Las Vegas Raiders: 5 things to watch for against San Francisco
The continued growth of Alex Leatherwood and John Simpson
Ahead of the preseason matchup against the LA Rams, we expected the Raiders to roll out most of their starting offensive line to help them build chemistry and continuity. Instead, we got the surprise that center Andre James would sit out the game along with Richie Incognito and Kolton Miller.
As a result of playing with mostly backups and 3rd stringers, the offensive line struggled to protect Nathan Peterman and was on the wrong end of some highlight plays by Rams defenders. Despite the overall struggles of the unit, two players stood out with some highlight plays of their own in Alex Leatherwood and John Simpson.
Simpson and Leatherwood, along with Andre James, are spearheading the youth movement on the Raiders offensive line and have gotten better every week of the preseason so far. Both Simpson and Leatherwood were highlighted for some pancake blocks and overall improvements from Week 1 to Week 2.
Leatherwood in particular has shown improvement between the two matchups and we should see that continue against San Francisco. Many critics lambasted the selection of Leatherwood but given the struggles of some other top tackles to stay healthy, this pick is looking better by the day.
He was handed the starting right tackle job as soon as camp began and has shown no reason why he can’t handle the position.
John Simpson is still listed as a backup guard but Richie Incognito is dealing with a calf strain and could be sidelined for some time. If that is the case, the Raiders have an excellent replacement in Simpson ready to go who has played very well this preseason and we should see more of his mauling pancakes this weekend.