Not Worth The Full Ticket Price, But Still Awesome

Oh man, the life of a football fan. It's really similar to that of a crack addict--in that, one minute you're up, the next you're down and you're always ready for more.

With that in mind, today finds the Nation left empty stashed, broke and on the streets as the news of Michael Bush's surgery/recovery combined with the rumors of Campbell's wrist injury possibly keeping him out of the season opener take hold. Okay, this may be a bit of an overreaction, but such is the life of a football whore.

I'm not too worried about the Campbell rumors since: A) the press saw him painlessly throwing 30-yard passes on Tuesday and B) I like the back-up. 

All of this is vastly overshadowing Thursday's pre-season finale; as well it should, game four of the pre-season holds no resemblance to the product we will see during the real season.

Still, there are reasons to watch. Including the fact that this is the biggest game in the lives of the handful of players who are riding the bubble.

The excellent and deep draft class of the Raiders means that some NFL caliber players will get cut this year. Decent players are going to be flying around, balls to the wall, looking to knock someone's helmet off with the head still in it. Sounds like a good night of entertainment to me. 

A few players I'll be watching closely:

Running Back:

  • I have no idea, but I am thinking the Raiders will keep Rock and Bennett due to Bush's injury. Either way, since this is the Raiders we're talking about, I doubt Rock or Bennett would know that going in. So, I expect to see the best they have to offer. They should also get plenty of opportunities as well, because:
  • I don't know about you guys, but I would be okay with McFadden sitting this one out. If you think he is a good running back or not, I'd prefer he was healthy for Week One.
  • Reece looks like he is in the driver's seat for the FB spot. So, hopefully we'll see him put a block or two on someone. 

The most interesting position to watch should be Linebacker.

  • Thomas Howard: Cable's recent comments have seemed to lean towards Thomas Howard working his way onto the roster. Of course, this may be an effort to push a team towards offering a trade instead of waiting for him to get cut. Either way, Howard is playing for his NFL life. Let's see what he's got.
  • Quentin Groves: I like Groves. I hope he makes it. He could go a long way towards doing this if he made a big special teams play and/or got a sack or two.
  • Travis Goethel: If he doesn't make the roster, he'll be on the practice squad. Still he should get significant run at MLB and it'll be fun to see what he can do with it.
  • Slade Norris/David Nixon: I believe both are still eligible for the practice squad. They likely need a good showing to avoid having to worry about it.
  • Ricky Brown: Blah...maybe he'll do something out-of-character and impress us.

Defensive Backs:

  • Nnamdi Asomugha: I'll be interested to see what he is doing on the sideline...all game, I hope.
  • Walter McFadden/Jeremy Ware: Coaches have rotated these guys into the nickel spot. Both have looked like NFL caliber players. My guess is one of the guys will start the season on the practice squad. They both should get significant run on Thursday. Let's see what they do with it.
  • Stevie Brown/Hiram Eugene: Eugene probably needs an epic performance to keep his spot. Brown is worth watching in extended minutes. If he can keep from getting torched and make a play or two he may actually start pushing Huff for PT.

Defensive Line:

  • John Henderson: He is apparently stuck as the fourth DT, which may mean the coaches feel he is expendable. I don't get that. Hopefully it's just a case of the coaches trying to keep him fresh for the season. If he gets lots of PT on Thursday, I may be concerned about his future on this team.
  • Chris Cooper: If J-Rich is close to being able to play, Cooper's chances of making it dramatically decrease. If he sits on a QB a couple of times, his chances will increase. 

Wide Receiver:

  • Nick Miller: Given Cable's recent comments endorsing Figurs, JLH and Ford, it looks like Miller is the odd man out. For a little guy that can make some big plays, Thursday would be a great time for a few more.
  • Jacoby Ford: I think there is 0 chance he gets cut, but I'll still be watching as he should get his most significant playing time yet. I'd like to see him run some nice slot routes and move the chains.

Offensive Line:

  • The entire O-line: Apparently Pears will make it due to Barnes lack of PT at Tackle making him the only back-up RT used. Also, he has seen time as the TE in big sets and it is looking like the Raiders will only keep two TE's.
  • Will Barnes make it? Can Loper impress someone? Honestly, I don't really care. I had hope for Barnes, but that is gone. Now I just hope these bubble guys will never have to play.
  • Jared Veldheer/Bruce Campbell: I will enjoy watching Veldheer and Campbell. Where will Veldheer receive most of his snaps? Can Bruce dominate on a couple of run plays and get the nation geeked on his future?

Quarterback:

  • Colt Brennan: The depth chart is set, but this is a tryout for the world for Brennan. I expect he'll get some PT and it'll be fun to see if he can drop some dimes, which will make him some.

The stage is set. Who is going to bring the house down? 

I doubt any starters will play more than a handful of plays. However, I expect Pete Carroll to try his Carroll damndest to get Whitehurst to shine. Which is good for the Raiders as it will create a good test for the back-ups in some close to NFL lever quality play.

The Seahawks play a 3-4. So, I say let Veldheer start this game at LT. Let's see what he can do with pass rushing LB's. Start Satele at Center. See what he's got, then move Veldheer back to Center. 

The Seahawks are ridiculously thin at Tackle. They just signed a nameless Tackle who got cut from the Lions. This should mean that guys like Groves and Cooper have an opportunity to blow up some Seagull QB's like they just swallowed an Alka-Seltzer.

Now for today's final thought:

One of the reasons they are thin at Tackle is due to Okung missing time with a high ankle sprain. Use this piece of info and the following to help balance out any negativity you have with regard to the Raiders injuries or their draft picks.

The Raiders and the Seahawks finished with the same record. The Seahawks won the tie-breaker and drafted first and consequently took the guy the Raiders wanted. A blessing in disguise?

First, Okung was the last rookie to sign a contract. Second, while he is expected back in Week One or Two, it is an injury he has struggled with in the past and high ankle sprains are career changers for Tackles.

Okung may well go onto have a great career, but right now--if he was Raider--I'd be wallowing in the speculation that he was driving around in a car littered with unlicensed hand guns, while pounding cough syrup and running over pedestrians. He'd, of course, be doing this on his way to every convenient store in the state and buying up all the cold/allergy medicine he could find so he could cook meth, take it, then beat and kill women with Barrett Robins. They'd then bury them somewhere in Mexico. All of which would be done, before he never played football again.... Damn, aint it good to be a Raider.

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