We are going to kill two birds with one stone this week and answer last week's five questions and and pose five more as the Oakland Raiders head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field Thursday night.
Here are the answers to last week's:
1. Who Will Return Kicks and Punts?
We know who it won't be now. It's won't be Trindon Holliday or Trent Richardson. Taiwan Jones seems to be the guy here. A few more players should get auditions against the Seahawks, especially for the punt return job. Cornerback TJ Carrie handled the bulk of that load against the Arizona Cardinals this past week.
2. Who Will Man the Corners?
TJ Carrie and DJ Hayden started once again, with Keith McGill joining them in nickel situations. Neiko Thorpe saw significant action as well. It's really starting to look that this quartet has the top four spots. The pass rush helped the first unit immensely against the Cardinals, leading directly to two safety Nate Allen interceptions. Last sentence necessary?
3. Will the Tough Run Defense Continue?
Yes. The Raiders held the Cardinals to 73 yards on 24 carries, after holding the Rams and the Vikings in the mid-80s. Against the Cardinals, it was tough sledding up the middle, and the outside linebackers and corners did a nice job setting the edge for runners back toward the middle of the field.
4. How Will the Receiver Competition Shake Out?
Kenbrell Thompkins was waived as part of the Raiders roster moves to trim the roster to 75 players. Seth Roberts stepped up against the Cardinals and Kris Durham inserted himself into the conversation with a nice touchdown catch. Brice Butler also had a nice game with a long gainer on a catch-and-run and a yardage? reception on a game-tying two-point conversion.. This one is going to come down to how many receivers the team wants to keep and Andre Holmes' injury status.
5. Who Will Back Up Latavius Murray
Again, we know it won't be Trent Richardson who was waived as part of the team's roster moves this week. Roy Helu Jr., played well running the ball and catching it out of the backfield against the Cardinals. Michael Dyer will need to impress against the Seahawks. As I've mentioned before, it looks like Taiwan Jones is going to have a role custom designed just for him.
Here are this week's questions heading into the preseason finale at Seattle...
1. How Much will the Starters Play?
They may not play at all. They may play a little. Head coach Jack Del Rio said Tuesday that playing time had to be determined. Typically, the starters don't play much in the preseason finale.
2. Who Will Win a Job?
With final cuts set for Saturday, this is the final audition for a spot on the team. There is still an opportunity for younger players to jump up and win a job with an impressive performance.
3. Is Austin Howard the New Starting Right Tackle?
We have Howard as one of our five players to watch Thursday night. Coach Del Rio said Tuesday he doesn't necessarily think Howard needs extra work this week now that Menelik Watson is out for the year. Does Howard start at right tackle, or will it be Khalif Barnes, or someone else?
4. Can the Raiders win in Seattle?
The Raiders have not won a game of any variety, preseason or regular season in Seattle since 1998. The Raiders have had success against the Seahawks in Oakland, but not in the Pacific Northwest. If the front seven continues its strong play and the offense can generate some points, the Raiders could notch their first win in Seattle in quite some time.
5. Will the Running Game Rebound?
The Cardinals held the Raiders to 37 yards on the ground on 21 carries after the Raiders gained 120 against the Vikings and 102 against the Rams in the previous two preseason games.