It was far from a perfect opener for the Las Vegas Raiders but a win is a win. The offense looks like it has the potential to be elite but the defense is clearly still a work in progress. The linebacker play was certainly better as Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski both look like they were worth the money. Unfortunately, Kwiatkoski had to leave the game early due to a pectoral injury.
Based on how quickly they ruled him out, it was easy to assume that it was bad and that he’s going to miss a lot of time. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport dropped a promising update on Kwiatkoski’s pec.
It appears the Raiders were prepared for the worst when Kwiatkoski went down but now it’s sounding like he might not miss much time. He’s a very important player on the defense. He wears the green dot and was named a team captain. If he misses anytime at all, it’s a big blow to the defense.
UPDATE: Per Rapoport, Kwiatkoski did not tear his pectoral muscle.
Defensive Line Is Still a Concern
There was some decent hype surrounding the Raiders’ defensive line heading into this season. Rod Marinelli was brought in to coach the group and he’s considered one of the better defensive minds in the NFL. Maxx Crosby had an awesome rookie season, Clelin Ferrell packed on the muscle and Arden Key had a strong training camp.
Well, one week in and it’s hard to still be excited about the group. The Carolina Panthers don’t have a great offensive line by any stretch of the imagination. Despite that fact, Teddy Bridgewater had a pretty clean pocket all game outside of one sack. That’s not what you’d want to see from the young group. It’s still early and the lack of preseason doesn’t help. The defensive line has plenty of time to get better but the Raiders have a brutal stretch of games coming up. The defensive line needs to figure things out quickly.
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Tougher Test Coming to Town
The Panthers are a talented young team but they aren’t playoff contenders this year. They were the perfect team for the Raiders to face in Week 1. Unfortunately, things get a lot tougher in Week 2. The New Orleans Saints are coming to Las Vegas after a dominant win over the Tom Brady led Buccaneers.
The Saints are Super Bowl contenders and are loaded on offense and defense. The Raiders couldn’t stop a one-note Panthers offense. Now they’re going to have to face a superstar running back, an All-Pro wide receiver and a future Hall of Fame quarterback. This will be one of the toughest tests of the season.
Though Carolina doesn’t have a great defense, the Raiders offense should still be really productive against New Orleans. Josh Jacobs is a stud and Henry Ruggs had some big plays Sunday. For the first-ever game in Las Vegas, the Raiders are going to come out fired up to play. It’s a monumental task but the silver and black could shock the world and pull off the upset. If they do that, they’ll announce themselves as real contenders in the AFC this year.