Tue, 27 Sep 2022

Versus: Limiting 'King Henry' a group effort for Raiders defense

Las Vegas Raiders
22 Sep 2022, 22:05 GMT+10

Levi Edwards

This Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, will be a physical battle between two teams trying to get their first win this season.

Both the Raiders and the Titans are coming off less-than-ideal defeats in Week 2. Nevertheless, it's still early in the season with more than enough time for the Silver and Black to get some momentum rolling. However, it will be easier said than done, considering they'll have to travel to the East Coast to play a tough, gritty team led by Mike Vrabel - who knows Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels from Vrabel's years playing in New England.

Here are three matchups to keep an eye on this Sunday.

Raiders-Titans Week 3 Injury ReportRaiders acquire T Justin HerronGame Preview: Raiders hit the road to face the Tennessee TitansThe Raiders defense vs. Derrick Henry

It's going to take more than one player to neutralize Derrick Henry.

The All-Pro running back has been a wrecking ball into defenses since his arrival into the NFL, largely in part to the incredible combination of size and speed he provides. The 6-foot-3, 247-pounder looks more the part of the defensive end or linebacker, and he's relentless with his running style. He's had double digit rushing touchdowns the previous four seasons and averaged over 100 yards a game his last three seasons.

"I've admired from afar because as a defensive coach, there's not too many things we like about offense, but when you see a guy that could run the ball and the way he runs the ball and the physicality, I wish he would have switched over to defensive end or linebacker at some point," Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham said. "I'm excited about the challenge. You hear so much about him throughout the league and over the years and really haven't had a chance to face him."

Even with how dominant Henry is, the Raiders defense has done a fairly good job of stopping the run their first two games of the season. The Raiders have had the challenge of going up against Pro Bowl running backs James Conner and Austin Ekeler, holding both of them to 25 and 36 rushing yards, respectively.

"Tackling is going to be a tough deal," Graham continued about Henry. "I mean, this is a big man. Like I said, I only saw him one time live and in person. He is a big man. There's not there's not a lot of people on the planet that look like him. ... So you got to be ready to tackle them for four quarters and understand it's not going to be a one-man show. It's going to be a whole bunch of guys that got to get to him."

Rock Ya-Sin vs. Treylon Burks

The Titans receiving corps is headlined by 2022 first-round draft pick Treylon Burks.

The rookie from Arkansas has been as advertised so far since being drafted, currently leading the team in catches (tied with seven), targets (11) and receiving yards (102). Burks has great game speed and knows how to use his 6-foot-3 frame to win jump balls. His 80.9 overall PFF grade is also the highest of all rookie receivers so far this season.

"The speed is the one thing that shows up. And going down the field, that's one thing that shows up definitely when you watch the tape," Graham said of the rookie receiver.

When you're dealing with a quick, physical receiver like Burks, the energy must be matched on the other side of the ball - which is where Rock Ya-Sin could come into play. The fourth-year vet is a tough, young cornerbacks and excels in man coverage. Ya-Sin had three pass deflections against the Arizona Cardinals, which also leads the Raiders in that category.

It's likely Ya-Sin will be deployed to primarily shadow the rookie throughout the game if Burks plays, as he was limited in Titans' practice Wednesday with an ankle injury.

Derek Carr vs. Ryan Tannehill

After struggling Week 1 against the Chargers, Derek Carr came back strong against the Cardinals, throwing for 210 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. After a dynamic first half, momentum faltered, resulting in Arizona coming back from a 20-0 deficit to win in overtime.

Ryan Tannehill is also coming off a tough loss in their primetime matchup against the Buffalo Bills. The Titans quarterback completed 55 percent of his passes for 117 yards and two interceptions. After Tannehill was taken out of the game, rookie quarterback Malik Willis rushed for 16 yards with one pass completion for six yards.

This quarterback duel will be unique in the sense of who can calm the storm for their locker room, as both are on the brink of starting the season 0-3. The amount of playmakers Carr has around him in Darren Waller, Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs help, however they have a hard task ahead on the road in what could be a hostile environment at Nissan Stadium.

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