In order to fully appreciate the length of summer before the start of the season, look at a calendar. A little less than three months until kickoff. As the Raiders will venture to camp in five weeks, thoughts about the season enter focus. First, if you split the season into segments, each has the potential to make or break the 2018 Raiders. Next, spending a draft pick on Marcell Ateman may appear foolish, yet with size and ability, the rookie could earn field burn this season. Discussing these two topics, FPC Raiders writers Chris Simmons and Ray Aspuria will lay out their opinions.
When you look at the schedule, which four-game segment should concern the Raiders most?
The stretch that concerns me the most is not the opponents the Raiders face Week 1-16. They will battle the one from training camp in Napa all the way through the season — themselves. Often, you are your worst enemy. It is imperative the Raiders (coaching staff to players) overcome the inevitable mind games. I see the Raiders like Cole Trickle in Days of Thunder. They are back on the track and ready to race after a horrific crash. However, until they face their fears and bust through head-on, the Raiders will be hesitant.
As a rule, I try to avoid schedule projections so early in the offseason. To me, as always, the home stretch will be the most important part of the season regardless whom they play. For a team that has had issues closing out games, and seasons, this season will be about following through. Whether or not they do will be determined by the end of the season push to make the playoffs.
In reality, where will Marcell Ateman thrive within the offense?
For now, Ateman will probably fill the role Andre Holmes once played for Derek Carr. Carr is not super accurate all the time and will leave a little air under the ball to give his person a chance. Ateman and Martavis Bryant are two giant sized targets with sublime leaping ability. Between the two Carr should have plenty of options on third and goal from the seven.
Jumpball specialist. Look at his final year at Oklahoma, Ateman was literally the Jumpman logo. With Mason Rudolph dropping dimes, Ateman was a fade-red zone cat. He also was adept at going deep and making leaping grabs. He is also a hard-to-tackle prospect with his size. If Ateman can produce with Rudolph throwing him the rock, one can surmise he can be just as productive with Derek Carr pulling the trigger.