A host of battles are set to erupt for starting positions across the Oakland Raiders roster. Which names will emerge on top?
Quarterback: Matt Schaub vs. Derek Carr
For a team trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time in over ten years, it typically requires an experienced quarterback. That is why the Oakland Raiders traded for Matt Schaub. They feel his recent struggles in Houston were a blip on the radar and the two-time Pro Bowler can rebound to help them win. He should get the starting nod over rookie Derek Carr to start the season. Beyond that depends on his play.
Left Guard: Khalif Barnes vs. Gabe Jackson
Of all the units on offense for Oakland that has moving pieces, it is the offensive line. Every position can be up for grabs but the one that should feature the most intriguing battle will take place at left guard. There veteran Khalif Barnes will do battle with rookie 3rd round pick Gabe Jackson. Barnes of course has the advantage of experience and by all accounts is a great locker room leader. Jackson is raw in some areas but the massive Mississippi State product is a punishing run blocker and nimble on his feet. Barnes will need to show a physical presence if he wants to hold the kid off. Don’t expect that to happen.
Tight End: David Ausberry vs. Mychal Rivera
At some point the Oakland Raiders, like any other reasonable team, will lose their patience waiting for a player to develop. They are reaching that boiling point with tight end David Ausberry. The young man is an intriguing physical specimen who presents all kinds of matchup problems in coverage. The problem for him is he either can’t stay healthy or can’t utilize his obvious talent. In the meantime reserve Mychal Rivera showed he can be more productive. Ausberry will likely get one more crack at the starting job, but Rivera will not go away easily.
Cornerback: D.J. Hayden vs. Carlos Rogers
It has been a painful transition to the NFL for cornerback D.J. Hayden. After suffering a life-threatening incident in college, he has battled injuring since joining the Oakland Raiders last season as their 1st round pick. At present he might not see the field until training camp, leaving doubts in many minds as to whether he will be a starter, especially after the team went out and signed veteran Carlos Rogers. While not the Pro Bowler he was, Rogers knows the business of playing consistent, something Hayden has not proven yet. Until that happens, and he’s healthy, expect Rogers to claim the starting job.