weather icon Clear

Three key position battles figure to highlight Raiders camp

With training camp two months away, the Raiders already are pretty much set with their offensive and defensive starting lineups. Yes, camp always creates a surprise or two, and the Raiders would welcome any sort of competition across the lineup to raise the level of play.

But if you assume first-round pick Henry Ruggs gets a starting nod at wide receiver and that free agent pickups Cory Littleton (LB), Nick Kwiatkoski (LB), Damarious Randall (S) and Maliek Collins (DT) do the same at their positions, it means only a few big battles loom for starting jobs.

Here is a look at three:


With Travon Mullen solidifying himself as a starter at one cornerback, the Raiders go to training camp needing to find a starter at the other cornerback spot.

They likely tipped their hand with the recent signing of veteran Prince Amukamara, who was recently let go by the Chicago Bears in a cost-savings move. Amukamara brings a wealth of starting experience to an extremely young cornerback room. While he might not be the same player at 31 years old that he was at 27, he provided a dependable level of play on a championship-caliber defense the last two years, and that is something the Raiders don’t take for granted.

That said, the Raiders would welcome first-round pick Damon Arnette emerging in training camp as the clear-cut starter. Based on his play at Ohio State, he’s the type of big, tough, feisty corner the Raiders have long valued . If he flashes similar traits in Las Vegas, he and Mullen could become a formidable tandem in press coverage and free up defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to be more creative in his blitz packages.

It could hurt Arnette that the offseason is so restricted by COVID-19, as he is losing valuable on-field development time. Chances are, NFL teams might not report to work until training camp, which leaves precious little time to make up ground.

Amukamara becomes invaluable as a result,and could serve as a much-needed insurance policy. Either way, expect both to play extensively with the starting position sorting itself out as the season goes on.

Strongside linebacker

Chicago Bears inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (44) motions during the second quarter of a pre ...
Chicago Bears inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (44) motions during the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)

The Raiders invested $35.7 million in guaranteed money to revamp their linebacker position in free agency, bringing in Cory Littleton from the Los Angeles Rams and Nick Kwiatkoski from the Chicago Bears. In Guenther’s 4-3 defensive scheme, Littleton will play the weakside linebacker spot, and Kwiatkoski will line up as the middle linebacker.

For now, the strongside linebacker remains open.

While there isn’t a clear-cut frontrunner for that starting spot, the Raiders do have options. Given how often they replace a linebacker with an extra defensive back, the current candidates should provide the necessary coverage at a position that is used at a fairly low percentage rate.

If the season started today, either Marquel Lee or Nicholas Morrow would likely get the nod. But don’t rule out rookie Tanner Muse working his way into the picture, especially if he can prove he can provide adequate pass coverage. If so, there are times when he and Littleton can swap positions, with Littleton sliding over to the strongside and Muse moving to the weakside to give the Raiders a highly athletic group.

Morrow made six starts last year and finished with 73 tackles and one interception. In the big picture, he probably suits the Raiders best as a rotational depth player, but his continued development could put him in line for a starting nod.

Lee battled injuries all last year and appeared in just five games while making 11 tackles. After showing promise in 2018 with 68 tackles, he has some work to do to get back on track.

Muse is an intriguing option with his size (6-2, 229 pounds) speed (he ran a 4.41 at the combine) and intelligence. While he is making the switch from college safety to NFL linebacker, he did have run responsibilities as Clemson’s boundary safety. His experience in pass coverage should serve him well.

Slot cornerback

Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant is stopped by Oakland Raiders free safety Lamarcus Joyner (2 ...
Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant is stopped by Oakland Raiders free safety Lamarcus Joyner (29) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Lamarcus Joyner is the incumbent, and with $9.2 million tied to him in 2020 his roster spot is safe. The question is, will rookie Amik Robertson push Joyner out of the starting slot corner position and free him up to play more safety?

It is not a stretch to picture that happening. It could provide an upgrade at a position of weakness in 2019.

Joyner has played both positions during his career, and by now he is used to moving back and forth depending on the depth chart and where his coaches believe he helps the team most.

The problem is, Joyner struggled in the slot last year, as evidenced by the abysmal 42.8 pass coverage grade he earned from Pro Football Focus. But with no other viable options to play the position, the Raiders were powerless to make a change.

They’ve been consistent in saying Joyner will remain in the slot in 2020, but some of that rhetoric occurred before the Raiders drafted Arnette and Robertson last month.

