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Raiders shed starters to shape final roster

The Oakland Raiders finalized their 53-man roster Saturday, cutting 23 players including receiver Greg Little and defensive back Brandian Ross in favor of young seventh round draft picks.

Little was a three-year starter for the Cleveland Browns before joining the Raiders this offseason. Since entering the NFL in 2011, Little started 41 of 48 games in three of his seasons as a professional, and has scored eight touchdowns on 155 receptions.

Oakland elected to keep only five receivers on their active roster, with last year’s seventh round pick Brice Butler beating out Little for the final spot.

The decision to cut Ross — who started 13 games for the Silver and Black in 2013 — was somewhat surprising considering Oakland will enter Sunday’s game against the Jets with only four true safeties on their roster while electing to carry seven cornerbacks.

Ross, claimed by the Miami Dolphins on waivers early Sunday, was let go in favor of Kevin Dowling, the Raiders seventh-round pick in this year’s draft. Dowling is one of this season’s eight-man draft class general manager Reggie McKenzie decided to keep in its entirety.

Conversely, the Raiders waived all 11 undrafted free agents they invited to camp, including rookie running back George Atkinson III, son of two-time Raiders Super Bowl champion defensive back George Atkinson.

Oakland is rumored to be interested in signing Atkinson to the 10-man practice squad, something they said they will announce on Monday.

Atkinson wasn’t the only running back let go, as key special teams player Jeremy Stewart was also released.

Seventh-round pick Shelby Harris is probably the most surprising Raiders draft pick to make the team, beating four other players for his final spot despite missing his entire senior season at Illinois State for conduct detrimental to the team.

As of Sunday, the Raiders have only announced one of their additions to the practice squad, claiming former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Benson Mayowa off waivers.

The Raiders also released defensive end Jack Crawford, meaning only two of McKenzie’s six 2012 draft picks are still with the organization.

The other players cut Saturday were defensive lineman Ryan Robinson, Denico Autry, Ricky Lumpkin; cornerbacks Neiko Thorpe and Chance Casey; offensive linemen Jack Cornell, Dan Kistler, Erle Ladson, Lamar Mady and Jarrod Shaw; linebackers Carlos Fields, Bojay Filimoeatu, and Spencer Hadley; tight ends Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson; receiver Seth Roberts; kicker Giorgio Tavecchio; and fullback Karl Williams.

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