Following Sunday night’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, the Oakland Raiders still have a lot of questions to answer regarding their final roster. The organization must trim the roster to 75 players on Tuesday and 53 players on Saturday, and a few players that were expected to be on the team won’t be on the field for Oakland in Week 1.
Right tackle Menelik Watson is done for the season, having ruptured his Achilles tendon on Sunday night. He played in 12 games last year and was set to be the team’s starter for the upcoming season.
Ruptured Achilles' tendon... I Will be back stronger than ever that's a promise. Main thing is supporting the team right now. #RaiderNation
— Menelik Watson (@MenelikWatson) August 31, 2015
Austin Howard is expected to replace Watson, moving over from right guard. Howard signed a five-year, $30 million contract with Oakland last year.
Howard will be a part of an offensive line that will look to improve what was the worst running game in the NFL a year ago. The Raiders signed Trent Richardson to be a part of that improvement, but it’s looking like the running back might not get the chance. After struggling during training camp and in the preseason, Richardson might be cut before the regular season begins.
Richardson might have more name recognition than a player like undrafted free agent Michael Dyer, but there might not be room for him on the roster. Dyer has been good enough to earn a roster spot, and Latavius Murray is entrenched as the starter. With Roy Helu set as the backup, Richardson could end up being the odd man out.
"He's got to earn it," head coach Jack Del Rio told a reporter when asked about Richardson’s potential roster spot. "He's got to be good enough as a backup. We've got to see some of the explosiveness that he had when he was a young man playing for the Crimson Tide there. He's got to have a role on special teams, and he's got to be able to help us win on Sundays. That's the challenge for him right now."
Richardson has just 42 yards on 15 carries this preseason, including 15 yards that he gained on one run. Since he was drafted No.3 overall in 2012, Richardson has yet to prove he can be a reliable option. Playing for both the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts, Richardson has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in three NFL seasons.
The Raiders will visit the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night in their final preseason game.