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EJ Manuel enjoys strong finish to 2018 preseason

The Oakland Raiders put up 30 points Thursday night in Seattle, and EJ Manuel had a hand in producing 23 of them.

Headed into the team's preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks, Jon Gruden was looking for either Manuel or Connor Cook to step up and take hold of the Raiders backup quarterback job, and while we won't know for a few days which player earned that right, Manuel certainly delivered an impressive résumé to his final interview.

Statistically speaking, with 255 yards and three touchdowns at game's end, Thursday night was far and away Manuel's best outing of the preseason, but on top of that, the six-year veteran looked comfortable and confident moving the Raiders up and down the field, en route to a 30-19 win.

"My biggest thing was just have a clean game, show leadership, get guys in the right positions," said Manuel postgame. "Obviously, during the week, practicing for this game, the starters were on [another] field, so I felt like as the older quarterback of the group, I felt like it was kind of upon to me kind of get guys in the right mindset to make sure that we were still ready to play, because even though this was a fourth preseason game, you can either go one of two ways; you can not care about it, or you can actually take advantage of it, and try to put a cap on a hard and great training camp, so I'm very excited with how we played tonight, and hats off to my teammate."

Oh, and after struggling with keeping the football safe for the past few weeks, No. 3 successfully kept possession of the ball for the duration of his 40 offensive snaps.

"Never had fumble issues ever in my life, like, literally back to little league," Manuel explained. "That's football, you know what I mean? It humbles you, man, and it's one of those things where you obviously address it. You don't want it to happen, and I did take off tonight, and I was happy to get tackled and still hold onto the ball. It was good."

Manuel finishes his second preseason as a Raider 40 of 56 for 477 yards and four touchdowns, 179 yards more than Connor Cook, but it remains to be seen if that performance will be enough to cement his role as Derek Carr's backup.

"Obviously, EJ did well," Coach Gruden said. "Connor came in and made a nice throw. We'll take a look at the tape and see what happens in the next couple days, but I was really pleased with the way EJ came in here tonight and he was a captain. I thought he asserted himself, and moved the ball well, and moved the team."

Manuel played late into the third quarter before ceding the quarterbacking duties to Cook for the rest of the game, and while he only threw five passes, Cook got himself a touchdown of his own, connecting on a 22-yard pass to Keon Hatcher with 5:55 left in regulation.

The battle between Manuel and Cook has gone back and forth throughout the preseason, with both signal-callers each seeming to be on top for certain stretches, but it will be interesting to see how much weight Manuel's emphatic ending in Seattle ultimately plays into Gruden's decision making.

"You're always judged by games, at the end of the day," Manuel said. "As a quarterback you're judged by wins and losses too, so whether I play a half, a quarter, a whole game, whatever, I just want to put my best foot forward."

Like every other team in the NFL, the Raiders will reduce their roster to 53 players by Saturday afternoon, and will then release a depth chart early next week.

We know who the first quarterback will be listed on that depth chart, but only time will tell if Manuel did enough Thursday night to see his name listed behind Derek Carr's.

Photos of the game action during the Raiders' Preseason Week 4 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.

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