It’s August. It’s dry. It’s hot. It’s irritating. It must be close to football season.
This Friday will be the beginning of another long, exciting football season of the Oakland Raiders as they will play the St. Louis Rams in their first preseason game. After a busy offseason and more than a week of training camp, fans will finally be able to see what kind of progress their team has made since the end of last season.
The Raiders added offensive weapons, defensive depth as well as a new coach with a new system. Despite the preseason being another showcase for lesser-known players to show their worth before cuts, it’s always an exciting time to watch football on TV after a long dry summer.
Here are a few Raiders players to keep an eye on in week 1:
3. Amari Cooper
Fans around the league will be watching the young wide receiver all season, but Friday will be the first time they will see second year quarterback Derek Carr throw to the No. 4 overall pick in real game situations at full speed. The Raiders have not discussed how much the first team will play on Friday, but just a drive or two down field is going to be a joy to watch.
2. Michael Dyer
An undrafted rookie, Dyer has turned some heads in training camp, apparently. The Raiders have revamped their running back corp, letting go of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, while adding Roy Helu Jr., Trent Richardson and Dyer. With Latavius Murray the expected starter after an impressive stint last year, there’s a roster battle for that back up spot between Helu, Richardson and Dyer.
Richardson has had trouble keeping his weight down and Dyer has looked better during drills than Helu. I would keep an eye on all three, but more importantly the work done by Dyer.
1. D.J. Hayden
Hayden, unlike the other two, is not new to the Raiders. As a first round draft pick in 2013, his potential has been interrupted by injuries. In his first two seasons, he’s played in just 18 games after quickly becoming a starter his rookie season. With other corner backs competing for a roster spot, it seems Hayden could be pushed out of a starting spot if he doesn’t prove he belongs. Again, we don’t know how much he will get to play in the preseasons game, but paying attention to that CB depth chart could be interesting.