The Oakland Raiders take on the Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football at O.co Coliseum in Oakland. Starters typically play longer in the third preseason game and the Raiders have plenty of position battles and roles to sort out.
Will running back Taiwan Jones (22) emerge as the primary kickoff returner?
1. Who Will Return Kicks and Punts?
This may sound like a broken record but the return game needs work. This is something I have been keeping an eye on since Brad Seely was hired as special teams coordinator. Andre Debose was drafted to help out in this area but he was lost for the year in the offseason. Trindon Holliday was brought in to compete for the job, Taiwan Jones is in the mix and several players have taken reps in practice. Due to game circumstances there haven't been that many kick and punt return opportunities. Sunday night could go a long way determining the outcome of this competition.
|Michael Dyer is in the mix for the kick return job and a backup running back spot.|
2. Who Will Man the Corners?
The secondary had a few instances where they struggled to get off the field against the Minnesota Vikings last week. They also made some plays to get off the field on third down and force punts or field goal attempts. DJ Hayden and TJ Carrie have been starting at the cornerback positions, however, Keith McGill and Neiko Thorpe have inserted themselves into the conversation. The Cardinals will provide a great test here with quarterback Carson Palmer and their talented receiving corps.
3. Will the Tough Run Defense Continue?
The Raiders held the Rams and Vikings to under 90 yards each on the ground. Defensive tackles Dan Williams and Justin Ellis have been difficult to move out of the middle, and Khalil Mack has been wreaking havoc in the backfield. Backups Denico Autry, Leon Orr and Ricky Lumpkin have stepped up and made tackles for losses as well.
4. How Will the Receiver Competition Shake Out?
It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will start. However, Andre Holmes' injury has opened a door. Rod Streater should get increased playing time this week, Kenbrell Thompkins has had a great offseason and has been solid so far. Brice Butler has come on lately in practice and in the two preseason games, and Seth Roberts has taken advantage of some increased reps.
5. Who Will Back Up Latavius Murray?
Murray certainly looks like the real deal feature back, and Taiwan Jones seems to have a role custom designed for him, so who will be the change-of-pace? Who will be the 3rd down back? Roy Helu, Jr., is back in the mix after missing three weeks. Trent Richardson was solid in Minnesota, and Michael Dyer had a nice game last week. This is another down to the wire competition.