The marathon continues for the 2021 Las Vegas Raiders.
The initial 53-man roster was released Tuesday afternoon. In total, 26 players were waived or released, while cornerback Nevin Lawson was added to the reserve/suspended list. While this is the first roster to be released this season, nothing is set in stone. As you all know, a lot can change from now to the the Raiders' regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
Here's some of the more notable things I observed following the release of the initial 53-man roster.
Big Team(er) Player
One of the under-the-radar players that made the team was safety Roderic Teamer.
While not being a high-profile name on the team throughout Training Camp, Teamer has had one of the more productive offseasons for a player. Teamer ended the preseason with 13 total tackles – eight of those coming in the victory against the Rams in which he led the team in that category.
The two biggest things that worked out for Teamer is veteran experience and knowledge of the defensive. Teamer, along with Casey Hayward Jr., were brought in from the Los Angeles Chargers where they played under defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. The comfortability that Teamer has in the defensive has been showcase in the game action snaps he's taken. No. 33 could definitely be useful in aiding the young secondary's adjustment to Bradley's defense.
Shallow running back room
The running back room – while still loaded – is a little thin after trimming down to the initial 53.
The running backs retained were Pro-Bowler Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and Jalen Richard. The Silver and Black will also hold on to fullback Alec Ingold, who's poised for a big year this season. UDFA's Trey Ragas and Garrett Groshek were waived, along with B.J. Emmons. Ragas seems like the most surprising cut of the three, after leading the team in carries and rushing for over 100 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason.
However, Jalen Richard is still dealing with a leg injury as Head Coach Jon Gruden noted he'll be "out for little longer." Therefore, that leaves Jacobs and Drake as the only two running backs on the active roster. While both of these players will see the large majority of carries this season, I find it hard to believe that the Raiders won't find an insurance policy to put in the backfield alongside Alec Ingold.
In the next 48 hours I'd keep an eye on Ragas or a few veteran running backs on the waiver wire.
Front four looking dangerous
The biggest noticeable improvement during Training Camp has been the defensive line.
With the exception of Matt Dickerson, all of the Silver and Black's free agent signings to the D-line made the team. That includes Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas and Darius Philon. All four players have looked good and stayed healthy throughout camp and will be imperative in turning around a defense that has ranked in the bottom tier of the league in sacks for the past three seasons.
On top of those additions making the team, the Raiders also held on to six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy, who signed in the middle of Training Camp. He's done a standout job of being a leader in the defense since his arrival and proved in his Silver and Black debut last Sunday that he's still got it.
No immediate luck for undrafted rookies
While it's still too early to tell which undrafted rookie free agents will make the practice squad, none of them made the initial 53-man roster.
This is the second-straight season that a rookie UDFA didn't make the initial 53-man roster, after four were retained in 2019. The darkhorse candidates to make the 53 were receiver Dillon Stoner and DJ Turner, who both split time as return specialists. Both were reliable receivers for Nathan Peterman as well, with Stoner going for 91 yards on four receptions and Turner with 77 yards on 11 receptions this preseason.
If either player isn't signed off the waiver wire, they could be useful pieces on the practice squad. Same goes for center Jimmy Morrissey, who also didn't make the initial 53.
After the retirement of All-Pro tight end Jason Witten, the third tight end spot on the roster was up for grabs.
Raiders' season receptions record holder Darren Waller was a given. Foster Moreau, who has seven touchdowns in the two seasons since being drafted, is in line for a breakout season as well. The Raiders had heavy competition for a third tight end this offseason with Derek Carrier, Alex Ellis and UDFA from BYU Matt Bushman. However, 2020 UDFA from Penn State Nick Bowers prevailed.
Bowers' athletic ability was on full display this preseason as he recorded 45 yards on five receptions. His 16-yard touchdown against the 49ers might've potentially solidified the job for him. The addition of the 6-foot-4, 265-pound tight end makes for a very big, young tight end room that will be a vertical threat throughout the season.
Take a look at the 53 players on the Silver and Black's current roster. (Last updated Tuesday, December 14)