The Oakland Raiders will have joint practices with the Detroit Lions today (Tuesday) and Wednesday of this week as the two teams prepare for their first preseason game of the year on Friday night. And while preseason games give coaches an opportunity to evaluate their players against other teams, adding practices to the mix allows coaches to gather a lot more information than they can in one preseason game alone.
The first example of this that comes to mind is the ongoing battle between the Oakland Raiders tackles and rookie edge rusher Arden Key. We’ve heard over and over again how impressive Arden Key has looked in training camp so far, but many have wondered, is Key that good or are the players the Raiders have slotted at the tackle positions that bad? Or is it some combination of the two?
Well now, Key will get to go up against new opponents. Given the Lions struggled with pass protections last year, they can also lay part of the blame on injuries and invested heavily in upgrading their pass protection over the last couple of offseasons. How Key does against the Lions won’t be the be all, end all determination on his value, but if he looks as good against their offensive line as he has against his teammates in practice, it will be a good first step towards knowing just how good this kid is.
On the flip side, the Raiders book ends will have their hands full dealing with a Lions defense that boasts one of the better pass rushers in the league in Ziggy Ansah.
And those are just two examples of why joint practices are a great opportunity for the Raiders to take stock in what they have. This year’s camp has far more competition than we’ve seen in a long time thanks to an influx of new players brought in by Jon Gruden and his crew.