As the Oakland Raiders head into their second preseason game of the year, the position battles have become much more interesting with the flash flood of injuries that the Raiders have incurred recently. Specifically, the injuries to cornerback Chris Johnson, center Samson Satele and wide receiver Louis Murphy, the Raiders will need to take a serious look at their depth in those positions and evaluate talent heading into the regular season.
Samson Satele will likely not be playing in the game against the 49ers this Saturday after leaving practice early this week and having x-rays done on his leg. While coach Hue Jackson does not think the injury is serious, he will still need to take a good look at options along the offensive line just in case.
The injury means that rookie Stefan Wisniewski will be getting snaps as the first team center. Wisniewski had previously been working with the first team as the right guard, playing alongside Satele. Moving Wisniewski over means taking a look at other possible options at right guard. The most likely potential starters at right guard should Satele remain injured are second year player Bruce Campbell and veteran Cooper Carlisle.
Raiders fans are still waiting to see if the massive Campbell will be able to crack the starting lineup. Meanwhile, many thought former starter at right guard Cooper Carlisle would be cut this off season. However, he had a good game against the Cardinals last week and may be knocking on the door as the back up and potential starter should the injuries continue.
Currently, the only healthy wide receivers the Raiders have on their roster that stand a chance to get real playing time this year are Darrius Heyward-Bey, Nick Miller, Derek Hagan and rookie Denarius Moore. Hagan and Miller are both fighting for roster spots and as such will not be in real competition for serious playing time unless they really have a special final three weeks of the preseason.
DHB is still an Al Davis pick who will continue to get opportunities to prove himself despite his disappointing first few seasons in the NFL. Meanwhile, rookie Denarius Moore just keeps impressing in everything he does. While injuries are never good, giving Moore the opportunity to get reps with the first team in the preseason will give him the opportunity to show whether or not he is the real deal.
The Raiders cornerback situation was already severely limited by the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha. However, with the injury to Chris Johnson, it has become uncomfortably clear just how dire the situation at that position is. With Johnson out for the remainder of the preseason, rookie Demarcus Van Dyke and second year players Jeremy Ware and Walter McFadden are going to see expanded playing time.
Both second year players, Ware and McFadden, have been terrible in the preseason thus far. Both made major mistakes in the game agains the Cardinals while playing against second and third team players. In addition, neither has made thier mark during training camp.
DVD had a rather impressive showing in his debut with the Raiders. Most have been discouraging of his performance in week one, but I think that is an unfair assessment. The fact of the matter is, DVD did not play a lot of man coverage in college and man coverage was not thought to be his strong point. In addition, he was matched up against one of the league's best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald for a good portion of his playing time. Despite this and the lack of OTA's and a legitimate off season, DVD did pretty well. I did not once see him allow a receiver to get good separation. In addition, he did a great job of getting his head around to look for the ball and putting himself in a good position to make a play. While he did not make that many plays, he has shown the ability to do the little things that a good cornerback must do well.
Due to the lack of depth at corner, we can also expect to see Michael Huff spending some time at the nickel back position this weekend. After being re-signed, Huff expressed a desire to play more positions like he did at Texas. Specifically, he mentioned the desire to play more nickel cornerback this season.
It should be a good game with plenty to watch for, especially considering the Raiders are probably still a little bitter about the embarrassing performance they put on in San Francisco during the regular season last year. This is one preseason game the Raiders really do want to win.