When the Oakland Raiders take on the New Orleans Saints my attention is going to be primarily fixed on the defense. And for good reason. The Raiders run defense was shredded last week. Team defense needs to improve in this game, but more than any position the outside linebackers need to step it up in the run game.
Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves need to o a better job of sealing off running lanes and shedding blocks. I am not hopeful that these two will ever be proficient in this area, but they don't have to be the disaster they were last week.
And beyond that, how about the Raiders All-World defensive line doesn't let them get there in the first place. This defensive line has the ability to flat overpower a Saints offensive line that is better suited for pass blocking than run blocking.
When it comes down to it, the Saints may not need to run all that much. The Saints can use multiple wide receiver sets and spread out the field with the best of them. Sons had a good preview of this matchup yesterday so I won't get too in-depth, but I will add that with Chis Johnson being out of action and Demarcus Van Dyke missing time this week, this cornerback group is ridiculously over matched.
Of course these absences, and great adversity lead to a great opportunity, which leads me to one player I'll be keying on. Check it out after the jump....
- Sterling Moore: This is Moore's golden opportunity to cement among the 53. With the recent addition of Lito Sheppard, Moore could very well be fighting an uphill battle. However, if he can make a few plays in this game, he is going to make it near impossible to cut him.
Rolando McClain: Sons hit this matchup in his preview, but it is worth mentioning again. Brees is a heady QB, and McClain is working on being a heady MLB. Let's see just how far Ro has come in leadership and play recognition.
Taiwan Jones: I can't wait to see Jones hit the field. I expect Jones will get at least ten touches in this game, and I am going to be hoping on everyone he finds some open space to flash his speed.
Stefen Wisniewski: All signs point to Wiz II starting at LG. I will be watching him as much as possible. The Saints have a weak run defense. If Wiz is capable of being an average to above average starter this year in the NFL, he will be able to open up some holes in this one.
Chimdi Chekwa: Chekwa has been getting some reps at free safety. I hope he does in this game. If he does, I am going to pay attention to his instincts and play recognition to see if he has what it takes to play single-high.
- Khalif Barnes: It looks as if Barnes may be inching towards locking down the starting RT position for week one. He needs to look better than he has if I am going to do anything but bitch about this.
- Defensive Scheme: The Raiders flashed some zone D against SF last week. Other than Shaughnessy's pick, it did not work. but it is certainly understandable that this will still be a work in progress. This game will be a great test for that zone D.
- Richard Gordon: Gordon hasn't had a lot of reps this preseason. However, with all the injuries at the TE position, he should get some good run in this one. He is a blocking first TE. Let's see if he can get a good push off the ball.