The Raiders had a very encouraging practice on Wednesday, with many key players returning and a shakeup in the depth chart. Here’s an overview of what took place today.
Flynn fell hard after that abysmal performance on Sunday.
Good news, Raiders fans: you don’t have to worry about seeing Flynn for a while. During his press conference, Dennis Allen confirmed that Flynn is now the third QB on the depth chart, bringing undrafted free-agent Matt McGloin into a backup role. If you haven’t yet watched seen what McGloin can do and are concerned about this move, watch this and this. I commend Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie for making such a bold move. Until the end of the preseason, Flynn had the support of the coach and GM, although they preached an open competition. With this reshaking of the depth chart, it’s very clear that this team is going to play the best players possible, and it doesn’t matter where they came from. I absolutely love this, as it promotes serious team growth and makes sure that everyone is playing as hard as they can. I also really like McGloin. I personally focused on Tyler Wilson’s potential in the preseason and didn’t pay much attention to McGloin until I saw the second video that I linked, but I really like his attitude and his drive. He seems to fit the mold of players that McKenzie and Allen wanted: tough, young players that are hungry to play football and just want to prove themselves. I like what I’ve seen from McGloin and feel comfortable with him learning on the job in his role as the backup QB.
Menelik Watson and Marcel Reece both practiced on a limited basis.
Even better news for Raiders fans: offensive line depth is on the way! Jared Veldheer’s return is still a few weeks away, but his backup seems to finally be healthy. Second-round draft pick Menelik Watson practiced for the first time since week 4 of the preseason, his first career start at left tackle. Watson played well against Seattle, giving Pryor a surprisingly clean pocket and blocking hard on runs. Now that he is healthy, it stands to reason that he will push Barnes out of the left tackle position. Since Tony Pashos has been doing an incredible job at right tackle (again, kudos to Reggie and DA), Barnes could presumably be pushed into one of the guard positions. There would be inconsistencies on this line as they would need time to grow together, but this offensive line of the Raiders could quickly become a strength of the team.
Darren McFadden is injured in the least-surprising event of the century, and presumably going to be injured until the bye week. Unless he is able to come back and have an incredibly successful season, I think we may be seeing the end of DMC’s time as a Raider. Much more encouraging news, however, is the fact that Reece was able to test his knee in practice today, albeit on a limited basis. He was held out of the game on Sunday after injuring his knee in the second quarter, but an early return would be greatly appreciated in the Raiders’ backfield. Rashad Jennings played very well for the Raiders on Sunday, but the depth behind him is pretty shaky. At this rate, it seems likely that Reece will be able to suit up on Sunday, especially since the A’s helped push the game into an 8:30 pm (Pacific) time slot.
Most importantly, Pryor is back and fully practicing.
This news is more of a relief than a surprise. Pryor was held out of Sunday’s game due to concerns about his request for a tinted visor, and rightfully so, in my opinion. It is encouraging for fans to know that Pryor seems to be completely healthy and is fully practicing once again. The offense definitely suffered when Pryor wasn’t leading them down the field, and his health is definitely appreciated.
The Raiders seem to be without McFadden once again, in back-to-back divisional matchups against the Chargers and Chiefs. In order to stay competitive in the AFC West, the Raiders need to win at least one, if not both, of these matchups. Their chances seem to be higher than many expect with the sudden return of many key players. Sunday should be one of the most entertaining days for a football fan in a long while, ending with what should be an intense AFC West matchup between two good teams.