Bubbling over

The dreaded phrase looms on Sunday's NFL cutdown date, "The coach wants to see you and bring your playbook." The Oakland Raiders wrap up their exhibition season on Thursday night at home against the New Orleans Saints. Like every NFL team, the Raiders must pare their roster to 53 players before opening the regular season, in Oakland's case it is at New England for a Thursday night nationally televised audience on Sept. 8.

Several players will not play for the Oakland Raiders after Thursday night. Here's a closer look at who is on the bubble and things to ponder – and not so much in a roster spot sense:

Quarterback: Marques Tuiasosopo, not because of his roster spot but he has to give the coaching staff confidence that he can avoid driving killing turnovers.

Wide receiver: Anyone not named Randy Moss, Jerry Porter or Ronald Curry is not a slamdunk but Johnnie Morant and Doug Gabriel helped their cause when few expected it. Gabriel, however, is on the shelf with a finger injury.

Tight end: Teyo Johnson did not endear himself to Norv Turner after literally giving up a first down against Houston.

Offensive line: If Brad Badger starts at right guard, does Ron Stone become a salary cap casualty? Will Corey Hulsey survive the final cut and become a backup?

Linebacker: Jay Foreman has an impressive resume but where does he fit? Tyler Brayton has also done little to warrant belief that he can make the transformation successfully from defensive end to outside linebacker.

Secondary: Nnamdi Asomugha remains one starting cornerback and has done nothing to hurt himself but also has done nothing to help himself. Rookies Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt have the highly touted speed but that element has yet to translate into playmaking.

Special teams: Chris Carr has done some very good things as a punt returner but undrafted free agents face long odds. Nonetheless, Carr has helped his cause but can't backslide now.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com

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