The Raiders open the preseason tonight in Minnesota. In preparation for their first live action, let's take a look at the positions battles to watch for this preseason.
Latavius Murray vs Kory Sheets vs Jeremy Stewart
Murray was the Raiders' sixth round pick last year. He looked decent early last preseason but was lost with injury and never returned. Stewart was on the bubble last year and Murray's injury all but ensured he made the team. Both of them now have tough competition from reigning Grey Cup MVP, Kory Sheets. So far, Murray is the leading candidate but with a game yet to be played, this is far from settled.
Greg Little vs Brice Butler
This receiving corps is deep but not top heavy. The top three spots are Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, and James Jones. Denarius Moore has the edge for the fourth spot. That leaves what could be just one more receiver spot to fill. Little has all the tools to be a great receiver but has serious lapses which cause key drops. The Browns were frustrated with him and cut ties with him. Butler was the Raiders' seventh round pick last season and has been very good this camp. Will Little be able to put it together? Will the Raiders be intrigued by his flashes of elite receiving skills or will they opt for the more sure-handed Butler? Definitely a battle to watch.
Khalif Barnes vs Gabe Jackson
Barnes came into camp as the favorite and that continues to be the case. But Jackson has also looked very good in camp. If the rookie third round pick shows up big in the preseason and Barnes falters, the Raiders could decide the future is now and give Jackson the nod.
Tony Bergstrom vs Kevin Boothe
This battle could be for a roster spot. Both players have worked as the primary backup at center and right guard. Most teams like to have one player to back up both positions which allows them to keep more depth at other positions. Therefore which of these two who wins the backup center job, wins a roster spot.
Brian Leonhardt vs Nick Kasa
This battle was once for a roster spot. But with the David Ausberry injury, there is a decent chance both make the squad. Leonhardt has the job right now with Kasa hoping he can make up some ground. If Kasa doesn't show improvement, the battle could end up being between him and undrafted rookies Jake Murphy and Scott Simonson.
Pat Sims vs Justin Ellis
Past Sims is the incumbent starter but Justin Ellis has looked very good in camp and continues to challenge for playing time. This is looking like a solid rotation this season. How much of a rotation will bear itself out in preseason.
Sio Moore vs Miles Burris
Burris has taken almost all the first team reps at weakside linebacker ahead of Sio Moore this off-season and training camp. First it was Moore being behind the curve in his switch from the strong side. Then Sio went down with a rib injury last week and has been eased back into things. Sio is still the favorite after being named to the All-rookie first team last season. But Burris is making this anything but a given. And this former starter may just take his job back altogether.
Chimdi Chekwa vs T.J. Carrie
Chekwa has earned his way with the Raiders over the past couple years and came in as the next corner off the bench after Tarell Brown, D.J. Hayden, and Carlos Rogers. But Hayden has been injured, moving Rogers into a starting role and Chekwa as the nickel corner. Then TJ Carrie began his daily tirade on the cornerback position, giving this seventh round rookie a real shot at some early playing time. Chekwa will have to really kick it up a notch to hold off the upstart rookie.