As in every preseason game, there are those players who have to prove something to their coaches. It may be to hold onto a starting spot, move up the depth chart, hold onto a roster spot, or just to convince the coaches they are capable of executing.
This third preseason game, the starters will see the most action of any preseason game. They are expected to see around three quarters of action. The offense has also been preparing all week as if it were a regular season game. They have gone through the same routine as they would during a typical week.
What that means is instead of just soaking in the playbook, getting acclimated to each other, and the coaches getting a good feel for the talent on their team, they were actually preparing specifically to face the Detroit Lions.
The extended first team playing time and game prep will give us our first most accurate idea of what kind of team the Raiders have. And with many question marks, there are players with a lot to prove.
Carson Palmer- He has played the equivalent of about one half of football this preseason and has thrown two interceptions. That is an interception per quarter which equals his numbers over his first two games with the Raiders. He has had all offseason to prepare for this new offense. He talks about having played in the West Coast offense at USC. This game is when all the experience and practice needs to show on the field. If it does, then we can write off the interceptions as taking chances in the preseason. If he doesn't, then he will make his coaches a little nervous which will make for a smaller playbook and therefore a less dynamic offense.
Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer- The Raiders two new starting corners. They have played pretty well thus far. But this is their first big test. More time on the field against a high powered offense like the Lions is a big test. One or both of them will also have to face off against Calvin Johnson too. Megatron is going to get his catches. As they say ‘you can't stop him, you can only try and contain him.' Both Bartell and Spencer are big corners and they should be able to get physical with Johnson. The threat the big, All Pro receiver presents frees up a lot of opportunities for other Lions receivers. So, while Huff will be shading to help out on Johnson, whichever corner is lined up on the other receiver will likely have to play a lot of one on one, man
Taiwan Jones, Mike Goodson- Jones has been injured all preseason. In his absence Mike Goodson has not looked good. The battle for the primary backup job from McFadden is very much still unsettled. With McFadden leaving before his fellow starters, both Jones and Goodson will have a lot of snaps in this game. One of them needs to take ahold of number two back spot. If they can't, the team will hit the waiver wire purpose. And if a new face shows up, both Jones and Goodson should be sweating being replaced on this roster altogether.
Demarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa- These two have been hot and cold throughout the preseason. Chekwa has not looked good in practice but showed up against the Cardinals last week with an interception. It is well documented how well Van Dyke has been playing in practice. It is equally mysterious how that practice performance hasn't shown up on game day. Neither of them are in a comfortable position as far as making this roster and they both need to show they belong. They won't have a lot of time to do it today which can be good and bad. Less time to have to try and shut down their receiver but less time to make a play. Every single snaps counts for these two.
Miles Burris- After this game, the cuts will hit the open market and the team will be watching closely With Aaron Curry out with an injury, Burris has had to carry the load as a rookie. It is a precarious position to ever go into the season with a rookie starting. Burris has had his issues which is to be expected. The team will need him to have made some progress in the long week. How he performs will help gauge the level of desperation with which they scan the waiver wire.
Rolando McClain- After getting off to a good start in camp and preseason, he has slipped back into some of his old habits last week. He has to get his head back into the game and focus on being disciplined. He also has to play like this game means something and not give up on plays like he tends to do. He may be the presumed starter but the coaches are watching to see what kind of response McClain has today.