The Oakland Raiders cut 18 players, waived/injured two more, placed one on the suspended list and traded another Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final cuts:
Most significant move: Many wondered if Raiders legacy George Atkinson III had played his way onto the roster with his late-game heroics Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks -- he rushed for a game-high 56 yards with a 1-yard touchdown plunge and returned a kickoff 81 yards for another score. But his lost fumble and dropped pass on a sure touchdown earlier in the game seemingly sealed his fate. Atkinson, who led Oakland this preseason with 191 yards rushing, three TDs on 19 carries and six catches for 60 yards, seemed primed to take Taiwan Jones' spot. Alas, Atkinson, whose father was a hard-hitting safety for Oakland in the late 1960s and 1970s, is still practice squad-eligible. Same with undrafted free-agent defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. For cornerback Neiko Thorpe, who received a second-round tender this offseason, getting waived was somewhat surprising.
Most significant non-move: Three of my four projected undrafted rookie free agents made the Raiders’ initial 53-man roster in running back Jalen Richard, receiver Johnny Holton and defensive tackle Darius Latham. Linebacker James Cowser was waived/injured after suffering a concussion in Thursday's preseason finale against Seattle, as was linebacker Neiron Ball, who did not suit up for the Seahawks game. The 5-foot-8 Richard, who missed the first two exhibitions with a knee issue, showed enough shiftiness and skills as a returner to stick as one of four running backs, while Holton is the fifth receiver and Latham is a big-bodied presence inside who showed a keen ability to break through the line to make backfield tackles in the preseason. A fourth undrafted free agent did make the initial 53-man roster, though, in cornerback/returner Antonio Hamilton, which was somewhat of a surprise. And despite rumors of defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. and his injured hip being placed on injured reserve, he was not. At least, not yet.
Serving his time: Fullback Marcel Reece, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was officially placed on the reserve/suspended list to finish out the final three games of his NFL-mandated four-game suspension for violating league policy on performance-enhancing substances. And while Reece has maintained his innocence, saying a “legal” plant-root extract he ingested converted into a banned substance in his system, he cannot have contact with the team until after Week 3. No practices, no workouts, no time at the team facility. “I will be waiting on the airstrip when my guys land from Tennessee on Sept. 25,” Reece told ESPN.com via text. Linebacker Aldon Smith, who is reportedly in rehab, also remains on the suspended list. His calendar-year-long suspension began Nov. 17, though he can reportedly apply for reinstatement this month.
Tradin’ Reggie: Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie also made a trade Saturday to clear a roster spot when he dealt safety Dewey McDonald to the Seahawks for a conditional pick in the 2017 draft. McDonald had a strong offseason program -- he ran with the first-team defense alongside Nate Allen in organized team activities and minicamp when Reggie Nelson and first-round pick Karl Joseph were rehabbing injuries. McDonald, though, had a rough training camp and first exhibition game, whiffing on more than a few tackles when he went for the big hit rather than wrapping up, and getting burned downfield a few other times by the Arizona Cardinals. The Raiders kept 11 defensive backs, including four pure safeties.
Raiders moves: Waived -- RB Atkinson III, G Mitch Bell, WR K.J. Brent, CB Kenneth Durden, WR Marvin Hall, DL Drew Iddings, DL Branden Jackson, G Denver Kirkland, DT Derrick Lott, LB John Lotulelei, TE Jake McGee, WR Jaydon Mickens, TE Ryan O'Malley, G Oni Omoile, CB Neiko Thorpe, LB Korey Toomer, DE Townsend Jr., LB Kyrie Wilson. Waived/injured -- LB Ball, LB Cowser. Traded -- S McDonald to Seattle for conditional pick in 2017 draft. Placed -- FB Marcel Reece on suspended list.