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5 storylines heading into Raiders/49ers joint practices

The Las Vegas Raiders Training Camp will consist of joint practices with two NFC West teams this year – the first being the San Francisco 49ers.

The Silver and Black will host their former cross-bay rivals for practices later this week, with a preseason game between the two at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Competitive spirit will surely be high among the two teams. Here's a rundown of top storylines to follow heading into the week.

1. Just another practice for Jimmy G

The headline storyline seems to be Jimmy Garoppolo squaring off against his former team.

The Raiders new quarterback spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, compiling a 38-17 record as a starter. In 2019, he also led them to a Super Bowl appearance. He now finds himself in the desert, in the process of becoming reacquainted with Josh McDaniels' offense, in which Jimmy G began his NFL career as a New England Patriot. It will be intriguing to see how he attacks a defense he knows well, but with new offensive weapons.

"I'm excited, man. It'll be cool to see some familiar faces, players, coaches," Garoppolo said of the joint practices.

2. The return of Cle Missle

San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Clelin Ferrell will be returning to a familiar place. The 2019 first-round draft pick played 58 games (30 starts) in his stint with the Raiders, with 105 total tackles and 10 sacks in that span. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent this offseason.

"I think my time with the Raiders was a blessing," Ferrell said via The San Diego Union-Tribune. "I can live and be happy with what happened because I know that I developed as a player. I gave my all to the organization and left it better."

3. Welcome to the league, Mr. Bennett

The rise of rookie cornerback Jakorian Bennett has been documented throughout camp.

He's been holding his own against the likes of Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, and could be in line for a lot of reps against the 49ers this week. Going up against the Raiders' stellar receivers in practice will serve as great preparation for the likes of All-Pro Deebo Samuel and rising star Brandon Aiyuk, who had over 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdown grabs last season.

"He's done a great job of competing to try to earn a spot on this team," defensive backs coach Chris Ash said of Bennett. "He's fast, he's smart, he's tough and he tries to do things the way we like them done. He's done a really good job of fitting in. ... He's doing everything he can to try find his niche and find his role on this team."

4. Swimming with sharks

Maxx Crosby has been damn near unblockable most of Training Camp against a impressive Raiders offensive line. Not surprising considering he's coming off a career season and entering his prime as a player. In these joint practices against the 49ers, Crosby will be lined up against arguably one of the best offensive lineman he'll face all year in Trent Williams.

The 49ers left tackle is coming off two straight First Team All-Pro selections, allowing a mere two sacks in that span. He was also voted by his peers as the 14th best player on the NFL's "Top 100 Players of 2023" list. As Crosby came in at No. 17 on that list, Williams had some kind words about The Condor.

"I think Maxx Crosby has a really, really deep bag of tricks," said Williams. "He has a counter to pretty much everything. He can spin."

5. Getting after CMC

The Raiders' front seven will have their hands full with running back Christian McCaffrey. The versatile back just finished his second Pro Bowl season while accumulating 1,880 total scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns. It will be a great test for a Raiders defensive line and linebacking corps.

The interior defensive line has looked stout, led by Bilal Nichols and Jerry Tillery. Linebackers Robert Spillane, Luke Masterson and rookie Amari Burney have all had success getting into the backfield in practice as well. McCaffrey's route running abilities will test safeties Marcus Epps, Tre’von Moehrig and Isaiah Pola-Mao – who've all secured at least one interception in camp.

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View the best photos from 2023 Training Camp practice at Intermountain Health Performance Center.

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