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Raiders players to watch in preseason opener

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At 7:00pm tonight, the Raiders will open their preseason in Arizona against the Cardinals with a lot of players looking to make their mark.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason games can be exciting to watch for those who are looking to get an idea of who is pushing for a roster spot and those who may be considered the future of the team. That especially holds true in the first preseason, where the 2nd team and beyond will see most of the snaps.

Here are a few players who are pushing to secure their position on the roster or who are on the bubble.

DJ Hayden -€” Hayden has transitioned to slot cornerback and has done well in camp thus far. He still has to a tough battle to fend off incumbent slot corner, TJ Carrie. Nothing Hayden does in camp will mean anything if he struggles in live action.

Menelik Watson - He has held down the starting right tackle job throughout the offseason and training camp. He did last year as well, but was lost for the season before it began. Austin Howard started in his place most of last season, showing little drop-off, so Watson must continue to be at the top of his game.

Dewey McDonald -€”McDonald saw some first team reps this offseason with Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson not participating. After signing with the team late last season, Jack Del Rio has liked what he's seen. Karl Joseph is not sure if he will play. If he doesn't, it will likely be McDonald who starts in his place.

Jon Feliciano -€” When Rodney Hudson leaves the field as the first team center, Felciano figures to be the one to replace him. It will be the first time Feliciano has played center at the NFL level. The Raiders are looking to him as their utility interior lineman, so it's possible we see him at multiple spots in the game.

James Cowser -€” He was considered a potential mid round talent who somehow fell out of the draft. He has impressed thus far as a pass rusher, working his way up to second team defensive end.

Keith McGill -€” The team switched this former 4th round pick to safety as they think it gives him a better shot at seeing the field. He has not risen up the depth chart and has not stood out in camp. He is playing for his roster life this preseason.

Dexter McDonald -€”McDonald was a 7th round pick by the Raiders in 2015, appearing in six games as a rookie The cornerback unit was the weakest on the team last year. Not the case this year, making earning a spot that much more difficult.

Johnny Holton -€” The talk of training camp. He has been by far the best of the undrafted rookie receivers.

Gabe Holmes -€” Holmes is entering his second camp after impressing coaches last year. The Raiders have been developing him since last year and get their first live game look at how he's come along.

Andre Holmes -€” He's still here because the team has no other receiver like him. His height and length make him a mismatch on jump balls, while his instincts and hands aren't quite up to par.

KJ Brent -€” At 6-3, 202, he is the receiver on the current roster with the best shot at unseating Andre Holmes. If not, he could make a case for the practice squad. Brent has made some nice plays in camp and looked fairly consistent.

Joe Hansley, Jaydon Mickens -€” These undrafted rookies were the hot topic in the offseason. They haven't stood out much in camp, but could make up for it in games. Perhaps just as important will be their work in the return game. Both are battling for the punt return job.

Drafted rookies:

Karl Joseph -- (updated) Joseph was talking as if it was unlikely he would play in this game. The team has been taking it slow with his injured ACL. He will dress for the game and could play. First we watch to see if he takes the field. If he does, we will look for him to lay some wood.

Jihad Ward -€” The starting DT throughout camp, he has shown some strong pass rush.

Shilique Calhoun -€” His pass rush from the outside linebacker spot has been good, but his coverage skills have been lacking.

Connor Cook -€” Early in camp, he was very erratic. He has since settled down. We'll see if that continues in the game.

DeAndre Washington -€” Highly anticipating seeing what he can do against an opposing defense. He may even get a couple snaps with that first team offensive line.

Cory James -€” The team's sixth round draft choice. He has been the next man up behind Ben Heeney at middle linebacker, but has limited experience there. These preseason games loom large for the team's confidence in him as the primary backup at MIKE.

Vadal Alexander -€” Alexander can play tackle or guard. That versatility could be his ticket to the roster. He is the team's rookie seventh round pick.