The Oakland Raiders cut 12 players earlier today, including quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero and fullback Manase Tonga. The team has until Friday to cut 22 more in order to reach the final 53-man roster limit in advance of the regular season.
As the Silver and Black seek to build on its 31-20 win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday, it will be interesting to see how the preseason wraps up and the team's identity takes shape. So before the Raiders square off with the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night, let's take a quick look at four of Oakland's most important backups entering the week.
This is not about crowning Terrelle Pryor the new quarterback king. This is about Pryor taking only one half of play to rack up 137 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Pryor also scrambled for 90 yards on five carries, including a touchdown against the Lions. The second-year player may still be a work in progress, but he is certainly not without upside.
And seeing as starting quarterback Carson Palmer is perpetually unconcerned with his lackluster performances, Pryor stepping up may be the fire starter Oakland needs right now to ignite its offense, regardless of head coach Dennis Allen's attempts to hush any talk of quarterback controversy.
The former Ohio State Buckeye has yet to establish himself as reliable option for the Raiders, and some may still hold a grudge over the Dallas debacle, but Pryor's positive momentum is sure to at least get Matt Leinart's second-string heart racing.
Backup rookie receiver Juron Criner continued his impressive preseason by torching the Lions for 115 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Did I mention he only had two catches and faced some serious pass interference?
The fifth-round pick out of Arizona seems poised to step up for injured receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, a positive sign for a Raiders offense relying on young talent and speed to beat defenders.
Fellow rookie receiver Rod Streater may just be Oakland's best offensive backup, with 18 catches for 156 yards in total this preseason, but seeing as Streater's been well covered by Raiders media all summer, I figured just this once Criner could have the spotlight.
First-year tackle Jamie Cumbie deflected three passes and recorded a sack against Detroit on Saturday after missing Oakland's previous game against Arizona and several practices with a foot injury.
Cumbie's deflection turned into an interception for rookie tackle Christo Bilukidi, who is also making waves as a defensive backup for the Raiders.
Bilukidi told Eric Gilmore of CBSSports.com:
“Credit to Jamie Cumbie, man. He had a hell of a game. Three batted balls and a sack. And just that last batted ball, I turned around and I saw it coming down. I was like, well, I could either make the play or not make the play, so I went and grabbed it. That's how you end the game right there, especially if you're trying to make that roster spot. Show these coaches your athleticism and all that.”
Cumbie looks to make the final 53-man roster after spending last season on Oakland's practice squad.
Running back Taiwan Jones had 10 carries for 50 yards in his preseason debut against the Lions, which would not normally merit front page headlines. Jones' speedy play is notable because the Raiders' backfield is a tricky, injury-prone place right now, and every little bit helps.
Many Raider faithful are already weary of the newly acquired Mike Goodson, who has been injured and fumbled multiple times this preseason. The stage may be set for Jones to blaze past Goodson and rookie back Lonyae Miller into the second-string slot behind starter Darren McFadden.
There is still time for the Raiders to smooth out the rough edges and finalize its 53-man roster for the regular season. Pryor, Criner, Cumbie and Jones are four important backups for the Raiders right now. There are certainly others worth noting, so let the great comment debate begin.