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Raiders 2016 pre-camp season preview: Week 2 vs Atlanta Falcons

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We take a look at the 2016 Atlanta Falcons team the Raiders will face in Oakland week two.

After opening in New Orleans in week one, the Raiders return to Oakland for their home opener against the Falcons. It promises to be a packed house with Raiders fans eager to get their first up close and personal look at the team in which they have placed high hopes.

To live up to the newfound lofty expectations in Oakland, the Raiders will have to make their mark early in the season when they have the weakest strength of schedule in the league. But the Falcons had a better record than the Raiders in 2015, so they will be no pushover.

Falcons 2015 numbers:
Record: 8-8
Offense rank: 7th
Defense rank: 16th

This team is led by the duo of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Ryan has thrown for over 4500 yards each of the past four years. His favorite target is Jones who followed up a 2014 season in which he posted 1593 yards receiving with a phenomenal 2015 season as the NFL’s leading receiver with 1871 yards. They also have a pretty talented back in Devonta Freeman.

On defense, they leave a lot to be desired. As a team they had just 19.0 sacks and their sack leader was Vic Beasley with 4.0 sacks. They also didn’t have a single player go over 100 combined tackles. Their one 2015 Pro Bowler on defense was cornerback Desmond Trufant who had one interception and 11 passes defended.

You may see a theme among most of their offseason additions, most notably their draft picks -- that being defense. To give us the scoop on the Falcons goings on of late, we got the 411 from easily the best named SB Nation blog -- The Falcoholic.

Notable free agent additions: Alex Mack, Mohamed Sanu, Courtney Upshaw, Derrick Shelby

Notable free agent departures: They weren’t really free agents, but the team parted ways with veteran SS William Moore, WR Roddy White and DT Paul Soliai.

Trades: none

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: Strong safety Keanu Neal should start, LB Deion Jones is competing for the starting middle linebacker role, and fourth rounder De’Vondre Campbell is trying to earn the starting weakside linebacker spot.

Biggest offseason addition: Without question, Alex Mack. Atlanta’s interior line play was a liability last season, and having a center of Mack’s caliber to anchor the line should make a tremendous difference. The Falcons paid Mack accordingly, too.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Almost certainly the rookie linebackers. That position group has been a weakness for the Falcons, and in Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell, Atlanta added the speed Dan Quinn needs to execute his defense effectively. Both have opportunities to unseat veterans and earn starting roles.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: The kicker competition! No, seriously. Matt Bryant has been with the Falcons for years, and he’s won a lot of games for this team. Last year, he was significantly impacted by injury, landing on injured reserve toward the end of the season, and the Falcons will have an undrafted free agent rookie, Nick Rose, in camp who can challenge Bryant for the job.

Notable injuries heading into training camp: Devin Hester is continuing to recover from surgery to address the turf toe that sidelined him for a chunk of last season. Rookie Devin Fuller has been working through a hamstring injury. Right guard Chris Chester was dealing with a shoulder injury during OTAs and minicamp, and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has some tendinitis in his knee that slowed him down this offseason.