LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Raiders host the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s preseason opener, and it’ll be a showcase of young hopefuls trying to make the final cut later this month.
The Raiders have question marks at several positions, making things extremely competitive for those looking to fill in reserve roles, or possibly open some eyes in areas of dire need.
As coach Josh McDaniel zeroes in on the prospects, there are a few players who will be intriguing to see.
Here are three players to keep an eye on Sunday:
Jakorian Bennett (Maryland)
Rookie CB – 5-foot-11, 195 lbs.
Selected by the Raiders in the fourth round (104th overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft, Bennett hasn’t been afraid to challenge anyone on the offensive side of the ball and has displayed a confident vibe that has him looking more like a second- or third-year player, than a rookie out of Maryland who had 27 pass breakups last season – the most in the nation. He also had one blocked field goal and one sack. His athletic build has been apparent with his fast, smooth movement in coverage. He’s also gotten valuable first-team reps on the outside, opposite Marcus Peters, and with Nate Hobbs in the slot. He’s shown no signs of intimidation, either, when lining up against one of the league’s No. 1 receiver, Davante Adams. The most impressive part of Bennett’s time in camp has been between plays, picking the brains of Peters and Adams.
“Someone told me, ‘A dumb question is a question never asked,'” Bennett said. “So, I just like to ask questions because Davante is arguably one of the best receivers, so I just try to get his knowledge. Like, what kind of gives him trouble, what can I do to kind of elevate my game. And then with MP, he’s a ball hawk. I think he has like 32 career interceptions. So, I just try to pick his brain to see how I can kind of slow the game down and just try to make plays like how he did. I love asking questions. I try not to ask too many questions though, but they have open ears and they’re willing to answer any question.”
Tre Tucker (Cincinnati)
Rookie WR – 5-foot-9, 185 lbs.
Selected by the Raiders in the third round (100th overall) of the 2023 NFL Draft, Tucker has looked exactly like the guy we saw lead the Bearcats. He seemingly fits the Raiders’ needs, considering the veteran wide receivers on this roster, bringing a fast and explosive game to the room. His diversity is what makes him special, and could make him a valuable asset in many areas. Tucker’s flashes of brilliance, at times, could provide the Raiders with someone in the screen game, or on special teams in the return game. His agility has allowed him to show his durability in running effectively on short, intermediate and deep routes.
“Tre is handling a lot of stuff,” McDaniels said. “He’s learning multiple positions on offense, which for a young player is great that he can do that. He has the aptitude to do it. We all knew he was fast when we drafted him, but in the NFL it’s not just good enough to be fast, you’ve got to be able to use your speed the right way and learn how to run routes against different techniques and those kind of things.”
Adam Plant Jr. (UNLV)
Rookie DE – 6-foot-5, 265 lbs.
During a recent podcast, edge rusher Chandler Jones was asked who he’s been impressed by, and without hesitation, the veteran blurted out “Adam Plant!” Not a bad compliment to receive from someone of such stature, toward the undrafted free agent who will step on the field as a professional in his hometown for the first time. His growth from nationally renowned Bishop Gorman High School, through college (TCU and UNLV), has exhibited a maturation process that includes leadership abilities. As a senior for the Rebels last season, he registered 55 tackles (32 solo), and had seven sacks and three forced fumbles. His gametime may be limited, if that at all, but whether Plant is on the field for one play or seven, regardless of the number of series, he’s a person to watch.
“One of the positives, obviously the size,” Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “You want to have some size down there in terms of length, he has that. Really anytime you hear about the positive vibes and stuff, it’s because guys are working hard.”