Former Cal quarterback Chase Garbers did all that he could in his limited opportunity for the Raiders in Las Vegas’ 26-20 preseason victory over the Vikings on Sunday, and he has been impressive in both preseason games. But will he still be on the Raiders’ roster a week from now?
Meanwhile, ex-Golden Bears defensive back Camryn Bynum was a starting safety for the Vikings on Sunday, but we’ll start with Garbers’ performance.
Garbers is the No. 4 quarterback on the Raiders’ depth chart, and they are unlikely to keep more than three quarterbacks and may keep only two. So he must make every preseason play a good one. And he did just that Sunday.
Derek Carr, the Raiders’ starter, did not play Sunday. Jarrett Stidham, who looks like he will be Carr’s backup, played the entire first half, finishing 10-for-15 for 68 yards and a 76.5 passer rating. And Nick Mullens, the player Garbers presumably would have to beat out for a roster spot if the Raiders keep three quarterbacks, was outstanding while playing the third quarter, going 7-for-9 for 94 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 147.2.
Garbers entered the game with 10:01 left in the fourth quarter and immediately threw a perfect 14-yard completion to DJ Turner. Garbers’ second pass also was perfect, hitting tight end Cole Fotheringham in the chest between the 8 and 5 on Fortheringham’s uniform. But somehow Fotheringham dropped it, negating a seven- or eight-yard gain. Garbers was sacked on the next pass play called, although he nearly got away. His final throw on the drive was a well-executed screen pass to running back Brittain Brown, but it went for only 5 yards, forcing a field-goal attempt.
Garbers got back on the field with 3:44 left and Las Vegas holding a six-point lead. But Garbers never got another opportunity to throw the ball, as the Raiders decided to run out the clock to protect the lead. Why a team who choose to do that in an exhibition game, when a player needs every opportunity to prove himself as a quarterback is a mystery. But the Raiders ran the ball eight straight times, the last two being kneel-downs by Garbers.
Garbers finished the day 2-for-3 for 19 yards and an 84.0 passer rating, but it should have been 3-for-3 for 26 yards and a better passer rating since his one incompletion was a perfectly thrown pass that was dropped.
In the Raiders’ previous preseason game, Garbers went 4-for-6 for 35 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions and one touchdown drive.
So he is 6-for-9 for 54 yards for the preseason. Not bad, but probably not enough. Stidham has the advantage of having played in head coach Josh McDaniels’ system while both were with the Patriots. And Mullens has the advantage of having made 17 regular-season NFL starts.
So Garbers must hope he is still on the Raiders’ roster for their third preseason game next week.
NFL teams must reduce their 90-man roster to 85 players by Tuesday (August 16). One thing working in Garbers’ favor is that the Raiders have only 86 players on their current roster. Of course, Las Vegas could add some players in the meantime, forcing them to release more than one player.
Next week (Tuesday, August 23), NFL teams must reduce their roster to 80 players, and the final cutdown to 53 players must be made by August 30.
These exhibition games are important for Garbers, even if his chances of making the Raiders’ regular-season roster are slim. He may be attractive to another NFL team if he is cut by the Raiders, or the Raiders may want to sign him to their practice squad.
Meanwhile, Bynum knows he will be on Minnesota’s regular-season roster. The question for the second-year pro is whether he will be a starter.
Bynum started Sunday’s game and played nearly the entire first half, missing only the final Raiders’ possession of the second quarter, which started with 1:28 left before halftime.
With the Vikings’ six-time Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith not playing in this game, Bynum started along with rookie Lewis Cine. Cine, a first-round draft pick, and Bynum are competing for the starting spot opposite Smith, but Cine and Bynum were on the field together Sunday.
Bynum did not record any statistics – no tackles, no interceptions no passes defensed – while Cine, who also played the first half, recorded one tackle.
Bynum is listed as a first-team safety, ahead of Cine, on the Vikings depth chart, but we’ll have to see whether that depth chart changes this week.
Cover photo of Chase Garbers by Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports
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