2. Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib will once again be asked to cover the most dynamic wide receiver on the opposing team Sunday. Rookie and fourth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, Amari Cooper has quickly adjusted to the professional level and helped propel Carr’s big year thus far. He already has 24 receptions for 339 yards. Talib had nothing but nice things to say about the entire receiving corps of the Raiders on Wednesday.
“They’re probably two of the best route runners that we’re going to see this year. They’re a great vet [Crabtree] and a great young gun [Cooper]. Cooper has that good speed and great releases. They’re a pretty good tandem to start and then they have No. 10 [Seth Roberts] and No. 18 [Andre Holmes] coming off of the bench. They have a pretty good group of receivers out there.”
Talib has the speed, size and, most importantly, the experience to shut down Carr’s top target. Cooper has made big plays after the catch as well. He leads all NFL receivers in yards after catch with 192, according to TruMedia. The Broncos defense knows that the Raiders will try and get the pass game going immediately as they have struggled to run the ball consistently. They have averaged a mediocre 96.3 yards per game. The Raiders will have to go to Cooper often due to an ankle injury to Crabtree. Chris Harris Jr. should be able to take him out of the game with tight coverage and as a result, Talib will be tested.
Talib has been tasked with covering the opposition’s largest, often most-talented receiver and started off the season well. The last two weeks he has had a small drop off, in part due to the defense’s focus on Adrian Peterson in Week 4 and the Minnesota Vikings made dash through the air in the second half of last week’s game. In the last two games he gave up 70 receiving yards a piece, according to Pro Football Focus. He played admirably against Calvin Johnson in Detroit but got turned around by the Vikings’ quick receivers last week on several plays. If he can wrangle Cooper, the Broncos’ day will be much easier.