Sam Young, Denzelle Good to the Rescue?
Trent Brown will be missing his fourth game of the year this season, as he was placed on the COVID reserve list earlier this week. Along with Brown, the other starting offensive linemen who were in close contact with Brown were placed on the list as well and are quarantining.
With the exception of Brown however, the other offensive lineman could be cleared to play for Sunday's game as long as they continue to test negative. This leaves the right tackle position back up for grabs against a destructive Buccaneers defense.
The Silver and Black could be turning their attention to Sam Young to fill the void for Brown. Young has missed time this season as well, tending to a groin injury sustained Week 1.
Denzelle Good's number may also be called for some snaps at right tackle as he switched over from the guard position to play tackle while Brown and Young were injured.
Despite the time Young has missed, he's been productive in the time he has played, proving to be a capable backup for Trent Brown. Denzelle Good has also proven the same, even playing out of his position for most of the season.
No matter what, Coach Gruden is adamant that whoever fills the spot will be ready to compete.
"We've played four games without Trent (Brown) and we've used four different right tackles so we're experienced to adjusting," said Coach Gruden. "We'll have a right tackle who's prepared ready to play, and the good news is I have talked to Trent (Brown) and he's feeling better and hopefully we get him back soon. He's a big part of this team."
Alpha Dog Abram will be missed
While some offensive linemen have a chance to be cleared to play against the Buccaneers, however the Raiders' starting safety will not be as fortunate.
The Silver and Black's leading tackler Johnathan Abram will not be cleared to play as his five-day quarantine will interfere with the game on Sunday. He was put on the COVID reserve list after contact with Trent Brown on Tuesday.
Abram has been arguably the defensive MVP for the Raiders so far this season with his playmaking ability and rugged style of play. Abram missing this game will be difficult for the Raiders going up against several strong, big-body pass-catchers like Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski.
In Abram's absence, expect for the Raiders to use their linebackers in multiple coverage packages to contain passes over the middle to Tampa Bay's tight ends. Also expect safety Jeff Heath to get an uptick in playing time to cover the ball deep after picking off Patrick Mahomes in the Raiders victory over the Chiefs.
"John is a big part of what we do, but we also have some guys that have been around here that have reps in practice," said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to the media Thursday. "We get them each and every week in case guys go down. Obviously, [Erik] Harris, [Jeff] Heath and Dallin Leavitt, those kind of guys. We have some corners that have some ability to play safety, that can cover and play in the deep half."
No. 27 on No. 13
If you're still wondering if Trayvon Mullen is for real, you'll definitely find out on Sunday.
The second-year cornerback out of Clemson will have another difficult task on his hand this Sunday against an elite wide receiver in Mike Evans.
Evans, the 6-foot-5, 230 pound freak of nature from Texas A&M, currently leads the Buccaneers in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, targets and receptions.
In layman's terms, Mike Evans is a bad dude. Like Michael Jackson bad, LL Cool J bad. He's just been a big problem for cornerbacks in the past.
If anyone is up for the task of going up against him for the Raiders, it's No. 27.
Trayvon Mullen has stepped up and anchored the secondary, leading the Raiders in pass deflections with five this season.
With Johnathan Abram expected to miss Sunday's game, Mullen will be expected to step up even more to contain Mike Evans.
This will definitely be an intriguing matchup to look out for this Sunday. Mike Evans might be a bad man, but Mullen has proven so far this season that he is too.
Nelson Agholor hasn't been targeted much this season, but when he has, he hasn't wasted the opportunity.
Derek Carr currently has a perfect passer rating when throwing the ball to Agholor this season. Agholor has caught 10 of his 11 targets this season from Derek Carr, including three touchdowns. Agholor's three trips to the end zone also leads all Raiders receivers this season.
The former Eagle was brought in to the Raiders organization this past offseason because of his playmaking abilities and his veteran experience, which has helped lead a young receiving corps.
To use the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," expect to see Carr continue to target Agholor in pivotal moments against the Buccaneers Sunday. It hasn't failed them yet.
The Bucs' Men in the Middle
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming into Allegiant Stadium Sunday boasting the top-ranked defense in the NFL. A big factor behind the Buccaneers success is in large part due to their linebacking unit.
Lavonte David and Devin White have been headaches for opposing offenses this season across the middle. They also lead the team in total tackles this season with White (50) and David (47).
David has been a force to be reckoned with since being drafted by Tampa Bay in 2012, as the Pro Bowler has over 1,000 tackles in his career. Devin White, the LSU standout, has shown he can be the future of the Buccaneers defense for years to come after being drafted with the 5th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, one pick after Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Gruden is highly aware that the offense will have to properly game plan around minimizing opportunities for David and White to make plays against the Raiders sixth-ranked offense.
"They're very good. (Devin) White and certainly Lavonte David, they're tackling machines," said Gruden to the media Wednesday. "They have a great system. If you know anything about Todd Bowles, you know it's a pressure defense, single-gap, these guys get up the field. These linebackers, they don't make mistakes. One thing they don't do is they don't miss tackles. They have great range, great instincts. They don't have the ability to get tired, which is very disappointing to me."
Cutting Henry Ruggs loose
The rookie wideout has proven that he can be a playmaker for the Raiders when in action, as he's led the team in receiving yards in two out of the three games he's played in this season.
With Ruggs, the offense has a vertical threat and special packages that allow him to use his speed. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson has every intention of maximizing Ruggs' abilities with him coming back from a knee injury that sidelined him for two games.
"A big part of the reason we drafted him where we did is we knew he'd be a big part," Olson said. "Injuries are a big part of it. I don't think it's slowed down his growth per se. I think when he's been out here and he's been healthy, he's been everything we thought he was. With him being healthy last week, it was easy again for us in part of the game planning to target him. We'll continue to do that as long as he's healthy."
The Silver and Black get in one last practice before their Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Allegiant Stadium.