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Know your Foe: 2020 Las Vegas Raiders


The Las Vegas Raiders open 2020 on the road after an offseason of literal construction. The Raiders will be playing adjacent to the Vegas Strip in the brand-new Allegiant Stadium this fall.

But while their home surroundings may be new, the team formerly known as the Oakland Raiders retain a similar look in terms of style, leadership and roster makeup.

2019 Recap

The Raiders went 7-9 in 2019 under second-year head coach Jon Gruden, who's serving a second stint in the silver and black. It was an improvement from the 4-12 season in Gruden's first year, but the Raiders missed the playoffs yet again after losing five of their last six games. They have been to the postseason just once since 2002.

Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 253.4 yards per game and had a passer rating of 100.8 while running back Josh Jacobs rushed for 1,150 yards and seven rushing touchdowns and ranked third in the NFL with 88.5 rushing yards per game.

Tight end Darren Waller posted 1,145 receiving yards, ranking second among all NFL tight ends.

But the Raiders struggled to get the ball in the end zone. They posted the 11th-most yards per game at 363.7 but were 24th in points at 19.6 per game.

On defense, the Raiders have young but talented edge rushers in Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby. The duo, who headlined general manager Mike Mayock's 2019 draft, combined for 14.5 sacks as rookies.

Key Additions

The Raiders drafted Henry Ruggs III in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He finished his career ranked third in Alabama history with 24 receiving touchdowns while totaling 1,716 yards in three seasons. Ruggs, alongside former ECU standout Zay Jones, rookie Bryan Edwards, second-year receiver Hunter Renfrow and free agent addition Nelson Agholor give Carr plenty of targets.

The Raiders added to a young defense by using their 19th overall pick on cornerback Damon Arnette, who joins 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen on the outside. Safety Johnathan Abram will return after missing nearly his entire rookie season in 2019 with a shoulder injury.

Las Vegas also signed linebacker Cory Littleton from the Rams, edge rusher Carl Nassib from the Buccaneers, and defensive tackle Maliek Collins from the Cowboys.

Offensively, they added a notable veteran for depth in tight end Jason Witten, who had previously retired to take Gruden's job at Monday Night Football after Gruden returned to the Raiders in 2018.

Carolina Connections

Five Raiders went to Clemson: Ferrell, Mullen, Renfrow, linebacker Tanner Muse and guard John Simpson.

Jones (ECU), linebacker Nicholas Morrow (Greenville College), guard Denzelle Good (Mars Hill), punter AJ Cole (N.C. State), offensive tackle Brandon Parker (North Carolina A&T), wide receiver Bryan Edwards (South Carolina) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (South Carolina) all played their college ball in the Carolinas.

Carolina is 3-3 all-time against the Raiders with a 2-1 record at home.