OAKLAND -- If it seemed as if George Atkinson III earned a spot on the Oakland Raiders’ initial 53-man roster, well...
“He’s best with the ball in his hands and running the football,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said of Atkinson, who rushed for a game-high 56 yards on seven carries, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge, and returned a kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown.
But Atkinson also lost a fumble on one of his two catches and dropped a Connor Cook pass inside the 5-yard line that would have resulted in a sure touchdown in the Raiders' 23-21 exhibition finale loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
“Running routes and catching the ball hasn’t been his strong suit. He’s gotten better, and then he had that drop today. But having a role on special teams is also important for backup players. I think it was a little up and down and he knew that. He was pressing a little bit but I kept encouraging him to just keep going to the next play.”
My 53-man roster projection that posted earlier this week did not have Atkinson making the cut.
But after his preseason performance -- he led the Raiders in rushing with 191 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, caught six passes for 60 yards and returned his lone kickoff for a TD -- he had to give the Raiders some more food for thought, no?
That's especially the case because Taiwan Jones had two carries for three yards, caught two passes for five yards and returned one kick for 33 yards while battling injury this preseason.
Still, the situation is fluid. Always.
“Usually, when you get as much tape as we have on these guys, it become apparent who’s earned a right to be here and who maybe needs a little time on the practice squad and who’s going to have to take a shot somewhere else, perhaps,” Del Rio said. “We have a lot of good tape to look at to finish that evaluation, and we look forward to doing that.”