Oakland Raiders: Andre Holmes

NAPA, Calif. – Perhaps the biggest surprise on the Oakland Raiders initial depth chart on Monday was where receiver Denarius Moore was listed.

Third. Behind Andre Holmes and James Jones. Rod Streater, Greg Little and Juron Criner are the top three at the other receiver position.

On the surface, that’s bubble territory. As in, you’re on the bubble to make the 53-man roster. Yet while coach Dennis Allen insisted he takes “not much” stock in his own depth chart this early in training camp -- hey, the Raiders had to put out something four days before the exhibition opener at the Minnesota Vikings -- Moore’s poor body language during practice spoke volumes.

Moore
Of course, we could be reading into things, but this much is true: The Raiders are still waiting for Moore, who has been alternately explosive and frustrating in his first three NFL seasons, to be more consistent.

“One of the big topics has kind of been a little bit of the inconsistency in the past, but I think he’s been a lot better in this camp,” Allen said of Moore. “I’m excited about Denarius Moore. I’m really excited about the whole receiving corps really, because I think we’ve got a lot of young guys that have an opportunity to surprise some people.

“But, I do think Denarius is getting better as a football player and he has in this camp.”

And there lies the rub. Moore has been consistently inconsistent. One week, the former fifth-round draft pick out of Tennessee is an explosive, acrobatic playmaking pass catcher. Then he’ll disappear for weeks.

In three years, he has caught 130 passes for 2,054 yards and 17 touchdowns, but his per-season yards-catch averages have gone from 18.7 yards to 14.5 to 15.1.

Moore also has missed seven games due to injury in his career, and his mind has played tricks on him along the way.

“I was worrying whether I was going to be able to be that go-to guy, or what I was supposed to [do] on this down or that down,” Moore told the Bay Area News group. “If I dropped the last pass, I’d think, ‘Are they going to come back to me? Do they have faith in me?’

“I should have just let it go and go on to the next play.”

Since his rookie season, Moore has caught regular season passes from seven different quarterbacks -- Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn and Matt McGloin. Matt Schaub will make eight this season.

What’s that about maddening inconsistency, again?

“For a smaller guy, compared to our other receivers, he can still go up and make the high-point of the football and adjust to it in the air,” Schaub said of Moore. “I think he’s a guy that can take those short catches and turn them into big ones with his athleticism.”

The question then is can he do it consistently?

Raiders Twitter mailbag

May, 31, 2014
May 31
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OAKLAND -- Let's get a post-OTAs No. 1 session Twitter mailbag up and running ...

If Sammy Watkins is a target of the Oakland Raiders, who hold the No. 5 pick in May's NFL draft, that might be news to the former Clemson receiver.

Watkins, the top wideout in the draft who could go as high as No. 2 overall, told ESPN affiliate 95.7 The Game on Tuesday that he did not recall meeting with the Raiders at last month's combine in Indianapolis.

Watkins
That's not to say, though, that Watkins is feeling shunned. As he put it, he has love for all 32 teams.

“I have some freakish talents and ability to make plays,” he said. “I can jump, run catch, make somebody miss. That's my game.”

It's a game and playmaking skill set badly needed by the rebuilding Raiders, who added veteran possession pass-catcher James Jones in free agency and return Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, Brice Butler and Juron Criner.

Watkins, though, plays bigger and faster than his listed 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, and many see him as Denarius Moore 2.0.

“I'm able to transition myself and work through tough conditions,” Watkins said. “I understand football and the preparation, so for me, it's getting in with the team I'm with and learn that playbook. That's all I need to do is really learn that playbook, and after that, just adjusting to the speed of the game and how cornerbacks play in the NFL.

“That would be the next step. I think after the first few games I'll be definitely fine.”

Watkins said he patterned his game after many different NFL receivers, listing Julio Jones, Torrey Smith, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery and Larry Fitzgerald. He was also asked where his skill set would best be put to use on an NFL field.

