Raiders make final cuts.

The Raiders got down to the 53-player roster limit on Saturday by releasing 20 players, chief among them tight end Teyo Johnson and fullback Chris Hetherington.

Johnson, the team's second-round draft pick in 2003 who caught 23 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons with Oakland, became the odd-man out in the Raiders tight end rotation after Courtney Anderson showed he was fully recovered from a knee injury he suffered last season. The progress and improvement made by veteran Zeron Flemister also made Johnson expendable.

''With every move, the thing you're trying to do is find the most complete players to fill out our entire roster,'' Raiders head coach Norv Turner said. ''When you tie in everything involved, in terms of playing the position, playing a backup, playing special teams ... there was just another direction we wanted to go in.''

Johnson had fallen out of favor with the Raiders coaching staff during the 2004 offseason when he took part in an NFL-sponsored trip to China rather than taking part in Oakland's offseason workouts. Though he later became a starter for the team when Anderson got hurt, Johnson was relegated to a backup role throughout the preseason this year.

Turner said that the tenuous relationship between he and Johnson was not a factor in the decision to release the former Stanford star.

''I think there's a perception on that,'' Turner said. ''But everyone involved in coaching Teyo, we worked hard to give him an opportunity to be successful. When you have a guy you see has potential ... you want to see that develop and come out. At times it did. It's just finding the consistency was the thing we were looking for.''

The decision to cut Hetherington was a bit more puzzling, as the veteran fullback started all four preseason games and worked exclusively with Oakland's starting offense throughout training camp.

But Turner pointed to the development of John Paul Foschi as a reason why the team opted to part ways with Hetherington. Foschi, who was on the Raiders practice squad for part of 2004, was a tight end whom Oakland converted to a fullback midway through training camp.

''He's a young guy that's on the move in a positive manner,'' Turner said. ''Some of these calls are tough but (Foschi) is a young guy I think is going to grow. Zack (Crockett) can play fullback, too. We can be multiple in terms of the way we line up.''

Others cut by the Raiders were tight ends Rickey Dudley and James Adkisson, wide receiver Cedric Bonner, safety Calvin Branch, offensive linemen C.J. Brooks, Vince Carter, Robert Hicks and Brad Lekkerkerker, quarterback Bret Engemann, running back DeJuan Green, fullback J.R. Niklos, linebackers Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, Jay Foreman, Marquis Smith and Edward Thomas, and defensive linemen Anttaj Hawthorne, Jordan Hicks and Lorn Mayers.

Gbaja-Biamila originally signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He had two sacks in two seasons in Oakland. Hawthorne was one of the Raiders' three sixth-round draft picks this season.

In addition, the Raiders also placed defensive tackle Kenny Smith, tackle Shaun Rose and safety Keyon Nash on injured reserve.


SB Report Top Stories