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Raiders vs. Jaguars: 5 things to watch

First preseason game is tonight

NFL Combine
Dylan Parham
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders kick off the preseason schedule Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.

Like most first preseason games, don't expect to see many (if any) snaps played by the Raiders' premier players. It should be the usual first-game preseason plan as Josh McDaniels kicks off his Raiders' coaching career in the same stadium he played quarterback in high school for his father, Thom.

Let's look at keys to the game for Las Vegas:

The offensive line:

McDaniels has said some starters could play some against the Jaguars. That may mean some possible starters on the offensive line will get some reps in this game. The competition at the offensive line is the most serious on the roster where both starting guard spots and one tackle job is open. So we may see some players like Brandon Parker, Alex Leatherwood, Lester Cotton and, especially, third-round pick Dylan Parham play. We shouldn't make any conclusions after this game about the offensive line (this battle is still way too early to do that), but it will be interesting to watch how these guys play against another defense.

The running backs:

It will be interesting to see what the running back rotation is in this game. I wouldn't think we will see much of Josh Jacobs and likely Kenyan Drake, considering he's coming off an injury. Fourth-round pick Zamir White practiced this week after being out several days and seventh-round pick Brittain Brown missed time as well this week. We may see a steady diet of Ameer Abdullah and maybe Brandon Bolden. We should see the true running back committee develop down the line.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Arizona
Darien Butler
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Darien Butler:

The undrafted rookie linebacker from Arizona State has had a good training camp and he has even got some first-team work in practices. I'd expect Butler (who played for new Las Vegas linebackers coach Antonio Pearce in college) to play a lot on defense and on special teams (where he stands out) in the preseason, likely starting tonight. All of the rookies will be in the spotlight in the preseason, but Butler is one to definitely keep an eye on.

The quarterbacks:

We probably won't see much of starter Derek Carr (and we shouldn't), so this game will likely be a rotation of Jarrett Stidham, Nick Mullens and undrafted rookie Chase Garbers. It seems like Stidham, who played for McDaniels in New England and who was traded to the Raiders this offseason, has the lead to be Carr's backup. But Mullens needs to have a good preseason to stick around on the 53-man roster and Garbers needs to show he belongs on the practice squad.

The basics:

We likely won't see much scheming by McDaniels on offense Patrick Graham on defense. It will be basic. But the coaches are looking for sound fundamental play from the players who will be on the field in an attempt to make the roster. The coaches want to see sound tackling, blocking, covering, catching and running. This will likely be a typical sloppy first preseason game, but the coaches want to see as clean early-August play as possible in this game.