The NFL Version of Overkill: Training Camp/Pre-Season Darlings. Every team owns it, and more often than not, it’s hard not to get caught up in a certain gaming noise. Sometimes the hype turns into in-game production. Other times, the noise quickly fades like a fart in the wind.
With the Las Vegas Raiders starting their 2022 bootcamp, it’s time to take a look at the dear Silver & Black bootcamp. We’ll look at those who have seduced coaches and fans alike in the past and a current batch of raiders who might do the same in the off-season.
Dears of the past
Kellan Doss: The star wide receiver Hard Knox 2019. The unstyled free agent from UC Davis had a strong camp and even better with 17 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. With his good size at 6ft 3 and his soft hand, he impressed the coaching staff and fans, and there was an uproar when he was turned away on the day of the cuts. But he quickly quit and didn’t move the depth chart much to finish his Raider career with 11 catches for 133 yards. Doss is currently a member of the New York Giants.
Latroy Lewis: The unpolished full-back made a quick impression in camp back in 2017 and made a resounding statement in his first pre-season game as he had two bags to go along with four full tackles. He seemed destined to make the list as an ostensible rusher/special team but was waxed stinging on cut-off day. He declined the Raiders’ offer to join the coaching squad and instead joined the Houston Texans taxi squad. Despite a bright start, Lewis spent two seasons in the NFL (mostly a coaching team) and has three full tackles and one sack to his name.
Chris Warren III: Warren, who is 6 feet 2, 246 pounds, was an imposing presence at camp. But when the pre-season games began, he dominated by running through and around the competition for 292 yards and two touchdowns in Jon Gruden’s first year at the back as Chief Raiders in 2018. Warren appeared to be a contributor and the strikers hid him in an injured reserve. . But then came 2019 where the team said his conditioning was not satisfactory and that was the case. Warren has not reappeared anywhere else.
Joron Craner: Promoted by then-general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen, the 2012 fifth-round pick arrived with a strong Pac-12 production. The 6-foot-3, 224-pound Criner impressed in camp and pre-season but when the important games arrived, there was little mass production in the pros. Criner spent two years with the Raiders collecting 19 catches for 183 yards and touchdowns before heading to the G-Men and immediately leaving the league.
David Osprey: The wide party turned narrow receiver was supposed to be OG Darren Waller. The 2011 seventh-round pick featured an odd combination of speed (4.48 in his USC pro day), size (6ft-4, 245lbs), and receiver-like catching skills to be a nightmare weapon. Instead, injuries and inconsistencies cost Ausberry the opportunity to be a contributor. He played for the Raiders for four seasons (he lost 2013 to injury) pulling 11 passes for 120 yards and no touchdown.
Louis Rankin: The Conquerors have a bunch of camper/pre-season starts that have been going downhill, to be perfectly honest. Rankin is one of them. Shining in the 2008 pre-season opener with an interesting straight-line velocity (21 stands, 148 yards, including 72 yards), the uncut free agent outside of Washington looked like a diamond in the rough. He was eventually cut, but returned to the coaching squad and made the active roster. But his contributions were limited as he was given a shot at kick-back (six returns for 108 yards and a length of 23).
Darius Butler: Smaller at 5 feet 10 and 221 pounds, he is the spark plug for the quarterback who is a seek-and-hit type defender. He has an infectious frenzy that would be perfect as a special team dynamo. It’s doubtful that the Raiders would end up holding more than four or five linebackers, but if Butler can emerge as a reserve defender, but more importantly as a special team player, the undesigned free agent from Arizona could land in the Final 53 or Training team.
Isaiah Paula Mau: There’s a breathing room in the Raiders’ safety room, especially after the team released Dallin Leavitt. At 6 feet 4 and 211 pounds, USC’s uncut free agent delivers exceptional size with corner cap skills. But his path to a spot on the list would be one vacated by Levitt – a contributor to special teams. At his size, the Pola-Mao could be a troublesome gunner who used his size and speed to be effective in kick-and-return cover units.
Lester Cotton Father: Come and go as it may be from the Raiders List, the attacking navigators find themselves stuck. And this is probably the season he earns a lot of shots on guard. OL is far from stable, and the non-Alabama product has shown up well in OTAs, catching the eyes of Raiders coaches. A powerful outing at camp and pre-season may be the ticket for Cotton to become a mainstay rather than a yo-yo on the menu.