Training Camp is a go; the season is questionable, but ultimately, the possibility of having an NFL season looks very good. Training camp is the time for all the players, especially the young guns, to get into shape and show their skills to their team. The best part about camp is the battles; whether two players are battling for a starting spot; or backups are competing for a roster spot, each season comes with some battles that are worthy of watching. The Raiders have their fair share of them to watch…
Backup Edge Rusher
Carl Nassib vs Arden Key
Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell are locked in as the starters, but starters always need some time to rest during the game. Which comes the question; who is that guy for the Raiders? Is it third year man Arden Key? Or will it be the newly acquired Carl Nassib?
Nassib is a fifth year player from Penn State, who spent his first two years in Cleveland, and the previous two in Tampa. He brings a decent resume, with 18 career sacks, 31 TFL’s. and has started 32 of his 59 games played.
Key is a third year player from LSU, who has severely underwhelmed, as he only registered one sack in his first season, in which he started 10 of 16 games. Last season was riddle with injuries, and he only played seven games and registered two sacks.
My personal belief is that Nassib will win the role, as he signed a three year deal worth $25 million. You don’t sign a guy to that type of money to sit on a bench. He’ll be the first rotational guy. Key will get some very limited snaps. Both will see action, but expect to see a lot of Carl Nassib this season.
Prince Amukamara vs Damon Arnette
Trayvon Mullen is locked in at RCB, and Lamarcus Joyner is locked in at slot, which leaves the left side up for debate. This is a tale of the wily veteran versus the youngblood rookie.
Amukamara is entering his 10th season in the league, and joins the Raiders this season after stops in New York, Jacksonville, and Chicago. A seasoned veteran, Amukamara has started 99 of the 113 games he has played in his career, and has 10 interceptions in his career. His lack of play making is concerning, as he only averages one interception a season.
Arnette entered as a surprise first round selection, as many draft analysts had him keyed as a second round or later talent; but the Raiders selected him with the 19th pick. Arnette has playmaking ability, with five interceptions in his college career, and 22 defended passes. He wasn’t burnt often, and was often tasked with locking down opposing #1 receivers.
My personal belief is that the starting job goes to the veteran. Amukamara is only 31 and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. He can still defend some of the best receivers in the game, and should take the starting spot. Where does that leave Arnette? He’ll likely see some time in dime packages, and could find some snaps on the outside in case of injury.
Derek Carr vs Marcus Mariota
Now, hang on. Before you go all crazy… hear me out. Marcus Mariota still has the talent to start in the NFL. Jon Gruden is damn genius and signed him for a reason. While Derek Carr’s stats aren’t bad, his performances haven’t led to wins in crunch time. Mariota went through a tough time last season, losing his starting job to Ryan Tannehill, thus ending his era in Tennessee.
Mariota will push Carr to finally get back to his 2016 form; and if he can’t get there, his time may likely end. This was a smart move on Gruden’s part, to bring another veteran in to challenge his incumbent starter.
I believe Carr rises to the challenge and retains his starting job, but don’t be surprised if you see Mariota get some snaps on some special packages.
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