The Oakland Raiders are officially halfway through the preseason with their 33-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals. That also means that the team is heading towards the end of training camp. The season will be here in a few shorts week and we’re starting to get an idea of how the Raiders will look in the 2019 season.
Obviously, preseason wins are taken with a massive grain of salt, but there have been a couple of notable things that have happened. With so many new players on the team, there are bound to be growing pains. However, Oakland has looked pretty cohesive thus far. Below we’re going to go through some of the things that we’ve learned about the Raiders through training camp and the preseason.
Derek Carr Could Be Poised for Best Season Yet
Based on everything seen from quarterback Derek Carr in the 2019 offseason, he looks rejuvenated and ready to go in 2019. ESPN’s Louis Riddick, who’s spent some time watching the team this offseason, said that Carr is “about to have the best season of his career.” It’s hard to argue with that statement considering Carr has talented weapons all around him. This is the best offensive arsenal that he’s ever had and it’s not close. Not only does he have Antonio Brown, he also has Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs. That’s much better than an aging Jordy Nelson, a disengaged Amari Cooper and an injured Marshawn Lynch.
It could be argued that the offensive line isn’t nearly as strong as it was from 2015-2017, especially since guards Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson are both missing time. The unit isn’t bad. Trent Brown is exciting and Rodney Hudson is a stud, but Carr is going to get hit a few times. If he can keep his poise and utilize the weapons the front office has given him, he could break a whole bunch of Raiders records in 2019.
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This Team Is Younger, Faster and Better
One of the biggest criticisms of the Raiders in 2018 was how old they were. The team had old guys like Derrick Johnson and Reggie Nelson all over the roster. Well, the opposite is true heading into 2019. Oakland has received a huge influx of youth. They brought in several exciting rookies and most of the signings the team made were for players under 30. This is going to be important for a team that has some brutal road trips during the season.
The young guys are expected to make a big impact on the team. Rookies Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram are all expected to be starters from day one. Second-year players like Arden Key, Maurice Hurst and Kolton Miller should also see their roles increase. The Raiders roster isn’t just younger, it’s also better. Gone are veterans on the downside of their career and in are players heading towards their prime. This has been evident in camp as the aforementioned Louis Riddick said that the Raider roster is “light years more talented” than it was in 2018.
The Roster is Made In Gruden’s Image
Not to make excuses for Jon Gruden, but it’s highly unlikely that he was super excited about his roster heading into 2018. It was mostly Jack Del Rio holdovers and aging veterans. Most of the players that he brought in are Gruden-grinders. They are players that are eager to learn and eager to work. Antonio Brown is the hardest working man in the game and his work ethic is infectious for the team. One thing has been clear so far in training camp is that the rookies the team drafted are very hungry to be great. That’s what Gruden’s all about and that should mean good things for the team in 2019.
The Raiders Will Have to Make Some Tough Cuts
It’s never a bad thing to have too much talent and that’s what the case is for the Raiders. They’ve had several fringe players really come in and compete for a spot on the roster. Undrafted rookie Keelan Doss and been very impressive and could force out a veteran wide receiver like Ryan Grant or J.J. Nelson. He still has more to prove, but he could make things difficult for the Raiders staff.
Oakland will have some tough decisions along the defensive line, as well. Eddie Vanderdoes and Gabe Wright have to be lying awake at night as they’ve both missed most of training camp with injuries. Vanderdoes showed promise early in his career but has missed a lot of time because of injuries and that could seal his fate. Even if they were playing, it would still be hard. Ethan Westbrooks has been making his case that he belongs on the roster and Anthony Rush stepped up in the preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. That’s not even mentioning the fullback battle. Keith Smith is a veteran and knows the offensive, but rookie Alec Ingold has played well while he’s nursing an injury. These won’t be easy decisions to make, but they’ll be a few players that won’t be wearing silver and black anymore.