Saturday the Raiders travel across the Bay bridge to take on their area rival San Francisco 49ers. It is a yearly event that is dubbed "The Battle of the Bay." But this one has much greater stakes for some Raider hopefuls. It could be their last chance to impress the coaching staff enough to earn a roster spot.
The first NFL cutdown date has been scheduled for August 30. At 1pm Eastern time on that day teams must trim their rosters to 80 players. They are allowed to have a maximum of 90 players until then. The Raiders currently have 89 players in camp.
Sure, August 30 technically comes after the third preseason game. But the third preseason game has the starters playing three quarters before giving way to the second team. Those who are on the bubble will have little or no time to prove themselves. And let's be honest, by the third game teams have already decided who will be sticking around.
Most of the starters will likely play through the first half of Saturday's game. This leaves one half of football for the second and third teams to show their stuff and prove their worth.
Most of that work has already been put in by their performances in practice but for a few hopefuls, this game can still be a proving ground -- if only to keep them on the roster for the fourth preseason game in which they will take center stage.
With all the injuries, the door has been opened for many of these players. Not only does it give them more time in practices and in games, but if the injuries turn out to be more serious, it could mean a roster spot opening up that was not previously available.
Safety has been the position with an open door lately. Mike Mitchell has been out injured through much of camp and the last couple practices he was nowhere to be found. His absence opens the door at strong safety. Hiram Eugene dislocated his hip in the first preseason game which will have him out for the season and opens the door at free safety. These injuries also leave gaping holes on special teams.
So far the favorite to fill Eugene's role is Jerome Boyd. He got some work with the first team at weak side linebacker in the first preseason game but with the injury to Hiram Eugene, he was moved back to safety.
Boyd was an undrafted free agent rookie in last season's camp but failed to break through an already full and talented safety group. The Raiders liked him enough to sign him back for this year's camp and it appears to be paying dividends. After practice today, Hue Jackson lauded Boyd's work in camp.
"He is doing good," said Jackson. "He really is, and I am impressed. He does a lot of different things for us; he plays safety and he plays a little linebacker for us, but he has been a pleasant surprise. You know, when I was around him a year ago we let him do some things that didn't work out. I think he came back more determined, more focused, and he wants an opportunity to make this ball club, so he is working each and every day."
Last year's camp had Boyd and Stevie Brown battling for the final safety spot on the team. Both players have not only impressed as safeties but have also played considerably well on special teams. This is not a big surprise considering they both played linebacker in college. Brown was primarily a safety who played some linebacker and Boyd was a linebacker who was switched to safety in the NFL due to his size.
Stevie Brown was a seventh round rookie last year and was all over the field making plays in the preseason. He didn't make the team out of camp but was quickly re-signed as his fine play had the Raiders keep five safeties on the roster.
This offseason, however, he has been the first safety off the bench after incumbent starters Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch. In Friday's practice he picked off a pass from Kyle Boller in the back of the endzone on a redzone drill.
With the way things are going right now, Boyd and Brown could be the primary backups at safety as well as standout special teams players. It looks as if both could not only make the team but play significant roles.
Follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend me on Facebook.
I to will wait for week 1 before making judgement on the state of our CBs..lets just turn loose that d-line on ole a smith tonite,get a "w"and go home with no one hurt
I want to see what the recently signed "veteran" safeties can do in this game. Losing Branch and having Mitchell injured opens up a slot. With a bunch of rookie CBs, the team needs a veteran presence to back them up. Whoever can contribute on ST may earn a spot on the roster.
I also want to see what the CBs can do tonight. McFadden and Ware were terrible against AZ. Can they bounce back against SF? I want to see how DVD handles starting. Will Sterling Moore show well? The CBs and Safeties need to grow into a cohesive unit if the Raiders defense are going to succeed this year. Giving up almost 300 yds of passing to AZ was not a good start. The Raiders' DBs made the AZ QBs look like Tom Brady!
Brown is a ball hawk and someone Woodson should enable to reach his potential and we could be in for a big upside surprise with this kid.
Boyd's knock was his speed or lack thereof rather. Brown just had a tough time cause Branch, Mitchell and Huff had a lock on 3 spots and left but 1 for the rest of the Safeties in camp.
i'll reserve judgment until week 1. that's what these games are all about. DVD will cover Edwards like a blanket today. he's not going to have 1 catch from Alex Smith. speaking of Smith, it should be easy to bring on the pressure much like the Saints did last week. yes, they blitzed excessively, but that's because their front 7 isn't all that great. Our defense is much stronger even with just 4 or 5 rushers. Smith is going to get LAID OUT...
this, mike, will greatly help out our secondary. we can be #1 in sacks all year long... and top 3 in QB pressures and hits. I don't think we'll see vanilla defense a lot. i'm willing to bet Hue Jackson and Chucky B have some different things in mind. they've hinted around it. they have to to make up for Asomugha's loss. this is why i'm not worried about the secondary as much. we will see our starters much more today vs last week, and you'll see the difference...even with vast injuries we have. our depth is BETTER, but not great... at least more improved from last year.
i've been calling it for a while, and now Stevie Brown THE GREAT will get his shot! just giving him more reps is exciting to me. because as LD mentioned, he made some excellent plays on the ball on special teams and even in game situations. 30 tackles in 15 appearances(1 start) is pretty good if you ask me. MANY of those tackles came on hard hits. especially when a receiver caught a ball, he would be there to cut them down quick. if he gets to start these next couple of weeks, then i foresee him knocking Branch and MM off ... pushing them down the list. which is a good problem to have IMO. we need all the good special teams players we can get.
I'm actually very happy Huff came back. we need all the good coverage we can get. he also provides CB depth if CJ stays injured and DVD has big time growing pains(i think he will be pretty good off the bat) ... and i like how he gained more muscle mass in the offseason. now if he can break on a ball carrier better, he'll certainly be something and prove that he was terribly misused for at least 2 years in OAK. he had better earn that 4 year 32 million contract.
@DARKKUSH What are you smokin? We are all partisan towards the Raiders, but grab a shot of reality. DVD is a rookie. He made a few good plays last week. HE MADE SEVERAL TERRIBLE PLAYS LAST WEEK, LEADING TO A COUPLE OF TDS. Now, you have him shutting out a quality receiver? The Saints front 7 isn't that great? Are you dreaming? The Raiders will not have a vanilla defense? How long have you been watching the Raiders? The Raiders play 80% man to man defense and depend on their DL to pressure the QB. They have done this for 40 years and will continue to do this. Yes, def. coord. CB will dial up a few more situational blitzes than JM did, but the Raiders will stay true to form. That's who they are.
The Raiders depth on defense is not better than last year. CB, LB, and S are not as deep as last year. If one of the starters goes down they have some problems. The CBs are suspect. Someone has to step up. Besides Goethel, there is no proven back-up at LB. Since H. Eugene went down there is no ST star and solid back-up Safety. Mitchell is also injured. Why do you think the Raiders signed two veteran Safeties this past week?
Think before you post.