There haven't been many easy decisions for the Las Vegas Raiders in the past 72 hours.
The team held their first padded practice Wednesday with their initial 53-man roster of the 2022 season. Josh McDaniels, Dave Ziegler and their staff put forth countless hours trying to narrow down who they believed were their best players to move forward with. While it hasn't been a simple task by any means, McDaniels is confident in the decisions made to shape this roster so far.
"Long process to get here. The last few days are difficult days, we understand that," the head coach opened up with in his media availability before practice. "We appreciate the effort, the competition and the commitment that everybody we've had in camp, that we've had all year long, [have] shown."
Of the initial 53-man roster there's a surplus of star players and rising newcomers. Derek Carr, Davante Adams, Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones are the marquee names of the Silver and Black, while there's several that have risen their stock this preseason such as Tashawn Bower, Tyron Johnson and DJ Turner.
Turner, who was a UDFA on the practice squad last season, anxiously waited yesterday to see if someone told him he was getting waived. No news was good news for the 25-year-old receiver.
"It's not like somebody calls you like, 'Hey, congratulations.' Nobody calls you and that's kind of your sign that you're good," Turner said after making the initial roster. "Even after one o'clock, it wasn't an official thing that came out. I had family members back home calling me and asking, 'Do you know?' And I'm like, 'I think so.' I mean, I talked to some of the coaches, so I kind of knew."
"It's definitely a great feeling, but I kind of look at it as an opportunity to get another opportunity to do more," continued Turner. "Even though it's the initial 53-roster, I feel like every day is still up for grabs. You've got to go out and you've got to compete and be your best every day, because like I said, the nature of the business is you never know."
Four rookie UDFAs also survived the cuts, all of them on the defensive side of the ball. Linebackers Luke Masterson and Darien Butler along with defensive backs Sam Webb and Isaiah Pola-Mao becoming the first UDFAs to make the Raiders' initial roster since 2019. McDaniels has been vocal about evaluating talent based on the production he sees on the field, no matter their previous background.
"[I]t's really not about how you got here, it's about what you do when you get here," said McDaniels. "Those guys - you've seen them - they've been out there every day first of all, they're durable; they've performed when they've had their opportunities; they've improved; they work really hard and it's important to them. We've got a lot of players that were vying for a lot of spots obviously, and those four guys came here and really just put their head down and continued to get better and make progress."
The active roster and practice squad now turns their attention to the Los Angeles Chargers, who they face Week 1 in SoFi Stadium. Even with Training Camp wrapped up, McDaniels is firm on letting it be known that no one's job is safe. Everyone will have to keep earning a spot throughout the season as evaluation and decisions continue.
"I can't overstate this, but we have to continue to push and try to compete and get better," McDaniels said. "It's a tough league, and you can't relax. You can't rest on your laurels, you can't feel like it's over. You have to keep competing and keep getting better."
View photos of the Silver and Black's 53-man roster as it currently stands (Last updated Wednesday, November 30th)