Raiders Camp Battles: Young LB Could Push Brandon Marshall for Starting Spot

Editor's note: We'll take a look at several Raiders training camp battles leading up to the first full-squad practice on Saturday, and then we'll update their progress throughout the preseason. Let's get into the fourth one, focusing on strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have had mixed results bringing veteran linebackers into the fray. They're hoping Brandon Marshall can help the position group coming off a 2018 season in Denver hindered by injury.

He also lost a starting spot in the middle after regaining health, so there are obvious question marks about he'll perform moving forward with the Raiders.

The offseason program didn't offer clues.

The veteran wasn't active during a session open to the press until the last day, and that was an abbreviated practice.

He has had a long, distinguished career, and plays with immense confidence and pride, making it impossible to count him out of anything. He could come back strong when training camp begins this week.

At this point, however, there's a lot we just don't know. 

If he falters even a little, Marquel Lee could capitalize on the opening. The 2017 fifth-round pick has had starting spots at middle linebacker and lost them, though he showed better after moving to the strong side last season.

With Vontaze Burfict set to start in the middle and Tahir Whitehead a three-down player best fit on the weak side, the strong side seems to be the spot this position battle could be waged.

This is also one that's tough to handicap until we see Marshall in action. The Raiders would prefer he line up with Burfict and Whitehead, even with Marshall historically playing in the middle. They need sure tackling and Marshall has been good at that, with the size to play any linebacker spot.

Marshall is a Las Vegas native who would love to parlay his one-year deal into an opportunity to play in his hometown next year, but he'll have to earn his spot this season and fend off challenges from younger linebackers like Lee.

Early edge: Marshall

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