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Raiders’ depleted offensive line gets challenge in Saints

Updated September 21, 2020 - 9:33 am

Handicappers and oddsmakers whose livelihoods depend on the outcome of professional football games swear injuries to non-quarterbacks don’t have much impact on the results over the long haul.

Cluster injuries, however, like the Raiders losing two right tackles over the course of a few plays last week, are a big deal.

Las Vegas found a way to win, largely because Denzelle Good moved over from his reserve guard spot to admirably play right tackle for most of the final three quarters.

The Raiders might have to find a way again. Trent Brown and Sam Young have missed practice all week and their status is up in the air for the first game in Allegiant Stadium history on Monday night against the Saints.

Good has likely earned another shot, but swing tackle Brandon Parker could also be called upon after he was inactive Sunday.

“We feel like we’ve got good depth and we’ll play with the players that we have right now,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Friday. “Whether it’s Denzelle or anybody else, there is a standard of play in that offensive line, and they’ll be expected to meet that.”

Here are three keys to watch for when the Raiders take the field at 5:15 p.m. in their new home of Allegiant Stadium, a day many longtime Las Vegans never thought would come:

Keep Carr upright

Regardless of who lines up at right tackle for the Raiders, he will have his hands full with Cameron Jordan after the Raiders didn’t allow a sack last week.

The Saints star has graded out as a top 10 edge rusher in the league for four straight seasons by Pro Football Focus and is showing no signs of slowing down at 31 years old.

Jordan is coming off a career-high 15.5 sacks in 2019 and incidentally has never missed a game in his nine NFL seasons.

Quarterback Derek Carr knows he will have to be aware of Jordan, but the star defensive end isn’t alone on the Saints’ stout defense.

“They’ve got a great secondary,” Carr said. “And not just talking corners, they’ve got multiple safeties that can play football at a high level and multiple linebackers that can run and hit and their (defensive live) is disruptive. … They can all get to the passer.”

Keep a clean sheet

Sunday marked the first time in franchise history the Raiders committed three or fewer penalties in a game in which they also didn’t allow a sack or have a turnover, according to a search of the Pro Football Reference database.

That is some remarkable efficiency.

It was also the first time since 2001 they had a game with three or fewer penalties and no turnovers.

The Raiders averaged eight penalties per game last season to just 5.7 by their opponents, so an ability to maintain the kind of discipline they showed in the opener would be beneficial.

In addition to the record efficiency in the 34-30 win over Carolina, Gruden said, “we had as good a balance as we’ve ever had. We had 30 runs, 30 passes and nine different receivers. And we scored points and won the game in the fourth quarter.”

Keep the zero

The Raiders started the season 1-0 and have obviously never lost at Allegiant Stadium. While it can’t last forever, they want to the zero in the loss column on both of those records for as long as possible.

Gruden spoke of the importance of setting the tone and establishing the new home field as a place opponents don’t believe they can leave with a win.

Even though there won’t be fans and it won’t be the spectacle Las Vegas has dreamed about for so long, it is still an opportunity to establish those things.

“It’s a cool stadium,” Gruden said. “We just have to play good when we’re in there.”

They get their first chance on Monday night.


Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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