5 things to watch

Starting at 5 p.m. Pacific Time (8 p.m. ET) Raiders football is back. They take the field to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton Ohio as the first NFL action of any kind in the lead-up to the 2022 season.

With that, here are some things to watch out for

1. Wide range of receiving bodies

The Raiders know what they have in Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow. But after that, it’s an all-out battle for playing time. Mack Hollins has gotten most of the press, but that doesn’t count the likes of Keelan Cole, Demarcus Robinson and Tyron Johnson.

All four receivers bring a different skill set to the table and will hope to be chosen to line up on the outside early in the regular season.

2. Backup QB split

It’s unlikely we’ll see Derek Carr take the field in this game. It is more likely that we will see the battle between Jarret Stidham and Nick Mullens in full.

Stidham comes with the benefit of playing in Josh McDaniels’ offense the last two seasons. While Mullens is more established, he has appeared in 20 NFL games, starting 17 and throwing 26 touchdowns.

Watch who takes the first pitch first. Then how long each plays and of course how they command the attack.

3. Offensive line makeup

The only spot on the Raiders offensive line that is definitely locked down is Kolton Miller at left tackle. Every other spot is technically up for grabs.

Watch to see who lines up where and when. More precisely on the right side, where the guard and the plywood are completely unset.

Denzelle Good’s surprise retirement really opened up the right guard position, while right tackle just didn’t make anyone grab the position and not let go.

In the mix from RT include Alex Leatherwood, Brandon Parker, Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Munford. As for RG, Lester Cotton Sr has been given an opportunity to keep a starting job, but will have to hold off rookie Dylan Parham, Alex Bars, and maybe Leatherwood or Eluemunor, depending on which one he loses RT post.

And while we might not be able to give these guys too much credit if they stick with the second and third team backs, if they struggle, that certainly won’t bode well for them.

4. Filling the corners

Like the wide receiver corps, two of the three starting spots appear set. In this case, it’s Rock Ya-Sin and Nate Hobbs whose spots are safe.

The questions primarily come where the team lines up Hobbs. He was outstanding in the slot as a rookie last season, so much so that with Trayvon Mullen out with an injury, Hobbs was seen lining up on the outside at times as well.

Will they line him up on the outside in the game? If so, who takes his place in the slot? If not, who starts opposite Ya-Sin at outside corner? The battle for playing time among who will suit up tonight appears to be primarily between Anthony Averett, Darius Phillips and Amik Robertson. But there’s still a chance some of the others will win a few clips as well.

5. Opportunities at linebacker

This week, two of the Raiders’ top free agent additions at linebacker were lost for the season. Both Kyler Fackrell and Micah Kizer were sent to injured reserve, leaving the team scrambling to find a suitable replacement.

While Divine Deablo and Jayon Brown are the top two candidates for playing time at outside linebacker, there are now only two other outside linebackers listed at OLB – Kenny Young and Luke Masterson.

Losing players to injury is part of the game. When that happens, players like Young and Masterson get greater opportunities to earn a roster spot and prove they can contribute. For them, special teams work becomes just as important, if not more so, than their play at linebacker.

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