Robertson plays with a toughness and tenacity that belies his size — 5-9 — but he’s also quick and fast enough to provide solid pass coverage. He played both outside and inside at Louisiana Tech, but the Raiders are developing him with the idea of playing him in the slot. As a guy that continually defies the odds, don’t rule Robertson playing well enough to take Joyner’s job.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation
Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.10 | Half Billion Dollar Man
This week's guest is former Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Jerry Robinson. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Raiders reporters Vinny Bonsignore and Ed Graney, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang. What does Patrick Mahomes' megacontract mean for the Raiders? Where will Colin Kaepernick play this season? Jerry Robinson reflects on his time wearing silver and black.
Momofuku veteran chef leaving to cook for Raiders - VIDEO
Chef Michael Rubinstein is leaving the restaurant at The Cosmopolitan after 3½ years to take over as assistant executive chef at the Raiders’ practice facility.
Allegiant Stadium Performs Blackout Test - Video
Allegiant stadium performs a blackout test to ensure the safety of fans when the venue opens.
NFL expected to shorten preseason to two games - VIDEO
Vegas Nation's Heidi Fang and Vinny Bonsignore discuss what changes to expect if the NFL shortens the preseason to two games and what that means for the Las Vegas Raiders. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders’ Mark Davis unhappy with decision to sell ads on seats - Video
It was floated that the NFL Players Association was requesting the first eight rows of stadiums — and possibly the entire first deck — be tarped over to protect the players, which might have prompted an immediate vote by owners. After a heated discussion in which Raiders owner Mark Davis forcefully expressed his misgivings, the measure passed 31-1 requiring teams to tarp off the first eight rows but have the ability to sell advertising on them.
Crews test Allegiant Stadium video boards - Video
On Wednesday, the infamous Raiders shield logo was scrolled across portions of the video ribbons inside the Allegiant Stadium.
Raiders complete "Super Flush" - Video
Allegiant Stadium workers gave the 65,000-seat stadium’s restrooms a game day-like test by flushing all toilets and urinals at nearly the same time. This is known as a "super flush."
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.7 | BLM
This week's guest is Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Raiders reporters Vinny Bonsignore and Adam Hill, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang. Tyrell Williams discusses how racism affected him as a child and how he hopes to use his platform to inspire change.
2021 Pro Bowl is coming to Las Vegas
The Pro Bowl is coming to Las Vegas. The NFL announced on Tuesday that Las Vegas will host the 2021 Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.
Raiders get into action at local park - Video
Team members of the Las Vegas Raiders gathered to practice and run a few plays under the Las Vegas sun at a local park.
Amik Robertson Segment
Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto talks with Raiders' Amik Robertson. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation Blitz ep.5 | Henderson Bound
This week's guest is Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Maurice Hurst Jr.. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Raiders reporters Vinny Bonsignore and Adam Hill, Allegiant Stadium insider Mick Akers and Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and the team will have training camp in Henderson. The Raiders sound off on social media about the current protests around the country, and we give you a fresh look at the almost finished Allegiant Stadium. Will the season start on time?
Allegiant Stadium lanai doors open revealing Al Davis Memorial Torch
On Wednesday Allegiant Stadium opened its massive lanai doors revealing the 85-foot-tall Al Davis Memorial Torch and a peek inside the $2 billion, 65,000 fan capacity indoor stadium.
Natural turf added to Allegiant Stadium field tray
The massive field tray, which will roll in and out of the stadium, has a fresh layer of natural grass turf for Raiders home games.
Raiders preseason could play bigger role than usual - Video
The Raiders released the team's preseason schedule and this year's matchups could play a bigger role than usual.
Analysis on the Raiders Schedule: Tough Stretches, Season Odds and More - VIDEO
Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and columnist Ed Graney break down what to anticipate when the Raiders face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a primetime game at Allegiant Stadium, the odds on the team's season wins, what stretches may be the toughest on the schedule and more. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden reacts to Raiders schedule - Video
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden shares his thoughts on his team's schedule for the 2020 season.
Raiders to host 4 prime-time games in 2020 - Video
The 2020 NFL schedule has been released and the Las Vegas Raiders are set to host four prime-time games.
Vegas Nation: Raiders to face Brady's Buccaneers after Bye Week - VIDEO
Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and columnist Ed Graney break down what to anticipate when the Raiders face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a primetime game at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 25 coming off their bye week. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review Journal)
Raiders will host Saints in Allegiant Stadium home opener - Video
The Las Vegas Raiders will open up Allegiant Stadium by hosting the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 21 for a Monday night matchup.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Tanner Muse Interview
Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto interviews new Las Vegas Raider and 100th pick in the NFL Draft Tanner Muse.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special Day 3 - Best and Worst War Rooms
Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto and Review-Journal sportswriter Ben Gotz discuss the winners and losers of the first ever NFL Virtual draft war room set ups.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special Day 3 - Draft Analysis
Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto discusses day three of the NFL Draft and the Raiders final picks with Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and Raiders beat writer Vinny Bonsignore.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Raiders Day 2 Draft Picks
The Raiders made the 80th, 81st and 100th pick in the 2020 NFL draft selecting Lynn Bowden Jr - Wide Receiver from Kentucky, Bryan Edwards - wide receiver from South Carolina and Tanner Muse - linebacker from Clemson. Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto discusses the pick with Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and Raiders beat writer Vinny Bonsignore.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Big Names From Around the League
Review-Journal sports writer Ben Gotz gives an update of some of the big name players taken in the first round of this years NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Henry Ruggs III
With the first pick in Las Vegas Raiders history the silver and black drafted wide receiver Henry Ruggs III out of Alabama. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto discusses the pick with Review-Journal Columnist Ed Graney and Raiders beat writer Vinny Bonsignore.
Brent Musburger talks Raiders and the upcoming NFL draft
Broadcaster and Raiders Play-by-Play announcer Brent Musburger discusses the Las Vegas Raiders and the upcoming NFL draft with Review-Journal sportswriter Adam Hill.
Raiders logo goes up on Henderson headquarters - VIDEO
The iconic Raiders emblem gets installed on the team's headquarters and practice facility in Henderson on April 22, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: Raiders 2020 Draft Preview - Video
Vegas Nation: Raiders 2020 Draft Preview will include a recap of the 2019 draft class, free agency updates and multiple segments discussing the class of 2020. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto will be joined by Raiders beat writers Vinny Bonsignore and Myles Simmons, as well as sports writer Adam Hill to discuss all things NFL draft. The draft preview show also included interviews with 2019 draft picks Hunter Renfrow and Isaiah Johnson.
Allegiant Stadium lights up the night
Crews at the $2 billion, 65,000-seat stadium Tuesday night tested out the architectural light ribbons that run around various sections of the stadium, showing the facility will offer a distinct feel no matter what time of day it is.
2019 NFL Draft Flashback: The Raiders 2019 Draft Class - VIDEO
A look back at the Raiders 2019 Draft Class and an assessment of their production last season. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2019 NFL Draft Flashback: Mayock and Gruden on What Makes a Raider - VIDEO
A look back at what the team of Gruden and Mayock did in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft and what qualities they looked for in players when evaluating them and what went into their decisions to select who they did. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Crews finish Allegiant Stadium roof panel installation in just over a month
The final panels made of ETFE — ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a fluorine-based plastic — were installed on the 65,000-seat stadium on Tuesday, marking the latest major milestone for the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football.
Raiders request road be named Raiders Way
The Raiders have requested that the road where their Henderson HQ is located be renamed Raiders Way. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mayock: Raiders Need to get Better at Wideout
Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock talked on a conference call about the team's need for a wide receiver and the approach they can take for acquiring one in a talent-rich 2020 draft class. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Stadium roof install is complete - Video
The full enclosure of Allegiant Stadium was topped off on Tuesday after the final ETFE panels were installed.
Low-Tech Raiders' GM Talks Preparing for Virtual Draft Format - VIDEO
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock discussed on a conference call what he anticipates a virtual NFL Draft to be like and how he is adjusting to newer technology he'll have to use to work effectively during the three-day event. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quarantine with Las Vegas Raiders players – Video
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and cornerback Isaiah Johnson have been doing their best to keep themselves busy during quarantine. Renfrow is spending his time in South Carolina, while Johnson is in Houston. The 2019 rookies both suffered injuries this past season and were hoping to come back stronger than ever the second time around, but the coronavirus had different plans for the NFL offseason. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto spoke with both players and asked how they have been staying in shape as well as what shows they have binge watched during quarantine.
Raiders partner with Three Square - Video
Las Vegas Raiders players, including Hunter Renfrow, Alec Ingold, Josh Jacobs and Foster Moreau, are partnering with Three Square to help make sure those in need have access to food during the coronavirus pandemic.
Vegas Nation Blitz — Half Billion Dollar Man

Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto is joined by Vinny Bonsignore, Adam Hill, Mick Akers and Heidi Fang to breakdown what’s new with the Raiders.