Let’s look at some keys to the game:
The offensive line:
It’s an ongoing theme. The offensive line has been the primary storyline of training camp and in the first half of the preseason. The coaching staff has tinkered a lot. It appears Lester Cotton and John Simpson are going to be the starting guards although nothing is official. At right tackle, seventh-round draft pick Thayer Munford started last week and 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood played in the second half. It will be very fascinating to see what happens this week. If Munford, an Ohio State product, starts again, one would think he has a real chance to start Week 1 at the Los Angeles Chargers. So, this unit deserves close attention again in this game.
The running game:
The Raiders ran for 159 yards in the Hall of Fame Game against Jacksonville on Aug. 4. But the run game stalled in the first half against Minnesota last Sunday. Yet, in the second half Brittain Brown and Austin Walter both ran well. They are both fighting for a roster spot. It will be important to see continued progress from fourth-round pick Zamir White and Kenyan Drake, who may be on the roster bubble himself. White, of course, is safe and has a chance to contribute early. It won’t be a surprise if starter Josh Jacobs plays again after sitting out against Minnesota.
The Las Vegas defense needs to tighten up some. The Vikings had 115 yards on the ground and had some big chunk plays in the first half. It’s nothing to be alarmed about, but making progress in this area would be helpful in this game.
More of the same:
The most impressive aspect of the Raiders’ preseason thus far is how clean the team has played overall. It has been very crisp, which is unusual for preseason play. The Raiders have had just 10 penalties in two games and have not committed any turnovers. This is a solid sign that what the coaching staff is doing in training camp is working. It’s an exciting, positive sign.
The backup receivers:
The Raiders appear to be pretty deep at wide receiver and some good players may get cut (it has already started with Demarcus Robinson). Two players to watch at the position are Tyron Johnson and DJ Turner. Johnson played a ton against Minnesota and Turner was a standout in the game both as a receiver and punt returner. If these two guys have big games against the Dolphins, it will make things very interesting.