The Raiders head into their preseason home opener as they welcome the Detroit Lions to town. I caught up with Sean Yuille from SB Nation Lions blog, Pride of Detroit (great name), to ask him a few questions about the Lions and what the Raiders should expect from them Friday night.
1. What were some encouraging signs in the Lions preseason opening win over the Browns?
They didn't allow any touchdowns, so that was good, and most importantly, nobody got seriously hurt. Generally speaking, though, it was tough to take much out of their preseason opener. The starters barely even played, and the game plan on both sides of the ball was extremely conservative.
2. What were some discouraging signs in the Lions preseason opening win over the Browns?
More than anything, it was the play of Dan Orlovsky, who is the Lions' backup quarterback (yes, they brought him back for a second stint with the team). Third-stringer Kellen Moore outperformed him in a big way, but at this point, it's unlikely that the team is going to make a change at the backup spot. Orlovsky actually started and won games for Jim Caldwell's awful 2011 Colts team, so that familiarity is probably going to be the trump card. If Orlovsky doesn't play better this week, though, there are going to be even more calls for a change to be made at that spot.
3. Who are some under the radar players who are making some noise that we should be watching for?
On offense, the aforementioned Moore had a really good game last week, as did running back George Winn (aside from a fumble). On defense, defensive end George Johnson and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus are both looking to strengthen their chances of making the team after getting off to a good start in training camp.
4. Will Calvin Johnson play? If not, who starts in his place?
The Lions haven't said one way or another, but I don't expect to see Megatron on Friday night. After having a couple offseason surgeries, Johnson's reps are being managed pretty carefully, and that's exactly why he didn't play last week. It's not that he's injured; the Lions just want to ensure that he's healthy for the regular season, so Kris Durham will likely step in for Megatron at one of the starting spots at receiver.
5. What is the biggest question mark on this Lions team that needs answering this preseason?
The secondary, and more specifically, the cornerback position. The Lions didn't really do much to address the cornerback position this offseason, and they actually released Chris Houston, who would have been out anyway after having toe surgery. A lot of pressure is on second-year cornerback Darius Slay to show some improvement now that he's in a starting role, and the Lions also need Rashean Mathis, who will be 34 later this month, to perform well after a strong 2013 season as a starter. Behind them, the Lions have Bill Bentley, Cassius Vaughn, Jonte Green, Chris Greenwood and Drayton Florence, among others, and at least one or two of those guys need to step it up this preseason. If nobody does, the lack of depth at cornerback will be really frightening heading into the regular season.