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Practice report: Del Rio outlines plans for Raiders' stars in preseason opener

NAPA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will pitch to play Saturday’s preseason opener at Arizona. That’s an argument he might not win.

He proved persuasive last year – the Raiders opened their exhibition slate in Arizona in 2016 – and got 12 snaps against the Cardinals.

Carr certainly doesn’t need them now, and any taken are far less valuable than his health. Preserving it is a high priority, especially with Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn holding out for a better contract.

Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t have definitive answers on playing status, but agreed Carr wouldn’t play much even if he puts on a helmet.

We don’t typically play the front line a great deal in the first game,” Del Rio said. “We’ll see when we get there.”

Even without a formal commitment from Del Rio, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper aren’t expected to play against Arizona. Both guys have been out this week at least with injury. Mack has missed three practices and Cooper has been sidelined seven times in eight sessions with a left leg issue.

Marshawn Lynch is healthy, but the Raiders are being wise with his preseason workload and could sit him as well.

“We like the way he’s working,” Del Rio said. “I’m not that concerned about seeing a lot of Marshawn in Week 1 of the preseason. I’ll just be honest with you on that.”

The team’s top draft picks will also miss the preseason opener. Gareon Conley remains on the physically unable to perform list – general manager Reggie McKenzie said he has shin splints; the first-round cornerback refuted that Thursday on Twitter – and won’t go. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu will sit with an undisclosed injury that has sidelined him an extended stretch.

QUICK SLANTS

-- Offensive lineman Jon Feliciano practiced for the first time in training camp and was formally removed from the physically unable to perform list. He suffered a knee injury in OTAs.

-- Cornerback Sean Smith worked with the first team at outside cornerback for the first time in a while on Thursday. He still worked extensively as a hybrid defensive back/linebacker in the dime package.

-- Undrafted receiver Keon Hatcher had a nice catch, hauling in a deep volley from backup quarterback EJ Manuel. He also made a good grab working with Connor Cook. 

-- Defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. has worked mostly with the second team after returning from injury, and has been impactful on that unit and with first-unit reps received.

-- Defensive lineman Jihad Ward is inching toward a return from the PUP list. He has done side work during practice, and seems closer to full practice.