Thursday night the 2017 preseason comes to a close. It’s the final audition for many players currently on the 90-man roster; 37 of whom will find themselves unemployed on Saturday. Here are those who you should be watching:
RB Elijah Hood
This seventh round rookie idolizes Marshawn Lynch and would love to replace him. That won’t happen this year, but he can make a case to stay on the regular season roster until his time comes.
WR KJ Brent
An undrafted rookie in 2016, he hung around on the Raiders practice squad last season. The 6-3, 200-pounder hoped to replace Andre Holmes as the big red zone target. It hasn’t shown up in preseason with just one catch for 7 yards.
WR Keon Hatcher
The sticky handed Arkansas product has played himself into the most intriguing rookie receiving talent on the roster. He may have at very least already earned a practice squad spot. Thursday would be about making the team consider keeping him as a sixth receiver.
TE Gabe Holmes
As a rookie in 2015, they stashed him on the practice squad as a rookie, calling him up late in the season rather than risk someone signing him away. Then he spent all last season on the practice squad. He has caught just two passes for a total of one yard this preseason. The Raiders have liked him enough to keep him around this long. Thursday night could be his last shot.
OT Jylan Ware
The second of four 7th round picks by the Raiders this year, this 6-7, 317-pounder hasn’t looked great so far, including giving up a strip sack and a run stuff for a loss in week three in Dallas. Thursday we’ll see if he can rebound from that.
C Ian Silberman
Former 49ers offensive guard/tackle was switched to center for the Raiders; a position he’d never played before. Mike Tice has said the team will carry three centers. He could mean two on the roster and one of the practice squad, but Silberman’s versatility gives him a shot at the regular season roster.
DT Treyvon Hester
The team’s final draft pick near the end of the 7th round, Hester has shown some nice pass rushing abilities, leading the team with 3.0 sacks this preseason. Where his game needs work is against the run.
LB LaTroy Lewis
Lewis has been quite the playmaker for the Raiders’ defense. He had 2.0 sacks in the preseason opener in Arizona, and last week in Dallas grabbed a forced fumble and ran it 65 yards for a touchdown. Another highlight like those and you’d have to think those plays are not a coincidence.
LB Nicholas Morrow
With Obi Melifonwu missing the first two preseason games, Morrow has gotten some good work at the moneybacker spot. He has played well in that role as a speedy 6-0, 216-pounder. With Melifonwu missing practice this week, we could see a lot more work from this division three prospect.
CB Breon Borders
The undrafted rookie out of Duke came on strong in the offseason and earned time in the slot with the first team in camp. He has cooled off some since and with the return of Gareon Conley, Borders will have a tough time claiming a spot on the roster. A big performance Thursday would help.