The Oakland Raiders are now through almost two weeks of training camp, with their preseason action set to begin Friday.
One of the more exciting things about following along with a given team’s training camp is the position battles that take place throughout.
At the same time, the unavoidable part to that is the players that will lose their respective competitions, and thus roster spots in the process.
With some surprising candidates, here are five Oakland Raiders players in danger of being cut soon.
After being selected in the fourth round of April’s draft, not many would have predicted that Tyler Wilson would be fighting for a roster spot with the Raiders. At this point, that seems to be the case.
As Levi Damien reports, Wilson has been losing snaps to undrafted free agent Matt McGloin in training camp practices.
For a player that was thought to have extremely high potential, and thus considerable value having been selected in the fourth round, this development is quite surprising.
For now, it remains likely that Wilson wins the final roster spot over McGloin due to his potential alone. However, if that were even remotely set in stone, one would assume Wilson would receive at least the third-team practice reps regardless.
If this trend continues, Tyler Wilson will be in danger of losing his roster spot altogether, and odds are that another team would claim him before the Raiders would be able to sign him to the practice squad.
Since his signing with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Duke, Conner Vernon has received his fair share of hype as a potential slot receiver.
Given his route-running ability and reliable hands, the hype is understandable, but Vernon’s chances of making the final roster are not great at this point.
Although the Raiders have yet to have any wide receivers step up and seize the primary roles, the position is still quite crowded, and the team will likely only carry six heading into the season.
Assuming that includes Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford, Josh Cribbs, Juron Criner and sixth-round draft pick Brice Butler, there may not be room for a player in Vernon whom has already missed some considerable practice time.
Much like with Tyler Wilson, the Raiders would have a tough decision here. Although they would probably like to sign Vernon to the practice squad if he does not make the final roster, odds are that he would not go through waivers unclaimed.
Richard Gordon is easily the best blocking tight end on the Raiders roster, and it’s not really that close.
Having said that, for him to make the final roster, unless he can prove an ability to contribute as a receiver throughout the preseason, the Raiders would likely have to carry four tight ends.
David Ausberry, given his rare potential as a vertical-threat tight end, is the projected starter, and it is extremely unlikely that the Raiders choose to cut either of their sixth-round draftees at the position, Nick Kasa and Mychal Rivera.
Going back to a power-running scheme that will be the foundation of their offense, the Raiders could certainly use Gordon’s blocking ability on the edge, but again, it may come down to whether or not the Raiders can carry that many tight ends.
After starting seven games in place of an injured Khalif Barnes in 2012, Willie Smith was brought back to be a reserve lineman for the Raiders in 2013.
Now, with Alex Barron performing in camp the way he has thus far, Smith’s roster spot may be in jeopardy quite soon.
If Barron can take hold of the main backup role for both tackle spots, or even start on the right side, that would make Smith the fifth tackle on the roster behind Jared Veldheer, Menelik Watson, Barnes and Barron.
Smith will see plenty of preseason action to try to win the roster spot, but given the number of other players seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart, it does not seem likely.
Considering that he was out of football in 2012, the signing of Reggie Smith early in the offseason was particularly interesting for the Raiders, and he was initially slated to have a primary backup role at strong safety.
Now, with Tyvon Branch and Charles Woodson as the starters, Usama Young and Brandian Ross will take on backup roles at both safety spots instead.
If throughout the preseason Smith can show some significant special teams value, he may have an outside chance to make the final roster.
However, with the players in front of him at his defensive position, it remains unlikely at this point.