Ten Raiders to watch in exhibition opener
New and improved Raiders
The Raiders open the exhibition season on Friday evening against the Minnesota Vikings. This will offer a peek at the new-look Raiders, who added veteran pieces throughout free agency. A number of young players must also make a solid impression to make an improved 53-man roster. Let’s take a look at 10 Raiders to keep your eye on.
10) Tight end Brian Leonhardt
The Blaine, Minn. native must play well in his homecoming to stake an early claim as the Raiders’ blocking tight end, and to keep the front office from bringing in competition with David Ausberry out.
9) Running back Latavius Murray
Expectations have been high for the 2013 sixth-round pick, but a preseason ankle injury took him out of the mix last season. Only now will he have a chance to make a real impression on this coaching staff.
8) Cornerback TJ Carrie
The rookie seventh-round pick has impressed coaches during camp as a defender and as a return man. Now he must work to cement regular-season playing time.
7) Weakside linebacker Miles Burris
The third-year pro is behind Sio Moore on the depth chart despite getting more first-team reps. He needs to prove himself capable of operating well in games to fend off Moore throughout this preseason.
6) Defensive tackle Justin Ellis
The man they call “Jelly” is already a fan favorite. In order to earn a regular spot in the interior rotation, the 334-pound run stuffer must prove himself worthy with a strong preseason showing.
5) Defensive end Shelby Harris
Friday’s game will be Harris’ first in more than a year after being kicked off the Northern Illinois squad. He’s left college mistakes in the past with decent practices, but he must show the Raiders he can still play.
4) Quarterback Derek Carr
The rookie quarterback earns this spot to match his jersey number. His Raiders preseason debut should be short, but Raider Nation will be hanging on every snap from their possible quarterback of the future
3) Receiver Denarius Moore
Moore seems to be falling out of favor and down the depth chart this camp due to an influx of competition. If he wants regular-season playing time, he’s going to have to earn it and flash his trademark explosiveness after the catch.
2) Strongside linebacker Khalil Mack
Expectations are crazy high for the No. 5 overall pick, and a big play or two against the Vikings could send them through the roof.
1) Quarterback Matt Schaub
A solid start, even in a preseason game, should help push a disastrous 2013 further into the rearview mirror. He’ll have a few series to make one against Minnesota.