After a disappointing start to the preseason, the Oakland Raiders are looking to show major improvement against the Detroit Lions. Oakland wasn't terrible in any one area, but it didn't meet expectations anywhere. After another week of practice to continue to gel and develop as a unit, expectations are high that Friday's game (7 p.m. PT) will provide a clearer picture of just how much this team has improved.
Most of the attention will be paid to starting quarterback Matt Schaub. He has been impressive in practices, but none of that was evident against the Minnesota Vikings. Schaub has the opportunity to prove that last week's game can be chalked up to a sort of feeling-out process, the first opportunity for this reconstructed Raiders team to get a look at what it's actually like to play with each other.
While it's only the second preseason game, Schaub is under a lot of pressure to be effective against Detroit. If he leaves this game like he did the last one, without a first down or any points on the board, the chants for Derek Carr will get very loud very quickly.
The Raiders' starting cornerbacks, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, will also be under a microscope. They looked overmatched last week against Cordarrelle Patterson, and they didn't look any better against Dez Bryant this week during joint practices against the Dallas Cowboys.
It's only going to get tougher tonight as they face Calvin Johnson. Neither Brown nor Rogers is expected to be a shutdown corner, but they need to at least show that they can reduce the damage.
Oakland is in the middle of a top-to-bottom reconstruction of the roster, so there will be some growing pains. The team certainly isn't expected to win every game. However, what is expected is for the team to show clear signs of improvement, something that was absent last week.
The Raiders have to come out against Detroit and prove that they're in fact improved, and that they're really on the road back to NFL relevance.