Tonight the Oakland Raiders will be taking on the Saints in their second preseason game. Here are some things that HC Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie will be looking at tonight.
The offensive line- With the injury of Jared Veldheer there will certainly be shuffling of the Offensive Line. Who will step up at LT? Will the guard situation be sorted out and what players will be moved around to try to compensate for Veldheer’s absence.
The TE battle- Looking at the 5 TE’s on Oaklands roster that have a shot at making the team (Ausberry, Gordan, Kasa, Rivera and Mastrud) I can see any combination of them making the roster in any possible order along the depth chart. All have been unremarkable and the team needs someone to step and throw their hat in the mix to be the starter.
Pass Rush- Although the Raiders were missing 3 projected starters along the defensive line the lack of pass rush was evident and painful. I know it is early and the blitzing schemes are vanilla, but the fact of the matter is they must get off blocks and get to the QB. The defense must step up in that aspect.
The #1 QB position battle- Terrelle Pryor played very well last week, so well in fact that many now want him to start opening day. If he wants to give himself a shot at some point this season he will have to show he can make plays in the pocket but also run when he gets the chance. He has the ability to make plays with his feet but he sometimes tries too hard to make things happen with his arm. Matt Flynn who is entrenched as the starter must make the throws that he can make consistently and adjust to the inevitable pressure he will get from the porous offensive line. He’s the starter because he doesn’t make bad plays. He has to keep doing that.
The #3 QB position battle- Tyler Wilson and Matt McGloin are fighting for their livelihood and a chance to make an NFL roster. It would be hard for Reggie McKenzie to cut a draft pick like Wilson but if he continues to struggle and McGloin continues to play consistently it is a very real possibility. McGloin has for all intents and purposes passed Wilson on the depth chart at practice resulting in Wilson only getting a few snaps a day. Tonight is his chance to make the most of his reps.
WR’s – Who’s going to get the receiving spots for the Raiders? Andre Holmes has looked good in practice but has a suspension. Jacoby Ford is dynamic but injury prone. Can Brice Butler play with the #1′s. The WR competition is wide open.
Punting battle- Marquette King had a phenomenal booming punt last week but that has never been the issue with him. It has been whether or not he can do it consistently. Chris Kluwe on the other hand is consistent but doesn’t have the leg he once had. It will be interesting to see who gets the first punt tonight and who makes the most of their opportunities. Also look to see who holds kicks for whom. Kluwe has been penciled in as the starter, so he has been holding kicks for Sebastian Janikowski and Marquette King who is slated second has been holding for Eddy Carmona. If King starts holding for Janikoski it may signal an ascension in the depth chart.
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