Quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders offense
Since entering the league in 2010, Gerald McCoy has caused opposing offensive coordinators to lose sleep at night.
Not only does the 6'4", 300 pounder possess the ideal measurables for a defensive tackle, but he also possesses freakish athleticism more akin to that of a defensive end.
Simply put, McCoy is an elite player, and maybe even the best defensive tackle in the NFL if you ask Head Coach Jack Del Rio.
"They have probably the best defensive tackle in the league," said Head Coach Del Rio earlier in the week when talking about McCoy. "[They're] certainly in that conversation with [Gerald] McCoy. We'll have to know where he is at all times. He's a good football player."
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith will move the athletic defensive tackle all around the defensive front, but No. 93 will work primarily in the interior of the line, squaring off with guard Gabe Jackson in the process.
"He [McCoy] is a real good, active player," Jackson said. "He might be one of the best in the league. It's going to be a challenge."
And although Jackson will have his hands full trying to contain the four-time Pro Bowler Sunday afternoon, his approach and preparation for the Week 8 matchup at Raymond James Stadium remains the same.
"Every game for every person is kind of different, but at the end of the day, you have a game plan to win, and you do everything during the week to put you in a position to win your battles," Jackson explained. "It's the same approach every week."
While Jackson and the Raiders interior lineman will try to find a way to limit McCoy's effectiveness, they'll also be tasked with keeping the Silver and Black's run game rolling against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks No. 19 in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
The Raiders tallied up 144 yards on the ground in last week's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and key to that success was the return of running back Latavius Murray who had missed the past two weeks recovering from a toe injury, and his presence in the backfield Sunday was evident from the first quarter on.
"He's good, man," Jackson said. "He's a big, good, physical back, and he can run too. It's a good change up. We have three different running backs, and each one of them brings a little something different to the running game."
After staying in Sarasota for the week, the team will bus to Tampa Bay Saturday afternoon, and Jackson believes that the time away from the team's Alameda, Calif., facility has provided a good break from the ordinary for the Raiders.
"It's nice," Jackson said. "It's a good change of scenery, and it's good hanging out with your brothers every day. We're a family, and we hang out all the time, so it's good to get away and see something different. "
Kickoff at Raymond James Stadium is scheduled for 10:00 a.m PT.
G/T – Vadal Alexander – Ankle – Limited – Questionable
WR – Andre Holmes – Hip – Limited – Questionable
RB – Taiwan Jones – Knee –Limited – Questionable
DT – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Did not part. – Out
S – Brynden Trawick – Shoulder – Limited – Questionable
T – Menelik Watson – Calf – Limited – Questionable
-True to form, the Raiders held their usual Fast Friday session, going about their business at IMG Academy before bussing back to the team hotel in Sarasota.
-Following practice, Head Coach Del Rio officially ruled defensive tackle Stacy McGee out for the team's Week 8 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
-Rookie safety Karl Joseph spent some time working on his hands before practice, catching passes on the sideline before the team hit the field for the day's work.
-Running back Latavius Murray has been a full participant in practice all week, and following his return against the Jaguars, paired with a full week of practice, the Pro Bowl running back is pleased with how his toe has responded.
"I'm feeling even better compared to this time last week," Murray said. "I'm excited just to be back on the field again, and to get another chance to play again."
Head Coach Del Rio said several players will have to fill the void left by defensive tackle Stacy McGee:
"But yeah, next guy up. That's what we do. So Darius Latham will play more, Denico [Autry] will play more, Big Dan [Williams] will play more. Those guys have to do their thing. We expect to play good defense and we know we got ourselves a challenge ahead."
In their downtime in Sarasota, Gabe Jackson said the offensive line has been playing video games together. So who is the best player in the group? Jackson didn't hesitate with his answer:
"Me. Hands down."
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