The Las Vegas Raiders training-camp work gets cranked up a big notch as they will travel to Thousand Oaks, Calif. for two days of scrimmage work with the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday and Thursday prior to playing against the Rams at SoFi Stadium on Saturday night.
Arguably, the work during the next two days will be as important for the Raiders as the game itself and it may also rival the importance of the preseason finale on August 29 at the San Francisco 49ers.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden and his staff is taking the work with the Rams extremely seriously. Surely, it will be a bigger deal than the Raiders’ 20-7 home win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.
Gruden held out 25 players (including an estimated 17 starters) from the game. Most of the starting offense and defense did not play. Just as importantly, the Seahawks held out 31 players from the game, so, there was essentially no regular-season feel to the game.
The practice work with the Rams should be a different story as most starters for both teams will likely practice. Of course, no scores will be counted, but the work will be vital. Let’s look at some key aspects for the Raiders.
Ruggs and Edwards: The two projected starting wide receivers didn’t play against Seattle. In some regards, that surprised me, because the Raiders want to get them a lot of work this summer as they both need to make huge strides this season. But, both players have looked good in training camp and the Raiders feel good about them. Still, Ruggs and Edwards need to show out against the Rams. It will be a challenge, of course, with all-world cornerback Jalen Ramsey playing cornerback for the Rams. Los Angeles has a solid overall secondary, so this will be a fun challenge for Ruggs and Edwards.
Offensive line: Center Andre James and right tackle Alex Leatherwood were the only projected starters to play against Seattle. So, this entire unit will need the work against the Rams. Of course, they will be going up against Rams’ defensive lineman Aaron Donald, one of the baddest men on the planet. We should get a good feel where this new-look offensive line is at after this week.
The secondary: Some of the top-end secondary members played against Seattle, including second-round pick, safety Tre’von Moehrig. There is still a lot to shake at in this unit, especially at cornerback. It will be interesting to see how the Raiders attack the Rams’ excellent staple of wide receivers and against strong-armed quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The pass-rush: Top Las Vegas pass-rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby didn’t play against the Seahawks. So, we have yet to see the Raiders’ duo together. The Rams have a beatable offensive line, so Ngakoue and Crosby should have some success this week.
Bradley’s scheme: One of the things that most impressed me about the Seattle game was the overall scheme of new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. While most of the backups played, it was still noticeable that the unit looks improved and is in a better overall position to make plays than in the past. It will be interesting to see how the unit, as a whole, looks with consistent work against Sean McVay’s offense.