Week Four Preseason: Oakland Raiders to Watch for
Continuing my preseason series, I bring you the third edition of my "players to watch" series.
Last week, I failed to submit an article. I knew the starters would get a lot of play, so there was no need to address any backups or "bubble" players to watch for.
As many of you know, offensive guard Marcus Johnson was cut, as well as center Jonathan Compas, wide receivers Will Franklin and Shawn Bayes, and newcomer defensive tackle Joe Cohen.
So here we go—one more week of meaningless nonsense and then on to San Diego, where we will get our first "real" glimpse of the running attack...FINALLY!
Without further ado, I give to you four players to watch this week, who will be playing their hearts out in hopes that the other guy gets cut instead of them.
Here we go.
No. 10, WR Jonathan Holland
Holland is in a three-way battle for the sixth receiver spot with fan favorite Nick Miller and BYU product and crash test dummy Todd Watkins.
The general consensus is that Holland and Miller are the front runners. All three guys are practice squad eligible, so it's hard to go that route with this equation.
Holland has caught only two passes for 59 yards this preseason. However, one of them accounted for the Raiders' only score in week three against New Orleans.
Holland spent the first 12 games of last season on the practice squad before he moved to the active roster due to injuries at the position.
During 2008 on the active roster, Holland failed to catch a pass but did come up with four solo tackles and an assist on special teams.
Holland is on that bubble and needs to have a solid performance to prove he is worth more than a practice squad spot in a battle with the versatile Miller.
No. 67, DT Desmond Bryant
Bryant currently looks like the saving grace of this group. He is a 6'5", 290-pounder who ran a 4.92 40-yard dash and has a Harvard head on his shoulders.
He is one of those Tom Cable prototypes who won four letters in track and three in basketball in high school. He is a member of the National Honor Society and could be the smartest Raider ever with his Harvard-sharpened mind.
He recorded 13.5 sacks in 32 game appearances in college. He repped 225 pounds 35 times on the bench and boasts 11.5" hands and 35.5" arms.
So far this preseason, he has five tackles and two of Oakland's three sacks. In comparison, Tommy Kelly has three tackles and zero sacks.
He could turn some heads and make a run at the starting lineup in an unimpressive position for Oakland.
No. 45, FB Marcel Reece
One of the most versatile players on offense for Oakland could be the second string fullback, converted HB/WR Marcel Reece.
Reece has great hands and has beefed up since entering the league. He is very fast for a fullback, running a 4.42 40-yard dash, and he blocks very well also.
If you haven't gotten a good look at Reece, Thursday's game is the one to do it. You can also check out his college highlight reel here.
Marcel is a player who brings a lot to the table. You'd think with that 40-yard dash time he would be small for a fullback, but the guy is 240 pounds.
He will most likely be included in the top 53 players, as he will be able to line up as a third tight end in short yardage and goal-line situations.
This is a guy with a bright future. He will be able to run the football on handoffs and catch it out of the backfield. He reminds me a little bit of Zack Crockett, but with blazing speed. He could be an under the radar weapon for Oakland this year.
No. 51, C Chris Morris
Here is one I bet you didn't see coming. Bottom line here: Samson Satele is not up to par.
Chris Morris has hung around into his fourth year now in Oakland, mainly because he has shown great versatility, being able to know both guard positions and the center spot.
Center Jonathan Compas was cut Sunday, and center John Wade has spent much of training camp ailing from a stinger, although he returned to practice Monday.
Wade, however, is not getting any younger. He is 34 years old and in his 12th NFL season.
Morris has been in Tom Cable's system for three years now. It is being assumed by some insiders that Satele is not quite up to speed with what his assignments are.
"There are things that I like and there are some things I don’t feel like he’s getting it quick enough,” Cable said of Satele. He also made mention of line calls being problematic.
Morris was asked what he thought of the battle and said this: "Shoot, I’m looking to start. That’s what all three of us are trying to do right now.”
Expect Morris to get plenty of face time on Thursday, with plenty of looks at center and also at guard. He could end up playing most, if not all of the game.