Key Matchups in the Oakland Raiders-Dallas Cowboys Preseason Showdown
With the start of the NFL preseason days away, this is a preview into what to expect from these two teams.
Many people say that preseason doesn't mean much, however championship caliber teams refute that claim, arguing the preseason sets the stage for what formations and player rotations work best.
In addition, the preseason gives opportunities to young players to show off abilities that are often overlooked during training camp. Many players are fueled in game situations by adreneline that lays dorment during practice.
The Raiders' Offensive Line vs. The Dallas Front Seven
The Raiders' offensive line will face an opponent that will provide as great a challenge as any in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys hone one of the best defensive front seven's in the game.
Igor Olshansky, Jay Raliff, and Marcus Spears are the front three in the Dallas 3-4 scheme.
Behind them, Bradie James and Keith Brooking are solid inside, combining for 219 tackles and five sack in 2009.
Four-time pro-bowler DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will play the outside linebacker positions.
And Jason Campbell is well aware of the Cowboys front that made his life in Washington miserable.
Center Samson Satele and right-guard Cooper Carlisle will see much of Jay Raliff, the two-time pro-bowler, and by some, estimates the most versatile nose-tackle in the NFL. If Satele and Carlisle can hold their own, there will be joyous faces on the Raiders sidelines.
"I want to see a level of consistency at tackle that I think gives us the protection things that we need and the ability to run off tackle in the run game..." coach Tom Cable noted. Against Dallas, the tackles will be tested.
This matchup will be critical for the Raiders' offensive tackles to measure how well they have improved.
If Mario Henderson and Langston Walker get pushed back into the backfield on running plays, and if they give up sacks on passing downs, the tackle positions will be of greater concern for the Raiders.
And I think Al Davis will be calling up the Ravens to inquire about the services of Jared Gaither.
The Young and Rested vs. The Dynamic Duo
With all the three and outs by the Raiders offense in 2009 and the injuries that have plagued the Raiders' young receiving core, if nothing else the Raiders receivers should be well rested.
And they'll need it against Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins who comprise the best cornerback tandem in the NFC.
This matchup will be perfect to test the improvements of the Raiders' young, speedy receivers.
Speed alone will not guarantee separation against veterans who have mastered the skill of coverage. Have Darrius Heyward Bey and Louis Murphy improved the intangibles enough to compete against the elite corners in the league?
If they fair well against Newman and Jenkins, they have the ability dominate in the AFC West.
In addition, will the oft-injured Chaz Sheilens be well enough to play in Week One of the preseason?
The Raiders' Cornerbackss vs. The Cowboys Wide Receivers
Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson versus Miles Austin and Roy Williams. This is one for the decade.
Nnamdi, "The Oaktown Island" Asomugha is the best shut-down corner in the league and Miles Austin is the freshest sensation in Dallas who has a pro-bowl on his mantle and a Kardashian on his shoulder.
Both Asomugha and Austin are prime-time playmakers who love the challenge. This matchup might be a Super Bowl matchup in the oncoming years if the Raiders continue on their path of prosperity.
In the other matchup, there will be a physical battle between the big, physical Roy Williams and Chris Johnson, who will be well-targeted this season. Expect the Cowboys to challenge Johnson early and often.
This challenge will be Johnson's first test this season, but not his last.