Tonight will be the last game action for many Raiders players. The roster currently sits at 80 players and will be trimmed to 53 in a few days. This final preseason matchup will be for a roster spot for some and to try and earn playing time for others.
Here are the five position battles you should be watching tonight:
Guard: Dylan Parham vs John Simpson
Simpson is the incumbent starter at left guard. But even last season when he got the job, it was due to the injury to Richie Incognito. Then this offseason, the Raiders made Parham their top pick in the third round with the hopes that he could contribute early at guard as well as be depth at center.
Lately, Parham has seen first team action at left guard ahead of Simpson, including starting last week’s preseason game in Miami. Keep an eye on who takes the field first and how each performs. Parham seems to be moving in on the job, but it may not be a sure thing just yet.
Defensive tackle: Kyle Peko vs Andrew Billings
With the starters figuring to be Bilal Nichols and Johnathan Hankins and two drafted rookies in Neil Farrell Jr and Matthew Butler, either Peko or Billings could end up getting the short end of the stick, because they aren’t keeping six defensive tackles on the active roster.
Again, keep an eye on who takes the field first and then how they perform. Neither has separated himself and become the obvious favorite. Today could go a long way to making that decision.
Defensive end: Clelin Ferrell vs Kendal Vickers
The former top pick vs the former undrafted free agent. They both have some position versatility, with the ability to play at 5-tech DE and 3-tech DT. Ferrell would hurt the most financially to cut, but there’s no sense in keeping him for that reason alone. If he’s not getting it done, he needs to go.
Up to this point, Ferrell has been injured. He returned this week, giving him this last game to show what he’s got. He will go against mostly second and third team guys, and based on his former draft status, he *should* dominate those matchups. Then again, the fact that we are even talking about him potentially losing his job to Vickers tells you all you need to know.
Cornerback: Darius Phillips vs Amik Robertson
Unless the Raiders keep six cornerbacks, one of these guys has to go. Phillips was signed this offseason while Robertson is a former fourth round pick. Both carry hopes of having the ability to play a reserve role both at slot and outside cornerback.
Phillips has looked better in the slot than Robertson thus far. While Robertson was originally drafted with the hopes he could transition to slot but have looked at him more as being better suited for the boundary. That lack of versatility could be his undoing. We shall see.
Wide receiver: Keelan Cole vs Tyron Johnson
Both of these guys figure to make the roster. This will simply be their last significant snaps to try and prove they deserve to be bigger parts of the offense come the season.
Initially Cole and Johnson were in a four-way battle for a starting job opposite Davante Adams, but that job was won by Mack Hollins. Alternatively, the team cut Demarcus Robinson, which allowed them to breathe a bit more easily figuring they are not playing for their roster spot.
Bonus: WR DJ Turner
Turner is not battling with anyone but himself. This will be a big stage for him to give the Raiders a lot to think about. If he balls out, then the Raiders will have to think long and hard whether they would want to risk losing him to another team should he be waived. Especially considering his abilities in the slot and in the return game.