NFL Preseason: Five Keys To The Oakland Raiders' First Game
Let's be honest for a minute: the first preseason game will not reflect any type of success for a team or a player. The Raiders beat the Cowboys last year 31-10 and Jamarcus Russell's completion percentage was almost 70 percent.
Not exactly how the Raiders performed during the season.
This game won't show us if Jason Campbell is the real deal, and it won't show us if Darrius Heyward-Bey is ready for the Hall of Fame.
This game will show us a lot of things, but it won't show us if the Raiders will make the playoffs in 2010.
Let's take a look at five things the Raider Nation should watch for when the Raiders play the Cowboys.
New Offensive Scheme
There has been a lot of talk about Hue Jackson and the impact that he will have on the offensive side of the ball. Al Davis sounded pretty excited about Jackson in his recent interview on Sirius Radio.
Michael Bush has said that Jackson wants to build a bully with their offense and be a run-heavy team. It will be interesting to see how the offense looks in Jackson's first year.
The first preseason game should give everyone a taste of what the offense will be like with a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterback.
Rookies' First Taste of the NFL
All the rookies will get their first snap in the NFL tonight. For the first time in a long time, the Raiders have drafted two rookies who are expected to start right away and make an impact.
Everyone is talking about Rolando McClain and how seasoned he is. I'm more excited to see Lamarr Houston in action. This man is very athletic and a beast. John Gruden and Mel Kiper have said they don't see much difference in Houston's college tapes and Gerald McCoy and Ndamkong Suh's tapes.
He can be a very special player. McClain and Houston should enjoy their first preseason game as rookies.
Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell will also be fun to watch as they get plugged into the offensive line.
The other rookies will get a shot on the field as well. They will all be vying for a roster spot and some serious playing time.
Second-Year Players Seeking Redemption
The Raiders first two picks in 2009 caused a lot of noise around the NFL world. Oakland selected Darrius Heyward-Bey over Michael Crabtree in the first round with the seventh pick. Then they continued to confuse the world by selecting Mike Mitchell over everyone else.
The good news is that these young players are hard workers who know what it takes to be a professional.
Heyward-Bey has improved his skills and added muscle. He looks a lot different than he did last year when you look at his physique. He'll also surprise everyone when they see him catching and holding on to the ball.
Mitchell is a football player and a hard hitter. Look for him to make plays and make some big hits when he is on the field. Mitchell has said he is in the best shape of his life and he feels good.
It will be fun to see these two young players go out and show the world they were worth the pick.
Depth at Various Positions.
We won't see the starters or stars play much in the first game but we will see the Raiders depth in various positions.
We don't know how deep the Raiders are at the wide receiver position, offensive line position and even at running back.
The production from the third- and fourth-string players will let us know if we have something to worry about. It will be vital for the Raiders to make sure they are capable of withstanding serious injuries.
Time to Put Up or Shut Up
The Raiders and their fans have been very vocal about a change of attitude and a change of direction. The first game won't tell us if they are playoff ready or if they are going to win more than five games in 2010.
The Raider players and coaches can show the Raider Nation that they are serious by coming out with a high level of emotion and physical play.
The Raiders need to come out with fire in their eyes. They have a lot to prove to their fans and the rest of the world. A win today won't say much, but how they come out and how hard they play will tell us a lot about the direction this team is headed in.
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