With the preseason wrapping up, week 1 is on the horizon. The Raiders have much work left to do in a return to the Bay Area for their preseason finale. Once again, many of the Raiders key players likely won’t see the field. Roster bubble players and players fighting for a rotational spot need all the exposure they can get. Here are the three players on the bubble needing a good performance the most.
Running Back BJ Emmons
Emmons will need to keep it rolling this weekend to secure a roster spot. If he doesn’t make it, he becomes a high priority practice squad addition for the Las Vegas Raiders. Emmons is an unknown commodity, due to his lack of college experience. Emmons came to the Raiders with virtually no shot at a roster spot. An injury to Jalen Richard has potentially changed his fortune. Now there is a sliver of hope.
Emmons has also proven he can offer some explosiveness as a back in the NFL. But, he has competition for the third running back spot with Trey Ragas. As of right now, Ragas, has the upper hand. The gap between the two has shrunk over the past two weeks. Emmons has carried the ball 17 times for 79 yards for a booming 4.64 yards per carry, adding a touchdown. With Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs as a friend, counting Emmons out is irresponsible.
Linebacker Asmar Bilal
With injuries to linebackers Javin White and Nicholas Morrow, the Raiders look to a 2020 udfa for reinforcements. Bilal got practice reps with the first-team defense on Wednesday. Familiarity with Gus Bradley may offer him a shot at a roster spot. Bilal had 3 tackles in the week two preseason match-up with the Rams, and looks to build off of that experience. One thing that gives Bilal a chance at carving out a role as a Raider in 2021, is his athletic abilities and how they may translate into coverage skills under Bradley. Bilal was unable to showcase his athletic profile in 2020 draft season, due to covid-19, but clearly Bradley liked what he saw in practice reps last season with the Chargers.
Cornerback Damon Arnette
It’s rare that a first-round pick needs a good preseason performance to earn a role on a team, but that is the life of a Raider fan. Arnette will get some reps this weekend and head coach Jon Gruden said he is “excited” to see Arnette play. Arnette struggled greatly in year one, not only as a player, but to even stay on the field. The Raiders brought in veteran Casey Hayward Jr. as a free agent and Arnette is not only competing for the outside corner starting position, but for snaps at all.
The fact that Arnette is getting snaps at all in the final preseason game is indicative enough that his playing time this season isn’t certain. He will need to show improvement in his tackling and overall technique to provide quality snaps for the Raiders this season. Most of all he needs to stay healthy. With Amik Robertson moving outside, and other young players such as Isaiah Johnson and Keisean Nixon eager to play, he still must earn it.
Top Photo: Joe Robbins Getty Images