Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Dolphins-Raiders matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Wembley Stadium.
Dolphins LE Cameron Wake vs. Raiders RT Khalif Barnes
Tale of the tape:
Wake (91): 6-foot-3, 262 pounds, sixth season, Penn State
Barnes (69): 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, 10th season, Washington
Menelik Watson was expected to start at right tackle this season. That was the plan all offseason, but it’s not how things panned out.
Khalif Barnes refuses to bow. The Raiders smartly found a way to insert rookie left guard Gabe Jackson into the starting lineup, and slid Barnes from that spot to his old haunts at right tackle.
Barnes has earned the right to start with steady play over the years, and this year was no different. He’s been a strong member of a line that’s played well in pass protection but could use a boost in the run game.
According to player evaluation site Pro Football Focus, Barnes hasn’t allowed a sack this season. His man has only hit the quarterback three times.
“We feel really good about what Khalif has been able to do,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said.
Barnes draws a tough assignment this week. He’s primarily charged with slowing Dolphins left end Cameron Wake, a top-flight pass rusher who can wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
He’s been doing so for a while, with 53.5 sacks in five-plus seasons. He’s still got it at age 32, with two sacks, four quarterback hits, eight hurries and two forced fumbles already this season.
Wake is a player the Raiders must account for, and give Barnes some help to slow the high-energy pass rusher down. That’s because the Raiders have respect for how he can change a game.
“Cameron Wake is obviously a great player,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “You have to know… when you turn the film on, you’re like ‘oh my goodness, who is 91?’ It’s one of those guys. You’ve got to know where he’s at at all times.
"Our coaches will put together a plan of however they want to attack their defense. We’ve done a great job of doing those things before so hopefully we can continue to do a great job of knowing where guys are and executing what we need to do.”