Oakland Raiders: Five things we learned from Rams win

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Aug 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders guard Jon Feliciano (68) against the St. Louis Rams in a preseason NFL football game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2. Team depth is impressive

Like every other team in the league, the Raiders have 90 players on the roster, many of whom are fighting to just earn a spot on the 53-man roster when the preseason is wrapped up. It’s not unusual to see strong performances out of these players in preseason games, but this year is a bit different. The Raiders are deep and talented all over the field this year in a way that hasn’t been seen around this franchise in some time.

The depth was on display early on with the defensive unit, down a couple men with Sio Moore and Charles Woodson out. Players like second-year end Shelby Harris – who spent most of last year on the practice squad – and 6th round pick Max Valles, took the field along with the starters in situational packages, and Harris picked up a sack. The defensive unit continued to flex its depth – especially in the front 7 – throughout the game as the #2’s and #3’s (and #4’s) hit the field. Young players stepped up and contributed, players like 5th round selection Ben Heeney, who held down the all-important Mike linebacker spot for much of the game and played like a pro. Rookie UDFA Josh Shirley also came up big late with a monster sack on Rams QB Austin Davis.

The offensive depth was also on display, especially at the skill positions, where players like Taiwan Jones and Michael Dyer made some strong arguments for inclusion on the Raider depth chart as running backs. Andre Holmes and Brice Butler – somewhat known quantities – had big touchdown receptions, but there were also some flashes from a number of other pass-catchers like Kenbrell Thompkins, Seth Roberts, and Clive Walford.

Reggie McKenzie has been building this team with late round draft picks and UDFA’s for nearly four years now, and that process is starting to bear fruit. The Raiders still may not have the best talent in the league at the top of the depth chart, but there’s definitely a lot of good talent – much of it young talent – able to come off the bench when the inevitable injuries begin to pile up.

Next: What We Learned: Run Game is Improved