As of 5 PM, Pacific time (8 PM ET) Raiders football is back. They take the field to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Hall of Fame game in Canton Ohio as the first NFL action of any kind in the leadup to the 2022 season.
With that, here are a few things to watch
1. Wide receiving corps battle
The Raiders know what they have in Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow. But after that, it’s an all-out battle for playing time. Mack Hollins has gotten the bulk of the press, but don’t count out the likes of Keelan Cole, Demarcus Robinson, and Tyron Johnson.
All four of these receivers brings a different set of skills to the table and will be hoping they are chosen to line up on the outside come the start of the regular season.
2. Backup QB split
It’s unlikely we see Derek Carr take the field in this game. More likely is we see the battle between Jarret Stidham and Nick Mullens on full display.
Stidham comes with the benefit of having played in Josh McDaniels’s offense the past two seasons. While Mullens is more established, having appears in 20 NFL games, starting 17 and has thrown 26 touchdowns.
Watch first of all, who takes the field first. Then how long each plays, and, of course, how they command the offense.
3. Offensive line makeup
The only spot on the Raiders offensive line that is for sure locked up is Kolton Miller at left tackle. Every other spot is technically up for grabs.
Watch to see who lines up where and when. Specifically on the right side where guard and tackle are completely unsettled.
Denzelle Good’s surprise retirement really opened up the right guard position, while right tackle simply hasn’t had anyone grab ahold of the position and not let go.
In the mix at RT include Alex Leatherwood, Brandon Parker, Jermaine Eluemunor, and Thayer Munford. As for RG, Lester Cotton Sr has been getting an opportunity to hold onto a starting job, but he will have to stave off rookie Dylan Parham, Alex Bars, and perhaps Leatherwood or Eluemunor depending on which of them loses out of the RT job.
And while we may not be able to give too much credit to these guys should they hold their own against second and third team defenders, should they struggle, that will certainly not bode well for them.
4. Filling in the corners
Much like the wide receiver corps, it looks like two of the three starting spots are settled. In this case it’s Rock Ya-Sin and Nate Hobbs whose spots are secure.
The questions come firstly where the team lines up Hobbs. He was outstanding in the slot as a rookie last season, so much so that with Trayvon Mullen out with injury, Hobbs has been seen lining up on the outside at times as well.
Will they line him out on the outside in the game? If so, who takes his place in the slot? If not, who starts opposite Ya-Sin at outside corner? The battle for playing time among those who will suit up tonight seems to exist primarily between Anthony Averett, Darius Phillips, and Amik Robertson. But there’s still chance for some of the others to earn some snaps as well.
5. Opportunities at linebacker
This week saw two of the Raiders’ top free-agent additions at linebacker be lost for the season. Both Kyler Fackrell and Micah Kizer were sent to injured reserve, leaving the team to scramble to find a suitable replacement.
While Divine Deablo and Jayon Brown are the two top contenders for playing time at outside linebacker, there are now only two other outside linebackers listed at OLB — Kenny Young and Luke Masterson.
Losing players to injury is part of the game. When it happens, players like Young and Masterson receive greater opportunities to earn a roster spot and prove they can be contributors. For them, special teams work becomes just as important, if not more so than their play at linebacker.