It's a new day and age for the Silver and Black Attack, including the seven rookies on Oakland's final 53-man roster. From late round workhorses to undrafted standouts, the Raiders look to benefit from a heap of fresh talent and energy on both sides of the ball.
Let's see how the Raiders' rookie class looks heading into Monday night.
Rod Streater has been kicking ass and taking names since day one. The undrafted receiver had only 19 catches during his senior season at Temple, but that hasn't stopped him from taking advantage of Oakland's offensive injuries and earning a possible start on Monday night.
Streater led the team with 18 catches for 165 yards during the preseason, and seems to be developing good chemistry with QB Carson Palmer. Even once Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford are healthy, both may find themselves competing with Streater for playing time should he continue to impress.
Criner finished the preseason with four catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, although most of his stats came in one game against the Detroit Lions. After suffering an ankle injury at Seattle last week, Criner was limping at practice and may not be in prime position to make an impact early on this season.
Still, Criner is a big player with good hands and may be a viable option for Oakland in red zone situations.
Tony Bergstrom was Oakland's first draft pick of the post-Al Davis era. The former Utah Ute may not be ready to start just yet, but the converted tackle has a lot of upside and could compete for playing time on the left side.
Bergstrom protected the quarterback well this preseason and seems well-adjusted to the Raiders' new zone-blocking scheme. Veteran Cooper Carlisle is still the first option at LG, but look for Bergstrom to supplement and possibly overtake the 35-year-old Carlisle by season's end.
Lucas Nix may just be the biggest surprise on the Raiders' roster this season. After missing fives games last year due to a dislocated knee, the undrafted free agent out of Pitt now sits behind starting RG Mike Brisiel on the depth chart.
Nix told Eric Gilmore of CBSSports.com:
I got hurt last season, but I can't use that as an excuse. I thought I played good in college and good enough to get drafted. The simple fact is I didn't. I can't change that. It's out of my control. You can't lose confidence in your ability and your skill. Just keep pushing forward.
While he may not have the stats just yet, Nix certainly has the determination and work ethic to help anchor the offensive line for years to come.
Defensive end Jack Crawford is a work in progress, but that may not stop the rookie out of Penn State from seeing some reps on the outside behind starting left end Lamarr Houston.
The 6'5", 275-pound Crawford has been labeled a raw talent, and his pass-rushing ability should help improve the Raiders on defense at some point down the line.
Christo Bilukidi could be considered another surprise player to make the Raiders' final 53-man roster. The sixth-round pick out of Georgia State will likely see limited playing time to start, but that may not stop Bilukidi from working hard alongside veterans tackles Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly.
Bilukidi told Time Baines of the Ottawa Sun:
[Kelly's] been letting me know when I’m doing something wrong. I sit beside him at meetings. I sort of shadow him.
One thing Oakland could always use is more depth, so having a tough-minded guy like Bilukidi on the roster should give the Raiders a boost of confidence. Also, Bilukidi's positive contributions seem to have been noticed by head coach Dennis Allen, which never hurts.
One rookie sure to have an immediate impact this season is linebacker Miles Burris. The fourth-round draft pick out of San Diego State will start Monday night in place of the injured Aaron Curry, who was placed on the physically unable to perform list and will be out at least five games due to knee troubles.
There is still plenty of room for improvement, but to sleep on Burris would be a big mistake for any opposing offense. Be it injuries or legal trouble, the Raiders' linebacker core needs a rookie like Burris to mix things up and further establish Oakland as a team to fear for years to come.