Oakland Raiders: Notes And Observations From The Preseason

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August 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn (72) during the second quarter in a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Line Was Solid

Last season, the offensive line was much maligned for their play. Yes, the line was weak when it came to run blocking, which contributed to Oakland’s terrible rushing game – though honestly, with Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew as the primary ballcarriers, the ground game was going to suffer regardless of who was blocking up front. But when it came to pass blocking, the Raiders’ offensive line was solid and didn’t nearly get the credit it deserved. Derek Carr was one of the least sacked quarterbacks in the league last season.

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This season’s offensive line had a lot of people worried – specifically, the right side of the line. With Rodney Hudson in the middle, Gabe Jackson playing left guard, and Donald Penn handling left tackle duties, most “experts” opined about the weakness of the right side of the line.

But with new offensive line coach taking charge, the offensive line – both sides of it – has been a source of strength for the Raiders so far. With J’Marcus Webb holding down the right guard spot and Menelik Watson finally beginning to fulfill the promise he had when Oakland drafted him in 2013, the line was powerful, blowing people off the ball and keeping Carr upright.

The line though, suffered a big blow with the loss of Watson, gone with an Achille’s injury. Now, Austin Howard will be stepping into that right tackle spot and all the Raiders can do is hope that he can be as dominant as Watson had been before his injury. At this point, they’re willing to take adequate.

Much of the Raiders’ offensive success will be predicated on Oakland controlling the trenches. The early returns have been very good and very encouraging. They’ve been solid and thus far, they’ve managed to make the “experts” look like clowns with how good they’ve been.

Oakland now just has to hope that Howard can step in and provide the high level of play Watson had been giving them. The team is depending on him to do just that.

Next: Diamond in the Rough