The Oakland Raiders have one final preseason game left on the schedule. The team will travel to Seattle Wednesday to get situated for Thursday night’s game against the Seahawks, and as is customary in the final preseason tune-up, while a couple starters might see the field – don’t be surprised if none of them do – the emphasis is on the players fighting for a final roster spot.
It’s important to note that even though many of the players to take the field Thursday might not make the final roster, coming out healthy is key, which is the main reason why the key starters likely won’t be anywhere near the field.
After a productive training camp, the Raiders had a couple players banged up on the roster and Head Coach Jon Gruden took a moment during his press conference Tuesday to provide an update regarding guard Gabe Jackson, and a couple others.
“Yeah, he’s doing good,” Gruden said of Jackson. “I see him walking around, which is a great sign. Rehab is going well. I don’t know when he’s going to be ready. I don’t even know if we are going to put him on IR, honestly, but his progress has been good. We’ll see where we are after the Seahawk game and make that final determination.”
Jackson was originally diagnosed with an MCL injury that he suffered during a joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams, and was expected to miss up to eight weeks with the injury. His presence on the offensive line is a difficult one to replace, but it’s still a positive that he’s expected to return sometime before the halfway point of the season. When healthy, Jackson paired with tackle Trent Brown on the right side have the ability to be one of the most dominant duos in the league. Recently, Brown hasn’t been present at practice, but Gruden made sure to clarify with the media it’s nothing of concern.
“Yeah, he’s been excused today,” he explained. “He has a personal matter that he is taking care of, but everything is fine. Everything is okay, he’s just excused.”
While neither Jackson or Brown are fighting for a roster spot, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes is. The former 2017 third-round pick played in all 16 games his rookie year, starting in 13 of them, but hasn’t touched the field once during Coach Gruden’s tenure. With a handful of talented defensive tackles on the roster, finding room for Vanderdoes will be difficult, and it’s hard to make a case for the third-year player if he hasn’t put anything recent on film for the coaching staff.
“[He’s] not ready to go,” Gruden shared. “He’s been hurt the whole training camp basically. It’s unfortunate, we haven’t really had a chance to see Eddie in pads since I’ve been here.”
Hopefully Vanderdoes can get back on the field soon, but time is running out.
In addition to the former UCLA Bruin, the team has missed fellow defensive lineman Justin Ellis at practice, as he’s working his way back from an injury as well.
“I know he’s out this week,” said Coach Gruden. “Don’t know when he’s going to be ready, so we’ll have to gather all the information obviously after the Seahawk game. See who’s available, see what we are going to do, but right now he’s not ready to go.”
With the regular season starting in less than two weeks, the Raiders have to make sure everyone is right before things get serious. Thursday’s game against the Seahawks could provide some much-needed rest for the players who’ve established a roster spot, but for the players who haven’t, they have no choice but to go out and put their best foot forward.