As a whole, the Las Vegas Raiders looked sharp in their first preseason game, handily defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-7. However, this time of year, the scoreboard is significantly less important than what’s actually happening on the field.
The wins and losses don’t count but each player’s performance helps determine what type of role they’ll have on the team, if any. For some, the difference between the amount of good and bad reps determines where they land on the Week 1 depth chart while other players are fighting just to keep their roster spot.
So, now that the Raiders’ attention shifts to the Los Angeles Rams for Week 2 of the preseason, which players need a bounce-back performance in Los Angeles?
It’s been well-documented that Zamir White has a huge opportunity in front of him this month while Josh Jacobs is away from the team. However, White is struggling to make the most of it.
It’s not a good sign that Las Vegas has brought in a couple of running backs—Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson—during training camp. That probably means the coaching staff isn’t liking what they’re seeing from White, and he struggled to create yards against the 49ers.
The Georiga product had 43 yards on 13 carries which comes out to an average of just 3.3 yards per attempt and a lot of that was due to the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 2.15 yards after contact per rush which ranked 55th out of 98 qualifying running backs over the weekend. For comparison’s sake, Josh Jacobs averaged 3.40 and was 11th-best in the metric during the 2022 regular season.
White also only forced one missed tackle on his 13 carries and while 34 other backs had the same amount, the biggest difference is he had the most attempts out of that group and just one other player even cracked double-digits.
Putting it simply, he needs to show more elusiveness this Saturday to build the case that he can take over as the team’s lead back.
Amik Robertson didn’t play terribly against the 49ers as he was targeted just once on 14 coverage snaps. But the problem is, that one pass went for a 24-yard completion and he was a ghost for the rest of the game.
Las Vegas’ cornerback room is crowded and Robertson is on the chopping block. Also, this is a big season for him as he’s in a contract year and is building a case to earn raise in the offseason, whether that’s from the Raiders or another team. So, preventing a few completions against the Rams could have an impact on the fourth-year pro’s bank account.
Nesta Jade Silvera
After generating a lot of buzz before the game last week, Nesta Jade Silvera was pretty quiet when the lights got bright. He did have a couple of tackles and a pressure on 22 snaps but neither were very impactful as he earned a sub-par 52.5 grade from PFF.
In college, the Arizona State product was known for his run defense, however, he was struggling to hold his ground last Sunday and a 51.3 PFF grade as a run defender reflects that.
Making the team as a seventh-round pick is an uphill battle and Silvera needs to show up on tape—in a good way—more frequently than he did last weekend.
One area where Darien Butler really struggled last season was with missed tackles. He had nine misses on 29 percent of his attempts during the 2022 preseason and had a couple more at a 40 percent clip in a much smaller sample size during the regular season. Against the 49ers, he only had one whiff but on five attempts for a still way-too-high rate of 20 percent.
Butler is battling for a roster spot and can’t afford to have the same issues as a year ago. The Raiders brought in a handful of linebackers in the offseason, one of them being undrafted free agent Drake Thomas, who made all three of his tackle attempts on Sunday.
Among other backers, those two are locked in a competition to make the 53-man squad and right now, Thomas has the lead.
At 6’5” and 215 pounds, Cam Sims has a significant competitive advantage over the other receivers fighting for a roster spot in Las Vegas. Most of the other guys are the smaller and quicker type of wideouts while he can be more of a red zone threat, especially seeing as he’s caught 15 of 26 contested targets during his career.
However, Sims has to show up on the stat sheet which he didn’t do last weekend, running eight routes without drawing a single target. That’s not ideal for a wideout who is trying to stand out among the pack—more than just physically—and make the team.
Granted, the six-year veteran primarily played in the second half when the Raiders had a big lead and were running the ball more frequently. So, he does have a decent excuse for not being productive, but he’s also running out of time with just two more contests to prove himself.