They are 3-9 and riddled by injuries. Yes, the offense is a mess and yes, the team sorely misses injured superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is out with an ankle injury. Yet, the Rams’ defense is still pretty solid, led by linebacker Bobby Wagner and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
As they prepare to play at the Rams on Thursday night, the Raiders’ offense, which has been explosive during their current three-game winning streak, knows they will face a challenge.
“I mean, they still are playing really good football, they’re flying around,” Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr said this week about the Rams’ defense. They have obviously some of the biggest names on the defensive side of the ball that you could ever see on the football field. And they got guys playing at high level, last week especially. They didn’t get the win, but they’re still doing a lot of really good things. And so, it’s going to be a really good challenge for us, a really good challenge for all three levels for us as an offense. You see them flying around, you see the disguise, and certain things that they’re able to do because of the group they have had play together and all that kind of stuff. So, it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
Carr knows he has to be careful with Wagner, the longtime Seattle Seahawks star who Carr and Raiders’ star wide receiver Davante Adams faced when they were in college at Fresno State. Wagner has 97 tackles and five sacks this season.
“Bobby has been playing at a high level since my sophomore year at Utah State, when we played him at home, and he made every tackle in the football game,” Carr said. “And so, at the time, I didn’t know his draft position, or ranking, or any of that kind of stuff. But all I knew is like this guy finds the football. And now he’s put together a Hall of Fame type career, and it’s fun to see him. There’s not many of us from the WAC Conference anymore and so to see him still playing at a high level like he is, especially last week, I mean, my goodness. He literally did everything all over the field. I’m not shocked, I’m not surprised. But it was really fun to watch. It’ll be fun to compete against him, it always is, because he’s one of the best linebackers to ever play our game. Going against him is always a tough challenge, and it’ll be fun.”
Both Carr and Adams are preparing for Ramsey, who often moves around the field.
Adams has been on a major tear and he is excited to face Ramsey. Adams has 41 catches for 674 yards and seven touchdowns in the past five games. Naturally, his confidence is high and he’s looking forward to facing Ramsey as much as possible.
“We’ve played against each other a couple of times. It never ends up panning out like the heavyweight battle everybody hypes it up to be going into the week, just based off the scheme,” Adams said. “Obviously, every offense that I’ve been in I’ve moved around a lot, which I can’t do anything about, nor can he. He can only do what the defensive call is. But anytime we do get opportunity to go one-on-one it’s something that is a fun matchup when you got two guys that are known to go at it a little bit.”
If the Raiders can have success against the Rams’ defense, it will go a long way to a fourth straight win.