Raiders.com Mailbag: Back from the bye, who needs to step up?

Boy, we certainly didn’t ease our way back from the bye, did we?

In case you lived in a world without social media, the internet or TV – which sounds kind of nice, to be honest – let me catch you up.

Amari Cooper is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys, the Raiders have yet another first-round pick at their disposal, and Marshawn Lynch is on the reserve/injured list, eligible to return no sooner than Week 16 against the Denver Broncos.

For good reason, you guys had a bunch of questions this week; let’s get to it.

From Abu Sassi: Where is Chris [Warren III]?

EP: Abu, this is a question we’ve gotten a lot all season, but even more the past couple of days since Marshawn Lynch went on IR.

So, let’s clear it up real quick; long story short, we will not see the former Texas Longhorn on the field at any point in 2018. Warren was placed on the reserve/injured list on September 1, and since he wasn’t on the team’s initial 53-man roster, he isn’t eligible to return this year. The powerful rookie looked really impressive in the preseason, but alas, you’re going to have to wait until 2019 to see Warren get any type of meaningful run on the field.

From Victor Ballesteros: Please talk about who is going to step up [as] the pass rusher??

EP: First things first, if the Raiders want to improve the pass rush, and be more consistent at getting to the quarterback, I think it’s going to require a collective effort from all the guys on the defensive line.

That said, if you should keep an eye on one player to really step up, and handle business over the next ten weeks, my pick would be Arden Key. The rookie defensive end finally got home for his first sack when the team took on the Seahawks in London, and while it may have been sack No. 1 of the season for Key – in his first start, mind you – he’s been really close on a handful of occasions in 2018.

The reality of the situation is that Key is still a rookie trying to find his way in the NFL – let’s not forget that he was a college student not even a year ago – and the reps that he is currently getting will likely prove to be invaluable down the road.

Like I said, I think it’s going to require a group effort to improve the pass rush, but Key’s my guy to watch extra closely.

From Joseph Calzado: We still trying to win games?????

EP: Absolutely.

Head Coach Jon Gruden has remained steadfast in his message that the team is looking to win games, and General Manager Reggie McKenzie said the same thing yesterday during his sit down with the media.

I know that sitting at 1-5, it’s easy to think that the season is being punted away – no pun intended – but for those of you who think that’s the case, I’ll leave this morning’s tweet from Derek Carr, right here.

Raiders players return to the practice field to prepare for their Week 8 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts following the bye week.

From Mitchell Smith: What should we do with these three first rounders?

EP: Ahh yes, the question on everyone’s mind at the moment.

I’ll say this, draft season is going to be really, really exciting, but before we can even begin thinking about that, we have a football season to get through, and next on the agenda is a Week 8 clash with the Indianapolis Colts back at home Sunday afternoon.

(Just FYI, the 2019 NFL Draft kicks off April 25 in Nashville)

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