Football Is Back: Thoughts on the Silver and Black

Andrew Flores – Aug 13, 2016

Football fans are rejoicing as football is officially back and while preseason is constantly joked about it can be an important time for really gauging a team. With that said here are my thoughts on the Raiders debut.

The battle at running back will go the distance:

While Murray is the unquestioned starter, one of the biggest narratives this offseason was the Raiders lack of depth behind him. On Friday night the battle heated up as rookie running back DeAndre Washington continued to build on a strong offseason. Washington was able to show some sizzle on special teams with a solid return, and then made good on the offseason hype when he turned a check down pass into an impressive 32 yard gain. Yet it was George Atkinson III who won the night as he dazzled fans as he rushed for 97 yards and scored 2 touchdowns.

Wide-open at wideout:

Behind the Raiders star receivers Cooper and Crabtree a third-option has yet to emerge and this will be one of the most intriguing battles throughout the preseason. While the other battles are undoubtedly important this battle could be the most important battle as the Raiders need a third-option to emerge within this offense. Last years’ standout Seth Roberts will get the first nod but he will have to continue to improve, as the Raiders commitment to competition means nothing is guaranteed. Undrafted free-agent Joe Hansley has been impressive throughout the offseason, but was unable to make an impact against the Cardinals. While he hasn’t shown much I would really love to see Max McCaffrey shine.

Defensive unit developing into a daunting force:

Another one of the big stories this offseason was the Raiders improved defense. While the Raiders first unit defense was solid in limited action they lacked sizzle. The good news is an already improved secondary will only improve as they continue to gel together. Along the defensive line 2nd round pick Jihad Ward could have the biggest impact this season as he is likely to be used similarly to the way Del Rio deployed Malik Jackson in Denver. While Ward is still very raw he was already commanding double-teams in this week’s game against the Cardinals as he flashed his extraordinary athleticism.  Rookie third round pick Shilique Calhoun will need to continue to improve as he underwhelmed. Karl Joseph played tentative, but it is to be expected with any player coming off of an injury. As he regains confidence Joseph will begin to show why many analysts considered him the best safety in the draft and why he has already earned rave reviews. Rookie linebacker Cory James flashed late in the game showing some solid skills in coverage. James could develop into something sooner than expected.  While he will be facing an uphill battle Greg Townsend Jr. made the most of his opportunity flashing late in the game. It will be interesting to see if he is able to fight his way onto the 53 man roster, I for one will be rooting for the legacy.

Final thoughts:

The Raiders solid win demonstrated just how far this team has come since Reggie McKenzie took over, but an offseason of hype will mean nothing when the regular season comes. While the Raiders have continued to build a deep roster there are still holes to fill. One thing is for sure the regular season cannot come fast enough. 

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