Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Cardinals-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at O.co Coliseum.
Cardinals LT Jared Veldheer vs. Raiders RDE LaMarr Woodley
Tale of the tape:
Veldheer (68): 6-foot-8, 321 pounds, fifth season, Hillsdale College
Woodley (58): 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, eighth season, Michigan
Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano worked extensively with Jared Veldheer last season, when the talented left tackle was still in silver and black.
He left for big dollars in the desert, meaning he’ll be something all together different with the Raiders and Cardinals clash on Sunday afternoon.
“Right now, he’s a left tackle at Arizona,” Sparano said, “We’ve got to figure out a way to win those one-on-one matchups against him.”
The Raiders rotate edge rushers quite often these days, so several players will take a crack at Veldheer, but LaMarr Woodley will go against him often in the base defense. Khalil Mack will also spend some time against Veldheer, but Woodley in particular needs to increase his production over recent weeks.
He still doesn’t have a sack, and has just three quarterback hits. That’ll be difficult against Veldheer, a stout pass blocker with size and strength.
LaMarr Woodley came to Oakland in free agency thinking he’d be a tradition 4-3 defensive end with his hand in the dirt, but he’s been a standup rusher on passing downs especially.
“He’s being used the same way,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “We allow our edge players, we want their best get off and we want their best use of hands, and we want their best ability to dig out runs and set edges. So, with Khalil [Mack] and Woodley, they’ll play up at times because they feel comfortable in those stances, so we’ll use those stances and the players will use their stances as an advantage for them. So, he’s been standing up when he can because that’s where he feels comfortable.”
He must be comfortable to be productive against Veldheer, who can be tough to beat when he’s on his game.