Preseason game # 2 on Saturday vs. the Chicago Bears will represent significant challenges for the Raiders as well as some individual players.
LT Mario Henderson will be lining up against newly acquired defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers, one of the premier defensive players in the league, recorded 10.5 sacks last season with the Carolina Panthers.
“I’ve been hearing everyone is talking about it, but for me it’s just another time for me to see where I’m at and where we’re at as a team,” said Henderson. “I look forward to it. It’s a great challenge for me. He’s a great player, probably one of the best defensive ends to play in the league and to have the opportunity to go against him is a good thing for me.”
Henderson expects to see more playing time this week in Chicago than in game 1 vs. Dallas, as the Raiders projected starters get closer to being regular season-ready.
The Raiders defensive unit will also be tested this week against the Mike Martz-led Bears offense. Martz, known for calling a variety of different types of plays, is trying to bring a new look offense to the perennially defensive minded Bears. Raiders DE Richard Seymour knows the key to stopping a Martz-type run and gun offense is to disrupt the unit's rhythm.
“In any offense if you can disrupt the rhythm of the offense, jam the receivers, disrupt the quarterback, I think you can be successful,” said Seymour. “Our job on defense is to get the ball back so if we can jam the receivers, disrupt their timing, put the linemen in the quarterbacks’ face I think we’ll be successful.”
Many eyes will be on CB Nnamdi Asomugha, who the Raiders announced will be freed up more this year to cover the opposition's best receiver on the field as opposed to staying assigned to one side. This should prohibit offenses from completely avoiding the him. Opposing quarterbacks threw to Asomugha's side of the field only 28 times last season.
How the Raiders respond to these challenges this week will give more insight into the team's potential performance in 2010 as well as how realistic their goal of returning to the playoffs for the first time in eight years really is.