NFL Preseason 2010: Oakland Raiders vs. San Francisco 49ers Predictions
The third preseason game is typically considered to be the main "dress rehearsal" for every teams starting line up. A game plan is set and the starters typically play the whole first half and possibly more.
The Raiders might have a slightly different mentality going into this particular preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. In addition to the game this Saturday, the Raiders also play the 49ers in week six of the regular season.
The Raiders and 49ers may hold back on how much they expose of their playbook, but there are still issues that can gain more clarity on Saturday.
Here are a couple things to look for when you watch the Raiders on Saturday.
How Many Targets Is Darrius Heyward-Bey Getting?
The review of DHB this offseason has been very positive. Its been well established that he's worked extremely hard and is much improved from last year.
The problem is there still hasn't been any production on the field that would back up those comments.
Heyward-Bey didn't play in the second preseason game due to fatigue, but should get some work against San Francisco. It would be a great statement to fans and doubters to have DHB make some plays to show the fruits of his labor.
If he doesn't, the more it looks like another first-round bust.
Jason Campbell's Trust in His Receivers
Speaking of wide receivers, the Raiders seem to be very thin with them. The number one receiver, Chaz Schilens, is out indefinitely after a knee scope and Heyward-Bey is still trying to find himself.
If Schilens continues to be limited all year, it looks like Louis Murphy will be the main wide receiver Campbell will look for. Murphy and Zach Miller can't do it alone so finding out which receivers will step up (DHB, Johnnie Lee-Higgins, Jacoby Ford, Nick Miller, etc) will be very important.
How Will Darren McFadden Fit?
Another player hanging off the edge to fall into the bust category, Darren McFadden should get some very important carries in tomorrow's preseason game.
Even with the nagging injuries that have hampered the former first-round pick the past three years, McFadden hasn't lived up to expectations as a runner. He's known for stopping his feet and not breaking through tackles.
As usual, McFadden has been impressive in camp showing burst and natural pass catching ability. He'll have to show he can translate those abilities into a real game against a real opposition.
If he doesn't, he'll lose carries (assuming Cable or Jackson have the authority) to Michael Bush who has been the better player thus far.
Can Veldheer Get Proper Leverage At Center?
Having versatile offensive linemen is never a bad thing. For the Raiders, instead of moving their tackle to the tight end position for a jumbo package, they moved their tackle to center.
The battle in the trenches is all about leverage and Jared Veldheer is at a natural disadvantage. The question is, can a 6'8'' Veldheer get the proper leverage against the 6'3'' nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois?
Can Veldheer make the proper line calls?
Even if Veldheer does well, could the Raiders possibly be dwarfing his development at offensive tackle?
Will The Raiders Continue to Get Pressure?
The Raiders made a number of personnel moves to help them strengthen a bad run defense. In a pleasant surprise, the Raider pass rush seems to be stronger than expected.
Outside linebacker and former Brown, Kamerion Wimbley, had four sacks against the Chicago Bears. Wimbley got most of these sacks in a nickel package where Wimbley was allowed work with his hand on the ground.
The week before, second-round pick Lamarr Houston had two sacks.
I'm not sure if anyone was thinking of the Raiders defense having legitimate pass rushing threats but if they continue at the pace they are, offensive coordinators are going to have to add a few more hours to their preparations.
Defense Bottles Up Big Play Touchdowns
There's nothing worse than seeing an opposing player break free for a long touchdown.
The Raiders defense gave up an 89-yard touchdown to Bears running back Matt Forte. Rolando McClain over pursued to the hole and safety Michael Huff got twisted up when Forte cut back inside.
If the Raiders want to be a respectable defense, these types of plays will have to be eliminated. The coaching staff should feel pretty satisfied if the starters don't give up anything similar to the Forte run.
Reduced Penalties and No Turnovers
The Raiders are a particularly penalty prone team. In two preseason games the Raiders have been penalized 14 times for 113 yards. If the Raiders can cut the penalties down, it would go a long way to their offensive efficiency.
The Raiders also have had problems with fumbles the past two games. Four fumbles with two being lost is too many. Watching the players ball security on offense will also be big focus.