Just one game left. There are only 16 of them in a season for these guys, so they have to make them count. That goes more for some guys than others as either their roster spots or their position hangs in the balance. Here are ten Raiders who are most looking to make a strong last impression today.
The hyper-confident 29-year-old journeyman signed a one-year ‘prove it’ deal with the Raiders, and it hasn’t gone as well as he had hoped. He found himself coming off the bench this season once Daryl Worley returned from his suspension. He has swagger and is a solid tackler, but also tends to give up a lot of catches. With Daryl Worley on IR, he is starting. This is his last chance to show the Raiders and the rest of the NFL that he deserves to be a starter and perhaps sign a deal for more than just one year.
Coming onboard after the season opener, he soon was named a starter and remained there the rest of the season. The 27-year-old former second round pick seems to have carved out a spot for himself, but with Justin Ellis back and Eddie Vanderdoes set to return in the offseason, it’s hard to say. He may be playing himself into a deal elsewhere.
It wasn’t until the Raiders receiving corps this season was considerably depleted that this seventh round rookie got his shot. He began the season on the practice squad, but week 11 was named a starter after Amari Cooper was traded and Martavis Bryant and Brandon LaFell were sent to injured reserve. This offseason the Raiders will have a chance to revitalize the unit. Jordy Nelson will be back, but after that it’s wide open. Ateman may or may not be a part of that. He has 14 catches for 147 yards and a touchdown this season in six games. Last week against Denver, he didn’t have a target. He will have one shot to rebound and make a lasting impression.
This former second round pick was unemployed when the Raiders signed him off the street this season. He hadn’t played for an NFL team since last season. He’s been signed twice this season by the Raiders, the first time they waived him days later without even activating him for the game. But more injuries had the Raiders bringing him back. Ealy was once a highly thought of pass rushing talent and he had 14.0 sacks over his first three seasons. The Raiders are desperate for pass rushers and he knows if he could get some pressure on the quarterback today, that could very well keep him employed.
Good had been soured by one of the Colts coaches for how the big offensive lineman was treated following the death of his brother. They waived him a month ago and the Raiders claimed him. The past two weeks, he has been the team’s starting right guard. He will get one more start at the position. Three weeks is a small sample size to prove he is worthy of being a reserve utility lineman. He played much better last week than he had in his first start. The 6-5, 345-pounder will look to duplicate that.
As you might expect of a raw talent from a small school, Parker has had some rough games as a rookie. Last week, it became clear, Jon Gruden knew he needed help, so he consistently gave Parker either a tight end to help block the outside speed rush or a running back to come by and help out with a chip block. It worked for that game, but it also shows a lack of confidence in Parker. To be fair, he was often going up against the likes of Von Miller. Either way, Parker will look to give the coaches some positive tape or he could be looking at the the Raiders hoping the likes of David Sharpe, Donald Penn, or perhaps another drafted tackle to step up and take the job.
For the first time in his career, he has been looked at as more than just a special teams guy. He has been playing a good amount at safety. With Conley injured last week, Marcus Gilchrist played some cornerback, which had Harris come in a good portion of the time at safety. He has had an interception each of the past two weeks; the first one being the first of his career. He’s 28-years-old so he has a shot to be a consideration as a potential starter alongside Karl Joseph next season. He will have a job this week against Pat Mahomes, which would make it all the ore impressive if he were to ball out.
The subject of this week has been how Key has gotten some pressure this season, but has just one sack because he can’t seal the deal. His head coach and defensive coordinator have both commented on how he should have like 8 sacks if he could just get the QB down. Can he answer the bell? The Raiders will be looking to add pass rushers this offseason, so if Key can’t prove he can be one of them, he may be relegated to situational pass rusher. Last chance to make sack into sacks before the long offseason.
It’s a crowded tight end room at the moment. Jared Cook had is having a career year and could head to his first Pro Bowl before all is said and done, Lee Smith had his 2019 roster bonus moved to this year, which says the Raiders want him back. That means Waller and Derek Carrier are competing for third tight end duties. This will be Waller’s fourth game with the Raiders and he will want to give the coaches a memorable performance to help his chances of currying favor over Carrier.
Not many teams would have put up with the level at which Townsend was playing this season. If the Raiders season wasn’t basically over by midseason, Townsend would undoubtedly have been cut for someone more reliable. The rookie 5th round pick won’t be handed the job this offseason, that’s for sure. It would help him tremendously if in this last game, he at least lifted himself above 32nd overall in punting average (43). Being considering literally the worst punter in the league is not a good look.