The Oakland Raiders open Mandatory Minicamp Tuesday afternoon at their Alameda, Calif., facility.
In addition to it being the final set of activities in the Offseason Workout Program before the team breaks for the summer, the next three days also serve as the closest thing we’ll see to “real” football before the Silver and Black set up shop in Napa in late-July.
Here are five things we’ll be keeping an eye on once Derek Carr and Co., hit the field.
What else is there to say about Antonio Brown?
Since Mr. Big Chest arrived in Oakland, he’s been one of the most-discussed players on not only the Raiders roster, but in the entire NFL.
Now, we likely won’t get a full grasp of what Brown and Derek Carr are truly capable of until the team starts playing football for real, for real in September, but we all know that chemistry is built during the offseason, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do against live competition this week.
Here’s to hoping that we get a few “whoa” moments from the pair over the next three days.
2. How does the revamped linebacking corps look?
Of all the rebuilding and retooling that the Raiders roster has undergone over the past few months, that influx of new faces likely isn’t more visible than in the team’s linebacking corps.
While Tahir Whitehead – the team’s leading tackler from a year ago – will be back in the mix once again, with Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall patrolling the second level, the group will have a very different, more veteran, feel than it did in 2018.
Things are obviously very fluid between now and Week 1 in terms of the starting 11 on Paul Guenther’s defense, but I really am looking forward to seeing how the that aforementioned trio of veteran linebackers look this week.
Let’s not forget about the young guys either; I think we’ll hear Marquel Lee, Jason Cabinda, and Nicholas Morrow’s name called a fair amount this year.
3. Trent Brown on the right side
Head Coach Jon Gruden played coy for a little bit this offseason, not divulging his plans for newly signed offensive lineman Trent Brown, but we now know that the big man will be anchoring the right side of the line this season.
If you recall, Mr. Brown was the left tackle for the Super Bowl Champion New England all through 2018, but fear not, the versatile big man has experience playing on the right side as well.
With a healthy, bigger, stronger Kolton Miller protecting Carr’s blindside, and Brown on the right, fans of the Silver and Black should see improved tackle play across the line this year.
The struggles of the group a year ago were well documented, but hopefully Brown can prove to be a remedy for much of the pressure coming off the right side.
Let’s see how No. 77 looks at Minicamp.
4. The situation at left guard
Speaking of the offensive line, one thing I’ll be keying in on closely over the next 72 hours is the Raiders situation at left guard.
With Kolton Miller and Trent Brown on the outside, along with Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson manning the interior of the line, on paper it appears there is just one starting offensive line job up for grabs – left guard.
Following the signing of Richie Incognito, the purveying thought is that the veteran lineman will earn the job, but as General Manager Mike Mayock said a few weeks ago, the team won’t really know what they have in Incognito until training camp.
That said, you best believe I’ll be keeping a close eye on that left guard position and seeing if it’s Incognito or Denzelle Good who’s running with the first team.
The Raiders wrap up OTAs at the Raiders practice facility before heading into Mandatory Minicamp next week.
5. Which rookies get the most run?
I mentioned it earlier, but I feel obligated to say once again that things are still very fluid in terms of who’s starting and who’s not, and it’s important not to read too much into what happens on the field over the next three days.
With that disclaimer out there, one group of players in particular that I’ll be excited to watch is the 2019 rookie class.
From Clelin Ferrell, to Quinton Bell, and everyone in between, we’ll get another extended look at the Raiders rookies this week, and once again get a chance to gauge where they are in their early development.
Nobody expects the young fellas to be a finished product – especially at this point in the offseason – but nevertheless, I fully expect one or two of them to make a positive mark this week.
Let’s get to work.