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The Raiders beat the Jaguars in Friday night’s Hall of Fame game, 27-11. Which 3 long-shots made a case to crack the Raiders’ 53-man roster?
The NFL’s annual teaser, the Hall of Fame game, which marks the longest five-week stretch of the year for football fans, was played Thursday night in Canton, Ohio.
The preseason opener featured the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars in a faceoff between two new head coaches, the 2022 first-overall draft pick and two rosters that were almost completely overhauled in the offseason.
Only so much excitement can really take place in the extra preseason game sprinkled into the schedule each year, so to recap, the Raiders’ second and third teams outscored the Jaguars’ backups, 27-11. However, there was enough flash on the gridiron to build a case for three Raiders facing long-shot odds to make the roster.
3 Raiders players who made their case: RB Austin Walter
Aside from the Raiders’ blockbuster trade for Davante Adams and the acquisition of Chandler Jones, one of the most interesting notes of Vegas’ offseason was the decision not to pick up Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option. Jacobs has tallied 28 touchdowns and over 3,000 rushing yards in his first three seasons, and it appears the team is non-committal on a future with him. They have a loaded cap to navigate between the Derek Carr, Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby contracts, so running back has to be an area they’re willing to test the waters with.
With that theory in mind, Austin Walter, who made his NFL debut with the San Francisco 49ers in 2019, made a solid initial push for a role in the Raiders’ developing running back platoon. He had eight carries for 49 yards (6.1 YPC) and a touchdown, good for the second-best night among running backs behind rookie Zamir White (11 carries for 52 yards).
Walter was waived twice by the 49ers (2019, 2021) and the New York Giants (the day after cracking the 53-man roster in October 2019). He also had a stint in the XFL cut short due to the league suspending its operations in April 2020. He bounced back and forth between the active roster and practice squad with the New York Jets last year and was signed by the Raiders last week.
His effort may have been exactly what he needed to crack an NFL roster full-time for the first time in his career.