GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Raiders opened last preseason by using their first drive to feed their new hog. Then rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper had four offensive touches on the opening possession.
That doesn’t figure to be the case Friday with their latest first-round pick, as safety Karl Joseph is likely to sit out when the Raiders kick off against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Joseph, still recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament last October, is playing it safe as he prepares to be ready for the regular season.
But there are still plenty of new faces the Raiders will show off as they kick off Jack Del Rio’s second season in Oakland. Here’s a look at five players worth giving an extra glance:
The new starting left guard, formerly of Baltimore, can finally get after it with an opponent in a different colored jersey. That’s something he seems eager to do after getting into a few fracases with teammates during training camp in Napa.
The presence of the 6-foot-5, 330-pound Osemele has boosted hopes for the Raiders to move the ball better on the ground and Friday represents the first true chance to get a glimpse of that.
Of all the starters, Del Rio gave the offensive line the most extended playing time in last year’s preseason debut. That group spent two series with Derek Carr and the first-team offense and another series with the second-team, so a couple different running backs could get a chance to run behind them.
Don’t expect more than a series — two at the most — for the starting defense, which is primarily filled with established players in established roles. (When’s the last time the Raiders said that?)
But Irvin is a player fired up for his new role in Oakland that he believes can help him become of the league’s premiere pass rushers. The former Seattle Seahawk is facing a familiar opponent in one of his old NFC West rivals and will likely try to make a quick introduction to his new team if he gets a chance to come free after the quarterback.
Running backs have a way of dominating the preseason chatter, especially if they wow against backup defenses. Washington, the 5-foot-8 fifth-round pick, has shown speed and quickness during training camp that should enable him to immediately boost the Raiders running game. He’s also not afraid of a hit or delivering one.
“I think it’s going to be fun to finally hit on somebody else,” Washington said. “We don’t have to hold back now. We can actually unleash everything. Hopefully all this work we’ve been putting in, we can put it together.”
Latavius Murray won’t get a ton of work and, after fellow rookie Jalen Richard missing Wednesday’s practice, his status is unknown. That means Washington should see the ball plenty against the Cardinals.
The second-round pick has seen most of his practice time come with the starters at a closed defensive end position flanked by a pass rusher and he’s been impressive, far from the raw prospect some called him when he was drafted.
With Joseph not expected to play, he also becomes the highest of Oakland’s draft picks to suit up and could play a couple extra series more than most starters because of the way the Raiders rotate on the defensive line.
The fourth-round pick from Michigan State has shown solid improvement at quarterback throughout camp and now gets his first real crack.
Cook may not play a ton. Expect Carr to go about two series and backup Matt McGloin to get a good run afterwards into the second half. But Cook should at least see some snaps in the fourth quarter and get a chance to get his feet wet.
McGloin has been an annual preseason star and in the past two years have completed 63.5 percent of his exhibition passes for 895 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He remains the odds-on favorite to be the primary backup. The Raiders are expected to keep three quarterbacks so anything Cook shows in the preseason could position him to leap over McGloin as the No. 2 signal-caller.