SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 20: Jason Campbell #8 of the Oakland Raiders looks to pass the ball against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on August 20, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The Raiders are looking for something more from their defense after a collapse in week two, but they feel good about their wide receivers and are hoping for consistency from them against the Saints. The third preseason game is generally the most important of the bunch, so look for the starters to play a good portion of the game. For more on the game and the team in general, go to Silver and Black Pride, SB Nation's Oakland Raiders blog.
While the big news coming out of Oakland has been concerning the drafting of Terrelle Pryor, we assure you that the team does have a game this weekend, and it's against the New Orleans Saints. While Pryor is a big story, especially since the team apparently plans on using hims as a quarterback, he doesn't factor into Oakland's immediate plans (can't, actually), so we'll go ahead and put discussion of him on the backburner for now, shall we?
The Raiders are coming off a loss to the 49ers across the bay, and seemed to regress from week one to week two. In week three, the starters should be getting extended playing time, as has become the custom in the NFL. Starters generally play the first half and even bits of the third quarter, sometimes lasting until the start of the fourth. With the added importance of this year's preseason, it's likely we'll see backups and the like mixed in against starters to further evaluate the depth chart. Teams will have to make some cuts on the 30th of the month, so establishing immediate backups and bubble players sooner rather than later is important.
What this means is you'll be seeing your starting quarterback in Jason Campbell, throwing to the projected starting receivers for about two or three quarters of play. But at some point, you'll see the receivers and the offensive line shuffled a bit, without being relegated to "full backup" status, so Hue Jackson and the Raiders can evaluate them against the starters of the Saints. The team hasn't talked much about doing this, but it seems to be the theme going around the league right now: with an abbreviated training camp, teams need to see these lower guys play, and fast.
As noted, the Raiders regressed from week one to week two. Fortunately, they did see some good things from Denarius Moore, who looked great in week one as well. Moore had a couple of big catches, and had a big 48-yard kickoff return as well. Surprisingly, he wasn't the only receiver who showed some great stuff: Darrius Heyward-Bey looked good receiving as well.
Heyward-Bey has been inconsistent at best, and just terrible at worst since being drafted seventh overall by the team. Continued progression in week three would be great for Oakland, and that's what the offense hinges on right now. Defensively, the Raiders seemed to regress in every area, most notably in the run game, as the 49ers ran over them with every one of the running backs. It was a big problem for them last season, and regression of that magnitude has to have fans feeling a little lethargic about the defense. They also failed to get any pressure on Alex Smith, who was brutalized in week one by the Saints.
Oh yeah. The Saints.
They're going to be out for blood, or at least, out to prevent Drew Brees from shedding any of his own. They have some issues on the offensive line, and while the Raiders will be looking to flex the pass rush from Richard Seymour and their defensive line, New Orleans will need their line to get a lot better much faster. If the protection issues arise, you may even see Brees pulled out of there, as opposed to playing for a few series.
Miscues and missed opportunities represent the Saints in week two - they're being overlooked and doubted by the media, and game three of the preseason is as good as any to show what you're made of. Expect them to come out fighting and look to bury the Raiders from the onset. The game is set for Sunday.