Oakland Raiders: 5 Things To Keep An Eye On In First Preseason Game

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May 8, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (97) at rookie minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What’s Wrong With Mario Edwards Jr.?

When they released their first depth chart, though it was far from being a binding document, some folks jumped all over it and parsed every single word on the page. The biggest shocker in the minds of some regarding that initial depth chart was the fact that Khalil Mack was listed as a defensive end rather than in his customary spot at linebacker.

Of course, that one innocuous thing touched off a landslide of articles speculating about this year’s second round pick – many of the opinion that Edwards isn’t performing as expected and Mack is being moved to defensive end to cover for the rookie’s deficiencies.

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Of course, some of those same people ignore the fact that the plan all along has been to get Mack more rushes on the quarterback. Not only that, but his listing as a defensive end really means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Del Rio hasn’t been shy about his intention to use Mack in much the same way he used Von Miller when he was the DC in Denver.

All that is to say that Mack’s – and ultimately Edwards’ – current position on Oakland’s initial depth chart is about as meaningless as the result of the game on Friday night.

Edwards has shown up to came a trimmed down 285 – down from the 300+ he carried at Florida State – and is determined to prove his critics wrong. In speaking with the media, Edwards said he is carrying a big chip on his shoulder and, “I just want to prove to myself I can be the best that I can be.”

Mack is likely going to be moving around the defensive front a lot as Del Rio and DC Ken Norton Jr. work to get him into the best positions possible to get a good run on the quarterback. That means that Edwards is going to have plenty of opportunities to show that he can indeed put on a strong rush from the edge – and in the process, prove his detractors wrong.

And those opportunities will start coming on Friday night.

Next: Who Else is in the Mix?