That final preseason game each year not only functions as a final chance for roster hopefuls to earn make a make a strong impression on their current team, it also is their last best hope to audition for teams across the league. Often times, it's the opposing staff on the field who comes away the most impressed.
Such is the case with the Raiders who faced the Seahawks in their preseason finale on Thursday and a few days later, claimed Keenan Lambert whom the Seahawks waived in their final roster cuts.
It was the second time this preseason the Raiders had signed a cut player who had just performed well against them. They also signed Lorenzo Alexander last week after he faced them with the Cardinals. It's also the second year in a row they signed a Seattle player immediately after facing the Seahawks in the preseaon finale, signing Benson Mayowa after he had been waived.
For Alexander and Mayowa, they had a lot more than just the game to go on. Alexander is a nine-year pro and former Pro Bowler on special teams while Mayowa had spent the previous season with the Seahawks on their run to the Super Bowl.
Lambert is an undrafted small school player who was playing in just his second preseason game for the Seahawks. The rookie out of Norfolk State had an injury that caused him to miss the first two preseason games and had ground to make up after that. The third preseason game, the starters played the first three quarters, which means Lambert really had just one game to make his case. That was apparently enough as the only team that mattered was the one across the field.
Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr liked what they saw and were in need of a safety to replaced Brandian Ross who was injured in the game and placed on injured reserve.The Raiders made Lambert their one and only waiver claim out of the final cuts.
"Effort-filled guy that made some plays in the ball game," Del Rio said of Lambert. "He's trained in our system, something similar. He's got at least some of the language with what [defensive coordinator] Ken [Norton, Jr.] brought down, so there's some of the language that's similar. So we feel like he's a young, aggressive safety that is worthy of a spot right now."
What Lambert did in the game is put up 5 tackles on defense and 2 more on special teams. The aggressiveness led to a penalty for a late hit on a run by Michael Dyer in which Lambert got over to hit him after he was out of bounds. But it was a bang bang play and you can't fault Lambert too much for making sure Dyer was stopped.
If Lambert had been a Raiders player, I would have named him a Baller. So, I'll give him a bit of the Ballers & Busters treatment right now.
The Seahawks scored on their first offensive possession of the game to take a 7-0 early lead. On the ensuing kickoff, it was Lambert who made the special teams tackle on Devon Wylie to stop him at the 20-yard-line. In the second quarter, following the late hit penalty, Lambert teamed up to stop Dyer on a run for a 3-yard gain. He came up to make another stop on Dyer in the third quarter on a 5-yard gain. Later in the third quarter, he had his second return tackle to stop George Atkinson III at the 24-yard-line.
In the fourth quarter, he added another run stuff tackle for a short gain by Roy Helu Jr. Then to put a capper on his day, he made the stop on Michael Dyer for no gain on the one-yard-line to keep him out of the end zone. At least for one more play. He wasn't charged with giving up any catches on 31 snaps in the game and his 5 tackles (3 solo) was tied for third on the team.