Five Raiders Players to Watch During NFL Preseason Opener Vs. Rams

Jon Gruden made the expected reality earlier this week, saying most Raiders starters won't play Saturday's exhibition opener against the L.A. Rams.

Rookie starters may make a cameo, but this game's focus will hone on lower units, with players fighting for a roster spot. Major impact players got plenty of work over two joint practices against the L.A. Rams this week, with Gruden estimating starters got 120 reps against the NFC champs.

There's still plenty to keep an eye on in this game, even with the impact players out. Let's take a look at five players to watch in this preseason affair. 

CB Nick Nelson

The second-year pro seemed to be on the fringe after the Raiders drafted Trayvon Mullen and Isaiah Johnson this spring, a year after they took him out of Wisconsin. Nelson struggled to establish himself as a rookie, and seemed behind the rookies and established starters at his position. Head coach Jon Gruden really likes Nelson and continues to praise him publicly, giving his roster quest life. He has seen second-team work in training camp, but must show well to earn a roster spot despite heavy competition. That effort starts Saturday night. 

TE Foster Moreau

The fourth-round draft pick has been the team's primary in-line tight end in training camp, a role the Raiders hope he can fill during the regular season. He hasn't been perfect this summer – rookies rarely are – but he has had plenty of practice with the tight end group beset by injuries. He should play a lot on Saturday as he tries to show well as a run blocker and receiving option when tackling's allowed. His roster spot is virtually secure. His role is not, and he'll have a chance to earn a good one if he plays well in games. 

QB Nathan Peterman

The backup quarterback battle remains open. Mike Glennon seems to have the best shot at the No. 2 job given his experience and ability to avoid catastrophic mistakes. Peterman has a history of those, but is working with Jon Gruden to turn over a new leaf. The Raiders head coach has praised Peterman's efforts and believes the 25-year old's confidence is coming back. He sure looks that way in camp, showing a powerful accurate arm used for good in practices. He'll need strong showings to overcome Glennon, even if he's running mop-up time against competition that won't end up on an NFL roster. 

RB DeAndre Washington

It's hard to find a way for him to earn a roster spot, with Josh Jacobs, Doug Martin and Jalen Richard assured jobs and another opening reserved for a fullback. Washington should get opportunities to prove his worth as an all-purpose back in the preseason that will help him remain with the Raiders or catch on with another team this fall. Washington is an NFL-caliber back, and good preseason tape would prove that. 

[RELATED: Gruden lauds 'loyal' Raiders fans]

WR Keelan Doss

The undrafted Alameda native will suit up for the Raiders on Saturday night, to play mere minutes from where he was born and raised. He isn't in this for the experience. He wants to earn a job with the Raiders despite few open receiver spots. He's a smooth route runner with solid hands and the Raiders know it, but he'll have to stand out among those in his position group to be in position for a long-term gig. There's one roster spot, maybe two (maybe) available, and Doss has the talent to grab it with solid performances on his preseason resume. 

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