As of today, the Raiders begin preparing for the next preseason game in the same fashion they would prepare for a game in the regular season. The main difference being instead of planning to do things with the intention of seeing his own players, Dennis Allen will prepare his team to face a specific opponent.
"We started today first real kind of preparation day for Chicago," said Allen. "We'll be here for the next couple of days, we'll break camp, we'll go back to Alameda, we'll have our walkthrough on Thursday, just like we would in a normal in-season week, so we're trying to get, even though we're here in camp, we're trying to get into the rhythm and flow of what we'll do in the regular season and get guys to begin to get into their routine on how they're going to prepare for a game on a weekly basis."
This game, the starters are expected to see about three quarters of work and we will get our best indication yet of what kind of team the Raiders will be fielding.
Helping matters is the return of defensive tackle Vance Walker to the mix along with wide receiver Jacoby Ford. Both were other the previous two preseason games so we don't yet know how the team will perform. Lamarr Houston was also practicing and we should see him as well.
This team is very much in flux and it's hard to balance the need to use this third preseason game to prepare for the season while still getting a look at the players who are hoping to make this team based on their performance in the preseason.
"I think it's a delicate balance and I think that's why you have four preseason games, and generally you play your guys that you anticipate being your ones, you play them a little bit longer in your third preseason game and probably not quite as much in the fourth game. We've still got two more chances to go out there and get a good evaluation on everybody."
There is one preseason game left after this week. However, there is also a cutdown date looming after the this week's game so there are still players who need to be evaluated to see if they will be retained for the final game. That day is August 27.
In most cases, the coaches have pretty much already made up their minds on most, if not all, of the players they will be releasing on the first cutdown day. If there are any players who they are still on the fence about, they will see time in the fourth quarter against the Bears. That's when they will have a chance to prove they deserve at least one more week, if not a spot on the roster.
Practice has played out very much like the game is expected to play out. The first and second team has seen pretty much all the snaps in team sessions. Sunday's practice, the third and fourth teams didn't see the field at all. The coaches want to see this team in regular season form. They're hoping last week's debacle against the Saints wasn't any indication.