The Las Vegas Raiders‘ depth is getting tested early in the season. The team missed a number of players in Week 1 and have already lost two players for the season in Gerald McCoy and Denzelle Good. With depth becoming very important for the team, they will have to start filling the practice squad with players who are ready to play on any given week.
The Raiders recently signed former Pro Bowl defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the practice squad. With his signing becoming official on Wednesday, the team announced that they released cornerback Madre Harper off the practice squad to make room. The 23-year-old was signed to the team as an undrafted free agent last year before getting poached by the New York Giants.
The Raiders were able to bring him back after the Giants cut him during final roster cuts. The fact that they brought him back made it seem like they liked his potential. Perhaps he hadn’t made the progress they thought he would. Harper played in nine games for the Giants last season but it looks like his chance of being on a roster this season is finding another practice squad to land on.
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Casey Hayward Excellent in Raiders Debut
Heading into the season, cornerback has been one of the biggest areas of concern for the Raiders. They signed two-time Pro Bowler Casey Hayward in the offseason but he’s 32-years-old now and many expected him to be a shell of his former self. That wasn’t the case at all in Week 1.
He looked like his old self against the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, he was named to Pro Football Focus‘ defensive Team of the Week. According to their ranking system, he was the second-best cornerback in the NFL in Week 1 with an 80.1 grade. Obviously, it’s early in the season so Hayward’s body could wear down as the year goes on. Regardless, this is a really positive sign for the Raiders. If Hayward can play at Pro Bowl level for most of the season, Las Vegas’ defense should be a lot better than anybody expected.
Time to Be Concerned About Damon Arnette?
While it’s exciting for the Raiders to see Hayward play so well, it could be time to start worrying about Damon Arnette. The 2020 first-round pick was a starter during Week 1 last year but has clearly fallen out of favor with the new defensive coaching staff. He played a total of one defensive snap against the Ravens on Monday.
In Arnette’s defense, the Raiders only played three cornerbacks more than one snap in Hayward, Trayvon Mullen and Nate Hobbs. The Ravens aren’t known for their passing attack so the team didn’t need Arnette on the field often. That should change on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Arnette only plays a few snaps in that game, then it’s time to start getting concerned. He had a really bad rookie season but has gotten good reviews this offseason from coaches.