Tonight the Oakland Raiders till play there first preseason game of 2014 against the Minnesota Vikings. With a completely overhauled roster, many are looking forward to seeing this brand new team compete. With Justin Tuck, Maurice Jones-Drew, Lamarr Woodley, and James Jones, everyone will be curious to see how the team reacts against live competition. There are many matchups and other things to pay attention to.
How Jason Tarver deploys his new cadre of pass rushers:
With the combination of Khalil Mack, Lamarr Woodley, and Justin Tuck, it will be interesting if Jason Tarver breaks out any exotic blitz packages in this game. Most NFL teams put out a vanilla defense in the preseason, so as not to give their regular season opponents any usable game film. Since the draft, we’ve known that Mack will deployed in a Von Miller role as an off-LOS linebacker on base downs and rush from the defensive line on nickel. Justin Tuck will likely kick inside. If he is running with the first team, second year linebacker Sio Moore should see a few pass rushing opportunities as a roving jack-of-all-trades type player.
Derek Carr’s reps
Quarterback Matt Schaub has been annoited the starter since he came over from Houston, but rookie Derek Carr has been gaining on him in camp. It is possible that Dennis Allen chooses to give Carr a series or two with the starters if he wants to see how far the Fresno State product has really come along.
Watson only played only 173 snaps last season, but has already been handed the starting right tackle job simply because there is no other OT depth. Keep an eye as he lines up across from Brian Robison, an underrated pass rusher who finally can step out of Jared Allen‘s shadow. Robison will likely give Watson fits through the start of the game, but seeing Watson’s progress from last year is the most important factor.
Talent of the receivers
Recently I touched on the stacked depth of the Raiders wide receivers, The preseason games give them a stage to fight for their jobs. Although some of them may show well enough to stay in Oakland, others need to show well in case another team wants to pick them up when the Raiders cut them. James Jones, Andre Holmes, and Rod Streater will only play the first quarter as the entrenched starters, and Juron Criner and Greg Little will play most of the game.
Special teams play in the preseason may not be exciting, but it is where 75% of the roster makes their case to stay on the team. The good news for most of those back end players: Cordarrelle Patterson will not be returning kicks in this game. Keep an eye on punts and kickoff as players such as Brice Butler, Jack Crawford, and Kory Sheets fight to keep their roster hopes alive.