Jul 30, 2013; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin (14) throws a pass at training camp at Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Matt McGloin given opportunity of a lifetime in first NFL start

Matt McGloin wasn’t even supposed to be here.

Undrafted out of Penn State after the 2013 Draft State, McGloin was expected to show up to an NFL Training Camp as an extra body, take some snaps in the fourth quarter of early August preseason games, and disappear for awhile as either a practice squad guy or an emergency third string guy somewhere where injury problems struck.

That didn’t happen as McGloin continued to beat the odds, edging fourth round draft pick Tyler Wilson for the Raiders finally QB roster spot, then edging out Matt Flynn for the back up role after Flynn imploded against the Washington Redskins. Now with Terrelle Pryor injured again and Flynn out of the picture the man that has beaten the odds in college and as a backup will be given his biggest challenge yet in starting his first NFL game.

If you think the stakes aren’t high for McGloin and that this is a one off regardless of the on-field play behind center today, think again.

The Raiders have been interested (intrigued might be the better word) about McGloin all offseason and during the regular season. It is why the team was willing to risk their fourth round pick in Wilson to keep McGloin on the roster rather than sending him on practice squad waivers after training camp. It is why they cut ties with Flynn as quickly as they did. And now the NFL Insiders are reporting that interest, making this more and more like an audition for McGloin.

Can McGloin do enough to parlay the audition into more starts? It will be a tough task going against a top ranked Texans defense that is hoping desperately to end a seven game losing streak that is the longest in franchise history, but a quarterback well versed in the West Coast Offense in McGloin should be able to show some of the moxie that has wowed certain Raiders insiders, coaches, and fans during his short stay in Oakland. Having nothing to lose only plays into his favor as we have seen all year, McGloin will come in confident and ready to do the job.

Today is the biggest day of the young career of a guy who has done everything asked of him and more in several tough situations before. A tough kid out of Penn State is about to become one of the biggest underdog stories of Week 11 in the NFL. What he does today can make or break his career. Just don’t expect it to faze McGloin who has taken everything one step at a time, giving it his all to the top of the game. Now it is time to see what he can do now that he is here.

Quick Hits

Jennings/Reece Need Fast Start 

With McGloin under center it is no secret that the Raiders will need to establish the running game to give McGloin time under center that isn’t spent with an all out Texans blitz led by JJ Watt. That being said fullback Marcel Reece and running back Rashad Jennings will be the key contributors today for the Raiders as Jennings shined in the loss to the Giants as the lone productive Raider on offense while Reece has yet to show the potential he has in an offense due to a lack of touches after inking a new longterm deal earlier in the season.

Expect that to change today with McGloin under center. A guy who is comfortable with making screen passes and timing routes, McGloin could find Reece in the flats today and a guy with similar tools to Ray Rice in Reece could have oneof his best days as a pro.

Killer Keenum 

On the opposite side of McGloin is another underdog QB in Case Keenum. Coming out of college ball in Houst0n, Keenum has been electric against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts in losses. Next is finding the win column and it is no secret the Texans have been eyeing this game up as a golden opportunity. Expect Keenum to continue his connection with Andre Johnson today as one of the NFL’s most surprisingly successful players looks for his first win of 2013.

The Raiders defense will have to be aware of Keenum’s love for finding Johnson for big plays, and they will be doing so without D.J. Hayden who is missing his second straight game at corner with a groin injury. Missing out on a homecoming to the H-Town is bad enough, it is even more of a let down when you could use the depth in the secondary. Today is one of those days.


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