Raiders Have Favorable Matchup In Week 1 And Will Air It Out

The Las Vegas Raiders have cut down to the final 53 man roster. Six days remain until the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Now we have a first indication of what to expect.

What to expect from the Raiders in week 1

To be completely transparent, nobody has any idea of what the Raiders have planned in 2020. What they practiced in front of the media in training camp was likely only a fraction of their offense. Personnel has shifted at the last moment, and without a preseason, nothing has been seen except for what the team wished to be seen. Since the COVID-19 breakout, everything has been off-kilter about the NFL offseason. Whatever head coach Jon Gruden has in that massive playbook he created should be coming out early and often. Stressing opponents defenses early while they are still attempting to adjust should be the route yielding the most points.

Quarterback Derek Carr and a sprinkling of players chose to gather at a local park in Las Vegas and got some work in. Every one of those players who participated made the final roster and developed a good rapport in the process. However, challenges in the form of injury and rookie revelations have changed the makeup of the majority of the receiving corps. Hunter Renfrow remains the only constant at the top of the depth chart.

The Silver and Black’s new wide receiver corps

Henry Ruggs III has been everything as advertised. The No. 12 overall pick has flashed the speed, the route running, the hands, the athleticism, and a little toughness in training camp. Opponents have to respect the Alabama standout but one of the things Gruden is best at is using route concepts to clear space on the field. Ruggs figures to have a prominent role in the offense and stylistically is a complement to his fellow rookie starter and the receiving corps as a whole.

Related: Raiders 53-Man Roster: Young Wide Receivers Will Have Big Role On Offense

Bryan Edwards has been the revelation of camp. Tyrell Williams’ season-ending trip to the Injury Reserve list may have only hastened the inevitable. The South Carolina product was coming for his job and was going to eventually claim it. Edwards has the build of a tall, powerful receiver and he has great hands. Carr has compared him to his favorite receiver from Fresno State University, Davante Adams. Edwards has done nothing but turn heads and create tons of hype going into the season. As the X receiver, look for him to do a lot of the dirty work and keep the chains moving.

Nelson Agholor is benefitting from a change in scenery and a prior relationship with Gruden. Agholor used to compete against Gruden’s son Deuce in high school back in Tampa. The veteran wideout seems to be a personal favorite of the coach and will look to rotate in as well as to contribute on special teams. Agholor is a beast when it comes to releasing from the line of scrimmage and ranked 14th in the NFL at creating yards of separation.

VS the Carolina Panthers

Graphic from ESPN depth chart

On paper, this Panthers pass defense is not very good at all. Losing James Bradberry their best corner from a year ago has hurt them tremendously. Tre Boston is arguably the best defender in the secondary and he won’t be matched up on any receiver directly. Justin Burris has yet to prove to be the guy, as he is on his third team in six years in the league. Eli Apple was penciled in as the starter, but has since been placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Donte Jackson is a starter in this league but hardly a top corner.

Jeremy Chinn, the strong safety from Southern Illinois, has the measurables but has yet to crack a weak starting lineup. Corn Elder is entering his third year and only has three games of experience. Rasul Douglas is mostly a nickel back with some fairly decent production and keeping an eye on him would be wise for Carr and the offense to do.

All in all, the Raiders passing offense should be able to exploit this passing defense. Carr should be able to light these guys up as long as he’s given time to survey the field and throw. The loss of Apple is a blow to an already depleted secondary forcing them to go to the practice squad or bring in someone else.

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Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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