The Oakland Raiders kickoff their regular season on the road against the New Orleans Saints. Here are five matchups to pay close attention to.
The Raiders obviously want to get their season started with a win. They’ll have their hands full with a talented Saints team on the opposing sideline. If they want to win, they’ll have to win the following matchups.
Reggie Nelson vs. Drew Brees
To the surprise of some fans, Reggie Nelson was named a Team Captain. Head coach Jack Del Rio announced that the team had voted to select the veteran safety as one of two defensive captains, along with superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack.
Nelson’s selection speaks volumes of his character and value as a leader to the defense. The team will need it this in the season opener against Drew Brees and the Saints.
Brees has been an institution in the NFL for over a decade and a half. In his time in the NFL he has broken multiple records including, single-season completions and completion percentage. Over the last decade, Brees has made the Saints a perennial contender despite roster turnover.
He will likely one day have a bronze bust residing in Canton. It will be Reggie Nelson’s job to stifle Brees and the Saints passing game.
Nelson is no slouch either, being named Second-Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler last season.
Nelson recorded eight interceptions, which led the NFL. Nelson’s most important attribute in slowing down Brees however may not come as an athlete — it will likely come instead as a leader to a completely reworked secondary.
This offseason, the Raiders added Nelson along with rookie safety Karl Joseph and free agent cornerback Sean Smith. All three new additions will see significant snaps throughout the season and it will be crucial for Nelson to prepare the group to face one of the most productive QB’s in league history.
Next: Raiders Matchup to Watch #2