This is fantastic. We actually have a game to discuss. The Oakland Raiders vs. Arizona Cardinals are just hours away from kickoff, and that means we are going to have in-game play to discuss analyze. There are few things I am definitely going to be keying on.
Given that this is the first preseason game I think it is safe to assume that the starters are going to be used very sparingly. And not much can be learned in a series or two. While they are in, I am going to put my focus squarely on the offensive line. This line is very much a work in progress. There is a high amount of turnover and these guys have very little practice time to learn how to play together. So, even if this group looks horrible tonight, I am not going to be too concerned.
Jump over for more of my highlighted items for tonight's game....
- I think this is going to be the most interesting thing from tonight's game. I expect the Raiders will keep the play calling fairly vanilla, but we should still get a decent feel for any stylistic changes in the offense and defense.
- Offense: Is the addition of Al Saunders going to mean the backs are more involved in the passing game beyond just screen passes? Will there be more quick hitting speed routes? Is there going to be more pre-snap shifts and motion?
- Defense: This one is easy right? It is the age old question with the Raiders. Will they mix up their defenses, or will it be almost exclusively man?
- Stefen Wisniewski is likely to get a good long run at center tonight. I think we can expect him to play with the second unit, and then maybe even get some run at guard in the second half. While he is at center, it is going to be interesting to watch the QB/center exchange—especially in the shotgun formation. Wisniewski has been shaky with his shotgun snaps. Other than that, I want to see the push he gets in the run game, and the resistance he provides in the pass game. I am also anxious to see how he looks on the move. Is he going to be quick enough to block on the second level and effective when pulling?
- Joe Barksdale: From what I have seen of Barksdale, I have questions about his ability to handle the edge pass rush. The Cardinals employ a 3-4 defense and Barksdale will certainly face his share of edge speed rushers. Also, I want to try and gauge his intensity. Will he flash any of the killer instinct that Hue craves to build his bully offensive line?
- DVD: Can he hang with NFL receivers? Will his lack of size prevent him from getting an effective bump on the line? Will he make any plays on the ball?
Sterling Moore: Moore has made some plays in camp. He is still a longshot to make the roster. He can considerably help his cause by making some plays in game situations.
Denarius Moore: Moore will likely be the most entertaining rookie to watch. I am sure the Raiders are anxious to see if his playmaking ability that he has shown in practice will instantly transfer to game situations. I expect Moore to at least get a couple of targets on deep passes.
Stephon Heyer: Heyer has been getting first team reps at LG and backup reps at LT. I am anxious to see how he looks—especially at guard. If he only gets a few series at guard this will be hard to gauge, but I want to watch him at the point of attack and in pulling situations.
- Kahlif Barnes: Simply put, I will be looking to see if Barnes shows anything to stop me from thinking he is not going to be an effective RT.
- Derek Hagan, Chad Jackson and Nick Miller: These three are locked in a fight for what is likely one roster spot. Hagan and Jackson have been making more plays than Miller in practice, but Miller has an advantage because of his experience as a punt returner.
- Travis Goethel: Tonight with the linebackers is all about Travis Goethel for me. He should get plenty of playing time. I am anxious to see if he can fight off blocks and get to ball carriers. Also, how is this guy in coverage situations. He will probably get most of his PT at MLB, but it would be nice to see him get a little run at WLB as well.
There's my list. What's yours?