Players Embracing Practice Squad Opportunity

Posted Sep 4, 2014

The Raiders utilized all 10 of the available spots on the practice squad.

RB George Atkinson III. Photo by Tony Gonzales

After the Raiders finalized their 53-man roster over the weekend, they quickly began working to fill out their 10-man practice squad, expanded by the NFL from eight players, for the 2014 season.

The team utilized all 10 of the available spots on the practice squad, and their group of signees was highlighted by Raiders legacy George Atkinson III and West Alabama wide out Seth Roberts.

While the members of the practice squad aren’t on the active roster or eligible to play on Sundays, they do go through workouts and sit through team meetings, which can prove to be invaluable to young players.

After an impressive career at Notre Dame where he set the school record for kickoff yards, Atkinson III was placed on the Raiders practice squad and sees the assignment as a chance for him to continue to grow as an individual while also helping the team as much as he can.

“I’m just making sure that every day I’m taking advantage of the scout team reps and making sure I’m honing in on my craft and getting better as a player,” said Atkinson III. “Just making sure I’m ready so that when my name is called I can take advantage of the opportunity.”

While being on the practice squad provides an excellent chance to grow as a player, the end goal for all of the players assigned there is to eventually make it onto the active roster.

As WR Seth Roberts gets his first taste of the NFL, he approaches his time on the practice squad just as he would if he were on the active roster in Oakland.

“My head is, every day, coming in with the same mindset as if I was on the 53,” Roberts said. “Even when I’m on the sideline, just take everything in as if I was in the position. That’s how I look at it.”

The West Alabama product doesn’t need to look far to see that hard work on the practice squad can eventually lead to a big break in the NFL.

Fellow wide receiver Andre Holmes spent time on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad before being promoted to the active roster at the end of the 2011 season and then eventually finding a home with the Silver and Black.

Holmes is a prime example of a player who took advantage of his time on the practice squad and was ready to contribute when his time came.

“The huge thing, especially for rookies, is that in training camp you might not get that many reps,” Holmes said. “But on practice squad during the season, you’re taking every single rep against the starting defense. You really get to work on what your craft is and what you’re good at and you also get to show the coaches more of your strengths.”

Former BYU Cougar Spencer Hadley and one of the 10 practice squad members believes that the more you can do on the football field, the better your chances are of being activated. With that in mind, the linebacker is now beginning to work on his long snapping.

“I did it in high school and I was our backup snapper in college,” said Hadley.

He continued, “It’s a great opportunity to come in and to learn, watch the older guys, get more reps, be in season and just be in the meetings and learn. You’re playing football, so it’s better than not.”

The 10-member class of the 2014 practice squad flies to New York today with the rest of the team, and are hopeful that their time to strap on the pads and hit the field will come sooner than later.

“I feel like I’m going to make it,” Seth Roberts said. “I’ll be on the 53.”