QUESTION FROM BENGALSINSIDER: Some people are calling this a "trap game" for the Bengals, who've never won in Oakland. What's the general sense among the local media that cover the Raiders? Are very many people calling for an Oakland win on Sunday? We personally think that the Bengals will handle the Raiders and cover the spread, but what do we know. How close do you think this game is going to be?
CHRIS MCCLAIN: I can certainly understand why some people believe this is a trap game for the Bengals. There's no doubt that the Raiders and their fans are pumped up for the game and start of the season. That said, the Raiders will be better this year, but that doesn't always mean they will be great.
The Raiders certainly have an opportunity but they will have to stop Jeremy Hill and find a way to slow down wide receiver A.J. Green. The fact is that their hasn't been any evidence that their secondary will be able to slow down passing attacks, but I guess that's why they call it "any given Sunday."
QUESTION FROM BENGALSINSIDER: Everybody wants to know how good rookie receiver Amari Cooper can be with young Derek Carr at quarterback. Marvin Lewis said Cooper has looked good on film. What's your sense of the Carr-Cooper dynamic? Can Cooper make Carr better more than Carr can make Cooper look ordinary? Or are both players good enough right now for Cooper to be a star from the get-go.
MCCLAIN: Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper is no doubt the real deal. The young wideout has phenomenal footwork along with soft hands that make it where you can barely hear him catch the ball. The former Alabama star uses nice route running and his burst of speed to get open against defenders.
Carr has seemed to have built a nice connection with his young receiver this offseason. The good thing is that the second-year quarterback has a very strong arm. While that arm strength wasn't displayed last season, he should air it out more this year with the speedy Amari Cooper in his arsenal now. With Cooper by his side, I think the two will continue to grow into a dynamic duo for years.
QUESTION FROM BENGALSINSIDER: Running back Latavius Murray is a big boy with a small sample-size last year in 82 carries that nevertheless yielded some interesting numbers, including 5.2 yards per carry, one touchdown every 41 carries, including a 90-yard TD run and 4.1 yards per carry on everything else. Which is the real Murray? The apparent breakaway threat? Or the ordinary rusher on 81 carries? Also, have the Raiders said how many times they would like to see him carry it on average in a game, and, if not, how often would you like to see him get the rock?
MCCLAIN: Running back Latavius Murray is an interesting Raider to look at for just that reason, the small sample size. Despite the small sample size, the Raiders are counting on him big with just Roy Helu, Jr. and Taiwan Jones as his backups for now. I think you'll find that the real Murray is somewhere in between. I know it sounds like a cop out answer, but he has great size but can also break away from defenders if given a chance. One thing that Murray has impressed me with during this offseason is his vision finding secondary holes - when his primary hold clogs up, he has a done a nice job bouncing it out to another spot to get what he can.
Head coach Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave have stayed mum on the distribution but I expect Murray to get the majority of the carries, with Helu spelling him mostly on third downs. That said, Murray is certainly capable of catching the ball out of the backfield.
QUESTION FROM BENGALSINSIDER: Jack Del Rio has a losing record (68-71) in nine seasons as head coach, all in Jacksonville. He has three winning seasons in his career, one playoff win and no division titles. He's won 23 of his past 59 games. Is he one of these coaches who makes a better coordinator -- in his case, defensive coordinator -- than a head coach? We've seen it before with Dick LeBeau here in Cincinnati. Or, do you think Del Rio has the chops to be the head man?
MCCLAIN: Head coach Jack Del Rio has brought something that the Raiders haven't had in awhile - leadership. He has come in and completely changed the culture, as cliche as it may sound. Owner Mark Davis has given Del Rio a lot of power within the organization and the trading of linebacker Sio Moore has shown that.
Del Rio's organization and attention to detail during training camp really stood out to me. He had the Raiders moving at a quick pace and knew how he wanted his practices ran. He has also done a nice job finding coordinators and assistant coaches that have the same philosophy as him. I fully believe Del Rio has what it takes to be a solid head coach in the NFL, it's just a question of whether or not the talent he has in Oakland exceeds that of the talent in Jacksonville.
QUESTION FROM BENGALSINSIDER: Who is the best player on the Raiders, and why? And who does he beat out for the honor in your opinion? Bonus question requiring just a two-word answer: Who's the greatest Raider of all time?
MCCLAIN: Though he's entering just his second season, linebacker Khalil Mack has got to be the best Raider currently on the team. The linebacker had a stellar season as a rookie and had a real shot at winning Rookie of the Year. He comes into this season bulked up another 15 pounds of muscle and it appears to have been paying off. He has been stellar all offseason, looking unstoppable at time including week three of preseason against the Arizona Cardinals. Mack beats out offensive tackle Donald Penn for the fact that he is such a big piece of the Raiders run and pass defense.
Bonus question: Jim Otto. The guy was everything the Raiders asked him to be.