, from the practice field to game day.”

Bennett’s crew has been good from top to bottom, easily the team’s strength.

The receivers have been solid even with Antonio Brown missing all but two full practices since training camp began. Tyrell Williams is banged up and won’t play the Packers. Neither will J.J. Nelson.

That provides an excellent opportunity to evaluate the back end of the position group, where several are battling for one or two spots.

Brown, Williams, Hunter Renfrow and return man Dwayne Harris are locks.

Ryan Grant looks more and more like a fit in preseason games.

Marcell Ateman, Keelan Doss, Keon Hatcher and even Rico Gafford have had their moments in the sun this summer, and Bennett admits that skill set could weigh into that final spot if most things are even.

“Each guy is unique,” Bennett said. “You think about Rico Gafford’s speed element or Keelan Doss’ ability to play multiple positions well. Ateman has the size and can attack the football in the red zone. Even Hatcher has been so reliable and dependable. You just have to take all that into consideration and see who continues to play at a high level.”

Head coach Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock will make final roster selections, but Bennett will have significant into choices made.

“You get to voice your opinion before Mike and Jon make the final decisions,” Bennett said. “I try to keep my guys’ thoughts away from cuts. It’s more about improving as a player and putting good work on tape. That, more than anything else, will help you land a job in this league.”

Here are some other highlights from my conversation with Edgar Bennett:

On the slot receiver competition between Renfrow and Grant:
“It has been extremely competitive. Both of those guys have done a phenomenal job in what we’re asking them to do as route runners and blockers downfield. They have great communication. But, the most important thing is that both Hunter and Ryan have been making plays. They create separation. You look at tape and see that both of those guys have done some great things in camp.”

How Grant has impressed, even with so many eyes focused on Renfrow:
“He’s proven, as far as what he’s capable of doing. And I love that he shows up at big moments. He had some of his best days against the Rams when they were here in Napa. He has also taken it to game day. He might be quiet off the field, but he communicates well when we’re working. He has done everything that we’ve asked him to do.”

On Tyrell Williams as a complete receiver:
“He’s so versatile. You see a guy with that type of size and speed and you think deep threat, but he can play all three spots. He can jump in the slot, and create separation inside and out. He’s another guy who will attack his job and high point the football. The other thing is that he’s a leader. He’s great in the classroom and gives us everything he’s got on the practice field.”

[RELATED: Joyner embracing Raiders leadership role]

The key to quality leadership among wide receivers:
“The No. 1 goal, when we talk about leadership, is showing the way. That’s the starting point. The vocal aspect of leadership stems from that. You earn respect from how you work, and your voice gains weight after guys see how you perform. Actions speak louder than our words.”

What Bennett likes about Antonio Brown:
“There’s a lot of energy, a lot of passion. I love the enthusiasm and playmaking ability. Obviously, his talent is unmatched. He’s so precise and in such great shape, and can make plays even when the defense is trying to prevent him from doing so.”

Anonymous Raider really wants Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey traded to Oakland


Anonymous Raider really wants Jaguars' Jalen Ramsey traded to Oakland

Jaguars star Jalen Ramsey wants out of Jacksonville, and (at least) one Raider wants the cornerback in Oakland. 

An anonymous member of the Silver and Black made the case for his team to bring in the talented, trash-talking 25 year old to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. 

Ramsey would help just about any NFL team play the kind of defense they aspire to. In four NFL seasons, the Florida State product has grown into one of the NFL's best cornerbacks, if not the best. Pro Football Focus ranked Ramsey the second-best cornerback coming into the season, and early-season struggles in a situation he clearly wants no part of -- just ask Doug Marrone -- won't dissuade any interested suitors.

[RELATED: Davis trade gives Raiders speed in return game, on offense]

In theory, the Raiders should be one. As NBC Sports California's Josh Schrock noted earlier this week, acquiring Ramsey would allow the Raiders to slide their cornerbacks down the depth chart and into roles in which they could thrive. Ramsey won't come cheap when his contract is up after next season, either, but the Silver and Black is set up to have plenty of salary-cap space when the team moves to Las Vegas in 2021.

After orbiting around Antonio Brown's star for fewer than six months, the Raiders conceivably could no part in acquiring another disgruntled player forcing his way out of the team that drafted him. If the Raider who spoke up is to be believed, the locker room might think it's worth the risk. 

Raiders injury report: Trent Brown among list of ailing offensive stars

Raiders injury report: Trent Brown among list of ailing offensive stars

ALAMEDA – The Raiders offense is a bit banged up right now. Several expensive or highly-touted members of that unit are limited or worse at practice, including a large section of skill players working through pain.

Right tackle Trent Brown was the biggest omission on Wednesday’s participation report, sidelined with a right knee injury that kept him out the closing moments of Sunday’s loss to Kansas City.

“He’s a tough guy,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “Hopefully he’s ready to go. We sure need him.”

The Raiders need some good news from an ailing receiver corps. Dwayne Harris could be in bad shape dealing with an ankle injury, which is why the Raiders traded for Green Bay’s Trevor Davis. He can help in the return game and bring speed to the receiver corps.

Tyrell Williams and Josh Jacobs are dealing with hip injuries, the Raiders announced on Wednesday, that left both guys limited in a practice that was dialed back to preserve health.

Williams and Jacobs also missed portions of a Sunday second quarter when the Chiefs went on a 28-point run, during which the Raiders offense couldn’t get a first down.

“It’s tough on all of us. It’s tough to call plays when you’re calling a play for a guy and he’s not there,” Gruden said. “Then you’re calling a play for another guy and he’s not there, so the emotional part of it you got to get over and you got to adjust kind of like playing on the road, or playing in London, or playing in Winnipeg. You just got to adjust. I’m really proud of those guys for coming back and giving us all they had and finishing the game and practicing today. They’re tough guys.”

J.J. Nelson also remains limited with an ankle injury, putting a strain on the receiver corps.

Ryan Grant, Hunter Renfrow and Keelan Doss are the only healthy receivers at this point, though it seems likely Williams will be ready by Sunday. The same goes for Jacobs, as vital as anyone to the Raiders success.

Here’s the full participation report:

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
RT Trent Brown (knee)
WR Dwayne Harris (ankle)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

Limited practice
CB Gareon Conley (neck)
LB Vontaze Burfict (shoulder/knee)
RB Josh Jacobs (hip)
DT Corey Liuget (knee)
WR J.J. Nelson (ankle)
S Curtis Riley (hip)
WR Tyrell Williams (hip)