When the Raiders open the regular season on Sept. 11 in New Orleans, it’s expected that Reggie Nelson and No. 1 draft pick Karl Joseph will be the starting safeties.
Both come into this week’s training camp following injuries that kept them off the field during offseason workouts, but the Raiders believe they’ll be able to fully participate in training camp and exhibition games. If that’s the case, the veteran Nelson should quickly move to the front of the line at his position and Joseph will be given every chance to win his spot.
That will leave last year’s opening-game starter, Nate Allen, former Colt and Patriot Dewey McDonald, TJ Carrie and Keith McGill to battle for the primary backup roles.
Carrie also can make an impact as a corner and punt returner.
It’s McGill, however, who might be the most intriguing backup candidate during the exhibition season. The fourth-round draft pick from Utah in 2014 began his Raiders career as a corner but now has been converted to safety, and the Raiders believe he has a future at the position. At Utah, in fact, McGill – a 6-foot-3, 211-pounder – played safety and cornerback, so he’s not a stranger to the position.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio recently said he believes McGill can make a bigger impact for this team at safety.
“We like his length,” Del Rio said recently, according to Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group. “We like a lot of things about him. It’s just a matter of how far we can bring him, in terms of developing him, but that’s largely up to him. We’re going to give him every opportunity, knowing he can do some things at corner but we feel his long-term future would be best served with him at safety.”
If McGill has a strong camp, it’s possible he could force Allen – who was released and re-signed in the offseason – off the roster.