Bair's 10 Raiders to watch vs. Packers
Previewing the 2014 Raiders
The Raiders have treated Friday’s exhibition at the Green Bay Packers as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, including the routine leading up to this week’s game. Starters are supposed to play into the third quarter, giving fans the clearest picture of how their Raiders have progressed throughout the preseason. While everyone hopes to shine against a talented Packers squad, there are a few individuals with a lot on the line Friday at Lambeau Field.
10) Safety Usama Young
The veteran is expected to make his 2014 debut after missing all of training camp with a quadriceps injury, and some solid plays could quell concerns that the Raiders are woefully thin at safety.
9) Receiver Andre Holmes
Holmes is slipping somewhat. He didn’t see first-team action in last week’s exhibition against Detroit, and seems to be falling out of favor with the starting unit. The Raiders need his big-play ability, but he must show greater consistency to cement a bigger role, one that seemed certain a few weeks ago.
8) Running back Kory Sheets
Despite moments of brilliance, it’s difficult to find a spot for Sheets on the 53-man roster. Latavius Murray has youth and promise over Sheets for a spot at running back and, in a ironic twist, the pair is competing to be the primary kick returner. A strong special teams performance could keep him in the mix, or at least force the Raiders to keep an extra running back.
7) Right guard Austin Howard
The Raiders believe Howard has made significant strides in his transition from right tackle. This will be a good test to see how far he’s come. If Howard can be effective, he can be a real force on the inside.
6) Left tackle Donald Penn
The veteran has earned rave reviews for his performance thus far this preseason. The Packers, who feature edge rushers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, offer a stern test for Penn. If he passes, the Raiders should feel supremely confident in their blindside protector.
5) Receiver Greg Little
It’s uncertain whether Brice Butler (concussion) will play, and Juron Criner has dealt with hip injuries recently. A solid performance could help solidify the No. 5 receiver spot Little was a favorite to claim in the first place.
4) Linebacker Khalil Mack
While the Raiders aren’t concerned with Khalil Mack’s uninspired stat line through two games, the No. 5 overall pick said he needs to step up his game. Can he do it against Green Bay’s talented offense?
3) Cornerback TJ Carrie
With Chimdi Chekwa still out, the seventh-round pick will have an opportunity to see extensive snaps with the first unit in the nickel package. He didn’t fare well last week against Detroit, but he’ll have one last shot to prove he can hang with the first team against the Packers. It should be a challenge, but don’t count Carrie out.
2) Cornerback Tarell Brown
The veteran was brought in to be a stable influence on the secondary. He’s been anything but. Quarterbacks have a perfect passer rating against him, as Brown has given up six receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown in as many targets. Preseason results don’t matter much, but some defensed passes against Green Bay would inspire confidence heading into the regular season.
1) Quarterback Matt Schaub
Those familiar with our players to watch series will notice a familiar name in the top spot. It’s been Schaub each time and will remain so. The Raiders are in desperate need of stability at quarterback, and this will be Schaub’s best chance to assume that role and build positive momentum heading into the regular season.