Oakland Raiders: Things To Watch For vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) takes the snap from offensive lineman Rodney Hudson (61) in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Offensive Line

The Raiders’ offensive line has drawn as much scrutiny as the secondary has this offseason – though most definitely not the same level of vitriol. That’s mostly because new Raiders’ offensive line coach Mike Tice is one of the best in the business and had cobbled together a unit that played extremely well over the course of the preseason.

The left side of the line is a solid wall of humanity. With Rodney Hudson anchoring the center of the line, Gabe Jackson and Donald Penn formed an imposing and entirely effective half of the line. The right side though, is what had people worried. But with J’Marcus Webb playing very well, and Menelik Watson finally living up to his potential, the Raiders’ line ceased to be as much of a worry for Oakland as they protected well and blocked well in the running game.

But then Watson went down for the season with an Achille’s injury leaving the much maligned Austin Howard to take his spot at right tackle. Since his signing, Howard has been shuffled up and down the line and hasn’t exactly excelled in any one spot. He’s been – serviceable. At best.

However, in all fairness, it probably is difficult to establish a rhythm and gel in your spot when your spot is constantly shifting.

Working with Tice though, Howard has the chance to elevate his game. He has to elevate his game or Carr will be running for his life all day long. Tice and the rest of the offensive line have expressed their faith in Howard, and have all been very complimentary of his progress to this point.

Can Tice bring out the best in Howard and shore up that sudden hole on the right side of the line? He’s gotten the rest of the line to play some dominant football, so why couldn’t he do the same with Howard?

The Raiders – and their fans – are certainly hoping that Tice can work his magic with Howard and keep that offensive line strong.

Next: Raiders Playing With Fire By Signing Aldon Smith