The Oakland Raiders will play their final preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks tonight. The fourth preseason game is usually an afterthought because the starters do not play much or at all. However, for Oakland, the game will provide the coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate key players one last time before trimming the roster to the final 53 players. Here are the players to watch Thursday night.
With quarterback Matt Schaub not playing due to an elbow issue, the Raiders will start Derek Carr. This is an important game for Carr because he will have the chance to play significant time with some members of the first team. With Schaub unable to impress so far in the preseason, Carr has a chance to force the coaching staff to look at him as a potential option at quarterback. He did not play in the third preseason game which gives even more importance to this start as far as experience and development. Quarterback Matt McGloin will also see serious time in the game to try and continue his terrific preseason performance. With Schaub's shaky performances, both McGloin and Carr can take advantage with strong outings.
The Oakland wide receivers have struggled this preseason. They have dropped balls and failed to get separation from defenders. This will be their final opportunity to correct the mistakes before the regular season. In particular, the preseason finale is important for Brice Butler and Greg Little. Both are trying to solidify a spot on the final roster. Butler has had an ultra-productive preseason so far and has a chance to leave little doubt about his roster security with another strong performance. Little has been up and down this preseason and needs to show more consistency. This game is his last chance to make an impression.
This is an area the Raiders invested in this offseason, bringing in several new players. The unit has done a nice job in the run game to open holes and impose their will physically. The issue has been pass protection. In the past two preseason games, the offensive line has struggled to keep pressure off the quarterback. They still need to work on playing together and correcting the protection breakdowns. This is another opportunity to get the starting unit of the field to progress.
This is a position where the Raiders are still doing copious amounts of evaluation. With DJ Hayden placed on the physically unable to perform list, the Raiders are searching for a cornerback to step up and be part of their regular season rotation. Neiko Thorpe and T.J. Carrie are the two players battling for that spot. Both have done some nice things in the preseason and the coaches have raved about both in practice. Now, they have added pressure to rise to the challenge and make an impact so the Raiders feel more comfortable putting them on the field when the games count.
Roster Bubble Players
The Raiders have said since the preseason began they would put more emphasis on performances in games then in practice. This is the last opportunity for players fighting for a roster spot to leave a mark. The Raiders have players on defense like linebackers Kaluka Maiava and Kaelin Burnett as well as Shelby Harris who have a chance at a roster spot. On offense, linemen like Tony Bergstrom and wide receiver Greg Little need big games to make the coaches consider them.
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