It was a given that Friday’s Oakland Raiders’ cut down to 53 active players was nowhere near the “final 53″ that will be listed on Monday 9/10 when the team opens up the regular season against the rival Chargers. Since both Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen are rookies in their current positions, we really had little to go on in trying to predict what moves were going to be made.
On Saturday, the team added four players who were with the team through training camp to the practice squad. In addition to that, the team picked up waiver claims on three players, and made three corresponding roster moves to make room for them.
The four players going to the practice squad are, LB Kaelin Burnett, WR Brandon Carswell, WR Travionte Session and LB Nathan Stupar. Individually, none of the players chosen to the practice squad are a surprise. What is a surprise, though, is that they have multiple players from the same position groups on the squad. Generally speaking, you want to spread out your practice squad guys out among all of the different position groups. That being said, these are all guys that could potentially help this team in the future.
The team added three players whom they claimed off waivers. The three newest Raiders are, CB Phillip Adams, LB Keenan Clayton, and T Willie Smith.
Philip Adams: Adams was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He spent all of 2010 with the 9ers and played in 15 games and produced 13 total tackles and 1 pass defensed. He was subsequently released by San Francisco and picked up by the New England Patriots in 2011 where he played in 6 games before being released and signed by the Seahawks. Adams finished out the 2011 season with Seattle, and went through training camp with them before being released by the team. All together, Adams has played in a total of 21 games in his first two years in the league. One possible reason for McKenzie’s interest in Adams is because he does have some experience returning punts. Adams returned 4 punts as a rookie and averaged 7.3 yards per return.
Keenan Clayton: Clayton has also played in 21 NFL games just like Phillip Adams but, unlike Adams, Clayton played all of his games with the same team (Philadelphia Eagles) and he did start in 1 game. Clayton tallied 31 total tackles (24 solo) in 2011 while playing in 14 of the Eagle’s 16 regular season games. The third year player out of Oklahoma figures to see most of his action on special teams.
Willie Smith: Smith made the Washington Redskin’s team in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina. He appeared in 4 games last season, making the start in 3 of them. The Raiders hope Smith will provide some much needed depth to the offensive line.
On the flip side of this coin, three players had to be released in order to make room on the 53 man roster. The team waived CB’s Chimdi Chekwa and Bryan McCann, and they also waived/injured DT Jamie Cumbie.
Chekwa and McCann were in a position group that you just knew wasn’t going to keep all 7 players that were on it. It is a little bit surprising that it was these two that were given their walking papers. Checkwa seemed to be making strides towards the latter part of the preseason, and McCann seemed to be the most competent of the healthy return men on the roster. It basically looks like Pat Lee really played himself onto the roster, but the other person at the bottom of the totem pole in the position, Coye Francies, did nothing to establish himself, yet has kept his job. Go figure.
As far as Cumbie is concerned, it is just a tough break for him. The coaching staff really likes Christo Bilukidi, and apparently couldn’t justify keeping a fifth defensive tackle. So they did what they could to keep him away from other teams by stashing him on injured reserve instead of risking losing him to another team. Simply waiving him and hoping he clears waivers before placing him on the practice squad for a second straight year just didn’t seem like the best option.
Lots of action in Raiderville these past two days, and don’t think for a second that Reggie McKenzie is done. There will be more moves as he attempts to bolster the second and third string positions that struggled so mightily during preseason.