With the preseason over for the Raiders, the team now moves forward to making some tough decisions before Week 1.
The Silver and Black weren't able to pick up one last preseason victory, falling 34-10 to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers defense held their own against the Raiders, sacking Nathan Peterman three times and forcing an interception. Despite the team's woes on Sunday, it gave Head Coach Jon Gruden one last chance to evaluate the roster before the start of the season.
"The 49ers, tough opponent for us today," said Gruden. "We gave a lot of guys a lot of opportunities and it will be a great tape for us to evaluate. Painful to lose, especially the way that we did, but we're anxious to make sure we keep the right 53 guys."
The biggest emphasis that Coach Gruden made regarding the preseason finale was the ability to get the first look at a couple of players returning from injury. Karl Joseph, Isaiah Johnson, John Brown, rookie linebacker Divine Deablo and Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy all saw first preseason action of the 2021 season in Santa Clara, California. The combination of both veteran and young pieces will make for some intriguing decisions in shaping the depth chart.
"The only way you can evaluate guys is in live situations," Gruden said. "We needed these three preseason games to see where our second-year players are, where some of our new players are and where our rookies are."
A silver lining for the Raiders offense was the play of receiver Dillon Stoner. The Raiders have taken a very close look throughout camp at the undrafted rookie – along with DJ Turner – for a spot as a kick and punt return specialist. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy led the Raiders in receiving yards and catches with 69 yards and three receptions on the day. A performance like this from Stoner could assist him in his efforts to make either the practice squad or 53-man roster.
"Obviously this is my first time in this type of situation," said Stoner. "I'm super blessed to have made it this far. No matter what happens, I'm very blessed."
On the defensive side of the ball, the performance of the night came from second-year cornerback Amik Robertson. Robertson played a lot of outside cornerback and seemed to find a way to get to the ball throughout the entirety of the game. Robertson finished with six tackles and with confidence in his game that has continuously grown since coming into the NFL last season.
"I had to really sit back and really know who I am, figure out who I was," said Amik Robertson. "I kind of fell away from that last year. I kind of lost my confidence just a little bit. But when you talk to coaches like Gruden and Milo [Ron Milus], they try build you back up. So I felt like this year I had a fresh start – new coaching staff – and I wanted to set a different image than I had last year.
"I think I'm where I want to be now, but I'm still getting better each and every day."
Even in defeat, it was visible that the Raiders that played Sunday put it all on the line with the 53-man roster to be shaped in a mere 48 hours.
View photos from the Raiders' preseason Week 3 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.