Oakland Raiders Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
The 2014 offseason has been both busy and productive for an Oakland Raiders team looking to make some significant progress in its rebuilding efforts.
By way of free agency and the draft, Reggie McKenzie and his staff have been able to improve the talent level throughout the team’s depth chart.
This should make for a much-needed increase in competition throughout, while also putting into question the roster status of some players who have been with the team for a number of seasons.
Of course, each player will have every opportunity to prove their ability, but improvements made throughout the roster this offseason will make this a more difficult squad to make than in years past.
Here are four Raiders players whose roles and/or roster spots could be in question heading into the 2014 season.
Tony Bergstrom, Guard
The first draft selection of the Reggie McKenzie regime in Oakland, Tony Bergstrom is now entering his third season with the team.
He struggled to get on the field throughout his first two seasons, and that task won’t get any easier in 2014.
Both the starting offensive line and the depth behind it have been upgraded in a big way, quite possibly making for some difficult decisions after training camp competitions play themselves out.
While Bergstrom’s positional versatility should help his chances, the fact that he was drafted to be part of a then-zone-blocking unit certainly will not.
Either way, the overall improvement of this group in just one offseason could make cutting the final roster an uphill battle for Bergstrom and several others sitting near him on the depth chart.
David Ausberry, Tight End
The Raiders have long been waiting for David Ausberry to reach his potential as a receiving tight end, but other young talent has also been found in the meantime.
2013 draftees Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa both flashed impressive ability in their rookie seasons, and the two could make for a solid tandem at the position moving forward.
Unfortunately for Ausberry, that 2013 campaign was supposed to be the year he took hold of the starting job, but he was forced to the injured reserve with a preseason injury.
With Ausberry’s physical abilities, the team finding or even creating a spot for him can never be ruled out.
However, he will likely enter the preseason behind at least one other player on the depth chart, needing some consistent production to earn the role the team has always hoped he’d fill in their offense.
Juron Criner, Wide Receiver
Juron Criner’s Raiders career got off to a hot start, consistently making plays in both the training camp practices and preseason games of his rookie campaign.
However, to this point, Criner has yet to translate that play to the field in regular-season action, sometimes unable to crack the active roster on game day.
With the addition of an established veteran in James Jones, as well as some intriguing undrafted free agents, the Raiders have made some talent upgrades at the wide receiver position.
Clearly, the staff saw the importance of increasing the competition at the receiver position, and there will now be plenty of capable players vying for what may only end up being five or six roster spots.
Criner has the physical ability to make plays in the passing game, but will need to have another great training camp and preseason to win a spot in this group.
Chimdi Chekwa, Cornerback
Selected in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, Chimdi Chekwa will be entering his fourth season with the Raiders.
For the majority of his tenure, the Raiders’ depth at the cornerback position has been an issue for the defense, but that may not be the case in 2014.
Free-agent additions Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers should bring plenty of experience to the starting lineup alongside D.J. Hayden. Draft picks Keith McGill and T.J. Carrie should provide solid depth while developing for the long term.
As a result of these additions at the position, and possibly more as the offseason goes on, roster spots at cornerback will be harder to come by than in years past.
Chekwa has the necessary physical ability, but like several others on this list, will need to have a good preseason to beat out at least one of the players currently ahead of him on the depth chart.