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Las Vegas’ Austin Walter celebrates his touchdown during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game against Jacksonville at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton on Thursday, August 4, 2022.
Raiders Vs Jags 9084

The Raiders beat the Jaguars in Friday night’s Hall of Fame game, 27-11. Which 3 long-shot players made a case to crack the Raiders 53-man roster?

The NFL’s annual teaser, the Hall of Fame game, which preludes the longest five-week stretch of the year for football fans, was played Thursday night in Canton, Ohio.

The preseason opener featured the Las Vegas Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars in a face off between two new head coaches, the 2022 first-overall draft pick, and two rosters that were all but completely overhauled in the offseason.

Only so much excitement can really take place in the extra preseason game sprinkled into the schedule every year, so, to summarize, the Raiders second and third teams beat the stuffing out of the Jaguars backups, 27-11. There was, however, enough flash on the gridiron to build a case for three Raiders facing long shot odds at making the roster.

3 Raiders players who made their case: RB Austin Walter

Aside from the Raiders blockbuster trade for Davante Adams and the acquisition of Chandler Jones, one of the most interesting notes on Vegas’ offseason was the decision to not pick up Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option. Jacobs has tallied 28 touchdowns and over 3,000 rushing yards in his first three seasons, and it seems as if the team is noncommittal to a future with him. They have a loaded cap to navigate between the Derek Carr, Davante Adams, and Maxx Crosby contracts so running back must be an area that they are willing to test the waters with.

That theory in mind, Austin Walter, who made his NFL debut with the San Francisco 49ers in 2019, made a solid introductory push to earn a role in the Raiders’ developing running back platoon. He had eight carries for 49 yards (6.1 YPC) and a touchdown, which was good for the second-best evening among the running backs behind rookie Zamir White (11 carries for 52 yards).

Walter was waived by the 49ers twice (2019, 2021) and the New York Giants (the day after cracking the 53-man roster in October of 2019). He also had a stint in the XFL cut short due to the league suspending its operations in April of 2020. He bounced back and forth between the active roster and practice squad with the New York Jets last year, and was signed by the Raiders last week.

His effort may have been exactly what he needed to crack an NFL roster full-time for the first time in his career.

Next: Rookie LB Darien Butler

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Let Tony Boselli lead Jaguars out of Hall of Shame | Commentary

Tony Boselli had his bronze bust unveiled in Canton, Ohio, over the weekend, but this should not be the final chapter of his Jacksonville Jaguars legacy.

It should be the beginning of a new phase of his affiliation with the team that he once road-graded a path to becoming the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history.

Boselli, the most dominant offensive tackle in the league in the late1990s, became the first Jaguar ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday and now should be the man hired to rescue this now-moribund franchise from the Pro Football Hall of Shame.

I will die on this hill — journalistically speaking, of course.

For years, I’ve thought and even written that Jaguars owner Shad Khan has inexplicably underestimated Boselli’s potential value to the organization. And, no, I’m not talking about his potential value as a legendary player whom professional teams often hire as some sort of figurehead community ambassador. I’m talking about his potential value to run the entire front office as a general manager or some other hoity-toity title such as executive vice president of football operations.

It’s baffling that such a brilliant billionaire businessman such as Khan could make so many bad football hires over the years (see coaches Urban Meyer, Gus Bradley, Mike Mularkey, GM Gene Smith and the decision to make old-school, no-nonsense former coach Tom Coughlin into the vice president of football operations), but has somehow managed to overlook the obvious, no-brainer hiring of Boselli as the franchise’s front man.

Why wouldn’t you want the greatest Jaguar of all-time and one of few shining stars in the organization’s otherwise dismal history to be the leader? Boselli’s induction into the Hall of Fame actually gave beleaguered Jaguars fans a reason to feel good and be proud of their team for a change.

You could tell just by watching the induction ceremony on TV and seeing the massive number of Jaguars fans who made the pilgrimage to Canton and bought up every last shred of Boselli Hall of Fame gear that was on sale. The Boselli apparel and souvenirs sold out so quickly that Tony’s own family didn’t even get a chance to buy any.

“Definitely, the Jaguars were the most visible team presence this year,” HOF spokesman Rich Desrosiers told the Florida Times-Union.

Of course, you would never hire someone to run your franchise just because they are beloved, but popularity certainly doesn’t hurt Boselli’s credentials. Especially when public confidence in the organization is at an all-time low as the Jaguars try to make their way out of the muck and mud of the Urban mire.

Whenever I’ve brought up the idea of Boselli running the Jaguars in the past, some Jags fans and media cynics have scoffed at me and said Boselli has no experience as an NFL scout and talent evaluator. To which I say, that’s a bunch of archaic, old-school hooey.

You know what Kevin Demoff, the executive vice president of football operations for the world champion Los Angeles did before joining the organization? He was an editor and website designer for a failed dotcom-era company called Broadband Sports.

You know what Bob Myers, the esteemed president of basketball operations and general manager for the world champion Golden State Warriors, was doing before he joined the Warriors? He was a sports agent.

You know how Alex Anthopoulos, the president of baseball operations and general manager of the world champion Atlanta Braves, got his start in the baseball business? As a media relations intern.

Believe me, you can hire scouts and capologists but an effective general manager needs to be a great leader and decision-maker and it certainly doesn’t hurt if you were also a great player.

Hall of Fame safety John Lynch went straight from the TV booth to general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, where he was named the NFL’s Executive of the Year in only his second season on the job.

Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway didn’t have any experience when he was hired as GM of the Denver Broncos in 2011. In the next five seasons, the Broncos went to the playoffs five times, won four division titles, two AFC Championships and a Super Bowl trophy.

I believe Boselli would be an unbelievable leader for the Jaguars. He knows the organization and he loves the organization. He knows the league, the players and the coaches from his nine years of being the lead radio analyst for Thursday Night Football on Westwood One.

If Shad Khan is as smart as I think he is, he will turn over the keys to the franchise to a great leader, a great communicator and an all-time great player.

Putting the Jaguars into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was a remarkable accomplishment for Tony Boselli, but you know what would be even more amazing?

If he were given the opportunity to lead the Jaguars out of the Pro Football Hall of Shame they’ve been mired in for most of their existence.

Email me at [email protected] Hit me up on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6 to 9:30 a.m. on FM 96.9, AM 740 and HD 101.1-2

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