With much anticipation, the Oakland Raiders are back on the field tonight against the Minnesota Vikings in their preseason opener. The Raiders have made significant changes to the roster this offseason and tonight is the first opportunity to see them in live action. With so many new additions, there can be a case made for watching almost anyone of the field, but here are some players that will be most interesting to watch Friday night.
The Raiders have two new signal callers for the 2014 season in Matt Schaub and Derek Carr. Both are players to key in on when the action begins. Head coach Dennis Allen is anxious to see Schaub acclimate to the new offense and begin to get comfortable. He should see some action, but because of his veteran status, he will exit fairly early. That is when Derek Carr will enter. Carr is the second-round pick of the Raiders in 2014 and the future at quarterback. Tonight will be his first opportunity to see the speed of the NFL game. This preseason will go along way in Carr's learning and development.
While Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew will see some early action, Latavius Murray has a chance to see significant playing time. He missed the entire 2013 season with injury, but has an opportunity to be a part of the Raiders backfield committee in 2014. Murray can earn playing time with a strong preseason which begins tonight. He will carry the ball and start to get a feel for blitz pick-ups.
With David Ausberry out with the knee injury that required surgery, Mychal Rivera is the number one option at tight end. However, the Raiders need to see what is behind him in Brian Leonhardt and Nick Kasa. Neither has seen much game time, so this preseason is important to learn the nuances of the game. Someone is going to have to stand out or the Raiders may go and see if there are any free agents that can help.
This is one of the biggest question marks on the Raiders defense. The team will likely be without fourth-round pick Keith McGill, who has been sidelined with a groin injury. DJ Hayden is out with the stress fracture in his foot. Those injuries are going to give an opportunity to players like T.J. Carrie and Chimdi Chekwa to step forward. Carrie has been impressive at camp, but needs to translate those skills to live action. Chekwa has been a strong special teams player, but is now trying to earn playing time at cornerback. Both of these guys are must watch in preseason game one. Rookie seventh-round pick Jonathan Dowling is a safety, but another player in secondary to watch. He was a playmaker in college and tonight is his first chance to show he can do it at an NFL level.
Khalil Mack was the Raiders first-round pick in 2014 and will see the field tonight for the first time in silver and black. He has wowed coaches and teammates throughout camp and OTAs. This is a no-brainer because Raider's fans will be hoping to watch Mack for the next decade or more. He has all the tools to be an impact player and his NFL journey begins tonight.
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