Despite fielding very little expected starters, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the first preseason game of the year. The final score was 14-3 and Oakland didn’t give up a single point in the second half. Obviously, with both teams not using their starters, this win comes with a huge asterisk next to it, but the team should be happy with how the rookies and backups played. There were a few players that are on the roster bubble heading into the season that stated their case why the Raiders should consider keeping them.
An undrafted rookie out of UC Davis, Keelan Doss has been garnering the praise of head coach Jon Gruden all throughout training camp. Gruden has to feel vindicated after Doss scored one of the team’s two touchdowns. This was a homecoming for Doss as he was born and raised in Alameda, California.
He finished the game with only two catches for four years, but Gruden seems to love the kid.
“I said I liked that Doss,” said Gruden after Saturday’s game. “He’s a smart guy, versatile. He can help us in the kicking game and he’s playing himself into a position here to maybe make the team.”
Doss will have to beat a few receivers if he’s going to make the cut. Depending on how many receivers the team decides to keep, he’ll at least have to beat out De’Mornay Pierson-El and Keon Hatcher. He may even need to beat Marcell Ateman, which would be a tall order for him. If he continues to score touchdowns in the preseason, the Raiders may be forced to find a spot for him.
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Fullbacks aren’t much of a thing these days and the Raiders have two of them. Keith Smith is a really solid fullback, but he’s missed a couple of weeks because of injury. He’s the obvious favorite to keep the position because of his experience. However, rookie Alec Ingold has played really well in his absence. In Saturday’s game, Ingold caught four passes for 22 yards. He’s mainly known for his blocking ability, but proving that he can catch may get him a spot on the roster. It’s hard to imagine the team keeping two fullbacks on the roster. It’s also hard to imagine the Raiders will parts ways with Smith. That being said, Ingold could force Gruden to cut someone elsewhere.
Bye, bye, Johnny Townsend. Undrafted rookie punter, A.J. Cole, has outperformed Townsend at every turn this offseason. Against the Rams, Cole averaged 43 yards a punt and got two of his four punts inside the 20-yard line. Gruden compared him to former Raider great, Shane Lechler.
“He put on an orbital display the other day,” said Gruden about Cole. We haven’t seen kicks like that since Lechler was here or King.”
Those comments don’t bode well for Townsend’s future as a Raider. He wasn’t good in his first year in the league. Oakland is used to excellent punt play because, before Townsend, the team had Lechler and then Marquette King. Cole seems to show more promise and even though the Raiders used a draft pick on Townsend last year, he will likely be the punter moving forward.
Nobody knew who Anthony Rush was before this game, but Raider fans are about to start getting familiar with the name. For those that didn’t notice, the Raiders didn’t field most of their defensive line because of injuries. Rush had a lot of opportunities to play at defensive tackle and was able to get three tackles, including one tackle for loss. Gruden noticed his efforts.
“Big 340-pound defensive tackle that made some plays,” said Gruden about Rush. “He shows he can push the pocket. He’s not one-dimensional – I’m really proud of these young players. You’re rooting for them like they’re your kids.”
The undrafted rookie out of UAB finds himself amongst a crowded unit. What works in his favor is that Eddie Vanderdoes and Gabe Wright have missed most of training camp because of injury. Neither of those guys are locks to make the roster and if they keep missing time, Rush could find himself on the Raiders roster when the regular season rolls around.
It’s unclear if the Raiders are planning to roll with two or three quarterbacks heading into 2019. If they decide to go with two, the team may have a tough choice on their hands. Mike Glennon has more regular-season success than Nathan Peterman, but he threw two bad interceptions in the first half against the Rams. Peterman has played terrible in his regular-season efforts, but he looked great in the second half of the game. He also showed off great mobility on a 50-yard run.
Peterman has had success in the preseason and that hasn’t translated to regular-season games. That being said, Gruden seems to have an affinity for him. With Saturday’s performance, it looks like Peterman may have the edge over Glennon if the team cuts one of them. Time will tell if he can keep that edge.