With only one preseason game left and a handful of guys fighting for some of the few unclaimed spots left on the roster, Thursday night’s game against the Titans should be nothing to scoff at. It’s possible that all these players make the team, or at least that everyone in one or more of the battles below does, but let’s try to see which one(s) the fans would prefer stays. Vote below for the players who you think deserve to stick around.
At WR, there is speculation that there is one spot remaining for either Stephen Burton or Joe Webb to claim. Burton is the more polished player, and adds his excellent blocking skills as a unique trait that WRs generally don’t boast about, but could be a deciding factor in who to keep for this run first team. Webb on the other hand, has a much higher ceiling in the playmaking potential he adds at the position, but has only had one off-season to work on the craft, so may not yet be game ready.
At the running back position, the team is set with the MVP being backed up by 2nd round draft pick Toby Gerhart, and assisted by Pro Bowl lead blocker Jerome Felton. However, with Felton out for 3-games, there’s some competition for 2-3 more spots on the roster, at least towards the beginning of the season. Matt Asiata has been a reliable runner, able to pick up a few yards if you need him to, but not about to make any highlight reels. Rhett Ellison showed in his rookie year that he has the skills to play FB and TE, able to block pretty well when needed to, but also able to sneak out into a passing lane and catch the ball against a defense that has more iconic players on their mind. And Zach Line, an undrafted rookie in this year’s class, has been showing some playmaking ability in the preseason. He may be a longshot to make the 53-man roster but has some good potential, and the team may regret letting a more patient team pick him up off the waiver wire.
At middle linebacker, Erin Henderson is pretty much a lock to start come game 1. (Sorry Irish, but it seems pretty clear, unless you have some Pagan friends who owe you a favor). Audie Cole and Michael Mauti are likely battling for the backup spot behind Henderson. Cole had an impressive preseason game in his rookie year, where he returned 2 interceptions for TDs on back-to-back plays, but hasn’t really stood out in any way since. Meanwhile, the sky seems to be the limit for Mauti. He has great leadership skills and has been rated as a first-second round draft pick, if it weren’t for his injury concerns.
Finally, at CB we have the top-4 players already set in Cook, Rhodes, Robinson and Jefferson proving to be a synch to make the team, but the fifth and potentially final spot at the position has come under question in the past few weeks. Marcus Sherels has been a reliable punt returner, but has left fans groaning more times than they care to recall when the team needed him to fill in for injuries as a DB. Bobby Felder has not shown enough to separate his own skills at CB from Sherels, but has had a number of flashy plays on special teams in the preseason, including downing a couple of punts inside the 10-yard line, and having some breakout returns when asked to field a punt.