SEATTLE — Raiders coach Tom Cable craved one more look at his starters Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks, if for no other reason than to allay concerns raised by their poor performance against the New Orleans Saints.

Consider it mission accomplished in the 31-21 loss, even if the defensive starters departed after only five plays and the offensive starters once they reeled off three plays.

It's a start for a team that was humiliated in a 45-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints five days earlier. And the cameo appearances at least give the players something to feel good about for the 11 days before the regular-season opener.

"The whole thing is about how we responded to last week," Cable said. "We did a great job of that. I'm very excited about how this team handled the week and handled (the game)."

The rest of the game served as a final audition for the 50 or so players vying for roster spots. The final cutdown from 75 players to 53 is Saturday afternoon.

Cable threw out all his healthy starters in an attempt to help them erase the bad taste in their mouths from the third-worst exhibition loss in the franchise's 50-year existence.

OK, so it wasn't much, The Seahawks managed only 16 yards on five run plays. The Raiders offense netted 3 yards on three plays. No one expected much more than what they received.


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Everyone expected to see a nightlong parade of players 36 hours or so from an NFL job or unemployment.

Cable said he expected high-octane performances from a slew of players still vying for starting spots or jobs of any kind on the final roster.

To that end, he gave those players increased playing time so that he can be as informed as possible on those players before he decides which ones to keep around beyond Saturday.

For the second straight season, running back Louis Rankin made a strong case for inclusion on the final roster.

He scored untouched on a 45-yard touchdown run through the left side of the line midway through the first quarter. Rankin scored on a drive keyed by rookie Nick Miller's 51-yard kick return.

Players such as Miller and Rankin realize that their aspiration of earning starting jobs is blocked by the presence of proven players such as Chaz Schilens and Darren McFadden.

It's consistent special teams play and the ability to perform when called upon as a position player that Cable is looking for from those players.

Miller has been one of the surprises performers throughout training camp and in exhibition games. His penchant for making plays on returns — he added 23-yard punt return in the second quarter — and as a receiver put him in line for a full-time gig a little more than four months after he went undrafted out of Southern Utah.

"It feels great to be here and even make it this far," Miller said. "I made a few mistakes out there, but everybody makes mistakes. I played hard every play, and we'll wait to see what happens now."

Second-year receiver Jonathan Holland has matched Miller play for play. They played side by side at times Thursday night, hoping for a chance to make a lasting impression, keenly aware of the spirited competition between them.

Holland scored Oakland's lone touchdown against the Saints, and he added two receptions in the first half.

"It's kind of stressful being in this situation, when you don't know if you're going to be here much longer," Holland said. "At the same time, you don't want to press. You just try to apply everything you've learned and carry it over to the games."

Rankin shined last year at this time, but he was released because McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas are entrenched at running back.

Cable said he entered Thursday's game with a fair idea of most of the players he intended to keep around.

Through it all, he still faced the prospect of firming up a few starting spots. Hence, Chris Morris started at center for the first time in four games ahead of projected starter Samson Satele.

Morris fared well in limited action. Satele's night was marred by a holding penalty.

Seahawks 31
RAIDERS 21,
  • NEXT GAME:
    Sept. 14, vs. Chargers, 7:15 p.m.