“If you want to make a lot of plays and help your team, I think ‘Z' would definitely be the position, because if they flip the coverage to your side, you definitely got one-on-one back side,” he said of what is commonly known as the flanker. “I think for me to spread the field and getting down the field and have space, the ‘Z' would be a nice position for me.”

And his favorite route to run?

“I would probably say a dig, probably a speed dig or a regular dig,” Watkins said. “You can't really stop those.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Receiver Denarius Moore went through his second consecutive practice after missing the previous three games with a shoulder injury and would seem to be on track to playing Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Moore
"He had another good day today," coach Dennis Allen said. "Obviously, I'm not ready to make the decision yet, but it's moving in a positive direction."

If Moore, who has 37 catches for 569 yards and a team-high five receiving touchdowns, is active against the Chiefs, it presents a challenge for the Raiders. Andre Holmes has excelled in Moore's absence, and Rod Streater, with 50 receptions, is just 213 yards away from becoming the first Raiders receiver with a 1,000-yard receiving season since Randy Moss in 2005.

A likely scenario would have Moore and Holmes on the outside with Streater sliding into the slot.

"It's another element that we have, another weapon that we have that we feel like we can utilize," Allen said. "The more guys you have like that, the better you're going to be. It gives us a boost.

"There's only so many guys that can be on the field at the same time so, obviously, if you add another guy into the mix somebody's going to lose a few reps here or there. All those guys are guys that we can still plan on using and plan on having in the game plan a significant amount."

There were no changes to the Raiders' injury report Thursday as defensive tackle Vance Walker was still exhibiting concussion symptoms, so he is unlikely to play Sunday.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: RB Darren McFadden (ankle), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), DT Vance Walker (concussion)

Limited practice: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), TE Nick Kasa (concussion), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), LB Sio Moore (neck)

Full practice: LG Khalif Barnes (knee/ankle), RG Mike Brisiel (knee), DE Jason Hunter (foot/finger), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), RT Tony Pashos (foot)
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Perhaps no other Oakland Raiders player epitomized the state of the rebuilding franchise during the nationally broadcast Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys more than receiver Andre Holmes.

He entered the day with five career catches for 76 yards and the product of Hillsdale College (also alma mater to left tackle Jared Veldheer) responded with a breakout game -- seven receptions for 136 yards -- albeit in a 31-24 defeat.

[+] EnlargeAndre Holmes
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesAndre Holmes is making the most of his opportunity with the Raiders.
More to the point, Holmes was one of 16 undrafted players who suited up for the Raiders against the Cowboys, seven of whom were initially signed by Oakland's second-year regime of general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen: rookie quarterback Matt McGloin, receivers Rod Streater and rookie Greg Jenkins, punter Marquette King, offensive lineman Lucas Nix, rookie defensive end Ryan Robinson and linebacker Kaelin Burnett.

“You look across the league and there's a lot of undrafteds starting and a lot of undrafteds playing,” Holmes said Monday. “It's what you do on the field on Sunday.”

Or, in Holmes' case, what he did last Thursday to the team with which he spent 2011 and 2012.

“We liked Andre,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said after the game. “You know, we had him here for a couple of years on our roster and on our practice [squad].

“He is a big, strong guy and can make those kinds of plays. He has good length and he has good ball skills, so we certainly have a healthy respect for him because we know him pretty well.”

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Holmes had to sit out the season's first four games due to a league-mandated suspension for failing a performance-enhancing substance test and did not get his first catch with Oakland until Nov. 17 at the Houston Texans. He became more of a factor with Denarius Moore missing the past two games with an injured shoulder.

And yes, Holmes circled his calendar when the Cowboys game came up, and his teammates noticed.

“When you don't get drafted, that kind of [sets] you back, but it also gets you that edge,” said fellow non-draftee Streater. “You want to work hard and you always feel like you've got something to prove. That's kind of the thing with Andre.

“It was like the perfect situation going against the Cowboys. They let him go, and he was undrafted.”

