On Monday night, the Las Vegas Raiders will take the field for their first game of the 2021 NFL season against the Baltimore Ravens. This will be a very intriguing matchup and it should be a close game. With the talent bursting at the seams on the Ravens’ offense, the Raiders’ offense itself is going to have to keep up if they want any shot at victory come Monday. Here are three offensive players who might struggle against the Ravens.
James is an interesting player who I’m very excited to watch this year. He’s going to be getting his first chance to be the starting center for the Raiders, but he has some very big shoes to fill. Former center Rodney Hudson was one of the better players in the history of the Raiders franchise. Because of that, the expectations on James’s shoulders are massive.
In a piece with The Athletic, Jeff Zrebiec stated that the Ravens blitzed on 45.5% of their opponent’s passing plays in 2020. That’s an insane margin and the highest rate in the league by far. The center is essentially the second quarterback of the offense. As the starting center, James is going to have to call out potential Ravens blitzes and adjust his line’s protection accordingly. This is something the Raiders never had to worry about with Hudson at the helm. However, with a new face comes unfamiliarity, and we’re just going to have to wait and see how James does this week.
Henry Ruggs III
Ruggs is not a name many Raider fans want to see on this list after an underwhelming rookie year. Still, this week he’s gonna have a tough matchup with Marlon Humphrey.
The Ravens cornerback unit did take a bit of a hit during this past week with the loss of Marcus Peters. Still, Humphrey will be CB1 and he is a force to be reckoned with.
Humphrey is fast and physical. As I mentioned earlier, the Ravens are not scared to blitz at all. With a blitz comes man coverage behind it, so expect a lot of one-on-one situations with Ruggs and Humphrey. Henry does have the speed and quickness to beat just about anybody in a mono-mono matchup. Considering that Humphrey is a veteran with experience, that might be all he needs to contain Ruggs Monday night.
The first regular-season game of a player’s career is always difficult. It doesn’t get much harder than what Leatherwood is tasked with this week, though.
The youngster will get no warm welcome. He’s going to be faced with edge rushers Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe in his first career game. That is far from an easy task. Campbell has been to the Pro Bowl six times in his long career. He was also a First-Team All-Pro with the Jaguars in 2017. He’s been one of the best edge rushers in the league for a long time now. His experience in the NFL will give him a massive advantage against Leatherwood who will be making his first career start.
Wolfe is a solid player as well, and although he doesn’t have the same accolades as Campbell, he has all the experience necessary. Leatherwood is a player full of promise and potential, but the duo he’ll be facing on Monday is not an easy one, and he’ll start his career off with a big test.
*Top Photo: Bobby Ellis/Getty Images