Jon Gruden wasn’t lying when he said big changes were coming after the Oakland Raiders‘ third straight blowout loss. After trying out several running backs through the course of the season, the team finally landed on former Dallas Cowboys running back Rod Smith. He brings something the Raiders don’t currently have: He’s massive and powerful. The Tennessee Titans games showed that the team needed some power in the running game and Smith will bring that.
In Smith’s four seasons with the Cowboys, he scored six touchdowns and accumulated 359 rushing yards. He had brief stints with the Titans and Seattle Seahawks. He’s not going to be a big yardage guy, but he could be valuable in short-yardage situations.
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Raiders Cut D.J. Swearinger, Preston Brown & Terrell McClain
The most surprising part about this move is that the Raiders have moved on from three defenders in safety D.J. Swearinger, linebacker Preston Brown and defensive lineman Terrell McClain. Swearinger is the most notable departure as he had taken over for injured starter Karl Joseph in recent weeks. Now that he’s gone, it’s unclear what’s going to happen at safety. Erik Harris has shown in flashes that he can play decently. Curtis Riley and Dallin Leavitt
are the only other safeties on the roster. Leavitt is young and unproven, but Riley has played very poorly in the past.
LaMarcus Joyner is the team’s nickel corner, but he’s played lots of safety in the past. It seems most likely that they’re going to be lining him and Harris as the safeties for the time being. It also wouldn’t be surprising if the team added an additional body. The defense has played very poorly over the last few weeks and Gruden is clearly sending a message with this latest move.
More Moves Coming?
As big as the above roster moves are, it’s very unlikely that they are the last the team is going to make this week. With the cuts and Foster Moreau heading to the injured reserve, the team should still have three open roster spots. The playoffs are essentially out of reach, so now’s the time for the team to experiment. Whether they want to test out some young players, or some talented veterans who need to prove themselves remains to be seen.
Eric Berry and Dez Bryant are still out there and both would fill needs for the teams. It wouldn’t hurt for the Raiders to test out either one of them as they both have been out because of injuries. If they’re healthy and play well, the team could keep them for next season and not have to fill the need later.
Regardless, the Raiders should use these last few games to see what they have on their roster. They didn’t see long-term potential in McClain, Brown or Swearinger and that’s why they showed them the door. With the evaluation process about to be in full swing, it’s time for the Raiders to start planning for Las Vegas and the future.