Oakland Raiders-Vikings Preview: Five players to watch

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August 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes the football against St. Louis Rams defensive end William Hayes (95) during the first quarter in a preseason NFL football game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

5. Derek Carr

While it goes without saying that Raider fans will want to watch our starting quarterback and apparent franchise passer when he leads the team onto the field on Saturday night, I will say it anyway: watch Derek Carr. Carr faced off against a very tough Rams starting defense last week utilizing a very small portion of Bill Musgrave’s playbook. And while he was solid, he wasn’t great: he threw a pick in the end zone to kill a drive, and only averaged 4.8 yards per attempt, raising the spectre of last season’s abysmal yards per attempt average. He finished the game with the lowest passer rating of any QB on either team.

Now, nine attempts in a very limited playcalling script against a very good defensive unit does not make for a very good sample size, and if anything, probably helped him have a really strong week of tape breakdowns going into Saturday’s game. But Minnestoa’s defense is every bit as good as Saint Louis’, and just as well coached, so it will be another tough test for the second year passer.

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  • Carr will probably lead the offense on the first three or four possessions, perhaps even into the early part of the second quarter, and Bill Musgrave has likely installed a few new plays for the Raiders to run this week. While Musgrave’s balanced approach means that we’ll likely see a good dose of Latavius Murray in the early going, look for Carr to attempt about ten passes.

    While, again, preseason means very little, it does mean something. If Derek Carr can move the ball and even score against the #1 defense of the Vikings, it probably means he can move the ball and score against less talented NFL defenses that the Raiders will face this year. It will also give fans a chance to see his timing and chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree improve, which is vital to the success of the Raider offense in 2015. So, while I know I don’t need to tell you to, keep an eye on Derek Carr on Saturday night.