With the release of the first depth chart for the Oakland Raiders happening yesterday, we finally have a better idea of where a lot of players stand. Once the start of the regular season is here, there are going to have to be a lot of players cut from the roster. It’ll have to trim down to 53 players, so there will probably be some talent that has to be sent away. Unfortunately, several players have been dealing with nagging injuries throughout camp and that won’t help their chances. It’s out of their control, but the Raiders can’t hold a roster spot for a player that can’t play. There is still time for players to prove that they belong, but there are five guys that look like they could be on their way out.
Tight end Paul Butler looks like an action figure, but he may be the odd man out in a young Raiders tight end group. He was listed last on the team’s tight end depth chart and he’s been nursing a hip injury. He made his way back to practice on Tuesday and that should help him. The problem he’s facing is that Darren Waller looks unstoppable as a receiver and head coach Jon Gruden loves rookie Foster Moreau. Oakland will probably only keep three tight ends on the opening day roster and it looks like Derek Carrier has the edge over Butler. He still has time now that he’s back from injury, but he has some serious catching up to do.
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At this point, it seems like Eddie Vanderdoes‘ body can’t handle the rigors of an NFL career. He missed time in college and has missed a lot of time in the NFL. He didn’t play at all last season and he’s been missing a significant amount of training camp with a concussion. Vanderdoes had a lot to prove this offseason if he was going to find a spot on a defensive line loaded with new, young talent. He can’t prove anything if he can’t get on the field. He’s all the way in the back of the team’s depth chart and he could be gone any day now at this point. It’s a shame because he does have talent.
Another player bit by the injury bug, Quinton Bell has to play catch up if he’s going to make a case to stay on the roster. The former wide receiver turned defensive end probably needs more reps than any other Raiders draft pick because he’s so raw. He’s incredibly athletic and the team likes him. He got back to the practice field on Tuesday, but still needs to start making plays. As a seventh-round pick, his spot on the roster isn’t a lock. If the team doesn’t keep him on the opening day roster, he’ll be a serious candidate for the practice squad.
Nevin Lawson was already going to have a hard time making the roster and it just got even harder after he announced that he was going to be suspended for the first four games of the season. Lawson spent his first five years in the NFL for the Detroit Lions and started a lot of games for them. He wasn’t particularly impressive during his time there and the Raiders have a lot of young talent in the defensive backfield. He wasn’t too far back on the team’s depth chart before the suspension was announced, so he could find himself back in Oakland after he serves his time. However, it’s unlikely the team will hold a spot on the roster for him until they get a better idea of what the secondary looks like.
Johnny Townsend really failed to impress in his rookie year. The Raiders brought in undrafted rookie AJ Cole to compete with Townsend and it looks like the former has the upper hand to this point.
Oakland has had excellent punt play for years. Shane Lechler was one of the best punters ever and he was followed by the talented/controversial Marquette King. The team might be apprehensive to cut Townsend loose because they used a fifth-round pick on him last year, but bad punt play can really put the defense in a bind. If Cole continues to outperform him, Townsend should be gone.