Proverbial chip on the shoulder, much? Even if Holmes was initially signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Minnesota Vikings in 2011?

If so, you could make the same claim for the eight other undrafted Raiders who played against the Cowboys and were first signed elsewhere before finding a home in Oakland -- tight end Jeron Mastrud (Tampa Bay), fullback Marcel Reece (Miami), middle linebacker Nick Roach (San Diego), safety Brandian Ross (Green Bay), running back Jeremy Stewart (Philadelphia), fullback Jamize Olawale (Dallas), long-snapper Jon Condo (Dallas) and defensive tackle Daniel Muir (Green Bay).

“It's taken me three years to be able to do it and I think it's just the development and me figuring out the skills that I need when I'm out on the field,” Holmes said. “Part of it could be opportunity and things like that, but I mean, I wouldn't say that I wasn't doing it before or anything like that. It was just the right time. The ball was coming to me and I was able to make plays on it.

“I've been able to use my strengths a lot more and playing bigger and making sure I come down with the 50-50 balls. I know when I was a rookie that was one thing I wasn't really doing. It was more of like a 20-80 ball, know what I mean?”

Upon Further Review: Raiders Week 13

November, 29, 2013
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An review of four hot issues from the Oakland Raiders' 31-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

A silver lining: The injury to receiver Denarius Moore more than opened the door for former Cowboys wideout Andre Holmes, who put on a show against his one-time team in catching seven passes for a game-high 136 yards. Especially when you consider he entered the game with five career catches for 76 yards. Bittersweet? “It felt good,” he said. “If I had a calendar, I checked this game because I wanted to come here and play well in front of a team I had played for. It just sucks we didn't get the win.” Said Raiders QB Matt McGloin: “He's a guy I definitely trust. … He's a guy that will go and get the ball for you.”

[+] EnlargeOakland's Andre Holmes
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsAndre Holmes had seven catches 136 yards against his former team.
McGloin takes a step back? After being a profile in efficiency in the first half -- he was 11-for-15 passing for 146 yards -- McGloin was 7-15 for 109 yards after halftime and had a costly end-zone interception when the Raiders were attempting to tie the game at 28-28 with 8:39 to play. He attempted a fade or jump-ball pass to the 5-foot-9 Jacoby Ford, who was covered by the 6-foot Brandon Carr. “If it was a touchdown,” McGloin said, “nobody would have thought a thing about it.” Actually, had Ford caught it, there would have been a lot of talk as it would have been his first TD catch since Nov. 6, 2011.

Injuries: Right guard Mike Brisiel was lost for the game after the first play with a knee injury. He was replaced by Andre Gurode, who was replaced after four false start penalties by Lucas Nix. Also injured: running back Rashad Jennings (concussion), safety Usama Young (stinger), linebacker Kaluka Maiava (calf) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (stinger).

Of explosive plays XII: And now for our weekly tracking of “explosive” plays. As deemed by coach Dennis Allen, such a play is one that gains at least 16 yards through the air, 12 yards on the ground. The Raiders had seven such plays against the Cowboys, all passes. Dallas had five explosive plays, one run and four passes. In 12 games, the Raiders have 86 explosive plays (24 runs, 62 passes), with three TD runs and seven passing scores. Oakland's opponents, meanwhile, now have 84 explosive plays combined, 18 runs (one TD) and 66 passes (seven TDs).

Five Raiders need MRIs

November, 18, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While five Oakland Raiders players had to take MRI exams Monday, only one result was known by the time of coach Dennis Allen’s weekly news conference.

Right guard Mike Brisiel left the Raiders’ 28-23 victory at the Houston Texans on Sunday with a knee injury, but Allen said the MRI came back clean.

“He should be fine,” Allen said.

Receivers Andre Holmes, who caught one pass for 33 yards but had another long diving grab ruled out of bounds, and Denarius Moore, who was the recipient of quarterback Matt McGloin's first NFL touchdown pass, a five-yarder, both had injured shoulders and were awaiting their results. Same with defensive end Jason Hunter, who injured a foot, and defensive tackle Daniel Muir, who had a knee injury.

