Training camp has come to an end for the Oakland Raiders and there was a lot of interesting information to come out. Despite most of training camp having the black cloud that was Antonio Brown drama lingering over it, the team looked strong in many ways. A number of receivers stepped up with Brown absent, so the team should survive if he decides to take any games off. There have been a number of players that have stepped up in a big way during this training camp. Below we’re going to go through the biggest winners.
Who would’ve thought a fifth-round receiver that looks like a high school math teacher would be one of the biggest standouts at training camp? Hunter Renfrow has already accelerated into the starting slot receiver spot for the team and isn’t likely going to give that up any time soon. He’s proven to have excellent hands and is a very smart player. He’s not going to blow you away with speed or make a ton of flashy diving catches, but he’s got all the tools to be a really good slot receiver. He could end up being one of the team’s most productive rookies, despite being drafted towards the end of the draft.
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As an undrafted rookie that plays a position that’s fallen out of fashion in the NFL, Alec Ingold had basically zero chance of making a roster in 2019. Well, Keith Smith got hurt and Ingold has done nothing but impress since taking over. The former Wisconsin Badger has shown up well in the blocking and receiving game. He’s handled all of the fullback duties with Smith out. He still has a lot to do to unseat Smith, who’s a proven veteran. Even if he can’t take over for Smith, he could find himself on the roster in a special teams role. Ingold has two more preseason games to prove that he belongs on the roster. If his training camp performance is any indication, the Raiders are going to have a tough decision on their hands.
Johnathan Hankins & Josh Mauro
The reason that we’re lumping Johnathan Hankins and Josh Mauro together is that they’re both journeyman defensive lineman that have somehow impressed enough to land starting roles on the Raiders’ first unofficial depth chart. The two men had to beat out some very talented young players to do it. Hankins has earned serious praise from head coach Jon Gruden, who called him the team’s “most improved player” and “most impactful defensive lineman.” That’s an interesting development considering Hankins was on the team in 2018 and didn’t do much to impress.
Mauro is new to the team and has impressed enough to get a starting job over Arden Key and Benson Mayowa. While the first unofficial depth chart isn’t a direct indication of what the lineup will look like in week one, it’s definitely a good sign for Mauro. He doesn’t have a history as a pass rusher, but he’s impressed in run defense.
Another undrafted rookie who played football at UC Davis, Keelan Doss has been garnering the praise of head coach Jon Gruden all throughout training camp. The Raiders are stacked at wide receiver, but Doss has been making the case for the team to cut a talented veteran. He still has work cut for him with two preseason games left, but if he can keep making plays, he may force the team’s hand.
Doss is an Alameda native, so the Raiders are his hometown team. He’s already been hyped up and got a good amount of screen time on the second episode of Hard Knocks. It almost too good of a story for the Raiders to cut him loose. If they do, it won’t be because he didn’t do his best.
Nobody could’ve predicted that a battle for punter would be the hottest battle in Raiders training camp. The Raiders spent a fifth-round pick on Johnny Townsend just one year ago, so it was assumed the team would give him another chance after a poor rookie year. Well, that was until A.J. Cole got to camp and started outplaying him at every turn. Cole had a stronger leg and a better knack for pinning the ball inside the 20-yard line. Honestly, there’s probably no bigger winner from training camp than Cole. There’s not a lot of demand for punters. He came in and stole the job from the incumbent favorite and did it because of his abilities.