The Las Vegas Raiders are approaching the end of training camp, which means the dreaded roster cuts are looming.
One week from Saturday, Head Coach Jon Gruden, General Manager Mike Mayock, and the rest of the coaching staff will be forced to make some difficult decisions regarding the 2020 roster. No matter how many times Gruden and Mayock have been through this, it never gets easier.
"This will be a big tape for us to get back to the office and study," Gruden said regarding today's practice at Allegiant Stadium. "A lot of situations covered today. We put some backup players with the starters. We put some starters in with the second group to see how they'd react. But to answer your question, this is a time where everything is winding down, so we're going to have to meet as a staff and make some tough decisions. It's been a very competitive camp."
Every offseason, there are players who emerge during training camp and despite the limitations of the pandemic, this year has been no exception. Former UNLV rebel — also an Oakland native from McClymonds High School — Javin White has made a name for himself the last couple of months, demonstrating a unique level of leadership for someone his age. His athletic gifts allow him to serve as a hybrid linebacker, perfect for today's prototypical linebacker.
View photos as the Las Vegas Raiders return to Allegiant Stadium for another practice and dress rehearsal during 2020 Training Camp.
Making the 53-man roster will be challenging for him and the fellow UDFAs, but it's certainly not impossible — just look at guys like Jalen Richard and Alec Ingold. Given the circumstances of COVID-19, the NFL has increased the practice squad roster from 10 players to 16, which Gruden plans on taking full advantage of.
"I think it will be important," Gruden said. "Obviously, as a contingency plan, if God forbid, we do get another case of that COVID in our building. But it helps practices. You have to service each other. You have to emulate the opponent, and to have a number of players that can help us do that will certainly help in our preparation and, like I said, it will also give us a contingency plan if we're stricken with a bad case of the virus."
Following today's practice, Coach Gruden was reluctant to divulge any information about the progression of individual players, considering opposing teams might try to poach them, especially with roster cuts around the corner. Without preseason games to showcase individual talent, coaches and GMs around the league are trying to find any information that's available to them.
The Silver and Black are just a couple of weeks away from the first regular-season game of 2020 and it'll be exciting to see the final product come September 13.