“We’ll have an update on all those guys basically on Wednesday,” Allen said.

Allen gave the players the day off Monday.

Midseason Report: Oakland Raiders

November, 6, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You knew this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Oakland Raiders and, before Sunday's embarrassing 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland was playing above expectations. Indeed, after a 4-12 season last year, the Raiders had a chance to win their fourth game at this year's midway points.

Alas, the Eagles and Nick Foles, who threw a record-tying seven touchdowns, had different plans and it makes you wonder if these are indeed the same old Raiders who have not been to the playoffs since 2002, let alone had a winning season since that Super Bowl campaign. The difference, at least on the surface, is this team has been in every game save two -- at Denver and against the Eagles.

But the NFL is a results-oriented business and at the midway point, the Raiders sit at 3-5.

 

WR Holmes added to injury report

October, 31, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders receiver Andre Holmes was added to the team's injury report with a hamstring issue Thursday, seemingly opening the door for second-year wideout Juron Criner to be active Sunday for the first time this season.

Holmes
Criner, the second of two fifth-round picks in general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen's first draft class, was slowed coming out of training camp this summer with a hamstring strain. Might Criner's first action of 2012 come against the Philadelphia Eagles?

"He's worked his way back and there's a chance that Juron could be up this week, based on the way that he's been practicing and the health of that player,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Thursday.

The 6-feet-3, 221-pound Criner played in 12 games as a rookie and caught 16 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

"It's frustrating but you can't let it frustrate you,” Criner said after the Raiders' bye week. "I'm a young guy, I'm a young receiver, I got time. They have other options that they're going with right now. I can't do anything but respect that. But if I let it get me down, it will only put me further under. It won't help me any.”

Besides Holmes' hamstring, rookie Brice Butler had a drop that turned into an interception last weekend and veteran Jacoby Ford had the worst game of his professional career, losing a fumble on a catch and having an adventure on punt return. Allen, though, said Ford would again return punts, with Taiwan returning kickoffs.

Following, then, is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), C/G Andre Gurode (quad), RT Tony Pashos (hip).

Limited practice: WR Andre Holmes (hamstring), LT Menelik Watson (calf).
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Juron Criner went home to Las Vegas during the Raiders' bye weekend and, with the way the receiver's second pro season has gone thus far, would you be shocked if he hit a certain table in the gambling mecca and crapped out?

Criner, the second of Oakland's two fifth-round draft picks in 2012, has yet to be active for a game this season ... after appearing in 12 games last year and catching 16 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.

"I'm not really sure what it is," Criner said this week. "I just come out, work hard and do what I'm supposed to do and wait for my number to come up.

[+] EnlargeOakland's Juron Criner
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsJuron Criner has not seen the field during the 2013 regular season.
"It's frustrating but you can't let it frustrate you. I'm a young guy, I'm a young receiver, I got time. They have other options that they're going with right now. I can't do anything but respect that. But if I let it get me down, it will only put me further under. It won't help me any."

Since being selected out of Arizona, the purported physical red zone target who has size (6-feet-3, 221 pounds) and soft hands has been surpassed on Oakland's depth chart by the undrafted Rod Streater, 2013 seventh-round draft pick Brice Butler and free-agent pickup Andre Holmes, who had to serve a four-game suspension for a failed PED test.

And yet, as one league source wondered aloud, who is Criner going to play ahead of on the Raiders now?

"I think he's got to continue to do something on a day-in and day-out basis to catch the attention of myself and the offensive coaches," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "Really when you look at it, the players really determine who plays. The guys that go out and practice the best, the guys that make the most plays in practice then make the most plays in the game, those are the guys that go out there and play."

Criner was a rookie camp star two springs ago as a member of general manager Reggie McKenzie's first draft class and also shined in the first round of OTAs.

Then, something happened.

"They're confident in what I can do with my abilities," Criner said. "But I can always practice harder, run faster everywhere. There's always little things you can do.

