The Las Vegas Raiders will take on the New England Patriots in joint practices over the next few days, and that should be a great test for the Silver and Black. The Patriots have long been one of the best teams in the AFC and were a playoff team last year, their first under new quarterback Mac Jones.
Here, we take a look at some things to keep an eye on during these sessions.
What to watch for during Patriots and Raiders Joint Practices
How Good Is The Defense?
The Raiders defense has looked fairly good for the first few weeks of training camp, as well as the preseason games without key starters. The Raiders defense will finally be competing against a real offense and the coaching staff can finally measure them against a quality opponent.
For years, the Raiders hindrance has been a porous defense, and finally having a defense of decent quality last season, allowed the team to flourish. A new system with new players needs to get their communication down and be able to operate as a unit.
Throughout training camp, reports out of New England suggest that the Patriots offense has struggled mightily and implementing a new offense has been a struggle. Mac Jones in particular has struggled.
All eyes should be on the Raiders secondary. If they can continue to look good and get the better of the Patriots bad offense, they will have a reason to be confident. However, if Mac Jones and a young, less than stellar group of receivers begin to carve the Raiders secondary up, there will be alarm bells ringing.
This will be a true test to measure the Raiders defensive upgrades and to see just how far they can go. It will be a big week for Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram.
While the starters will need to play well throughout the season, there are always injuries and the Raiders depth will be tested. Preseason victories are typically a good indictment on how good a team’s depth is, but against another team in a live setting, the Raiders will finally have a look at just how deep they are.
The Raiders will need to get a good look at their backup receivers against the Patriots cornerbacks as there are 3 or 4 players likely fighting for 2 or 3 spots. If the Raiders backup receivers play well, that will be a good sign.
The depth will be tested along the offensive and defensive lines as well. This week will be key in determining the starting offensive line, the defensive line rotation, and the linebacking corps. There are many key spots up for grabs across the roster and as players begin to be rotated in with starters in team periods, the Raiders will have a sense of who can make an impact.
Additionally, this is the time for players to make a push. Last season, Rodric Teamer stood out in joint practices, which led to him making the team.
For players like Tyron Johnson, Ameer Abdullah, Lester Cotton, Darien Butler, Luke Masterson, Amik Robertson, and DJ Turner, players who have stood out thus far, a big week will go a long way to making the team. Another player to watch is Chase Garbers as the trade of Nick Mullens will give Garbers a chance to showcase his talent.
The obvious questions on the offense will be around the offensive line. Thayer Munford, Jermaine Eluemunor, and Alex Leatherwood continue to battle for that spot at right tackle, and this position could be solidified this week.
However, the Raiders have the ability to be a top offense in the NFL and if Carr and company look sharp against a top defense, there will be some excitement. Rotations on the offensive line and running back position will be important. The Raiders will need Lester Cotton to hold his own and establish himself. This will be the first glimpse at the new offense and how the running back group shakes out.
If Zamir White continues to get carries and Abdullah and Brandon Bolden have a role, we will have a better understanding of how this committee shakes out.
It will be interesting to see how the Raiders plan to use their passing game this season. The new staff is betting on player progression and coaching to elevate the offensive line, but if the line keeps struggling, will they opt for a quick passing game?
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If the Raiders scrimmage against the Patriots becomes a quick shoot offense, we will know more about the confidence the Raiders have in their offensive line. Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller should be able to feast against a pretty mediocre secondary, if they look explosive, it will all be worth it.