Just about every day after practice the question "who has been standing out" comes up. Typically Tom Cable doesn't go into any Rex Ryan type of praise about his players. But today he seemed like he wanted to gush a little more than usual.
"If anything I am most excited about the other day is Dallas ran three power plays and for the first time since I have been around here our SAM linebacker stood up the fullback all three times. There was nowhere to run. And that is what he brings he is a guy that understands what you ask him to do to. Plays it the way you are asking him to play it, and I think that we are fortunate because he can run and he has coverage skills."
Kamerion is certainly deserving of the praise as is the entire defense. They were dominant in the Cowboys game and much of camp they have looked far superior to the offense. The offense has seen some success as well at times but there is no denying how good this defense has been looking this camp. Up until this point, we have heard a lot about the play of Rolando McClain, Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston and Trevor Scott. Wimbley was due to receive some pats on the back. The entire linebacking corps has been tremendous compared to years passed and Wimbley is a big part of that. Strongside linebacker has been probably the most glaring weakspot on this Raider defense for as long as I can remember. And from all indications, the Raiders have finally found their man.
The rest of the story
Much has been made of there being so many players that are getting a considerable amount of time off from practice. It has come to the point where if a player limps off the field, you can just assume he won't see the practice field, let alone a preseason game, for a while. Due to the unusual nature of these, the initial reaction is to assume that the injuries sustained are more serious than Cable is letting on. Cable is quick to say that he is simply resting players and it is becoming apparent that that is just what he is doing...more or less.
"I am [resting guys] quite a bit [and] I know you guys are wondering about it. I am trying to be more proactive on the smart side and take care of these guys. I don't want to just throw guys back out there yet until they are ready to go."
But being "ready to go" isn't the only reason many of these guys are not seeing the field. Cable admitted that he was keeping many of them out for the sole purpose of getting a better look at he young guys that are fighting for roster spots. He wants to see what he's got.
"That is actually a part of what is going on here; trying to give all the young guys [reps], particularly those who have missed a little bit [like] Jacoby Ford. We will have some tough decisions to make as we start to get down."
Cable also pointed out some players that have especially taken advantage of their added reps with the starters sitting out.
"I live what a number of guys have done. Right now Yamon Figurs has jumped out a little bit... Todd Watkins has been solid, consistent as he always is. Jonnie Lee Higgins has done some good things. I think that part of it is working. I think we are developing that group at a much faster rate."
Figurs has certainly performed well of late. Figurs had three catches in the game against Dallas and two of them were especially impressive. He had a very well executed over the shoulder catch from Kyle Boller in today's practice with Jeremy Ware in tow. Cable mentions he and Higgins and Watkins together because they are all in competition with each other for the same roster spot. At most, one of them will get it if the team carries six receivers which is somewhat likely considering the two return jobs will both be held by receivers.
Speaking of players getting rest, Bruce Gradkowski will be held out of Saturday's game. He had practiced all week but stood by and watched today. This was most likely to get Kyle Boller more reps with the second team in preparation for the game. Cable had this to say in regards to Gradkowski
"I think Bruce is really, really close but I want to give him the opportunity to be as close to 100 percent if not a 100 percent before he goes in a game."
With Boller running with the 2nd team again, and Colt Brennan having had another week to pick up the Raider offense, it would stand to reason Brennan would see the field for his first preseason game as a Raider. But Cable seemed to hedge a little bit in response to questions about whether Brennan will play.
"I think we feel better about it," Cable said. "I think until we sit down and talk about the play time. It is a probably, we will see."
That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of confidence. "We feel better"? "Probably"? "We will see"? I am thinking Brennan may not see the field again in this game. And if so, it will be very late in the game. If Brennan doesn't play at all, he will not be making this team. I have little doubt of that because if he doesn't play, he won't see extensive action until the final preseason game. And that alone is not enough to earn a roster spot.Follow Levi on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend him on Facebook