The bubble players get their chance

The Oakland Raiders close out their preseason schedule with a contest against the St. Louis Rams Thursday at the Oakland Coliseum but expect less playing time for the starters.

Nonetheless, the preseason finale will be critical for Oakland Raiders fighting for their jobs in preparation for the regular season opener at Pittsburgh on September 12. There are 17 players who survived the first cut but will not be in Oakland come Sunday, when the roster must be cut to 53 players.

Those who are on the bubble will have their best chance to date as head coach first-year Norv Turner will likely go to the bench early. The starters have played more in the preseason than they typically did under Jon Gruden or Bill Callahan.

Here are a few quick hits for the bubble players:

Wide receiver: We know Jerry Porter and Jerry Rice are the starters but which of the other receivers could be the odd man out? We know who it won't be -- and that's Doug Gabriel. Not after three long touchdown catches in three games. Will it be Johnnie Morant or Alvis Whitted?

Tight end: Courtney Anderson has received more playing time than Teyo Johnson. What would it mean for Johnson if once again he does not play until late in the third quarter?

Running back: With Troy Hambrick getting traded to Arizona, the door became even more ajar for J.R. Redmond.

Defensive backs: Cornerback Charles Woodson ended his 33-day holdout. Granted, he's not going to play tonight but which member of this group will here the phrase, "Bring your playbook, the coach wanted to see you." David Terrell? Clarence Love? Ike Charleton? Keyon Nash?

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