Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens: 5 Players to Watch

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Aldon Smith

Sep 13, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith (99) stands on the field before the start of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Aldon Smith being an Oakland Raider still feels weird. But he’s here, and he’s going to be a very important player for the team on Sunday.

I mentioned how Yanda and Osemele are one of the better guard tandems in the league already, but the same can’t be said for the Ravens tackle combo.

Eugene Monroe has regressed considerably since a solid rookie season a couple years back, and he might not play on Sunday due to a concussion he suffered week one. James Hurst would be expected to make his first career start if Monroe can’t go.

On the right side of the line is Ricky Wagner, and while he is a solid tackle, Aldon can definitely get the best of him.

Smith had a limited workload in week one as he had just been signed that same week. He was one of the few Raiders who wasn’t terrible against the Bengals, so an increased snap count will be a big help to the defense.

If Ken Norton Jr. decided to dial up the blitz, using Aldon creatively will be a great way to do so. Moving him around and allowing him to matchup 1-on-1 with Hurst would put some pressure on Flacco, which increases the chance of a turnover happening.

Aldon also has a chance to prove he is worth a long-term deal before any potential suspension from the NFL starts, which could happen as early as week 5. Players in contract years always seem to perform at a high level, and doing so against the Ravens would be a great place for Smith to do just that.

Next: Player to Watch #4: C.J. Mosley