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Raiders training camp preview: Roster locks, bubble watch cont’d

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Moving on from the offense, we look at those locks, best bets, and bubble players on the other side of the ball and beyond.

Defense, Special teams

Locks:

DE Mario Edwards Jr, DL Jihad Ward, DT Dan Williams, OLB Khalil Mack, ILB Malcolm Smith, OLB Bruce Irvin, CB David Amerson, CB Sean Smith, FS Reggie Nelson, SS Karl Joseph, LS Jon Condo, P Marquette King, K Sebastian Janikowski

Best bets:

DE Denico Autry, NT Justin Ellis, ILB Ben Heeney, LB Shilique Calhoun, LB Neiron Ball, CB TJ Carrie

On the Bubble:

Damontre Moore – This former third round pick is on his third team in the past three years. He has a lot to prove to make this Raiders roster.

Stacy McGee, Leon Orr – Would the team keep three reserve defensive tackles? If they were simply the best players on the team, they might. Otherwise, these two will most likely be battling each other for a roster spot.

Daren Bates, Cory James, Korey Toomer – Seeing these three as linebackers is short sighted. If they make the squad it will be for what they bring to the team from a special teams aspect. It could be these three are battling for two roster spots.

James Cowser – He was considered a potential mid round talent who somehow fell out of the draft. He looked good in offseason practices. As an undrafted rookie, he is looking to get inside that bubble.

DJ Hayden – This isn’t just Hayden’s last chance to prove his worth as a former number one pick, it’s his last chance to prove he is worthy of a roster spot. He fell down the depth chart to fourth last season and now has another starter in Sean Smith ahead of him.

Neiko Thorpe – He was retained on a second round RFA tender, showing the value the Raiders place on him as a reserve corner and special teamer. He was injured in the offseason, which gave the team a long look at some other hopefuls. Thorpe will have to come back strong in camp and continue to earn his spot.

SaQwan Edwards, Dexter McDonald – Edwards was a camp standout last year and earned a place on the practice squad. He will be pushing the above two for a roster spot this season. McDonald was a 7th round pick by the Raiders in 2015, appearing in six games as a rookie The cornerback unit was the weakest on the team last year. Not the case this year, making earning a spot that much more difficult.

Nate Allen – After signing a 4-year deal last offseason, he was placed on injured reserve twice last season, appearing in just five games. Following the season, he was cut and re-signed to a one-year deal. A year after being the starting free safety entering the season, he now battles for a roster spot.

Keith McGill – The team switched this former 4th round pick to safety as they think it gives him a better shot at seeing the field. It should be a good move.

Brynden Trawick, Dewey McDonald, Jimmy Hall – Trawick was signed this offseason, primarily for his special teams prowess and as we know, special teams play is a must for reserve safeties. McDonald saw some first team reps this offseason with Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson not participating. Hall is a former linebacker the Raiders like enough as an all-around player to bring back to compete for a roster spot as a safety. These three will all fight with Allen and McGill for two reserve safety spots and perhaps an additional specialist job.

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