The Las Vegas Raiders continued their undefeated preseason run with a 17-16 victory on Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams. That moves the Raiders’ record to 2-0 in the games that don’t count heading into the preseason finale against San Francisco this weekend.
Unlike last week, the Rams’ game wasn’t a convincing or dominating performance by Las Vegas. There were times when it felt like Los Angeles was the better team, and a few miscues by the Silver and Black left the door wide open for the Rams. However, that’s common this time of year as teams unload the bench to see what each player on the roster has to offer.
That also allows for a good balance of Raiders who are “up” and “down” this week.
Javin White: UP
Around this time last season, White received a decent amount of buzz from reporters and the coaching staff for his performance during training camp. Unfortunately, fans never got a first-hand experience of the linebacker’s skillset as COVID-19 eliminated the preseason, and he only played in a handful of regular-season games with a limited snap count in each contest.
But so far this season, the Oakland native has shown Raider Nation what the hype was all about.
Against the Rams, White finished with two pass breakups and allowed one catch on two targets for 10 yards and a quarterback rating of 64.6 when targeted, per Pro Football Focus. For those wondering, one of his PBUs came when he was not the primary coverage defender, explaining how he had two deflections but still allowed one completion on two targets.
White was able to make an impressive play while covering a receiver in the slot, something the Raiders’ linebackers haven't been able to do in years, and he showed off some excellent instincts and speed to force an incompletion against play action. The latter was the instance where he was helping a teammate in coverage that almost certainly caught the coaching staff’s intention.
This is awesome coverage by Javin White on slot receiver JJ Koski— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) August 22, 2021
Rams line up in empty to isolate Koski on a LB running a choice route but White gets his hands on him and shows some great COD, stays in Koski's hip pocket on the in-cut, and breaks up the pass.
Hope White is OK pic.twitter.com/8ozPKLrdsj
Beyond just this weekend, the UNLV product has put together a fantastic preseason. He currently holds the seventh-highest PFF coverage grade among linebackers with at least 12 coverage snaps and leads the position group with three forced incompletions.
However, you could make the case that White is on the “down” list after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury on Saturday. At this time, there have been no updates on the severity of the injury, so we’ll hope for the best and assume he’ll be back in action soon. He has a very good chance at making the 53-man roster and could be a key contributor this season.
Dallin Leavitt: DOWN
It’s been a rough couple of games for Leavitt. Last week, he missed a tackle that led to the only Seahawks’ score, and this week, he got beat in coverage for a touchdown and was bailed out by an errant throw on the conversion that would have cost the Raiders the game.
That’s not exactly ideal for the Raiders who are lacking some depth at the safety position. Rookie Tyree Gillespie and Karl Joseph, who is coming off an injury and has a long injury history, are the only team’s only backup options other than Leavitt at the position. So, Las Vegas might have to count on the special teamer to play some defense at some point this season.
His roster spot likely isn’t in jeopardy because of his work on special teams, but Leavitt does run the risk of becoming a replaceable player if he can’t contribute on defense.
Marcell Ateman: UP
After a rough showing against Seattle, Ateman had a bounce-back game on Saturday. While he only hauled in two catches, both of them were impressive grabs.
The first came early on in the game where the wideout made the nice catch in traffic pictured above for a first down. On the other, he ran a beautiful sluggo route that left the corner grasping at air and caught what would end up being the game-winning touchdown.
All in all, Ateman finished the day with 45 receiving yards, a touchdown and a passer rating of 149.3 when targeted, which ranked fifth among receivers with at least two targets this week.
The downside is there isn’t very much room on the Raiders’ roster for him. The team only carried six wide receivers last year, and it looks like Zay Jones locked up that sixth spot last week. Jones only played three plays in Los Angeles, suggesting the coaching staff his saving him for the regular season.
Hopefully, Ateman’s performance was good enough to catch the eyes of other teams in the league. After three years with limited playing time and a crowded position room heading into this year, a fresh start somewhere else might be the best thing for him.
Keelan Doss: DOWN
Sticking within Las Vegas’ receiver corps, it was a game to forget for Doss against the Rams this weekend. He finished the game with no catches on two targets and even that doesn’t accurately describe his performance.
The Alameda native was targeted on a back-shoulder throw that was less than perfect, but still hit him in the chest and ended up being an interception. Also, the Raiders tried to run a crack toss with him executing the crack block, but he barely got in the defender’s way and the offense lost about five yards on the play.
While the latter is less concerning than the former, both are plays that need to be made for someone that fighting for a roster spot, even if said spot is with a different organization.
It doesn’t help matters that Doss has a history of drops in his young career. This is the time of year when players want to show growth and he’s continuing to make the same mistakes. The Raiders added quite a few receivers in the offseason so for guys on the bubble, there’s very little room for error.
Brandon Parker: UP
Parker has come a long way since his rookie season. That year, he allowed third-most sacks among offensive tackles with 10, but he’s steadily improved ever since.
Per Pro Football Focus, the big man’s pass-blocking efficiency rating has gone from 94.2 in 2018 to 96.2 in 2020. A two-point increase may not seem like much on paper, but two points were the difference between the top and the 41st ranked tackle for that metric last season.
This preseason, we’re seeing a lot of the growth that Parker has been making come to fruition. He’s allowed one pressure on 20 snaps in pass protection with an efficiency rating of 97.5. With a pass-blocking grade of 79.5, he currently ranks ninth among offensive tackles with at least 19 snaps in pass protection, and his grade got a boost after allowing zero pressures against the Rams.
The fourth-year pro has also been solid as a run blocker this August and seems to have a firm hold on the team’s swing tackle role. Kolton Miller and Alex Leatherwood have the two starting positions locked down, but Parker will likely be the first player off the bench if either of those two goes down or aren’t playing well.
Even as small as that role may be, it probably would have seemed like too much for him a few years ago. It’s tremendous to see how much growth and development the former third-round pick has made over the last few years.
Patrick Omameh: DOWN
For the second week in a row, Omameh winds up on the down list and it’s for the same reason, pass blocking. He allowed two sacks and two quarterback hits on Saturday, bringing his total pressures allowed up to seven on 56 snaps in pass protection this season.
Among offensive tackles, he’s tied for the fourth-most pressures allowed, and two out of the three players ahead of Omameh have played at least 17 more snaps than him.
The veteran offensive lineman is more of a natural guard than a tackle, but he has been playing on the outside in recent seasons and has never struggled this much in pass protection, so it’s a bit of a surprise that he’s failing to get the job done.
Position versatility is huge for backup offensively linemen and right now, Omameh is showing the exact opposite of that. Las Vegas already has plenty of depth on the interior of its offensive line, which could mean the nine-year pro winds up left off the 53-man roster next week.