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Bucky Brooks' Scouting Report: Week 15 vs. Chargers

Who is the Guy?

Despite his subpar production this season, Austin Ekeler remains the Chargers' most dangerous weapon out of the backfield. The shifty playmaker is an electric runner-receiver with outstanding quickness and burst. With Keenan Allen ruled out, the Chargers could put the ball in the veteran's hands early and often to spark a shorthanded offense.

Know His Name

Derwin James is a rare find as a hybrid safety with cornerback-like athleticism and linebacker-like tackling skills. The big-bodied defender is a Tasmanian Devil between the lines with an ultra-aggressive game built on intensity, effort and toughness. James will attack the ball at every turn, searching for a strip-sack, forced fumble or PBU (pass break up) that changes the game's momentum. As a big play machine, the Raiders must always be aware of No. 3's whereabouts.

Don't Sleep On…

Asante Samuel Jr. is blossoming into a blue-chip cover corner with superb instincts, awareness and ball skills. The third-year pro leads the team with two interceptions and ten passes defensed while also displaying sticky cover skills in coverage. Though the Chargers run a zone-based coverage scheme, Samuel's eyes and anticipation should make quarterbacks pause before throwing in No. 26's direction.

Under Pressure

Easton Stick will make his first start of the season against the Raiders with Herbert sidelined with a season-ending injury. The veteran backup has only played in two NFL games but comes from a winning collegiate program (North Dakota State) where he compiled a 49-3 record as a starter and was a part of four FCS championship teams. Though the jump in competition is significant, Stick's winning pedigree could serve him well as a first-time starter.

Matchup to Watch

Khalil Mack vs Thayer Munford or Jermaine Eluemunor

The NFL's sack leader (15) destroyed the Raiders' gameplan with a six-sack effort in Week 4. The former All-Pro still flashes overwhelming strength and power as a pass rusher when facing one-on-one blocks on the edges. With the Chargers needing more from the defense in Herbert's absence, the veteran defender could attempt to take over the game as a disruptive force on passing downs.

Offensive Strategy

Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will tweak the Chargers' offensive approach to make the game easy for Stick. Los Angeles could rely on a quick-rhythm passing game to complement a rushing attack spearheaded by Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelly. Despite their lack of success on the ground, the Chargers must hand the ball off to reduce the pressure on Stick to carry the offense as a first-time starter.

Defensive Strategy

Brandon Staley wants to take away the deep ball at all costs, utilizing a two-deep or split-safety coverage designed to eliminate vertical throws. With the Chargers committed to keeping both safeties in coverage, the savvy play-caller will attempt to defend with "light boxes" featuring second-level defenders attacking from depth. Although the Chargers are willing to concede yardage on a series of short throws and minimal runs, Staley is ready to play the odds that the offense cannot move the ball the length of the field on 10-plus plays without a negative play (sack, tackle for loss or turnover) ending the drive.

As the Raiders prepare for Week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium, view past matchups of the Silver and Black hosting their division rival.

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