The Raiders will have their fourth preseason game tomorrow, going against the Seattle Seahawks at home at 7 pm PT. Typically, the 4th preseason game is a snoozer –and it may well be this year, too – but there is some reason to believe that this year’s game will offer a bit more in the way of excitement.
Here is what I will be watching:
-Just Carr, baby:
When the Raiders took former Fresno State QB Derek Carr early in the second round of the 2014 Draft, it was because they saw the potential in him to be the QB of the future.
At the time, many people argued that it wasn’t prudent to spend such a high pick on Carr after already using a sixth round pick to get Schaub in a trade. Now, it looks prescient.
Carr has the strongest arm on the team and he has a good understanding of the offense, having been in a pro-style offense in 2011 before moving to a spread style offense in 2012 and 2013.
Carr will get the start in tomorrow’s game and will play a good amount of the game. It will be a great chance to see Carr in extended action and gauge how he’s doing early in his rookie year.
One of the big knocks on Carr prior to the Draft was that he would get antsy under pressure and lose his mechanics. The Seahawks have one of the best defenses in the league and even if their stars are not playing in the game, they should present a good challenge to Carr and whatever players that start with him.
The Raiders look like they may be on the verge to take 7 cornerbacks (if you include Taiwan Jones as a cornerback) into the regular season, even with DJ Hayden going on the PUP list. These cornerbacks include up-and-comers like Chimdi Chekwa, Neiko Thorpe, and rookies TJ Carrie and Keith McGill.
Most of these players will get an extended look tomorrow, too, because they need the experience and because starters Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers will likely sit most-if-not-all of the game to rest and prepare for week 1 of the regular season. Chimdi Chekwa is unlikely to play due to an injury.
This is a great chance for the young cornerbacks to show that they deserve extended playing time either as a starter in a sub nickel or dime package or as a backup that can relieve Brown, Rogers and, eventually, Hayden going against first string wide receivers without much of a drop off in talent.
Thorpe has been specifically singled out by head coach Dennis Allen as having shown a lot in camp and his aggressive play has caught my eye a time or two, as well. He is not afraid to get physical with receivers and he has good size, at 6’1” and 200 lbs, to be able to both jam a receiver and play in coverage.
Carrie has looked much better than a 7th round rookie is expected to look and he even logged some time with the starters. Last week versus the Packers, Carrie had some good plays – and one bad play – against Packers decorated WR Jordy Nelson. He will continue to get time and experience against the Seahawks this week.
Jeremy Stewart vs Greg Little:
I may be way off on this one, but in my personal look at the final roster, the last spot is coming down to a battle between these two. As of now, I’d say Little has the edge but Stewart is a strong special teams player and that may make the difference.
Neither has very good statistics. Stewart, who is listed on NFL.com as a FB, now, has two carries for 5 yards over 3 games.
Little has only 3 receptions for 55 yards over 3 games as well.
I will be watching both to see if either can gain an edge – it could mean the difference between being employed or not.