Last Sunday we saw the Raiders' starters for three quarters. Next week we'll see them the entire game as the open the regular season. But tonight, the Raiders will be looking to evaluate some of the players who are on the bubble. Whether they end up inside that bubble or outside of it could depend on how they perform in tonight's game.
This game stands to be the most work by the back-ups and roster hopefuls we have seen all preseason. Among them are a few players you should keep an eye on.
Center: Tony Bergstrom
I don't know if Reggie McKenzie just can't bring himself to cut away his top pick from his first draft as Raiders GM or what, because Bergstrom has never done much of anything since becoming the team's third round compensatory pick in 2012. He has been tried at multiple positions and is now trying to make the squad as a backup center and utility interior lineman. He has not looked good at all at the position this preseason which means if they let him go they would need to have a guy on the roster who can replace him.
That's where fourth round rookie Jon Feliciano comes in. He played some center in college at Miami and was the center throughout rookie minicamps, looking quite proficient. Though he hasn't played there this training camp and preseason. With the other backup center, Lamar Mady, cut, either Bergstrom plays center for the entire game, or he gives way to Feliciano at some point. If we see Feliciano, and he looks like he can handle the backup center duties, Bergstrom could go bye bye.
Right tackle: Matt McCants
With Menelik Watson on injured reserve with a ruptured Achilles, McCants has a very good shot at making the roster. So good, in fact, if he can continue to play sound football as he has all preseason, he could give the coaches something to think about with regard to the right tackle spot which is now currently occupied by Austin Howard.
Running back: Michael Dyer
Dyer has been the team's second best running back most of training camp and preseason. The Raiders cut Trent Richardson, which raises Dyer's chance of making the team, but it in no way guarantees he has the job. You can bet the Raiders will be looking to put the best running back in that spot which means if they can find an option they like better on the waiver wire, they will take him and cut Dyer. It is up to Dyer to instill confidence in the coaching staff enough to keep them from replacing him after the final cuts are made.
Wide receiver: Seth Roberts
Another guy who saw his chances of making the squad increase after the first line of cuts. One of his primary competitors for a roster spot was Kenbrell Thompkins, who, after a terrible game last week, was let go. Roberts has hung around on the team's practice squad last season after he showed some surprising skills. He is a very consistent performer who has one more game to make the coaches think long and hard about whether to keep or replace him.
Defensive end: Max Valles
This rookie sixth round pick has shown virtually nothing thus far. He had 9.0 sacks for Virginia last season and left college with a year of eligibility left. The Raiders must decide whether they are willing to risk cutting him in the hopes he can clear waivers and be placed on the practice squad. If you don't see much of Valles in this one, you can bet that's their intention. Teams will regularly hide the players they intend to keep around on the practice squad. That could be the best thing for Valles who could use a year of development.
Defensive tackle: Stacy McGee vs Ricky Lumpkin vs Leon Orr vs CJ Wilson
The defensive line decision looks to be whittled down to these four, with possibly only one of them getting the backup defensive tackle job behind Dan Williams and Justin Ellis. McGee had two tipped passes last week, Lumpkin has shown great burst off the line, Orr has shown great potential as an undrafted player and is the only true nose tackle in the group, and Wilson is a versatile defensive lineman who re-signed with the Raiders on a two-year deal this offseason. Still a tough call.
Cornerback: Dexter McDonald vs SaQwan Edwards
There appears to be one cornerback spot still undecided. And one of these two guys should get it. Edwards has played quite well and, going undrafted out of New Mexico, he has been my Super Sleeper for a few weeks now. McDonald was drafted. That gives him a bit more leeway. It doesn't guarantee anything, that's for sure. My guess is one of these guys makes the roster and the other gets a practice squad spot. Another possibility is, of course, that the team adds a corner on the waiver wire and both of these guys head to the practice squad.
Safety/Special teamer: Taylor Mays vs Tevin McDonald
It's fairly likely neither of these guys make the team. McDonald is an undrafted rookie and Mays was added a couple weeks ago. The team would likely have to keep five safeties if either of these two make the team, so they would be used almost solely as special teams players.
Return specialist: Devon Wylie
Speaking of long shots, Wylie joined the team late in camp to compete as a return man. The team had hoped Trindon Holliday would fill that role, but that didn't work out and they cut him. Right now the favorites for the kick and punt returning jobs respectively are Taiwan Jones and TJ Carrie. But if the team decides it wants Carrie to focus more on his starting cornerback duties and/or if Taiwan Jones can't prove he can handle the kick return job, Wylie could sneak in. As I said, it's a real long shot. But one worth watching.