Oakland Raiders: 5 Players Who Surprisingly Made the 53-Man Roster

Oakland Raiders: 5 Players Who Surprisingly Made the 53-Man Roster

Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Just as there are players who surprise us all by getting cut before the start of the regular season, there are players who surprise us by making the team's final 53-man roster. For whatever reason, too much depth at the position, their own inconsistency through training camp, or for any number of other reasons, it's a surprise that they survived the final cut down. Here are five surprise additions to the Oakland Raiders' 2014 roster.

5. Tony Bergstrom – OL

Bergstrom
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

5. Tony Bergstrom – OL

Bergstrom
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Bergstrom has been a source of frustration for the Raiders' coaching staff ever since he was drafted. Injuries and inconsistent play have hampered his development and have kept him from fulfilling the potential the team thought he had when they drafted him in 2012. Perhaps sliding over and working as a center – along with being healthy again – have improved his productivity, consistency, and allowed him to remain on the roster.

4. Jonathan Dowling – S

Dowling
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jonathan Dowling – S

Dowling
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A seventh round pick this past May, Jonathan Dowling wasn't really expected to make the squad. Not with veteran Tyvon Branch coming back from injury, and Branch's replacement last season, Brandian Ross already on the roster. The battle for the backup spot wasn't especially fierce with neither Ross nor Dowling truly standing out, but the rookie did just enough to oust the veteran and claim a spot with the final 53.

3. Andre Holmes – WR

Holmes
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

3. Andre Holmes – WR

Holmes
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

While Holmes had a very strong offseason program, routinely making highlight reel catches and being singled out for praise by the coaching staff, he virtually disappeared once the lights came on and the preseason games began. He's been an invisible man out on the field, showing none of the presence he had through camp. With the team attempting to improve the consistency of the receiving corps, Holmes not being cut is a surprise.

2. Brian Leonhardt – TE

Leonhardt
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Brian Leonhardt – TE

Leonhardt
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Almost an afterthought – and possible practice squad candidate when the preseason began – Brian Leonhardt began to make a case for a roster spot with some quality blocking, as well as a few pretty spectacular catches during the exhibition season. With the extended absence of David Ausberry, along with the season-ending injury to Nick Kasa, Leonhardt's strong performance has landed him a roster spot and some playing time once the season begins.

1. Neiko Thorpe – CB

Thorpe
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Neiko Thorpe – CB

Thorpe
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Neiko Thorpe has been one of the bigger – and more pleasant – surprises of this offseason for the Raiders. Signed to a future contract following his season in the CFL, Thorpe has stepped up during the preseason and showed that he can play corner in the NFL. If he continues his solid play, he can potentially play a huge role in reviving Oakland's secondary, turning it from laughingstock to dominating defensive force.


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