Oakland Raiders cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (photo by Levi Damien)
They say that once the cuts come around, the coaches have pretty much already made up their mind who they want on the team and who they don't. But in a camp like this one where there are all new coaches and a lot of positions up for grabs, there are a few spots that are not yet set in stone and players who may yet still be able to convince the coaches to keep them around.
Zach Hurd, Ed Wang - Hurd was on the Raiders' practice squad last year. He suffered a head injury of some kind that has had him out much of camp. Wang is in a similar situation with his injured shoulder. He hasn't practiced for a while. The question becomes whether either of them showed enough prior to their injuries to convince coaches to give them a shot. Unless the team only keeps one backup tackle (which seems unlikely), one of them has a good chance.
Tory Humphrey - The Raiders don't exactly have a strong group of tight ends to work with. The primary backup is Richard Gordon and he had all of one reception last season. Humphrey is a well established blocking tight end with marginal receiving skills. He also plays some decent special teams. Whether he stays will depend on if the team keeps four tight ends.
Jamie Cumbie, Dominique Hamilton - The Raiders probably can't keep both of them. They are likely to load up at defensive ends that can move inside than to keep five defensive ends. Both players have shown flashes in camp and preseason. Cumbie was on the Raiders' practice squad last year. He has been out recently with a foot injury but he played quite well in the Raiders' preseason opener.
Chad Kilgore - He was added to the roster the day camp began and has been making plays at linebacker and on special teams ever since. Most impressive about his play has been the fact that he is far behind his fellow linebackers in learning the playbook. The team will get a long look at him in the final preseason game.
DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa - These two second-year corners have been hot and cold. Neither played enough last season to have them beyond reproach. Chekwa has been cold in camp but showed up well in the team's second preseason game. Van Dyke has looked good in practice but terrible in games. Depending on what portions of their performances the coaches place their emphasis; one, both, or even neither could make this team.
Brandon Underwood, Curtis Taylor - Underwood has been working at free safety and Taylor has been at strong safety. Neither has really stood out. The team usually keeps five safeties with the fifth guy kept mainly for special teams purposes.