Tonight is the Raiders' final preseason game. While usually the fourth preseason game holds very little importance, that isn't the case for this young and unproven Raiders team. This game is very important for several players, and I'm going to look at a few of them here.
Terrelle Pryor This one is a no-brainer. Due to Flynn's poor performance this preseason and Pryor's ability to move the ball despite a patchwork offensive line, he has been rewarded with the start for this game. If Pryor plays well, Dennis Allen has an easy decision to make as to who starts week 1. If Pryor plays poorly, Allen's decision will be that much more difficult (assuming Flynn's elbow tendonitis isn't an issue).
Menelik Watson: Watson was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft to play right tackle for the Raiders. The British ex-Pat is extremely raw as he's only played 2 years of football, both of which were at right tackle. However, due to Veldheer's injury, Watson's getting the responsibility of protecting Pryor's blindside at left tackle, a position he's never played in his life. To make matters worse, he's been injured all of training camp, so he hasn't had time to practice. Welcome to the NFL, Menelik.
Chris Kluwe and Marquette King: The battle to replace departed punter Shane Lechler has gone down to the wire. King can kick the ball further, but he's inconsistent. There was a point in last week's game where Janikowski was clearly upset with King's holding ability on a field goal attempt. If you upset Jano, you're on thin ice.
TE battle: With Brandon Myers bolting via free agency, the Raiders have a void at TE. David Ausberry is currently injured, Richard Gordon is better at blocking than receiving, Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa are rookies drafted in the 6th round and Jeron Mastrud is a journeyman. The Raiders aren't going to carry 5 TEs on the final roster, so this is the last chance for a few guys to emerge and prove they're worthy of being on the final 53-man roster.
Race for 3rd QB: This is the last opportunity for Matt McGloin and Tyler Wilson to beat the other out and make the team. The loser will most likely be placed on the practice squad, so this game is very important for these two rookies.
CB battle: With Joselio Hanson out for the year, it clarifies a little for the Raiders CB battle. Mike Jenkins, DJ Hayden and Tracy Porter are safe, but after that? Chimdi Chekwa, Phillip Adams, Taiwan Jones and Chance Casey are all fighting for likely two or three CB slots. Taiwan Jones might have the leg up on a roster spot due to his special teams ability, and Phillip Adams played well when given a shot last year. However, Chekwa and Casey have impressed this training camp. This one will be interesting.
While the 4th preseason game doesn't usually offer much star power, it will still be fun to watch these players fighting for their roster lives, as it might be the last NFL game of their lives for many of these players. Enjoy the game!
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RaiderRyan24