- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter
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1. First-team reps: The obvious question for a preseason opener revolves around playing time for starters, because no coach in his right mind wants to subject a front-line player to unnecessary risk. Yet, he also has to find a balance to get his guys some serious run in a game situation. A series or two? “All these things can change based on how the game goes, but we’ll put the first team out there for a few plays and see how things go,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “I really want to get the ones some work, but I really want to have an opportunity in this first preseason game to see a lot of these young players go out and play … you’re trying to use this as an evaluation process."
2. Khalil Mack: The No. 5 overall draft pick has already shown a preternatural ability to fly to the ball in camp, but while the Raiders have been in pads most of the time, they are not tackling to the ground. This will be the first time we see how he responds and if the hype is real. Granted, it's an exhibition game, but it will be his first live hitting since college. “I can’t tell you what kind of player I am, or what kind of player I’m going to be,” Mack said. “But I can show you.” He will also show the Vikings, if only for a few plays.
3. The running backs: Neither Maurice Jones-Drew nor Darren McFadden will be exposed to many hits, so expect a healthy dose of Latavius Murray, Jeremy Stewart and CFL Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets, which might lead some to believe a roster spot could be won in a crowded backfield. Perhaps, but probably not. Stewart and Sheets will probably lead the team in rushing in the preseason and it’s possible neither will make the initial 53-man roster. Think Louis Rankin. “I want both of them to play in the game,” Allen said of Jones-Drew and McFadden. “I want both of them to get a couple of touches in the game.We’ll see how many that is … there are a lot of new players that we have and we need to see them go out and perform. They need to work together because there is a lot to be said about getting out on the field and having a good feel for what the other 10 guys around you are doing.”
The Oakland Raiders (0-0) and Minnesota Vikings (0-0) open their respective preseasons Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.1. First-team reps: The obvious question for a preseason opener revolves around playing time for starters, because no coach in his right mind wants to subject a front-line player to unnecessary risk.