Tyvon Branch: Are you ready to lead this defense to a better season?
Branch is the best player on the defense, now that Seymour has begun to show signs of aging. But aside from piling up gaudy tackling stats, can Branch help the rest of his defensive teammates play better as a unit? The stats mean nothing if they lead to losses.
Matt Giordano, Michael Huff, Mike Mitchell: Can you show up for 60 minutes?
Giordano, Huff and Mitchell have all made big plays in their careers, but they also tend to disappear for big chunks of time. There’s going to be plenty of playing time to be had for all three, and the Raiders hope that at least one of them can step up and claim a starting safety job. But in order to do so, they’ll need to begin playing complete games.
DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa: Are you guys any good?
We didn’t see much from Van Dyke or Chekwa last season, as Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson took most of the defensive snaps at cornerback.
But now, the onus is on them to show they’re starting material in the NFL. It’s hard to predict because they’ve hardly seen the field. Will they be any good? Your guess is as good as mine, but we’ll find out soon enough.
Pat Lee, Shawntae Spencer, Ron Bartell: Is this your last NFL stop?
All three of these cornerbacks have one-year deals, and for good reason: They’re not quality NFL starters. If they don’t make an impact this season, it’s unlikely they’ll ever be more than preseason roster filler for the rest of their careers. If any of these three want to prove they deserve to be in the league, the time is now.