Most teams know what's going on with their starters. Starters normally get to play 1-2 series and get out to avoid injury. It's the first game of four.
One important issue will get the attention needed on Thursday, the Raiders passing game. JaMarcus Russell is supposed to play the majority of the first quarter as mentioned by Tom Cable. Javon Walker is still on the PUP list and won't play.
Dallas is hurting a DB. They are dealing with injuries to their two starting cornerbacks, Terrance Newman and Mike Jenkins. They aren't in danger of missing the September 13 game vs. Tampa Bay but due to those 'minor' injuries they won't play on Thursday night.
Not just them but, Michael Hawkins, who was getting looked at as a Nickel/Dime DB won't be playing either. They are going to rely on Courtney Brown (6' 1"), Orlando Scandrick (5' 10") and Alan Ball (6' 1"). All these guys are young and not too experienced. Brown is even playing out of position, he normally plays Safety.
Things to watch for:
- The Raiders 'first team' WR's vs. Dallas 'first team' CB's
Now, this will be huge. Guys like Louis Murphy would voice their opinions during training camp about the defense knowing their routes. That happens, these guys practice daily and things become repetitive.
JaMarcus Russell needs to show that he can be on the same page with his receivers. He'll need to show some touch on the ball during game situations. Will he be able to look off safeties to get his guys open? Will be able to zip the ball into tight/catchable places across the middle? This is a huge oppertunity for JaMarcus to step up.
Darrius Heyward-Bey went through some drills after having a minor issue with his toe but should play. DHB, Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins will have the oppertunities needed to make some plays. They should do very well against their opposition. This is exactly what the Raiders needed right now to gain some confidence, a crippled CB crew stepping into the Black Hole for some needed reps.
- The Raiders Run Defense vs. Dallas Running Game
This is one area where Dallas is ready to attack. The Raiders have been playing John Marshall type defense with the LB's blitzing and even falling back into coverage. Will this carry into the game? Can Gerrad Warren be that rock next to Tommy Kelly? How will Trevor Scott play with the added weight? Ricky Brown, will be play MLB or OLB? Can Morrison solidify his starting MLB spot? Jon Alston has been looking good, will it continue?
One thing is for sure, they will be tested. The Cowboys have Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice to pound the ball until atleast the third quarter. We will learn alot because all three of their backs are capable of big runs/games. Helluva test.
- The Raiders 'second team' CB's vs. Dallas 'second team' Passing Game
Stanford Routt is currently fighting it out with Chris Johnson to start opposite Nnamdi Asomugha. Johnson has continued to play strong which should keep Stanford at the Nickel. Routt along with Justin Miller, John Bowie and Darrick Brown will get the remaining snaps. Routt needs to 'dominate' his guys in order to be considered opposite Nnamdi. He might finally be realizing his potential the Raiders saw when he was drafted. Justin Miller will be trying to show he's more then just a Kick Returner.
Dallas will be gunning down field. Jon Kitna at QB will get throw happy. He'll have Martellius Bennett across the middle and WR's Miles Austin and Sam Hurd on the edges. We can't forget Felix Jones or Tashard Choice catching passes out the backfield. This will be a solid test. Can Jon Alston, Slade Norris and Sam Williams keep up with the short routes? Michael Huff and Mike Mitchell need to make big impacts here. I'd expect Mitchell to hurt someone, he's been foaming at the mouth for a chance to hit someone since he has to 'hold back' during team practices.
What to expect:
Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens should both be able to bring down TD grabs against the weaker secondary. I'd love to see them try a deep 'Go' route with DHB.
Stanford Routt should come up with a INT. Kitna will test him and find out that Routt isn't a push over.
I'd look for Dallas to stuggle being consistant in the run game. However, I feel that they'll break atleast one big TD run.
What do you think Nation?