Tackle competition ongoing, DJ Turner shows out, Scramblin’ Jarrett Stidham and running back depth
We all knew there were going to be moving parts along the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line. The Silver & Black’s preseason tilt against the visiting Minnesota Vikings exemplifies the fluidity in the trenches — particularly the right tack spot.
With Brandon Parker not playing (he’s been injured) and Kolton Miller not playing his usual left tackle spot (Parker manned the blindside in the Hall of Fame Game), Jermaine Eluemanor got the start at left while Thayer Munford (rookie) and Alex Leatherwood got work in on the right side. Parker was the presumed leader to start at right tackle but his absence opens the door. Leatherwood started the Hall of Fame Game and then, a week later, Munford is manning the right tackle spot.
It’s clear the competition is ongoing and the right tackle may fluctuate Week 1 and onwards.
“We have some depth at tackle and some competition. We’ve told them since the first day we got here that this was going to be a situation where guys earn their opportunities, and they’ll determine their role,” McDaniels said in the postgame press conference regarding the offensive line rotations. “We feel like there’s been a lot of healthy competition in practice. Last week, we started a certain group against Jacksonville, and we felt like practice this week pushed that competition even further. I wanted to go ahead and give a few other opportunities today. I thought we did that, moved some guys in and out; inside started there on the right side.
“Again, for a young guy he’s (Thayer Munford) really done a nice job for himself and earned the opportunity that he had today. We’ll see what the film shows us and tells us. I think there was some good things to see from all those tackles.”
To his credit, the Munford didn’t drown in his starting opportunity — preseason game or not. He’s showing improvement and that’s vital for an NFL neophyte. So much so, Munford was a winner in Matt Holder’s Winners and losers against the Minnesota Vikings piece.
Let’s hit the Quick Slants as fast as the Raiders can pivot offensive line personnel:
—DJ Turner had a solid outing against the Vikings making an impact as a wide receiver (a dazzling 34-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown) and as a return man (a 26-yard punt return). Turner showcased acceleration and burst during his Pitt days and the undrafted free agent continues to impress the Raiders coaching staff.
“DJ is very consistent. He’s been consistent all the way through, starting in the spring. He knows what his job is, he plays fast, and he’s physical for a smaller guy,” McDaniels said. “He has good size and you saw his bursts there on the touchdown catch. He makes the most of his opportunities, which is what we ask everybody to try to do. DJ certainly did that today.”
With a very crowded wide receiver room, Turner’s surest way onto the final 53 is continuing to show out as a special teamer.
—Jarrett Stidham drew the start at quarterback against Minneapolis with starter Derek Carr not playing. The third-year signal caller continues to show development and progression with an efficient 10 of 15 outing for 68 yards. While he did absorb three sacks, Stidham made the smart decision of scrambling for a four-yard touchdown when his reads weren’t there.
“I thought all the quarterbacks did well, I really did. Jarrett led a couple of scoring drives, and then Nick came in, did the same thing,” McDaniels noted. “And then Chase moved the team a little bit there at the end. I think Jarrett has really grown over time. One of the things that keeps showing up and I’m really happy about is that there have been no turnovers. Before we can win, we have to learn how to not lose. All the quarterbacks went in there and generally took care of the ball, made good decisions.”
Raiders got a nice group of running backs. Brown is a red zone specialist. Walter looking good as well. Hard to keep all of them.
— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) August 14, 2022
—Four running backs got work against the Vikings with Brittain Brown (rookie) getting the bulk of carries with 14 (54 yards and a touchdown). Austin Walter got seven totes for 30 yards while rookie Zamir White carried the ball five times for 13 yards and Kenyan Drake got four touches for 15 yards. The depth at tailback is a good one for the Raiders as Josh Jacobs, Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden didn’t play against Minny.
—While Jesper Horsted may be a long shot to make the Raiders roster (Vegas tight end depth is solid with Darren Waller leading the position group), the third-year Princeton product did have an excellent seal block to help spring Turner on the 34-yard touchdown. Little things like what Horsted did show up big on tape.