By Kevin Saito @Kevin_Saito on August 9, 2014
The Raiders' preseason schedule is officially underway. And while the result isn't quite what Raider fans were hoping for, there were some good things to take away from the game. With so many new faces in Silver & Black, the competition for roster spots and playing time is fierce.
Here are 10 players you'll want to keep an eye on this preseason.
Carrie has been a pleasant surprising so far this offseason. Drafted in the seventh round, it was expected that Carrie would likely make his mark on special teams, perhaps as a return man. But through the early part of camp, Carrie has shown that he may have what it takes to be an NFL cornerback, and be able to help the Raiders this season. He's already moved ahead of fourth round pick Keith McGill and may see significant time this year.
He looked great in camp, but now we'll see how he does in live game action. Coming into the season, cornerback was one area of concern for the Raiders, but Chekwa showed during OTA's and the early part of training camp that perhaps it's not as big of a concern as previously thought. Raider fans are hoping that his solid play this offseason will transfer over into solid play once the games matter.
A lot has been made of Oakland's lack of a “true number one” receiver. Rod Streater had a breakout year last season, and a lot of people are expecting Holmes to have that type of year in 2014. He's a big, physical, stretch-the-field type of threat who's made some real noise this offseason. Will this be the year that Holmes finally steps up and fulfills his incredible potential? The preseason is going to tell us a lot.
For a number of years, Jones-Drew was one of the league's most durable and explosive backs. But an injury in 2012 cost him most of the season and clearly impacted his play in a sub-par 2013 season. It left many people questioning how much – if anything – he had left in the tank. The Raiders rolled the dice on Jones-Drew, believing he'll rebound to his pre-injury form. Early indications are that Oakland may have picked a winner.
Moore is a player who was on the bubble coming into this season. His inconsistent, sometimes uninterested and definitely uninspired, play over his first three seasons in Oakland have left his coaches understandably frustrated. He's got the skills to be a top notch, game-changing receiver. The question is whether he has the drive and passion to live up to his abilities. So far, the answer has been no. Will he find it before the season starts?
A lot is being expected of Murray this season. As the presumptive backup to the two-headed monster that is McFadden and Jones-Drew – who will be seeing the bulk of the carries this season – Murray will seeing significant action on the field. He showed promise in 2013 before an injury derailed his season. Now it's worth watching whether he is fully healed and how he responds to not just the work, but the expectations.
The Raiders needed to shore up an incredibly leaky offensive line. To do that, they brought in a number of veterans such as Donald Penn. Penn, a former Pro Bowler, had his worst season as a pro in 2013 and gave up a pile of sacks. GM Reggie McKenzie believes it is an anomaly and that Penn will find his Pro Bowl form in Oakland again and help lead the Raiders offense to heights not seen in quite a while.
With presumed starter David Ausberry out of the lineup for an indefinite amount of time after undergoing surgery on his knee, Oakland will need Rivera to step up in a big way. He's much more of an accomplished pass catcher than Ausberry but he isn't as good of a blocking tight end. The Raiders are going to need him to step up his game in the blocking department to make the rest of their offense move.
Will he be able to live up to the hype? Will he be as dominant in the NFL as he was in college? Will he be the impact player the Raiders believe that he will be? Of course we won't have the answers to those questions for a while yet, but he's been a beast during camp, and it will be intriguing, to say the least, to see how Mack performs against the competition at this level.
Of course, all eyes are going to be on Schaub this preseason. With half of the league expecting him to fail – and wanting to see it – and the other half thinking the Raiders would be better off starting rookie Derek Carr, Schaub has quite a mountain to climb. Will he be the steady, consistent, productive QB he's been his whole career? Or will he be the 2013 flameout? He's looked good in camp, but we'll know more as the preseason unfolds.
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