"My practice habits are definitely getting a lot better, so I feel like it's really helping me a lot being in this situation and having to take practice a lot more serious. So, it's definitely helping me as a player."

Criner said his becoming a forgotten man in the Raiders receiving corps was not necessarily a reflection of a poor work ethic, that the coaching staff simply decided to go another route with the pass catchers at their disposal.

While Allen's earlier words would seem to contradict that train of thought, the Raiders obviously still like something about Criner. Otherwise, he would have been cut long ago, right?

"Yeah, he's an athletic guy," Allen said. "He's a big guy. He's got good hands. But he's got to be able to do it on a more consistent basis, day-in and day-out."

Criner said he realizes this, while acknowledging he needs to keep his not dressing on Sundays from bringing him down mentally.

"Just stay positive," he said. "All the receivers are good guys. We're all tight, we're all friends. So, just having a positive attitude a lot around me, it helps me."

And yes, Criner said he has approached receivers coach Ted Gilmore for advice.

"At the end of the day," Criner said, "all I could do is still wait."

 

Raiders add WR Holmes to roster

October, 7, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Raiders’ big roster move Monday, obviously, was the team releasing quarterback Matt Flynn and his $6.5 million payday.

But Oakland also activated receiver Andre Holmes off the exempt list after he served a four-game suspension for a failed PED test. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Holmes had a team-high seven catches, for 86 yards, in the preseason after being claimed off waivers from New England on May 13.

The Raiders also waived offensive lineman Jack Cornell, who was signed off the practice squad on Saturday. The move leaves open a roster spot, presumably for another quarterback. David Carr and Pat White are both set to visit the Raiders on Tuesday.

Flynn deal an April Fool's Joke?

October, 2, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- He was acquired to be the Oakland Raiders starting quarterback, but after being beaten out in training camp and one disastrous regular-season start, Matt Flynn, and his $6.5-million salary, has been demoted to third string.

This obviously was not what Oakland had in mind when general manager Reggie McKenzie shipped a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft and a 2015 conditional pick to Seattle for Flynn on April 1, the day before Carson Palmer was traded to Arizona.

Talk about your bad April Fool’s jokes.

“Listen, it is what it is,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Monday. “It hasn’t worked out like we anticipated and we’ve got to make decisions and we’ve got to move forward and continue to go. And Matt’s going to continue to battle and scratch and claw, and I still believe that he’s a capable quarterback. But we’re going to give McGloin a chance.”

As in undrafted rookie Matt McGloin, who came out of Penn State and has risen from fourth on the Raiders’ depth chart to overtake fourth-round draft pick Tyler Wilson, who was waived in camp before being signed to the practice squad, and Flynn to become Terrelle Pryor’s backup.

“I rep the same plays that Terrelle reps, and Coach Flip [quarterback coach John DeFilippo] does a good job of making sure I understand what we’re doing with Terrelle and, at the same time, understanding what we would do if I was in there,” McGloin said. “So the different plays like that, I’ll be prepared for; and just in case they want to run some of the similar stuff we run with Terrelle, I’ll be able to run as well.”

Flynn, meanwhile, had little to no success running the offense Sunday in a 24-14 loss to Washington. He was sacked seven times, fumbled twice, threw a pick-six interception and showed a shocking lack of pocket awareness, even as he had an 18-yard touchdown pass that gave the Raiders a 14-0 lead.

Granted, Flynn played most of the game without running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece, who were lost to injury.

After a Washington field goal, Flynn was intercepted by David Amerson on a slant pass that was thrown late and behind Denarius Moore. Forty-five yards later, Washington was within 14-10.

“I thought we had a good play, they were in man-to-man coverage,” Flynn said after the game. “We have to clean up the execution of that. All 11 of us have to clean it up.”

Now, it appears the Raiders have to clean up this mess of a deal. Especially if Flynn is the odd man out if/when they decide to activate receiver Andre Holmes off the exemption list.

