The Raiders open the preseason schedule at Arizona tonight with a 7:00 pm kickoff. While it is the first chance to see 2017 team, those that won’t be playing are the most noteworthy.
Earlier this week quarterback Derek Carr said he wasn’t sure if he was going to suit up for this game. Even if he does take the field, it likely won’t be for very long.
This preseason game will allow some assessment of the backup quarterback job. Jack Del Rio won’t name anyone the number two, but EJ Manuel appears to have the upperhand on last season’s backup Connor Cook, who threw three interceptions in the Raiders playoff loss in Houston.
There is some danger to giving Carr snaps in this game. Cook had to play in the playoff game after Carr was sacked and broke his fibula in week 16. And right now the Raiders offensive line is in question.
Left tackle Donald Penn is holding out, looking for a contract to match his status as a top 10 lineman in the NFL. That has pushed new signee Marshall Newhouse from right tackle over to left tackle and forced second-year player Vadal Alexander into the right tackle spot.
The Raiders had one of the NFL’s best offensive lines last season, allowing the fewest sacks in the NFL. But Penn’s holdout could turn a strength into a weakness.
Two other stars are not expected to play in wide receiver Amari Cooper and 2016 defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Both have practiced sparingly in the last week, likely leading to Jack Del Rio electing not to play two of his most important player.
Along with Mack on the defensive side of the ball, rookies Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu are not expected to play either. Conley, who may or may not have shin splints, has yet to practice during training camp. While Melifonwu has been relegated to an observation role in recent practices. Conley and Melifonwu were the first two picks of the Raiders 2017 NFL Draft. They are supposed to provide an immediate boost to the secondary, but their debuts will be delayed.
Despite all the players sitting out, it should be the first time Marshawn Lynch appears in a Raiders jersey, even if it is for a brief spell. Lynch came out of retirement to join the Raiders and has been annointed the starting running back.
The game can be seen on Fox 5 in Las Vegas and heard on the radio through AM 720 KDWN.
Tyler Bischoff hosts Coaches Corner on AM 720 KDWN Monday through Friday at 6:00 pm.