6 Things to Look for from the Oakland Raiders Tonight
The Cardinals now have the highly touted Kevin Kolb to throw the ball to All-World receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Tight end Todd Heap is also in the mix along with running back Beanie Wells to carry the backfield load.
To get the confidence the Cardinals are looking for, they simply need to develop timing and execution. For the Raiders to get their confidence, they need to find out who of the youngsters on the roster can really play.
There should be some hints dropped tonight.
Turn the page to see what I'm looking for this evening.
1. Left Tackle Jared Veldheer
Many Raiders writers say left tackle Jared Veldheer had a solid rookie campaign in 2010. I don't know what I missed, but I didn't miss a game in 2010 and I didn't see anything that says the Raiders are set at left tackle.
Raiders owner Al Davis knows better himself, and tried to make a move for Jared Gaither but it didn't work out. This is because Veldheer had nine starts total, seven at left tackle, and gave up 7.5 sacks at left tackle.
That means he gave up a sack and some change per game at left tackle. Do you think that's something to build on?
He's been getting abused by Raiders defensive end Matt Shaughnessy so far in camp. Is that great Shaughnessy, bad Veldheer, or both?
Tonight he draws Joey Porter, whose pass-rushing skills aren't what they were but can show where Veldheer is. In other words, if he looks comfortable blocking Porter, he's ready for the next level of pass-rushers.
If not, the Raiders may scramble for a left tackle while they contemplate a move for Veldheer to the right side.
There is more than one preseason game to work with though.
2. Quentin Groves
In 2010, opposing teams made a living running on Quentin Groves' side and throwing passes to his man. Groves is a fine athlete but didn't show himself to be a fine football player at his outside linebacker position.
The Raiders haven't made a move to replace him so far, so I'm looking for him to show me something tonight. I know about the 4.4 wheels he has, but I want to see the 260-pounder play like it when the opposing team runs.
So far, he's played like he's 205 pounds on running plays and 260 pounds on passing downs. I'm really hoping to see a hint of a reversal of what I've seen of Groves to-date.
The Raiders' run-and-pass defense depends on it.
3. Denarius Moore
Fifth-round wide receiver Denarius Moore has looked like the one so far in camp. He has abused everyone lined up in front of him including new money corner Stanford Routt.
Tonight, I can't wait to see if he can do all this playmaking when the lights come on in front of thousands. If he can, Darrius Heyward-Bey will be under "Moore" pressure, as Chaz Schilens (when healthy), Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy have already proven to be better.
What's crazy about this situation is that Heyward-Bey is the No. 1 receiver on the Raiders depth chart. I'm betting that distinction will belong to Schilens if he stays healthy, which is why I don't even want to see him play this preseason.
Both Ford and Murphy proved to be clutch receivers in their rookie years respectively, with Murphy on pace for 1,000 yards until he was injured. Jacoby Ford is the No. 2 receiver, but his broken hand won't allow us to see where he is in building on last year.
But if Moore can do what he's been doing when the lights come on, the Raiders will have to increase his role.
4. David Ausberry
I already know how good Kevin Boss is, so I'm just looking to see how comfortable he's getting with Jason Campbell. The tight end I'm really looking to see is seventh-round collegiate receiver David Ausberry.
Ausberry is another of those guys who's been making plays left and right in camp so far. Like Moore, I want to see what this 4.4 running tight end does both catching and blocking when the lights come on.
This can be another one of those Vernon Davis types.
5. Darrius Heyward-Bey
I think the Raiders busted on this one, but I am looking for anything, I mean anything, to show me that he has turned the corner. Many citizens of Raider Nation want to compare him to Darren McFadden and how McFadden broke out in his third year.
To that, I say he broke out because he didn't get broke off.
In regular English, that means he was a beast in college, beasted in his first start in the NFL, then started getting hurt. As soon as the young man could stay healthy, McFadden simply did what he does.
Darrius Heyward-Bey has worked his behind off and gotten much better, but high school receivers catch the ball better than he did his rookie year. He improved by miles last year, but he was still far away from looking like an NFL No. 1 receiver.
There are a few Raiders receivers looking good in camp.
I need to know why Heyward-Bey is No. 1.
I hope he drops me a hint tonight.
A hint, not the ball!
6. Stefen Wisniewski
I expect Stefen Wisniewski to win the center job and shine as that was what he was drafted in the second round for. But with Samson Satele listed No. 1 on the depth chart, I wonder how long it will take to earn the job.
I believe Wisniewski could have done better than Satele, even last year when he was at Penn St. But the problem here is Wisniewski couldn't learn the offense with the lockout in place and the center makes all the offense line calls.
What he has to show is that he has a firm grasp on all the calls and knows what he is doing.
We'll see how much of a grasp he has tonight.
Yeah, I know, "What about Campbell?"
I don't expect him to play enough to show anything, as Campbell might go to the bench if the offense goes three and out. I wouldn't be surprised if he went out there and threw two incomplete bombs and went to sit.
Of course I'll be watching, but I didn't mention Stanford Routt because I think he'll be just fine. No, he won't be Nnamdi Asomugha but he can be a Pro Bowler, especially with Asomugha moving to the NFC.
I pretty much trust everyone else to do their job.