Head Coach Jon Gruden didn't speak extensively following the Oakland Raiders preseason finale against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday night, but he made it clear that the next 24 hours and change are far from his favorite.
Following the conclusion of the preseason slate, the Silver and Black – along with the other 31 teams in the NFL – will reduce their rosters from 90 to 53 by Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm PT, effectively putting nearly 1,200 players out of work in the span of a few hours.
And while the roster reductions are largely thought of as procedural, Gruden spoke to the human side of what is one of the most bittersweet days on the football calendar.
"You get attached to these guys," said Gruden following the Raiders' 17-15 loss at CenturyLink Field. "I really like this team. We have some tough decisions to make. I'm really proud of the guys, the way they finished. Coming from behind in Canada on an 80-yard field. Coming up here with a limited roster and playing until the end tonight. That's what football is all about."
While the likes of Derek Carr, Antonio Brown, and the team's trio of first-round picks won't be nervously looking at their phone screens throughout the day Saturday, that's not the case for everyone on the roster, and with a bevy of talented defensive ends on the roster, seventh-round pick Quinton Bell finds himself in the group of men waiting anxiously to find what their future holds.
"It was our last preseason game, our last chance to put a lot of good stuff on film," Bell explained postgame. "I think everyone wants to get on the plane feeling good about what they did today, and so you can kind of feel that energy a little bit. It's not as hype right now. Everybody is thinking, reflecting, stuff like that. It's different. When you get to this level as a rookie, and you're like, 'Man, I hope I did what I'm supposed to do.' I feel pretty good… Obviously, hope for the best, but it's kind of just waiting on it."
In the coming hours and days, Gruden will sit with General Manager Mike Mayock to finalize the team's roster, and in addition to evaluating the 90 men that have gone through training camp with the Silver and Black, the duo will also be keeping a keen eye on the influx of players around the league who will be looking for a new football home.
And while the time between now and Saturday afternoon is certainly an emotional one for a lot of players, most guys are doing their best to stay present and not dwell on the things outside their control.
"I'm really excited, my wife just got into town, so I'll probably go spend some time with her," quarterback Nathan Peterman said. "Just focus on the moment, being with family, and see what happens."
"[Friday] is an off day, a typical off day, so for me, I'm going to wake up in the morning, go to treatment like I normally would after a game, and enjoy my off day," added Bell. "I'm not really going to change anything per se. Obviously, I'm going to be thinking about it and everything, and praying that everything goes the way I want it to go, but I'm going to treat it like another off day after a game, and wake up with confidence, pray on it, and see what happens."
Bell, Peterman, and the rest of the Raiders will know their fate in short order, and once the roster is finalized, the team will shift its focus in a hurry to the regular season opener Monday, September 9 against the Denver Broncos at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Head out to CenturyLink Field and take a look at photos from the Raiders' last preseason matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.