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Raiders-Cowboys preseason: 5 things to watch

Final tune-up game is Saturday

NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders
Tre Tucker
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders end the preseason Saturday night at the Dallas Cowboys. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. PT.

Here are five things to watch:

Tre Tucker’s hands:

The third-round pick (he was the compensation in the Darren Waller trade with the New York Giants) has been uneven in the preseason. After getting praise for his work in training camp, the speedy Cincinnati product had three drops in the first two preseason games. Tucker has also made some plays. But he needs to show the team he can be trusted before they start counting on him in the regular season. He needs to show that in this game.

Aidan O’Connell:

The rookie quarterback has been fun to watch. He has been one of the best stories in the entire NFL this preseason. The fourth-round draft pick from Purdue has put together two excellent games in the preseason. If he performs well in this game, there’s likely a strong chance he will become the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Jimmy Garoppolo in Las Vegas, beating out veteran Brian Hoyer, who struggled against the Rams last week.

Young defenders:

There are several young players on this unit who are trying to win roles and even roster spots. It’s a key game for players such as defensive lineman Malcolm Koonce and Mathew Butler, linebacker Drake Thomas and cornerback Amik Robertson. Roster decisions hang in the balance.

The receivers:

There is, of course, roster battles everywhere, annd one of the more interesting competitions is at wide receiver. Las Vegas is very deep and is going to have a tough call to make when the 53-man roster much be set Tuesday. They will likely keep six wide receivers and there are probably two spots open with Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Renfrow and Tucker securing four spots. That leaves these players fighting for no more than two roster spots: DeAndre Carter, Keelan Cole, Cam Sims, Phillip Dorsett, Chris Lacy, Kristian Wilkerson and Isaiah Zuber. The decisions could be based on what happens in this game.

Go for the win:

The Raiders have been preseason gods under Josh McDaniels. They are 6-0 in the preseason since he took over last year. The Raiders have outscored the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams by a total score of 68-24 in the preseason. Winning in the preseason matters to McDaniels. Let’s see if he can finish another perfect August.