The Los Angeles Rams have finally made their way to Napa to share the practice field with the Oakland Raiders. Sean McVay and Jon Gruden go way back and this is the second year in a row the two teams are practicing together. The Rams were very close to being Super Bowl champions are a year ago, so they are still one of the best teams in the NFL. The Raiders were the opposite as they were one of the worst.
However, things are looking up in Oakland. The team has added star players like Antonio Brown and drafted a lot of exciting rookies. The Rams will be a good test to see how the team has come along since the end of the season. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Brown will hit the practice field against Los Angeles during their two days in Napa. That being said, there will still be some really exciting matchups to watch.
Aaron Donald vs. Raiders Interior Offensive Line
Even though Raiders starting center Rodney Hudson got disrespected by his peers in the NFL top 100 list, he’s still considered one of the best offensive linemen in the game. He’s largely considered the best pass-blocking center in the NFL and he’ll be put to the test against Aaron Donald. The reigning defensive player of the year is as close to unstoppable as a player can be. He sacked the quarterback 20.5 times in 2018, which is absolutely absurd for a defensive tackle. However, he was largely ineffective against the Raiders in week one of last year. He only mustered one tackle and no quarterback hits that whole game.
Donald’s ineffectiveness against the Raiders last year should be greatly attributed to Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson. The team added pro bowl Richie Incognito, so their interior blocking should be even more fierce. Oakland’s offensive line didn’t play well in 2018, so seeing how they play against Donald should be a good indicator of how the unit has improved.
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Johnathan Abram vs. Anybody He Can Tackle
With the first episode of Hard Knocks released on Tuesday night, viewers got to know rookie safety Johnathan Abram a lot more. One thing that sticks out is that he loves to hit. Much to his frustration, training camp isn’t really the time for big hits because it makes no sense to risk injuring your teammate. Unfortunately for the Rams offense, Abram will likely not have that same filter against them. Yes, he still shouldn’t be playing too hard because it’s still just practice, but that probably won’t stop him. Don’t be surprised if Abram gets another chewing out courtesy of Jon Gruden before the Rams’ trip to Napa is over.
Raiders Wide Receivers vs. Aqib Talib & Marcus Peters
Somehow the Rams have two of Raider Nation’s most hated cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Talib was a member of the Denver Broncos for a long time and is infamous in Oakland for his relentless trash talk. Same goes for Peters, who was a member of the Kanas City Chiefs not long ago. Both players may not be in the same division as the Raiders anymore, but fans of the silver and black have long memories.
Even with Antonio Brown Brown sitting out for practice against the Rams, Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow should show up really nice against the LA’s secondary. Williams should be very familiar with Talib and Peters because of his time with the Chargers. The two Raiders wideouts have been very impressive in training camp and it will be telling how they compete against two above-average cornerbacks.