Tonight the Raiders welcome the Green Bay Packers to Oakland for their third preseason game. It’s the third time the Raiders have faced the Packers in the preseason in Reggie McKenzie’s tenure as Raiders GM. But the first time they’ve come to Oakland instead of McKenzie taking to trip to his long time home at Lambeau.
(Yes, I know the Packers came to Oakland in the regular season in 2015.)
Here’s what to watch for.
1. Longest look at 2018 starters
While it won’t be the usual case for a third preseason game in which the starters would play the entire first half and possible even into the third quarter, this will be the longest we will see the expected starters to play this preseason.
The first team will start the game and play into the second quarter. The running backs Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin — who have a combined 6 snaps this preseason with one carry each — should see a couple series.
It’s not much, but it will have to tide you over until the season opener on September 10th because when they exit this game, that’s the next time you’ll see them.
2. Pack backups
The Packers, on the other hand, are reportedly not fielding their starters. That means no Aaron Rodgers which mean the Raiders’ shaky secondary will have not seen a starting quarterback once this preseason. The Lions didn’t play Matt Stafford, the Rams didn’t field any starters, including Jared Goff, and now the Packers will field their backups too. Not the best way to prepare these guys for the regular season.
3. Jordy Nelson versus the team that gave up on him
This offseason, much to the chagrin of Aaron Rodgers, made Jordy Nelson a ‘cap casualty’. That means they didn’t think he talent level could justify his contract, so they cut him. Nelson had a down season. And apparently having Brett Hundley at quarterback was not considered as the problem, but rather it must be that Nelson, at the age of 33 is done. He’s lost a step.
The Raiders and Nelson’s former OC and WR coach Edgar Bennett disagreed with that assessment and gave him the money they were giving to Michael Crabtree. I’m not here to tell you Nelson will absolutely play at the level we had come to know from him. I will tell you he looked great in camp. And he will be eager to show his former team he’s still got it.
4. Arden Key cut loose
His much anticipated first game was last week against the Rams. But he only played nine snaps, and only on third down. He was probably out of his mind excited to show the fans and his coaches what he could do. That can cause a player to lose their discipline and get frustrated when they don’t see instant results. More frustrating, I’m sure, was watching his fellow drafted defensive linemen PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst get their first sacks.
Key will see a lot more time in this game. He will play more than just on third down and get a chance to get into a groove. I’ve seen what he can do firsthand in camp. He was destroying every tackle in his path in pass rush drills. I can’t wait for you all to see it too.
5. Do Raiders have worthy backup QB?
Right now it seems the assumption would be since the Raiders have three quarterbacks, those three quarterbacks will be the three they take into the season. The problem is, neither Connor Cook nor EJ Manuel has proven they can be the guy. Cook had a solid first game of the preseason and then looked dreadful last week against Rams backups. Manuel has ranged from awful to ‘meh’ in both games.
Do the coaches really just settle for the lesser of the evils? Or does Gruden need to see one or both of them figure things out if they want to make the team? I don’t anything is a given at this point. One of these guys has to turn things around or the Raiders may have to scan the waiver wire on cutdown day for a backup quarterback.