Wide Receiver Isaac Whitney Is Finding Motivation On The Practice Squad

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Wide Receiver Isaac Whitney

Saturday afternoon, the Oakland Raiders finalized their roster reduction from 90 players to 53. For many of those players, they go on to get picked up by other teams, and continue their NFL careers elsewhere, but in some cases they manage to find their way back to the team they started with.

How is this possible you might be asking? The practice squad.

For a lot of young players – both drafted and undrafted -- they can find themselves on the practice squad if they've shown enough on tape to demonstrate they're worthy of one of the 10 designated spots. Even though the practice squad doesn't count towards the 53-man active roster, players have been known to rise through the ranks, eventually ending up on the active roster.

When wide receiver Seth Roberts declared for the NFL Draft in 2014, he went undrafted, but wound up on the Raiders practice squad, and has grown into one of quarterback Derek Carr's go-to weapons in the clutch.

In a span of two years on the active roster, Roberts has played in all 32 games, started 11, and totaled 877 receiving yards to complement his 10 touchdowns. For someone who has grown so much on and off the field, the former West Alabama product credits some of his growth to his time on the practice squad.

"Just coming from where I came from, going against the No. 1 defense as a practice squad player day in and day out, just wanting to beat the guy in front of me," Roberts said. "I think that helped lead me to where I am right now, just to have that mindset of, you're not on the team, but you can be, and I made it."

Roberts' production on the field has not only helped his team secure some exciting wins, but also recently earned him a two-year contract extension. General Manager Reggie McKenzie has pieced together one of the best offenses in the NFL, and as this young group continues to mature, he wants No. 10 to be a part of it.

For someone who has come from the practice squad and found success on the active roster, Roberts' journey serves as an example. While fellow wide outs Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are the leaders of the wide receivers group, Roberts is a prime example to players like rookie wide receiver Isaac Whitney, who is currently on the practice squad, of what it means to stay dedicated and work hard.

Whitney, like Roberts, went undrafted, but was picked up by the Raiders and performed well throughout training camp, as well as the preseason. Even though he's displeased he didn't make the active roster, he's grateful for his opportunity on the practice squad.

"It feels really good," said Whitney when asked how it feels to still be a member of the Raiders. "Feels like all the hard work and dedication paid off."

The former USC Trojan knows he has a long way to go, but plans on taking full advantage of what's been presented to him, and understands the importance of the practice squad. Part of what made Roberts such an integral part of the team was what he contributed on special teams, and Whitney identifies with that strategy as well.

"You can always work on route running, get better at that," Whitney stated. "Being more effective on special teams, just make yourself valuable."

With Roberts as someone who's paved the way, Whitney is determined to put his head down and go to work, because like his counterpart once did, anyone can be called up to the active roster at any given time.

"I'm just going to perfect my craft and focus on getting better every day," he continued. "Because you never know when you're going to get called up on the active roster, so just prepare like I'm going to play every week."

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