The Raiders’ starting unit proved they could play better than an Arizona Cardinals team that some people suspect will win their division this season. This week the Raiders will take on another NFC West opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. But preseason is more about the positional battles than the win-loss column. Some players are training camp sensations while others crawl out of oblivion and end up making the roster. This year the roster is an overinflated 90 players, so there has never been more of an opportunity for young men, nor such competition for older guys. Still, there are some storylines that are Moore intriguing than others.
Strong side Linebacker
The Battle for this position is still on. Quentin Groves has proven size and speed to fit in with the linebackers the Raiders are attempting to establish against the run and pass, but thus far he has been too inconsistent to consider reliable. Last week, Groves played over two quarters of action and said that he welcomed that because he “had some things to work on.” No doubt the linebackers coaches and head coach have gone over the tape together. If they weren’t impressed with what they saw on that tape, the Buffalo Bills just released a former first round pick from Linebacker U – Penn State. Aaron Maybin should be considered a serious contender to take up some of that cap space ($5.1 million) the Raiders now have.
Moore and Moore
The more I hear about Denarius Moore, the more there is to like. This guy has a tendency to manipulate the ball in the air so that it ends up in his hands. He is what the layman would consider a natural. The coaches fear that he is about to hit a rookie’s wall but I see no wall for this man, as he will mount, scale, and overcome that wall – or will he?
On the opposite side of the ball, Sterling Moore has become a more popular name since joining the Raiders. Moore has worked hard in training camp and his work is showing on the field. With the recent injury to Chris Johnson, Moore could work himself right into a spot on this roster with a good preseason. He may just surpass last year’s picks of Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware. The Raiders do have a knack for finding an undrafted player who makes the roster each year.
Can Moss keep on it?
Jarvis Moss played like a man possessed in the first week of preseason. He made it known with his presence that he was a former first round pick by dictating to the Arizona Cardinals’ back-up left tackle. This week is time to see if he can keep up the ferocity that he played with last week. If Moss indeed proves he is the player the Denver Broncos thought he was when they drafted him 17th overall, he will make the Raiders’ defensive line especially exceptional. It’s clear that defensive line coach Mike Waufle has discovered something elite in Moss’ abilities. If it works out, Moss will take pressure off of Trevor Scott as well as Kamerion Wimbley since they will get more time to rest.
The Raiders’ on and off safety over the last few preseasons, Boyd has shown consistent improvement in his two seasons since signing as an unrestricted free agent in 2009. With Hiram Eugene out of competition for the year, there is a wide open battle for an extra safety spot. In the words of Hue Jackson, “Next man up.” The Raiders signed two safeties to come in and make somebody the best player they can be by pushing them to the breaking point – in this case, the breaking point of being cut from the roster. Boyd has all the right tools to make himself the player who takes that position on the depth chart. He is capable of being the third guy at both free and strong safety and could be utilized in the special teams’ protection units. Be on the lookout for Boyd in the contest because the coaches will. Boyd managed four tackles last week and has been a consistent player in training camp.
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