Thursday, August 21, 2014

Preseason Game Number 3: Packers Host The Raiders

I'm just glad their playing at home. Watching these first two preseason games in bad weather (Tennessee) and in a stadium filled with empty seats (St. Louis) makes me long for Lambeau Field. But the current forecast calls for either thunderstorms or fog, so it's not exactly ideal playing conditions.

The starting lineup is pretty much set, and the biggest thing to watch against the Raiders is whether Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien can move ahead in the backup quarterback battle. There will be a lot of individual players battling for a roster spot, and rookies like 4th round LB Carl Bradford are going to have start showing something if they want a spot on the 53-man roster. A few guys should be considered safe as backups, I don't think CB Jarrett Bush will ever lose his roster spot, but everyone should play like their job is on the line.

As for the Raiders, I'm not sure what to make of them. And one of their most interesting young players won't be stepping onto the field:
I really want former Packer executive Reggie McKenzie to succeed as GM of the Raiders, but he's not off to a great start. His first draft choice from 2013 (CB D.J. Hayden) is so far a bust with constant injuries. He's like the Justin Harrell of the Raiders. McKenzie traded for veteran checkdown specialist QB Matt Flynn in 2013, and he traded for another checkdown artist in 2014 (QB Matt Schaub). Schaub's arm strength looked non-existent against the Lions. It's easy to understand why Carr might seem so much promising when compared to Schaub.

The Raiders have signed a whole bunch of veterans who are trying to extend their career (Charles Woodson, Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Carlos Rogers, Maurice Jones-Drew) after being released, which isn't a bad idea considering the Raiders have had to strip away all the dead wood from the last of the Al Davis years. Fielding a team with veterans on short-term contracts will keep them competitive and create a better environment for the young players to develop.

But McKenzie has got to improve the roster through the draft. Hayden's hurt, the QB they drafted last year (Tyler Wilson) has already been released, and their 2014 1st round pick (LB Khalil Mack) has so far been underwhelming. Yes, it's early for Mack, but if he's really such an elite athlete you'd expect him to look pretty good against backup players in the preseason. The Raiders are looking to their veterans as a strength of the team, when the spotlight should be on their 1st and 2nd year players.

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