The Las Vegas Raiders, 3-0, close out the preseason Friday night against the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff is set for 5:15 p.m. PT.
Let’s look at some keys to the game:
The offensive line:
Of course it is. This has been the primary focus of training camp and the preseason games. Of course, the Raiders have competition at both guard spots and at right tackle. Coach Josh McDaniels and his staff has tinkered with several line combinations in the first the preseason games and that will likely continue in this game. Jobs may be won and lost in this game.
The backup wide receivers:
The Raiders are deep at wide receiver and could keep six on the roster. Keelan Cole, DJ Turner and Tyron Johnson have all flashed in the preseason and in training camp. They all could seal their fates in a positive way in this game.
The Raiders would like to have some solid pass-rush options behind stars Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. Tashawn Bower had a big game last week at Miami and should lock down a roster spot with another strong performance against the Patriots. Third-year player Malcolm Koonce has had his moments as well in the preseason and could use another good game. But he is very likely safe. With season-ending injuries to Kyler Fackrell and Jordan Jenkins, Las Vegas wants to make sure they have a solid depth here so good games are important or it could be a position the Raiders address on the waiver wire next week.
The Raiders signed veteran linebacker Tae Davis this week after after he was released by Houston. They also have undrafted free agents Luke Masterson and Darien Butler vying for a backup spot. This game should be vital for all three of these players. The Raiders like Butler a lot but he’d had some missed tackles in the preseason, so if he is going to make the 53-man roster, he needs to clean it up against New England.
More of the same:
The best thing about the Raiders in the preseason is how clean they have played in all three games. They have committed just 12 penalties and have no turnovers in three games. The team has looked crisp and prepared. That’s a great sign headed to the regular season.