Raiders News: Players To Monitor On Defense vs. the Los Angeles Rams, Raider Dad, Aidan O'Connell

Ramble Review: Raiders QB Aidan O’Connell Shines Again But So Did Fellow Rookies Drake Thomas And Tre Tucker

The absolutely awesome ascension of Aidan O’Connell deserves all the media attention it’s getting. The unassuming Las Vegas Raiders rookie put together back-to-back impressive preseason performances, so much so that the argument of the fourth-round pick being QB2 in the desert has gone from a pipedream to a legitimate thing.

You’ve likely read all you can handle about Aidan O’Connell. If you haven’t read Phil Robinson’s piece on O’Connell Mania, do yourself a favor and dig it. Chances are, you won’t be disappointed. But I wrote about AOC4’s excellent effort in the previous rendition of Ramble Regard. Let’s take a look at two other Raiders rookies who did well in the team’s 34-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams this past Saturday: linebacker Drake Thomas and wide receiver Tre Tucker.

2 Raiders Preseason Games In, Aidan O’Connell “Mania” Sweeping Raider Nation

Drake Thomas is a heat-seeking missile…

The undrafted free agent from NC State plays football the way that the Ultimate Warrior ran to the ring. Frenetic, fast-paced, maniacal, and with purpose—if you’re a child of the late 80s and early 90s and watched OG WWF, you’ll get that reference. If not, YouTube it and tell me I’m lying.

The 5-foot-11 and 223-pound Thomas was all over the field for the Raiders defense. Displaying awareness, speed, and ferocity that the linebacker corps in Las Vegas desperately needs, he led the team with 12 total tackles (nine solo) and a tackle for loss. There was little to no hesitation. Thomas was decisive and arrived with conviction, i.e., a heat-seeking missile. The Raiders depth behind starting middle linebacker Robert Spillane is unsettled, and Thomas, who may be a little undersized as a Mike LB at his size, has the mentality to be at the center of a defense.

What’s going to happen at linebacker for the Raiders?

And since he won’t be the starter, Thomas can learn from Spillane, who himself packs a lot of wallop. While Thomas gains more nuance in the game to go against first-string opposition, he can bring his ferocity to the special team’s area, where his play style is perfect.

“He’s a guy who’s an undersized guy, but he plays fast and physical, and he showed up in the kicking game last night multiple times,” Raiders head honcho Josh McDaniels said in his Sunday media session. “Made a bunch of plays on defense. He just has a knack for finding the ball, and he’s a tough kid. So, he’s really given himself an opportunity to compete, and that’s why he’s here.”

“That’s why we liked him after the draft, and we’ll continue to try to see if he can progress here as we head into the last couple weeks here.”

There are times when Thomas can be erratic. He’ll need to work on body control and form tackling; even though arriving with bad intentions can result in big hits, bringing the ball carrier to the ground is what defenders must do. But he is an undrafted free agent after all, and he has plenty of room to grow.

DeAndre Carter, Tre Tucker, Predicting How The Raiders’ WR Corps Will Come Together

Tre Tucker was a rollercoaster that saw peaks and valleys…

The third-round pick’s speed is ever-present, but his hands were hit and miss against the Rams. Tucker torched Los Angeles’ secondary routinely but had a big drop. He suffered two drops in the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Add in the muffled kick return, and Tucker was out there doing his best Clifford Franklin (The Replacements) impression.

Didn’t see that one?

Well, Tucker looked like OG Raider James Jett out there. A receiver that can outrun anyone and scare secondaries to death, but his hands give DBs a sigh of relief.
Still, there were peaks for Tucker, too.

The fleet-footed 5-foot-9 and 185-pounder did burn the Rams defense and had to wait for Aidan O’Connell to deliver a strike to him—a 40-yard connection. Tucker also fielded four punts, gaining 66 yards total on the returns with a long of 26—a robust 16.5 average per return. Veteran DeAndre Carter is likely the main punt returner if he makes the 53-man roster, but Tucker is likely to get his chances, too.

What’s good about Tucker is that he didn’t let the mistakes get to his head and flounder completely. The fury directed at the Cincinnati product almost makes it seem like he was a first-round wide receiver.

“Either they do it right or they learn from the mistake,” McDaniels said about young players. “In either case, it’s a positive in reality right now.”

So, he had a couple of things offensively, and then there was the one play in the kicking game that I’m sure he’s going to learn from. And if that ever happens to him again, he’ll make the right decision there. But I loved his mental toughness and his attitude.

“That’s football; you’ve got to persevere.”

*Top Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sports Wire via Getty Images

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