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Raiders Get Last Shot at Impressing : Football: Borderline players face pressure to avoid the last cuts in today's exhibition finale against Oilers at Houston.


For Raider running backs Harvey Williams and Tom Rathman, today is the last chance to show they belong in the starting lineup.


Not compared to the task facing running back Randy Jordan. Today is his last chance to show he belongs on the team.

Today's exhibition finale between the Raiders and Oilers in Houston doesn't figure to be a hard-fought battle between big-name stars. Both teams are confident that a month of exhibition games have given them a pretty good idea of what they have. The object today will be to keep what they have safe and sound for next week's regular-season opener.

Or, as Raider Coach Art Shell put it, "The key thing in this game is to come out healthy. Our starters won't play a whole lot. We want to make sure they play a whole lot the following week."

The hard-fought battles today will involve people like Jordan, who don't even know if there will be a following week for them.

To get that far, they must not only survive today, but Sunday as well, when clubs must cut seven more players from their rosters to get down to the allowable 53.

Jordan signed as a free agent with the Raiders before last season after rushing for 1,134 yards at North Carolina.

He got only a dozen carries last year, gaining 33 yards, and also caught four passes for 42 yards.

But Jordan could tell himself he was at least a bright prospect. Now, his future looks dimmer.

He watched in the off-season as the Raiders brought in Williams, Rathman and fullback Derrick Gainer.

And he has carried the ball only eight times for 21 yards in four exhibition games, the rest of his playing time having been on special teams.

"I feel real comfortable with the offense," he said. "(If he doesn't get called on to carry the ball today), I'll just have to show what I can do on special teams.

"It's frustrating, but I understand they were looking for experience. That's why they brought in guys like Rathman and Williams."

Is Jordan worried about Sunday's cut?

"I think about it a lot," he said. "I get nervous, but it all goes away once I get on the field. I know it's important to show what I can do (today).

"They must like something about me to have brought me this far. I hate the fact that they can't have a spot for everybody."

Jordan's fight for a roster spot would be easier if he could still depend on Steve Smith for moral support. Smith, a Raider fullback, was released in the off-season and signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

"I lost a good friend," Jordan said. "He was like a brother to me. It makes you look at this not only as a sport, but as a business.

"I may be off the team, looking for a job for myself, but all I can do is what I've always done. I've always been one to try and improve. They may still release me, but there is nothing I can do about that."

The Raiders no interest in seeing some of their banged-up players on the Astrodome's artificial turf. Defensive lineman Chester McGlockton, defensive backs Lionel Washington and Torin Dorn, offensive lineman Bruce Wilkerson and linebacker James Folston will play little, if at all.

So the Raiders, 3-1 in exhibitions, will play it safe with their starters and injured players while continuing to work on their running game, trying to cut down on penalties and attempting to develop some cohesiveness in their second and third defensive units.

This isn't the time for heroics.

Unless you're Randy Jordan and you're running out of time.


The Moon no longer shines in Houston, quarterback Warren Moon having moved on to Minnesota.

That has left the starting job to Cody Carlson, with former USC Trojan Sean Salisbury battling Bucky Richardson for the backup spot.

The Oilers' running game looks strong, especially with free-agent holdout Lorenzo White having come to terms with the team on Friday.

Gary Brown, having gained a total of 172 yards in his previous two seasons, rushed for 1,002 yards last year and is racking up the yards in the exhibition season with a team-leading 129 and a 5.4-yard average.

Houston (2-2) has beaten the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys but has lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.

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