Two weeks of training camp and the first preseason game are in the books for the Oakland Raiders. It’s a good time to review which players have stepped forward and put themselves in the spotlight.
1. Breon Borders, CB
Writing about it a week after the fact, it’s still shocking to see an undrafted rookie get reps with the first team during training camp. To Borders’ credit, he has earned every look he’s received, displaying a nice combination of speed and technique during practices. On the downside, he wasn’t able to get those skills across during last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals; the Cards’ second team didn’t go his way too often. However, he did pick up three tackles, including one in run support. Borders still has an opportunity to sneak onto the roster in a crowded cornerback group.
2. Shalom Luani, S
Speaking of the secondary, Luani’s exceeded expectations thus far as a seventh round pick. He started camp behind Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph, Obi Melifonwu and Keith McGill at third team safety, looking like the best defensive player of that group in the meantime. When Melifonwu and McGill both went down with injuries, Luani was bumped up to second team, where he’s continued to thrive. He started the opening preseason game off with a tackle on a kick return and only got better from there, breaking up two passes and picking up five more tackles. While Melifonwu will most likely return to action this week, McGill is expected to miss the first month of the regular season, so Luani will be sticking around with the second team.
3. Treyvon Hester, DT
Also a seventh round pick, we had Hester pegged as a potential sleeper in our rookie class preview, and he did not disappoint against the Cardinals, notching two sacks on Blaine Gabbert. There’s a void at backup defensive tackle, so hopefully Hester can lock the job up with some additional time in the next couple of weeks.
4. Cory James, LB
James was arguably the star on defense early on during last week’s game. He started at outside linebacker in place of Jelani Jenkins, who’s slowly returning from injury, and seized on the opportunity, racking up seven tackles and two QB hits. James was thought to have fallen behind fifth round rookie Marquel Lee (who also had a solid game) in the middle linebacker competition. Maybe this performance will make the Raiders coaching staff think twice.
5. LaTroy Lewis, LB
Lewis was the surprise of the Cardinals game on defense. The undrafted rookie from Tennessee had been turning in an unspectacular camp performance beforehand, until he picked up two sacks. Lewis still has a tough hill to climb in order to make the final roster, but he’s certainly put himself in the conversation for a practice squad spot.