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10 Questions That Need To Be Answered For The Raiders Heading Into 2016

Posted Mar 4, 2016

Let’s take a look at some of the most burning questions about the Silver and Black heading into next season.

Although it seems like the regular season just ended, the NFL New Year kicks off Wednesday March 9.

However, as we prepare to head into 2016, questions about the Silver and Black remain, so let’s take a look at some of the most burning questions about the team heading into next season.

How will the shortcomings in the secondary be addressed?

The Raiders’ secondary struggled last season; that much was evident.

The Silver and Black were ranked towards the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed per game and after David Amerson – who was added during the regular season – the team could not find a second cornerback.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio has said that the secondary will be addressed with vigor through both the draft and free agency, so it’ll be interesting to see what the position group looks like when the team gets to training camp.

"We’ve got to attack our secondary with draft picks and free agents, and we’re going to,” said Head Coach Del Rio in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We’re going to add talent to that group and we’re going to make it really competitive.”

Will Roy Helu, Jr., emerge as the second running back behind Latavius Murray?

The Oakland Raiders signed Helu last season to be a change-of-pace running back, and to provide a nice complement to bruising runner Latavius Murray.

However, that just never materialized, as the former Washington Redskin appeared in just nine games for the Silver and Black, accounting for just a single touchdown.

During his four season in Washington, Helu proved to be a capable running back and threat in the passing game, so seeing if he can return to form in 2016 will be something to keep an eye on.

Where will TJ Carrie line up in 2016?

Safety?  Cornerback?

As of now it’s unclear where TJ Carrie will be lining up in 2016.

The versatile defensive back – drafted originally as a cornerback – began the season at his natural position, but then shifted to the back end of the secondary following the injury of Nate Allen.

Carrie showed last season that he’s capable of playing either position, but as now, Head Coach Jack Del Rio has yet to make an official designation on Carrie’s future.

What does the team have in Andre Debose?

The Silver and Black drafted the speedy wide receiver from the University of Florida in the seventh round (No. 221 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft in the hopes that he would solidify the team’s return duties.

However, an offseason injury before the team even reported to training camp derailed his rookie campaign, and he spent the season on Injured Reserve.

Jeremy Ross performed admirably over the second half of the year and will be in the mix for the job this offseason, but the Raiders will assuredly want to see what they have in Debose.

Will Neiron Ball and Mario Edwards Jr. return to the field in 2016?

Both Ball and Edwards enjoyed quality rookie campaigns in Silver and Black before their respective seasons were derailed by injury.

Ball was placed on Injured Reserve December 1, and Edwards’ season ended a few weeks later on December 23.

As of now, a concrete prognosis on either player has not been given, rendering their on-field futures for 2016 unclear.

How do you replace Charles Woodson?

Replacing the future Hall of Famer and nine-time Pro Bowler, both on and off the field, will be no easy task.

Even at age 39, Woodson was impressive in 2015, recording five interceptions, nine passes defensed and one forced fumble.

The safety position as a whole is likely to undergo a complete overhaul, but perhaps more than his value on the field, replacing Woodson’s poise and veteran leadership off of it, will be an even more daunting task.

Will Ben Heeney enter the starting lineup?

Heeney is another young player who saw his playing time increase as 2015 wore on.

The University of Kansas-product originally found himself on the field mostly in passing situations, but his play eventually warranted more playing time, and he started three of the team’s final five games.

Heeney proved to be a valuable asset on the Raiders’ defense, and seeing if he earns more time and becomes a permanent fixture in the starting lineup will be something to keep a watchful eye on.

Will Aldon Smith be in the mix?

The talented pass rusher was placed on the Reserve/Suspended list and began serving a one-year suspension November 18.

Smith was effective during his brief tenure in Silver and Black, totaling three and a half sacks during his nine games with the Raiders, however, his future remains the more intriguing prospect.

When Smith and Khalil Mack were both on the field, the Raiders boasted one of the top defensive tandems in the NFL, but will the pair get a chance to play together once again in 2016?

Only time will tell.

Will the offensive line be shaken up?

As it stands now, two of the Raiders’ starting five offensive linemen – Donald Penn and J’Marcus Webb – are set to become free agents and hit the open market.

It’s unclear whether or not one or both of the veteran linemen will return to Oakland next season, but even if they do, the offensive line seems poised for a bit of a reshuffling, particularly with the presumed return of Menelik Watson.

Can Derek Carr take the next step?

After his impressive sophomore campaign, the Raiders will ask their young quarterback to get even better as he prepares for his third season under center.

In 2015, Carr showed that he’s a legitimate NFL quarterback, worthy of Pro Bowl designation, but at the end of the day the Silver and Black went 7-9 and missed the postseason.

With Peyton Manning’s uncertain future, the AFC West is wide open, and if the Raiders want to find themselves playing meaningful football in December and challenging for a division crown, Carr will have to make yet another leap in his development.