Help on way for Raiders receivers?

October, 1, 2013
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Raiders saw a new but familiar face in their locker room Monday, that of receiver Andre Holmes. His four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances came to an end.

And while Holmes has been transferred from the reserve/suspended list to the exempt list, the Raiders have a week to decide whether to activate Holmes to the active 53-man roster.

Holmes
“We’ll have to see him,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “We haven’t even been able to work with him for a month, for four games. We’ll have to see how he is when he gets back in here.”

Holmes, who was claimed by Oakland off waivers on May 13 after New England waived him two days earlier, is a big, physical target who led the Raiders in the preseason with seven catches, for 86 yards. This after finding out he’d be serving his suspension for a failed test in April.

At the time, Holmes said in a statement he was surprised to learn he had tested positive for a banned amphetamine, according to the Associated Press.

"I know that I had been quite ill when I was tested in early April, as I reported to the sample collector at the time my sample was given, so I thought one of the medications I was taking was responsible,” Holmes said in his statement. “However, to this day, even after further testing, I do not know how the substance got into my system. The drug policy rules are very strict with a zero tolerance, so after consulting with the (NFL Players Association) and reviewing the medical documentation, I will not appeal the discipline.”

So after flashing in camp and the preseason, he sat at home and worked out on his own, and was not allowed any contact with the Raiders. Until Monday, when he walked into the facility’s locker room late in the afternoon.

“Whatever role that I get, I’ll just come in and try to do that to the best of my ability,” said Holmes, who has played in seven NFL games in his career, all with Dallas last year, and has two receptions for 11 yards.

“Whatever my opportunity is, I’ll just come in and try to do that the best I can.

“It really kind of (stunk) not to be out there to contribute or have my hand in it. So I’m excited to be back.”

Singling out Oakland’s wide receivers, Denarius Moore leads the Raiders with 15 receptions for 233 yards and two touchdowns, while Rod Streater has 13 catches for 172 yards. Rookie Brice Butler has seven catches for 78 yards and Jacoby Ford has four catches for 29 yards.

And that’s it for the Raiders receiving corps. If and when Oakland activates the 6-feet-4, 210-pound Holmes, the wideout to keep an eye on as a potential roster cut, then, might be second-year receiver Juron Criner. The fifth-round draft pick in 2012 has been inactive for all four games thus far.

Holmes said he thought he would be ready to play this weekend against San Diego, though he realizes that is not his call.

“I mean, there might be a little rustiness, just getting back to playing,” he said. “But I feel like I did a pretty good job these past four weeks in keeping myself mentally and physically prepared.”
The Oakland Raiders are seemingly in a never-ending quest for a wide receiver to develop.

The Raiders have swung on and missed with the likes of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens in recent years.

There is a new group of young, unproven receivers in Oakland. All have talent, but none are sure things. The Raiders are totally open at the spot and are hoping some of these players develop. Oakland may have trouble keeping six at the position because of the possibility the team will keep extra players at quarterback and at tight end. Below is a look at what Oakland’s receiving corps may look like as we approach the 53-man cut Saturday:

Rod Streater: He has been quiet in the preseason and is now dealing with a possible concussion. He may have the most upside on roster.

Denarius Moore: Oakland wants to see this third-year talent become more consistent and more mature on the field. He has big potential.

Jacoby Ford: The Raiders made a commitment to Ford by cutting Josh Cribbs, as they're both similar players. The key for the explosive Ford is his health, which has been a problem.

Juron Criner: A camp star last year who has been injured and fairly quiet. Still, I’d be surprised if he isn’t kept.

Brice Butler: Seventh-round pick has been impressive. He has all the tools, but can he make an instant impact?

Andre Holmes: He has been impressive and has good size. Holmes is facing a four-game suspension to start season, but I could see him in Oakland’s long-term plans.

Greg Jenkins: He has some ability, but he may be caught in numbers game.

Conner Vernon: An undrafted pick who was an early favorite to stick, but he might be practice-squad material.

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