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Players to watch when Giants head to Las Vegas


The Giants are on the road for the first of three consecutive games when they head to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders in Week 9.

Brian Daboll's team is looking to bounce back from last week's overtime loss to the Jets as they take on a Raiders team that recently underwent changes. After losing to the Lions on Monday Night Football, the Raiders relieved their general manager, head coach and offensive coordinator of their duties and also sat their starting quarterback.

Taking over as interim head coach of the Raiders is none other than former Giants linebacker, team captain and Super Bowl champion Antonio Pierce, whom Daboll has known on a personal level for several years now.

"I've built a friendship with him along the way the last few years, but again our focus has got to be on the field, players and schemes and do the best job we can," Daboll told the media Wednesday.

Here are five players to keep an eye on in Las Vegas this weekend.

QB Daniel Jones

The starting quarterback is set to make his return to action after being sidelined for the last three games due to a neck injury suffered late in Week 5. Jones was cleared for contact during pregame warmups Sunday, with doctors giving the quarterback no restrictions at practice. The 26-year-old has been a full participant at practice this week and is set to start under center this Sunday in Las Vegas.

The last time we saw Jones on the field was in Miami, where he completed 70 percent of his passes for 119 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions while adding 24 yards on four carries. He was sacked six times by the Dolphins and another 10 times by the Seahawks the week before, but now has a different-looking unit up front. Since Jones last played, veteran lineman Justin Pugh was signed and put into the starting lineup, center John Michael Schmitz returned from a shoulder injury, and guard Mark Glowinski retook his spot in the lineup following consecutive strong outings. Additionally, head coach Brian Daboll said Wednesday that both starting tackles, Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal, have a chance to play this weekend.

The passing game has been the strength of the Raiders defense this season. Heading into Week 9, Las Vegas ranks ninth in passing yards and 13th in passing touchdowns allowed per game. The Lions finished with 264 passing yards against the Raiders this past Monday, but prior to that, the Raiders kept each of their previous four opponents to under 180 yards through the air. Even in last week's loss, Las Vegas' Marcus Peters intercepted Jared Goff and returned it for a touchdown.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 9 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.

RB Saquon Barkley

Barkley is another player back in the lineup that was not there when Jones was last on the field. The sixth-year running back is coming off the highest volume day of his NFL career as he carried the ball a career-high 36 times and gained 128 yards. It marked the second consecutive game in which he finished with over 100 total scrimmage yards.

In the three games since returning from an ankle sprain that forced him to miss three weeks, Barkley is averaging nearly 115 yards from scrimmage. In last week's game against the Jets, the talented back rose on the franchise rushing list, jumping ahead of Alex Webster for fifth place with 4,661 rushing yards

While the Raiders have performed well against the pass this season, the unit has struggled against the run. Las Vegas ranks 30th in yards, 28th in touchdowns and 26th in yards per attempted allowed on the ground, and are coming off their worst performance of the year. Lions ran for 222 yards on Monday night, including 152 from Jahmyr Gibbs and another 74 from Craig Reynolds. The two backs combined to average 5.7 yards per carry.

DL Dexter Lawrence

Lawrence has been on a tear over the last couple of weeks. The All-Pro defensive lineman recorded one sack and five quarterback hits against the Jets, but his dominance went beyond the traditional box score. The 6-foot-4, 340-pound lineman spent a large chunk of Sunday's contest in the Jets' backfield as he totaled an impressive 15 pressures. This tied the record for the most pressures in a single game by an interior defensive lineman in the Pro Football Focus Era (since 2006).

It was undoubtedly a slow start to the year for the talented lineman. Lawrence registered zero sacks, five quarterback hits and 21 total pressures through the first six games, but has picked it up considerably in the two weeks since. During that span, the lineman has picked up three sacks, nine quarterback hits and 23 total pressures. His 44 pressures on the season are now tied with San Francisco's Nick Bosa for the third-most in the NFL.

The Raiders have surrendered 22 sacks on the season, the 10th most in the league. Last week, they allowed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to get sacked six times by the Lions. Two of the six sacks came from Detroit nose tackle Alim McNeill. That is an encouraging note for Lawrence, as his 31 pressures when lined up at nose tackle this year are far and away the most in the NFL (he has more than four times any other player at NT).

ILB Bobby Okereke

Okereke came just short of extending his streak of games with double-digit tackles to five, finishing Sunday's outing against the Jets with nine total tackles. Of the Giants' eight games so far this season, the inside linebacker has totaled at least eight tackles in all but the season opener. Against the Jets, Okereke made his presence felt with a few big takedowns, including a season-high three tackles for loss.

The 27-year-old linebacker is now up to 73 tackles in eight games. This puts him on pace to break his previous career-high of 151 total tackles set last season. Meanwhile, he has already set a new career-mark with eight tackles for loss, while his six passes defensed and two forced fumbles have already matched his previous career-bests. Simply put, the linebacker has been all over the field this season and doing a little bit of everything.

While the Raiders offense has struggled to run the ball this season, Josh Jacobs cannot be overlooked. After leading the NFL with 1,653 rushing yards and 2,053 total scrimmage yards last season, the 25-year-old has run for just 408 yards on 133 carries (3.1 avg.) this season while scoring three touchdowns. Jacobs has played a big role in the passing game though, ranking third on the team with 28 receptions for 242 yards.

CB Deonte Banks

His seven passes defensed ranks second among all rookie cornerbacks, just one behind Seattle's Devon Witherspoon. He broke up two passes against the Jets, just one week after registering his first NFL interception against the Commanders. Banks was nominated for Rookie of the Week for his performance against Washington.

Off the field, the Raiders made some big changes this week. On the field, Las Vegas made some changes as well. Rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O'Connell was named the team's starting quarterback moving forward, replacing veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. In his one NFL start, O'Connell completed 24 of 39 passes (61.5 percent) for 238 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception, earning a passer rating of 68.1. He did score a touchdown on the ground.

After going up against the likes of D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and Garrett Wilson, among others, Banks has yet another challenging matchup this week. Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams leads the team with 47 receptions for 539 yards and three touchdowns. This comes despite Adams going through a stretch of four consecutive games being held under 60 receiving yards. The Raiders have a talented No. 2 receiver as well, in the form of Jakobi Meyers. The former Patriot has 38 receptions for 404 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.

View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Raiders ahead of their Week 9 matchup.


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