Friday night’s Raiders preseason opener against the visiting St. Louis Rams will give Oakland fans a first glimpse at their new-look team.
Players such as wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. will make their debuts in silver and black.
Just don’t expect many of the Raiders’ key players to be on the O.co Coliseum field for more than a few series in the first quarter (the game kicks off at 7). Plus, some important newcomers – such as rookie tight end Clive Walford – aren’t expected to play. Because of an injury at the start of camp, Walford just recently returned to the field.
The first preseason game, however, will give Raiders fans plenty of chances to watch rookies and veteran backups state their cases for why they belong on the roster.
Yet to new head coach Jack Del Rio, Friday night’s game is important. It’s an extension of the first two weeks of training camp and a bridge to the regular season. Even though quarterback Derek Carr, running back Latavius Murray and safety Charles Woodson may not play many snaps, Del Rio said this week that the game is important to keep the Raiders on the right track and continue the momentum and positive energy from practices. Del Rio and the coaching staff want to see competitive fire coming from the likes of QBs Christian Ponder and Matt McGloin, running back Trent Richardson and a young cornerback corps.
“Just want to be sharp,” Del Rio told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “Just want to play crisp football, execute all the phases. We’re looking to put a good showing out there. We want to make sure we continue to prepare that way.
“We’re looking, really, to flatten it out, to have a few less of the ups and downs. … We’re really trying to flatten out our performance and make sure it just stays at a high level and that we remain consistent in what we’re doing.”