The Starters for starters
Often times the final preseason game will not have any of the for sure starters playing in the game. Sometimes, they will suit up and play maybe a series and then give way to the second team. On one hand, with a new coaching staff in place, and a few new and young players added to the squad, they could take every opportunity to put them on the field in a gameday scenario. On the other hand, if a starter were to get injured on a single drive in the preseason, that would not be a good look.
My prediction is we won't see guys like Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Michael Crabtree, Rodney Hudson, Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Khalil Mack, Dan Williams, Curtis Lofton, Malcolm Smith, Charles Woodson, or Nate Allen play. But that's just my prediction. Despite being a starter, Amari Cooper should see some time because he is a rookie.
Austin Howard gets his first start at right tackle
Here we go. Menelik Watson had won the starting right tackle job, but he was lost for the season last week with a ruptured Achilles tendon. That leaves the job to the $6.4 million man, "Steve" Austin Howard.
Right tackle is where Howard lined up for two seasons with the Jets prior to signing with the Raiders. He was known for being a good run blocker, which prompted former Oline coach Tony Sparano to move him to guard. But Howard was never a great pass blocker. And at tackle, pass blocking is kinda important.
Howard has struggled this preseason keeping second team defenders out of the backfield. That is what he will face mostly in this game. If he can't handle it, there should be serious concern about his ability to block first team defenders in the regular season.
There will be battles to be inside the roster bubble at nearly every position group. The running back position is still shaking out, the offensive line is not settled, neither is the defensive line, and the group of young cornerbacks has at least one open spot on it unclaimed. This is a much bigger discussion than can be summed up in one paragraph, so see all the bubble players to watch for here.
What role will Sio Moore play?
Sio came back from injury for the week leading up to lasts week's game and only saw snaps on special teams. It seems reasonable with second and third teamers getting a lot of work that he would play on defense. Though his entry to the game on defense may not happen until the second half. The former starter is being asked to earn his spot on the team and is currently stuck behind Malcolm Smith at weakside linebacker.
Welcome Lorenzo Alexander
The Raiders made their first free agent out of the roster cuts from other teams this week. Last Sunday, Alexander was on the other side of the football. In that game, the former Pro Bowl special teams ace impressed the Raiders with two tackles on special teams and a tackle on defense. Now he makes his debut for his hometown Raiders and we should see him on special teams against the Seahawks.
Who's one first Christian Ponder or Matt McGloin version 4.0
All preseason, Ponder and McGloin have (supposedly) been in a battle for the back-up spot behind Derek Carr. Ponder came with all the familiarity with offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave. And by most accounts he has been outplayed by Matt McGloin. Still, Ponder trots out as the second team quarterback every practice and every game.
This is the last chance this preseason to see if the Raiders give McGloin a shot to enter the game with the second team, facing the Seahawks second team defense.
Wide receiver depth check
Since the Raiders added Michael Crabtree and drafted Amari Cooper, the Raiders' wide receiver group has looked to be the deepest it has been in years. The mere fact that the team cut last year's catch leader James Jones this offseason and recently cut Kenbrell Thompkins who started 6 games last season is some proof of that.
Andre Holmes led the team in receiving yards last season, and his spot has not been secure either. He is currently out with a broken hand. Rod Streater was once the team's top receiver and he is now third or fourth on the depth chart. He and preseason leading receiver Brice Butler should see a lot of time in this game. Seth Roberts is clinging to a roster spot as well and looks to get a stronger grip on his roster spot.
Jon Feliciano center of attention
All training camp and preseason, Tony Bergstrom has been the backup center. But if they keep Bergstrom, the team would likely be keeping at least nine offensive linemen. Feliciano can play the center position. It's the only position he played in the team's rookie minicamp last May because they had no other players at the camp who had lined up there. Since then, he has only played guard and Lamar Mady has been the third team center.
Mady was cut this week so don't be surprised if Feliciano steps in to play center at some point in this game. Roster spots are at a premium and Feliciano being able to back up all three interior line spots would make him extremely valuable. It's also less likely the team would consider cutting a fourth round rookie than a fourth-year lineman who hasn't even appeared in a game the past two seasons.
Benson Mayowa jack of all trades vs former team
Just like the Raiders did with signing Lorenzo Alexander from the Cardinals, they claimed Benson Mayowa off waivers from the Seahawks after playing them in the final preseason game last year. Mayowa spent the entire season with the Raiders and looked decent at times. Now he returns to face the team that gave him his shot in the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013. His defensive coordinator, Ken Norton Jr recently had this to say about Mayowa:
"Benson is fantastic," said Norton. "I've tried him out at SAM linebacker. He's played defensive end, Leo position. He's all over our special teams. He's very versatile. He's the type of player that has the flexibility to play different positions. When you have a guy like that, you have a pretty good team."
Ken Norton vs his mentor
Mayowa isn't the only one set to face his former team. Ken Norton Jr will be on the opposite sideline from the man who was his coaching mentor going all the way back to their days at USC 11 years ago. Norton was a linebackers coach for Carrol both at USC for six years and with the Seahawks for the past five years, including their 2013 Super Bowl winning season. When Jack Del Rio came calling to make Norton as his next defensive coordinator, Carrol let Norton go with his blessing.