Oakland Raiders: Five dark horse players to make the 2014 roster

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Jun 17, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Kory Sheets (30) carries the ball at minicamp at Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kory Sheets, Running Back 

Depending on how you rate the Canadian Football League, veteran running back Kory Sheets is heading to Training Camp as the Oakland Raiders running back who had the best 2013 season by far.

Sheets, who had a successful college career at Purdue before eventually leaving NFL practice squads and benches for a chance at playing time and a fresh start in Canada with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, dominated the Canadian game during his two season stint in Saskatchewan as one of the best offensive weapons the league has seen at the running back position.

Playing in the pass-heavy Canadian game where offenses are given one less down to work with did not stop Sheets from posting numbers that were eventually impossible for NFL front offices to ignore. In his first season in 2012, Sheets posted 1,277 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns in a breakout rookie season with the Riders.

In 2013 Sheets was on pace to become the league’s first 2,000 yard rusher before missing three games after becoming the first CFL player to hit 100+ yards for six straight games. All in all he still bested his 2012 totals despite playing three less regular season games, officially finishing the regular season with 1,598 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.

What Sheets is most known for famously is his playoff performances last season where he mostly put the team on his back, rushing for 442 yards in three games on the way to becoming the Grey Cup MVP. Playing at home in the Grey Cup, Sheets had a Marcus Allen-like performance for the Roughriders and rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

Those types of performances drew the attentions of the Raiders, who locked up the now 29 year old to come in as an experienced rusher who can compete during the months of July and August with the likes of Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and 2013 late round draft pick Latavius Murray.

While Sheets faces a challenge beating out two accomplished NFL running backs and the younger Murray, there is still a chance that the team will keep Sheets for depth purposes considering the injury histories of the three players that many expect to fill the depth chart. With Murray being on the IR for all of 2013 and MJD + DMC’s injury histories being well documented, it couldn’t hurt keeping a player who dominated the Canadian league around to see what he can do for a season. A late bloomer, don’t be shocked if Sheets comes in after the first quarter in preseason action and dazzles Raiders fans with his ability. If he can make plays, the Raiders may keep on the veteran who is a superstar in Saskatchewan around for 2013.

Editor’s Note: Sheets was arrested for possession of marijuana in Canada a few months back, but was ultimately given a drop of charges by Canadian police which shouldn’t affect his chances of making the team should he perform come Training Camp and Preseason action.