After almost three weeks at camp, and countless hours on the practice field, the Oakland Raiders are finally, finally set to play 60 minutes of real football.
Head Coach Jon Gruden and the Silver and Black open up the 2018 preseason tomorrow night against the Detroit Lions, and while we likely won’t see Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, or a ton of Bruce Irvin, the next four weeks are crucially important to a bunch of players on the roster.
Let’s take a look at five of those players you need to watch Friday night against the Lions.
Tackle Kolton Miller
So, as of now, we don’t know just how much we’ll see from the rookie tackle, but I would expect to see him strap on the pads, and get a little bit of run against the Lions defensive line.
Veteran left tackle Donald Penn has been on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list all training camp, so No. 77 has run with the starting offensive line since the team has touched down in Napa.
Miller has certainly held his own on the left side, but it’ll be exciting to see how he looks in actual game, even if it’s the preseason.
The Silver and Black have big hopes for Miller; let’s see how he responds.
Defensive Tackle P.J. Hall
Hall is another rookie poised to make some noise in 2018.
The former Sam Houston State Bearkat has enjoyed a quality start to his first training camp in Silver and Black, and he’s someone you should watch Friday night against the Lions.
For the past several years, as good as the Raiders’ edge rush has been, the big fellas in the middle have struggled to provide an interior rush of their own.
With Hall – as well as fellow rookie Maurice Hurst – now in the mix, that situation will hopefully be remedied, and we’ll get our first look at that rush against the Lions.
Now, I know that the Silver and Black’s pass rush isn’t totally complete as of right now, but nevertheless, I’m excited to see how Hall looks Friday night.
Wide Receiver Marcell Ateman
I think it’s safe to say that the rookie wide receiver has been one of the pleasant surprises of Training Camp 2018.
Selected on the third day of this year’s NFL Draft, it seems like the former Oklahoma State Cowboy has made at least one play per practice that causes you to look at your roster and go, boy, this guy can play.
That strong start carried over to the joint practices with the Lions, and now, I’ll be excited to see how he looks in a live game situation.
No. 88 has certainly caught the attention of his head coach, so he’s for sure a guy you need to be watching throughout the preseason, Friday night in particular.
Safety Erik Harris
From Day One, Harris is a guy that Head Coach Jon Gruden has talked up, and he recently doubled down on those comments, saying that No. 25 has the ability to be a starter for the 2018 Raiders.
After dealing with a minor finger injury that sidelined him briefly during camp, Harris has been back on the field lately, and I expect to see him get some run Friday night against the Lions.
The 28-year-old safety is one of those guys you just find yourself rooting for, and I’m looking forward to seeing if he can keep the positive momentum of the past few months rolling through the preseason.
Running Back Chris Warren III
Okay, so first things first, let’s just take a quick look at this run from Tuesday’s session against the Lions.
Look, undrafted or not, if Warren can deliver those kinds of plays on the regular, he’s going to find some sort of role for himself on this team.
Now, it’s important to note that one, big play doesn’t make a player, but since I doubt we’re going to see any of Marshawn Lynch tomorrow night, there should be ample opportunities for Warren to make his hay.
The running back’s room is a crowded one right now, but the next four games will go a long way in figuring out who ends up on the final 53-man roster.