After Seth Roberts spent his rookie season on the practice squad, he made the Oakland Raiders active roster last week, and while the excitement of fulfilling his NFL dream took over momentarily, the young wide receiver said that it's now time to get back to business.
"The past year has been a grind, man," said Roberts. "I really haven't even tried to change my mentality. I'm not complacent and think that I'm better because I'm not on the practice squad anymore. I take the same reps and just try to keep the same approach."
Following the league-mandated cut to 53 players, the Raiders, along with the 31 other NFL clubs began assembling their 10-man practice squads – a group of players who practice and train with the team, but do not count towards the active roster.
Check out who's currently on the roster for the Oakland Raiders.
Roberts said that while initially being assigned to the practice squad can be bittersweet, the opportunity to practice with an NFL team and continue developing is something that should not be taken lightly by the members of this year's squad.
"Just be thankful and blessed that you do you have a job," Roberts said. "Other guys that were their roommates I'm pretty sure are at home, but they're still here and are part of the team."
Roberts continued, "Just take in every bit and just learn. That's what I did last year. I just learned and watched the guys in front of me and kept my mind on it."
Defensive end Max Valles is one of those 10 players assigned to the Raiders practice squad, and he's determined to take full advantage of the opportunity.
"It's definitely a good opportunity, being only 21-years old, I need to learn and elevate my game," Valles said. "It's a great opportunity to do that and just still be around."
When Valles arrived to play collegiately at Virginia, he began his career as a scout team player, but three weeks later he was inserted into the starting lineup, so he knows how quickly his number can be called.
It's for this reason that Valles is determined to hone his craft during his time on the practice squad.
"The biggest thing is to take very rep seriously," Valles said. "Don't take it as you're just a practice guy and that's all you're going to be. You have to go out there and try to get better every day, every snap."
Roberts echoed Valles' sentiment and noted that preparation and a serious approach are critical for success on the practice squad.
"Just watch the guys that are in front of them and take notes," Roberts said. "Watch the guys in front of them and continue to go hard, because you never know with this coaching staff, they might like the kid who's balling every day at practice."
He also spoke to the importance of approaching every day with a chip on their shoulder – especially if they want to one day find themselves on the 53-man roster.
"Yeah, I would expect them too. That would be the smart thing if they wanted to move up."
The Oakland Raiders practice squad consists of the following players:
- Running Back George Atkinson III
- Guard Mitch Bell
- Defensive Back SaQwan Edwards
- Quarterback Garrett Gilbert
- Defensive End Shelby Harris
- Tackle Dan Kistler
- Free Safety Tevin McDonald
- Defensive Tackle Leon Orr
- Linebacker Josh Shirley
- Defensive End Max Valles