Raiders’ start new era in Las Vegas sans fans

Field Level Media

September 21, 2020 at 2:13 pm.

The Raiders make their Las Vegas debut when they host the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.

They will christen their brand-new, $2 billion stadium at the same time, but there won’t be any spectators on hand for the historic game.

“Obviously it means a lot, not only to us but to our fans in this community,” said Josh Jacobs, who rushed for three touchdowns and 93 yards in a 34-30 victory at Carolina in the season opener. “We want to get a win especially with it being our first time in this stadium, so it’s going to be huge.”

It’s also significant because both teams are 1-0.

Las Vegas was balanced on offense last week as Derek Carr passed for 239 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions or sacks.

“I love this city, moved out here after the season, and fell in love with it,” Carr said of the move from Oakland. “We wish our city could experience it here with us. I’m sure they’ll be around somewhere. I’m sure there will be a certain street or strip they’ll be on.”

The Raiders endured the loss of both right tackles during last week’s game as Trent Brown (calf) was sidelined in the first quarter and Sam Young (groin) in the third quarter. Both players missed practice Thursday, as did two other starting linemen – center Rodney Hudson and guard Richie Incognito — who were not injured but the team is trying to keep the veterans healthy for the duration of the season.

Las Vegas hopes the extra day of recovery for the Monday night game allows to line to get healthy.

The Saints’ defensive line features five-time Pro Bowl end Cameron Jordan in a defense that sacked Tom Brady three times and intercepted him twice last week in spoiling Brady’s debut with Tampa Bay, 34-23.

“Their D-line is disruptive,” Carr said. “Obviously we know about Cam Jordan, but all those guys; they can all get to the passer and disrupt a game.

“Any time you play one of the best teams in the league you get excited about the challenge to see where you’re at and try and compete and win the game.”

The Raiders’ defense won’t have to contend with Saints All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas, who has been ruled out due to a ankle injury. Coach Sean Payton wouldn’t comment on Thomas’ status, but the receiver reportedly will miss multiple games.

Even with Thomas available for virtually the entire game last week, Drew Brees passed for just 160 yards, though he had two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The apparent loss of Thomas could create more opportunities for former 49ers receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who had three catches for 15 yards and a touchdown in his New Orleans debut last week.

Last season the Saints went 5-0 when Brees was sidelined and 2-0 when top running back Alvin Kamara was sidelined.

“Every week, guys are ready to play,” said Kamara, who had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch last week. “Everybody takes pride in knowing what to do in case somebody goes down. Drew went down last year. I went down. You’ve got to keep moving.”

The absence of spectators in Las Vegas won’t be new for the Saints. There were no spectators in the Superdome last week.

“It’ll be unusual that the first game there will be without fans,” Payton said. “We’ll get adjusted like we did the other day. When the schedule came out, you thought, ‘Oh, there’ll be a couple preseason games there. And then we will figure out what the crowd noise is like when we go there.'”