Calling the Final 53

Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable watches his team during warmups before a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 21, 2010. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

The Oakland Raiders gave us our first real glimpse of the roster over the past couple of days by cutting the tight ends from five players to three. Eric Butler was released today in order for the Raiders to hit the required 75-man roster by today. But that doesn’t mean the coaches can stop evaluating because after Thursday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, that final 53-man deadline will come upon this team real quick. The Raiders will be required to get to 53 men committed to one purpose by Saturday at 6 p.m. eastern.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at who I think will be your final 53 Raiders who will get over the 11-loss hump and make this team a threat to their opponent’s win-loss column in 2010.

Quarterbacks

1st- Jason Campbell

2nd- Bruce Gradkowski

3rd- Kyle Boller

This position became a lot clearer when the team lost Charlie Frye to IR for the season. This is pretty clear cut.

Running Backs

1st-Michael Bush

2nd- Darren McFadden

3rd- Rock Cartwright

Right now it’s a toss-up for the third running back spot, but the key thing the coaches are going to have to look at is who can replace one of the first two if they go down with an injury. Rock Cartwright gets the nod not only for that reason, but also because of his special teams play and the fact that he knows the ins and outs of the starting quarterback after playing for the Redskins during Campbell’s entire career. This is a spot the Raiders will have to upgrade next year.

Fullbacks

1st- Marcel Reece

2nd- Manase Tonga

If you thought Luke Lawton wasn’t in the Raiders plans this year, like Lawton himself, then you were right. Reece has been the best overall player at the position and is a threat out of the backfield. For a back-up, they will go with a guy who they can develop and can contribute to special teams.

Tight Ends

1st- Zach Miller

2nd-Brandon Myers

3rd- John Owens

The Raiders already made this decision by cutting their former back-up, Tony Stewart, and cutting Eric Butler today. I was a bit taken back by the Stewart cut because I felt like they had a pretty good trio happening. They must have seen something in John Owens that they really like.

Wide Receivers

1st- Darrius Heyward-Bey      

2nd- Louis Murphy                

3rd- Johnnie Lee Higgins    

4th- Chaz Schilens      

5th- Jacoby Ford

6th-Todd Watkins

This pretty much follows the teams’ official depth chart on their website, but another thing it does is brings the widest array of diversity of the group that has been presented. The Raiders need Higgins right now while Chaz Schilens is a question mark, Jacoby Ford provides depth in the return game on special teams, and Todd Watkins has an instinct for making the big conversions when they are needed. Sure he missed a pass on fourth down against San Francisco, but I bet he makes that tough catch seven out of ten tries. They will hope that Nick Miller clears waivers and can contribute to the practice squad.

Offensive Line

LT- Mario Henderson

LG- Robert Gallery

C- Samson Satele

RG- Cooper Carlisle

RT- Langston Walker

Back-ups: Jared Veldheer, Bruce Campbell, Chris Morris, Khalif Barnes

I think with this group, you have a lot of experience in the starters and a lot of versatility in the back-up players. They keep the two rookies there to continue their development and have a center/guard veteran, Chris Morris, as well as a guard/tackle guy in Khalif Barnes.

Total Offensive keepers: 26

Cornerbacks

1st- Nnamdi Asomugha

2nd- Stanford Routt

3rd- Chris Johnson

4th- Walter McFadden

5th- Jeremy Ware

This group has a good veteran base in Routt, Asomugha, and Johnson as well as an opportunity to continue development with Ware and McFadden. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them keep four guys here, as some of the safeties are versatile enough to fill in at a spot if needed during a game.

Safeties

FS- Michael Huff

SS- Tyvon Branch

Back-ups: Mike Mitchell, Stevie Brown

Stevie Brown is really the surprise here, upsetting longstanding back-up Hiram Eugene as well as the Cable favorite Jerome Boyd. I really like Boyd myself, but in Branch and Mitchell, the Raiders have their big hitters already. Brown has showed incredible consistency for a rookie and he’ll take the opportunity and run with it.

Linebackers

WLB- Trevor Scott

MLB- Rolando McClain

SLB- Kamerion Wimbley

Back-ups: Thomas Howard, Ricky Brown, Quentin Groves, Travis Goethel

The Raiders brought in all new faces this year and cited last year’s squad with a majority of the fault for the poor run defense. While I don’t expect this year’s group to shut down the run completely, I would have to say they have a lot of room and potential for growth to be that very type of unit. Howard and Brown are too talented to get cut from the squad and are quality back-ups. Groves is also a quality back up and is a hard worker. Goethel will earn his stripes on special teams.

Defensive Line

DE- Lamarr Houston

DT-Tommy Kelly

DT- Richard Seymour

DE- Matt Shaughnessy

Back-ups: Jay Richardson, Desmond Bryant, John Henderson, Chris Cooper

Jay Richardson will be the primary back-up for the defensive ends, but Quentin Groves, Trevor Scott, and Kamerion Wimbley will all help fill the “keep ‘em fresh” role on passing downs. The two starters at DT should have a good year and Bryant, Henderson, and the consistent surprise roster maker Chris Cooper will be at attention to keep these two guys fresh.

Total Defensive Keepers: 24

Special Teams

K- Sebastian Janikowski

P- Shane Lechler

LS- John Condo

Roster Total: 53

Those who will be cut: 22

Bennett, Michael Bodiford, Shaun Boyd, Jerome

Brennan, Colt Daniels, Alex Eugene, Hiram

Figurs, Yamon Heard, Kellen Gunheim, Greyson

Joseph, William Lawton, Luke Loper, Daniel

Miller, Nick Nixon, David Norris, Slade

Parsons, Alex Pears, Erik Porter, Joe

Rodd, Brandon Thomas, Joey Waters , Swayze

Williams, Sam

Practice Squad: QB Colt Brennan, LB David Nixon, LB Slade Norris, WR Nick Miller, FB/DE Alex Daniels, S Jerome Boyd, DT Kellen Heard, OL Alex Parsons, DB Joe Porter

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