As far as preseason games go, they don't get more important than the third one. It is the one preseason game that should most closely resemble what kind of team the Raiders will be fielding this season. They have a tough test heading to Green Bay to face the Packers and their high-powered offense. Here are a few things to watch out for in Friday's game.
Over the first two preseason games, Matt Schaub has not looked great. The first preseason game, he couldn't get on the same page as his receivers (as much the receivers fault as his). The offense also couldn't manage a first down until the last few seconds of the first quarter. The second preseason game, he looked a bit better despite being intercepted on his opening drive. In that second game, he at least was able to drive the Raiders on a touchdown drive. It took until the second quarter on his final drive to do it, but it offered somewhat of a sigh of relief.
Now he must improve upon that once again. The Packers were one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season so there shouldn't be any excuse for not moving the ball down the field. Not to say it should be easy but it needs to happen. This could very well be Schaub's last action this preseason and it's important to see something positive from him.
Bay to Bay homecoming
Most notably the welcome for Charles Woodson and James Jones. The two of them were on the Packers' Super Bowl team and are well-loved in Green Bay. The Packers have some of the best fans in the league and they appreciate their former heroes. This will be the first return to Green Bay for both Woodson and Jones.
Marcel more-so or less-so?
Well, we know now that Derek Carr will not be playing in this game because of the injury he sustained in last week's game. Reece was also injured on the game and has been sporting a walking boot on that injured foot while not on the practice field. Dennis Allen said he is good to go for the game and Reece said he will play if asked. The question is if Allen will send him out there. And if he does, how much will he play? His spirit is admirable but there is little reason for him to play. If there is any concern over reinjuring himself at all, best to sit him. We shall see.
Wide receiver shuffle
The wide receiver depth chart has varied over the first two preseason games. Dennis Allen says the team is just trying different combinations, but the order they entered the game last week was pretty much on par with their performance in week one. If that holds true once again, it's possible we don't see Andre Holmes and Greg Little until a bit later in the game. The most reliable receivers thus far has been James Jones, Rod Streater, Denarius Moore, and Brice Butler.
The good news for the Raiders offensive line is their goal to strong run blocking up front appears to be achieved. The bad news is their pass blocking is still lacking. In the first week of the preseason, it was mainly the tackles who couldn't keep pass rushers out of the backfield. Both Donald Penn and Menelik Watson were guilty of giving up pressures, penalties, and sacks. Last week it was the first team interior line that got things crossed up and gave up pressures. Run blocking is all fine and good but not at the expense of collapsing pockets.
The newly refurbished pass rush for the Raiders has yet to show up. The duo of Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley have not gotten any sacks and haven't offered much in the way of pressure either. Khalil Mack has one sack but it came against the backups. He has done little to nothing against the starters. Aaron Rodgers has been known to take a lot of sacks and often leads the league. If they can't get to him in this game, that's a problem.
What can Brown do for you?
Tarell Brown was supposed to be one of the better free agent additions by the team this off-season. He was a long time starter for the 49ers and is still young (29). Yet through two games, he has been roasted on an open fire several times. First by Matt Cassel and Cordarrelle Patterson, then by Matt Stafford and Golden Tate. It makes you shudder to think what Aaron Rodgers and his duo of Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson will do to him. He needs to show something now because it hasn't been good news for him so far.
Carrie the load
With Chimdi Chekwa still out, T.J. Carrie is once again expected to see a lot of work. He will be the nickel corner with the first team and most likely move to the boundary with the second team just as he did last week. He had a rough go of it against the Lions whether it was Matt Stafford or Dan Orlovsky in at quarterback. He had been the star of the off-season and training camp as well as the first preseason game. This week he will have to face Aaron Rodgers. As the nickel, he will guard Jarrett Boyking most but will probably face Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson at some point. He will look to rebound and show the skills we have seen from him thus far. In addition to his work at corner, he will split punt return duties with Denarius Moore. Carrie is gonna be a busy guy.
Would the real third tight end please stand up
The fight for third tight end is underway. With David Ausberry and Nick Kasa both out, the one and two spots belong to Mychal Rivera and Brian Leonhardt. After that, who knows. The next two candidates are undrafted rookies Scott Simonson and Jake Murphy. The team added Kyle Auffray to the mix this week. If one of them steps up, they could earn the job. If none of them does, the team will probably be scanning the waiver wire to find their guy. They'll be scanning it regardless but these guys will need to give them something to think about.