Running Back DeAndre Washington
As the Oakland Raiders prepared for their preseason matchup against the Green Bay Packers, we highlighted five questions that we were hoping to have answered at Lambeau Field.
Although the starters stayed in for the entirety of the first half, Head Coach Jack Del Rio's group fell to the Packers 20-12, but don't worry, the end result is not the most important takeaway from the game.
The team will return home to host the Tennessee Titans next weekend at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, but before we look ahead to that game, let's look back and see if our five questions were answered.
1. Will a fifth wide receiver emerge?
The team's leading receiver Thursday night in Wisconsin was a familiar face, as Seth Roberts paced the team with four catches for 50 yards, including an impressive 33-yard reception on a pass thrown by rookie quarterback Connor Cook.
After Roberts, rookie wideout Johnny Holton was the team's next-leading receiver, hauling in two catches for 24 yards.
Through the first two preseason games, a fifth wide receiver hasn't really emerged, so it'll be interesting to see who takes advantage of their opportunities the next two weeks.
I still think that Holton is a player to keep an eye on. He's flashed impressive plays numerous times throughout training camp and the preseason, and his ability as a return man and on special teams could also make him a valuable commodity once roster reductions begin to occur.
2. Who will handle the return duties?
Rather unsurprisingly, speedy running back Taiwan Jones got the first shot at returning kicks against the Packers. While he only received a single kickoff, he did return it for a quality gain of 33 yards, before ceding the responsibilities to Johnny Holton for the rest of the evening.
Holton also only returned just a single kick, and in his lone effort, he returned it for a gain of 21 yards.
As far as punt returns were concerned, rookie running back DeAndré Washington handled the bulk of the work, returning a pair of punts for 25 total yards.
After he exited for the night, cornerback Antonio Hamilton was the next in line, but didn't manufacture a return with his lone opportunity.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jaydon Mickens was also given a chance to show what he could do, and his lone return resulted in a two-yard loss.
As of now, Jones and Washington seem to be the leaders in the clubhouse for the return duties, but I'll still be keeping a close eye on the return situation over the duration of the final few weeks of the preseason.
3. Can the run game keep rolling?
In short, I guess the answer would be no.
After a dominant ground performance in Arizona where the team tallied 166 rushing yards, the Raiders were able to produce just 46 in their matchup with the Packers.
"We just weren't able to get anything going," running back Latavius Murray said. "We just didn't play like we know we are capable of playing."
Last week's effort in the desert demonstrated that the team is indeed capable of putting together a complete game on the ground, but for whatever reason, it just didn't materialize Thursday at Lambeau Field.
That being said, there's no reason to overreact, and I fully expect the ground game to reignite next week at home against the Tennessee Titans.
4. How does the new guy look?
Well, this is question that in many senses remains unanswered after the loss to the Packers.
Newly-signed tight end Jake McGee played just two snaps in Thursday's game, and in those two plays, he didn't register on the stat sheet.
Derek Carr led the tight ends, playing 21 snaps Thursday night, and Clive Walford also played 15.
Both Colton Underwood and Ryan O'Malley entered the game before McGee, so as of now, it seems as though he's the fifth tight end on the roster.
5. Will Thursday's game be cleaner?
As far as penalties were concerned, the Raiders did commit 10 penalties against the Packers, which was one less than they committed the week previous against the Arizona Cardinals.
The team also lost the turnover battle at Lambeau Field, which it did not do in Arizona, but after a slow start to the game, the starting defense really settled in and found a groove.
"We started a little slow on defense," said Head Coach Jack Del Rio. "We struggled to run it, and we were minus-two in turnovers, so a lot of things we'll work on this week. Not the kind of sharp showing we're looking for, a lot of things we can learn from and move on. That's what we need to do."
Was Thursday's effort as complete as last week's against the Cardinals? No, but the preseason loss in Green Bay will provide a plethora of teaching moments for Del Rio and his staff.