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Five Questions Heading Into The Oakland Raiders Preseason Matchup With The Green Bay Packers


After a six-month hiatus without football, the Oakland Raiders are now in the midst of a stretch where they'll play two games in just six days. 

After beating the Arizona Cardinals 31-10 in the preseason opener, the Silver and Black will fly to Wisconsin to take on Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

Reports are circulating that quarterback Aaron Rodgers won't suit up Thursday night against the Raiders, but the star quarterback's absence won't take away from the intrigue of the second week of preseason action.

There is still a plethora of questions surrounding the state of the Raiders, so here are five questions I have heading into the matchup with the Packers.

 1.    Will a fifth wide receiver emerge?

Throughout the offseason and training camp, Head Coach Jack Del Rio has consistently said that the team's first four receivers are nearly set in stone.

Amari Cooper, Derek Carr, Seth Roberts, and Andre Holmes will likely comprise the majority of the team's receiving corps in 2016; but behind them, which player will step up and grab a hold of that fifth spot in the rotation?

As of now, there certainly isn't a lack of options, with 11 receivers on the roster, including the aforementioned top four. In the Raiders preseason opener against the Cardinals none of the young wideouts really stood out, so I anticipate them collectively putting together a better showing Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

In particular, I'll be keeping an eye on Johnny Holton and Jaydon Mickens, who have each flashed glimpses of quality play throughout training camp.

 2.    Who will handle the return duties?

Another question about the Raiders roster this training camp has been about who will handle the return duties once the regular season begins.

Last year's incumbents, running back Taiwan Jones (kickoffs) and cornerback TJ Carrie (punts) seem to be the leaders in the race as of now, but they'll certainly be pushed throughout the rest of the preseason.

Both wide receiver Johnny Holton and running back DeAndre Washington returned kickoffs against the Cardinals, and I'd assume they'd be given more opportunities Thursday night. Cornerback Antonio Hamilton has also been working with the return units in practice, so it's possible he could get some run as well.

As far as kickoffs go, both Holton and Washington will likely remain in the mix, as well as wide receiver Joe Hansley, who might also get to test his hand on punts too.

 3.    Can the run game keep rolling?

In 2015, the Raiders mustered just 91.1 yards per game on the ground, but they seem to be off to a much better start this year, as the team collectively ran for 166 yards in its preseason opener in Arizona.

Now, the question is; can they keep that momentum going?

Running back Latavius Murray will likely see a little more action in Thursday's game in Green Bay, and I'll be keeping a close eye on both DeAndré Washington and George Atkinson III, who each enjoyed big games in the desert last week.

Undrafted rookie Jalen Richard also hasn't seen game action yet as he recovers from injury, and as of now, his status for the team's second preseason game remains uncertain.

 4.    How does the new guy look?

After waiving offensive lineman Torian White Monday afternoon, the Raiders signed tight end Jake McGee Tuesday afternoon.

McGee's addition to the roster becomes even more important now that fellow tight end Gabe Holmes is likely done for the year after suffering a severe ankle sprain against the Cardinals.

The first roster reduction is in just two weeks, so the coaching staff will want to see as much as they can from the newest addition to the Raiders roster with the time that they have left.

5.    Will Thursday's game be cleaner?

Things aren't supposed to be perfect during the preseason – that's why it's the preseason – but there were certainly some areas of the team's performance during the preseason opener in Arizona that they'll want to clean up against the Packers.

For one, the Raiders committed 11 penalties against the Cardinals, and that's a number that will need to come down as the preseason wears on.

Quarterback Derek Carr has repeatedly said that his goal for the preseason is to play clean football, so I'll be watching to see if Thursday's effort is improved in that area.

Defensively, the team struggled at times tackling in the open field, which isn't cause for concern in the first preseason game, but that's another area I'm sure they'll be looking to improve in Green Bay.

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