After the Falcons host the Buccaneers in Week 1 for an early, critical NFC South matchup, they’ll be heading across the country to face off against a promising Oakland Raiders team. This will sneakily be one of the toughest matchups on the schedule.
Oakland has a talented young quarterback in Derek Carr, a decent ground game, terrific receivers, and a fearsome defense with a ton of talent under the age of 27. This might not be the year this Raiders team takes the leap, but that leap is almost certainly coming, and the Falcons won’t have an easy time here.
To learn more about Oakland, we turn to our friends at Silver and Black Pride.
Notable free agent additions:
OG Kelechi Osemele, LB Bruce Irvin, CB Sean Smith, S Reggie Nelson
Notable free agent departures:
S Charles Woodson (retirement), DE Justin Tuck (retirement), OL J’Marcus Webb
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
S Karl Joseph (D-1), DL Jihad Ward (D-2), LB Shilique Calhoun (D-3), RB DeAndre Washington (D-5)
Biggest offseason addition:
OG Kelechi Osemele - He fills a glaring need the team had at the guard position. They now have one of the best interior offensive lines in the NFL with he, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson. Osemele can also be the backup left tackle as he was in Baltimore in case 33-year-old Donald Penn wears down as it seemed he was late last season.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Derek Carr has the same coaching staff for the first time as a pro along with the same receivers. I mean everyone is back -- his top four wide receivers as well as his top three tight ends, and even starting running back. That continuity should allow him to take another step forward in his development.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
The rebuilt secondary with the addition of Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson along with rookie Karl Joseph. Smith and David Amerson make up a very stout starting cornerback duo, with TJ Carrie and DJ Hayden battling for the nickel job. Nelson is reunited with Jack Del Rio who drafted him in Jacksonville. He led the league in interceptions last year and takes over for Charles Woodson. Nate Allen returned on a one-year deal after heading to IR twice last season, but he isn’t expected to start. Quite a different story for the secondary than last year’s weak group.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Those who weren’t seen in offseason practices were Denico Autry, Roy Helu Jr, and Reggie Nelson. Their statuses are uncertain. All others are expected back for camp.