When it comes to making the back end of a NFL roster, the most important thing is often how well the player can play special teams.
When attempting to predict the 53-man roster, it is important to break the ties by watching who plays on the kick and punt coverage units. Sometimes both players play special teams, in this case it comes down to who is more productive.
Tonight when the Seattle Seahawks visit Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, fix your eyes upon the special teams units. The players that standout on special teams will likely have an edge when the roster is cut from 75 to 53.
Here are a few position battles that could come down to special teams play.
Rock Cartwright vs. Michael Bennett
Analysis: Cartwight plays special teams and has been the lead kick returner so far. However, he hasn’t exactly grabbed the kick return job and Bennett is clearly the superior running back. With the injury to Bush and McFadden’s history of injuries there is a very good chance both of these players stick. This is one rare circumstance that special teams may not ultimately decide who is on the roster for the whole season.
Sam Williams vs. Travis Goethel vs. Quentin Groves
Analysis: Williams has long been considered a scholarship player, but in reality has turned himself into a very good special teams player. The problem is fifth round draft selection Goethel looks to be a special team stud and more valuable backup linebacker with room to grow. Groves not only will play special teams, but he can also play defensive end. I believe Groves will make the roster. Look for Goethel to get the nod over Williams if the Raiders don’t want to carry that many linebackers. I have a feeling with the special teams woes that there is a chance all could make the final roster even with a crowded group of linebackers.
Hiram Eugene vs. Stevie Brown
Analysis: Eugene is a good special teams player and serviceable backup safety. Brown just always seems to be around the ball. Another tough decision for the Raiders. If the Raiders think Brown will pass through waivers and could be stuck on the practice squad, you could see Eugene get the nod for his special teams ability. Again, there is a chance the Raiders go with five safeties, not willing to lose the special teams or the rookie.
Johnnie Lee Higgins vs. Jacoby Ford vs. Todd Watkins vs. Nick Miller vs. Yamon Figurs
Analysis: Three of these players will make the roster. Ford and Higgins are probably nearly in, and between the other three Watkins plays a special teams as a non-returner and may be best receiver of the group.
Quarterbacks (3) – Campbell, Gradkowski, Boller
Running backs (3) – Bush, McFadden, Reece
Wide receivers (4) – Schilens, DHB, Murphy, Ford
Tight ends (2) – Miller, Myers
Offensive line (5) – Gallery, Henderson, Veldheer, B. Campbell, Walker
Defensive line (7) – Shaughnessy, Kelly, Seymour, Houston, Bryant, Henderson, Richardson
Linebackers (3) – McClain, Scott, Wimbley
Defensive backs (7) – Asomugha, Routt, Johnson, Branch, Huff, Mitchell, Ware
Special Teams (3) – Seabass, Lechler, Condo
Good Shot (8)
RB Rock Cartwright
RB Michael Bennett
T Erik Pears
G Khalif Barnes
MLB Ricky Brown
S Stevie Brown
DB Walter McFadden
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins
FB Luke Lawton – Will make the “team” because he does not count against the 53 man roster while serving suspension
On the Bubble (13)
WR Todd Watkins
LB/DE Quentin Groves
LB Thomas Howard
FB Manase Tonga
LB Sam Williams
DE Chris Cooper
C/G Chris Morris
WR Nick Miller
WR Yamon Figurs
TE John Owens
DT William Joseph
S Hiram Eugene
S Jerome Boyd
Will try to catch on elsewhere or with the practice squad.