To win in the NFL, stars must play like stars. However, getting good years from the role players is just as crucial. Who must do so for the Oakland Raiders?
David Ausberry – TE
After the free agent addition of James Jones, the Raiders seem to have constructed a very promising group of wide receivers that should make them more explosive. However, in order to take the scheme up another level, the team has to see if they can get something out of the tight end position. That is why eyes are fixed on David Ausberry. The fourth-year man was slated to become the starter in 2013 before a shoulder injury knocked him out for the year. His athletic potential is sky high, but the Raiders can’t unlock it unless he’s on the field.
Stefen Wisniewski – C
One thing that underwent series overhaul this off-season for the Oakland Raiders was their offensive line. Based on current projections they could have three new starters up front when the 2014 season kicks off. Such change can often lead to blocking problems, which is why the burden will sit on center Stefen Wisniewski to sort it all out. It’s not only because he’s the center, but also one of the few holdovers from last season. Getting everybody on the same page on and off the field will be a task he has to accomplish if the Raiders are to execute offensively.
Pat Sims – NT
Based on their free agency and draft acquistions, the Raiders seem poised to feature a very solid pass rush heading into the season, headlined by Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Khalil Mack. However, before any thoughts of a pass rush can come to life, Oakland will have to stop the run first. That is why they need a good year from nose tackle Pat Sims. He is the only starter left from the 2013 squad and is their primary body when it comes to plugging up running lanes. The Raiders ranked 13th in run defense last season. A repeat of that performance would go a long way.
Nick Roach – MLB
Speaking of quiet but solid years, Nick Roach also deserves some credit for the Oakland Raiders. Despite playing in a new system he managed 112 tackles, 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. The middle linebacker was not spectacular but he was steady, and that is enough for the Raiders who now have promising talents Sio Moore and Khalil Mack flanking him at the strong and weak side positions.