When the Las Vegas Raiders first put their practice squad together, it was filled with players who spent the offseason with the team. However, it hasn’t taken long for the team to make some changes. Las Vegas has decided to bring some outside players to the practice squad.
The Raiders announced that they’ve signed defensive back J.R. Reed and rookie offensive lineman Vitaliy Gurman.
Reed came into the NFL in 2020 as an undrafted free agent of the Jacksonville Jaguars before making his way to the Los Angeles Rams. He played eight games with the Rams but eventually moved on to the New York Giants where he played under current Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. He played eight games under the coach and now gets another chance with him. He should have a decent familiarity with Graham’s defense which will give him a chance to play at points during the season. Reed has spent much of this offseason with the Denver Broncos but was let go during roster cuts.
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Background on Gurman
Gurman was impressive for the Kansas City Chiefs in training camp and preseason after getting signed as an undrafted free agent. He started in 51 total games in college at Edinboro University and Toledo. Gurman has experience at most spots on the offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman will either play guard or tackle in the NFL but his size makes him a better fit at guard.
The offensive line is the Raiders’ biggest question mark heading into the season so Gurman could have a chance to get on the active roster at some point. He impressed with his run blocking in the preseason and could develop into a solid player.
Offensive Line Still an Area of Concern
The Raiders’ offensive line was a major weakness last year so it was a surprise when new head coach Josh McDaniels didn’t do much to upgrade the group. Outside of left tackle Kolton Miller, every other expected starter on the line has yet to prove to be a dependable player. The team recently cut 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood after he wasn’t able to develop into the player the Raiders needed him to be. Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus believes that the offensive line remains an area of concern for Las Vegas:
Alex Leatherwood‘s release a year after being selected 17th overall highlights a broader problem the Raiders have along the offensive line. Leatherwood looked little, if any, better entering Year 2, but he wasn’t alone.
Nobody slated to start earned an above-average PFF grade overall (left tackle Kolton Miller did not play) across the preseason, and there is no true viable replacement options on the roster. The Raiders made some big plays this offseason, but the offensive line could undermine all of it.
The hope is that the offensive line won’t hold back what could be an elite offense.
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