So much for the preseason. The Raiders got down to the 45-man roster the hard way, by cutting their leading rusher in exhibitions, rookie fullback Dan Reeder.
With him went veteran wide receiver Gordon Jones, who’d also been impressive in camp and in his limited playing time, and offensive guard Dwight Wheeler. Rookie cornerback Stefon Adams made the injured reserve list with a hamstring pull.
Reeder, the fifth-round draft choice from Delaware, gained 77 yards in Friday’s second half at Cleveland, more than any other back had all exhibition season. In all, he gained 139 yards in 19 carries, a 7.3 average which served only to make him one of the most successful players to hit the waiver wire Monday.
“What it comes down to is (Derrick Jensen’s) experience,” Raider Coach Tom Flores said. “It was something we weren’t that thrilled to do. Reeder is a tough player.”
The move leaves the Raiders with three full-fledged running backs, halfbacks Marcus Allen and Kenny King and fullback Frank Hawkins, backed by Jensen, a fullback-special teamer-tight end, and by Cle Montgomery, a punt-returner-wide receiver-halfback.
And King is still slowed by the knee he re-twisted at Cleveland, adding to speculation that the Raiders are waiting to see who turns up among other teams’ cuts. They reportedly had already been discussing a trade for one fullback who was waived Monday--the Browns’ Mike Pruitt.
--Rookie Rusty Hilger becomes the club’s first No. 3 quarterback to stick since the Pastorini-Plunkett-Wilson days of 1980. The Raiders, who kept two quarterbacks when the roster was at 49--and paid for it last season when both were injured--decided that was enough of that.
Flores: “We just feel Hilger is an excellent prospect. We’re a little concerned about the injury factor at quarterback. We’ve always liked to keep three quarterbacks. We took a chance since 1980 and last year it finally caught up with us.
“Keeping a quarterback just to have a quarterback is one thing. Keeping a quarterback who you think is an excellent prospect is another thing.”
--Inside linebacker Reggie McKenzie. The 10th-round pick from Tennessee, where he played outside and No. 1 pick Alvin Toles (New Orleans Saints) and No. 2 pick Alvin Zander (Cincinnati Bengals) ruled the inside. McKenzie took over the starting inside spot here when Bob Nelson went down and held it over Jamie Kimmel and Jack Squirek.
--Sammy Seale. An eighth-round pick from Western Colorado a year ago for his speed (10.3 in 100 meters), he was converted from wide receiver to cornerback in training camp, which is late, and wound up running off a former No. 1, Ted Watts.
The Raiders kept three tight ends, a compliment to free agent Trey Junkin, another convert. Junkin was a Redskin linebacker last season, but showed fine speed for a 6-2, 220-pounder. He caught six passes in exhibitions, fourth on the team, one behind backup tight end Andy Parker. . . . The Raiders have kept nine offensive linemen in past seasons and their line was carved up by injuries last year, but they’re going with eight, five starters plus Don Mosebar, Bruce Davis and rookie Kevin Belcher. Guard Curt Marsh is expected to come off injured reserve, but that won’t be for six weeks. Also, one starter, left tackle Shelby Jordan, missed the last two exhibitions with a stomach pull and still isn’t ready to practice.