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)

Raiders vs. Saints NFL Preseason Preview: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore Looking To Shine

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.

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Raiders vs. Saints: Taiwan Jones Finally Gets a Chance to Show Off his Speed

When the Oakland Raiders drafted the speedy back out of Eastern Washington in the fourth round of the NFL draft, many fans were immediatley anxious to see what Taiwan Jones had to offer a team that already had one of the best runningback tandems in the NFL.

On Sunday, the fans finally got what they were looking for, albeit, after a long delay. Jones, who had been out with a hamstring injury up to this point, finally made his debut for the Silver and Black and did not disappoint. Jones finished the day with 13 touches for 81 yards, including a 22 yard touchdown run.

Throughout the night, Jones was putting his speed on display. It was clear that once he hit the open field, Jones had a second gear that no one else on the field could come close to replicating. The guy is just plain fast.

In fact, though Jones put up impressive numbers, two of his bigger plays were called back on penalties that really had nothing to do with his success on the play. Jones had a 15 yard run early in the game that was called back on a holding that took place away from the play. He also had a big catch and run where he showed off not only his speed, but his maneuverability, that was also called back for a holding that occurred away from the play.

The Raiders also gave some insight into how they are going to use Jones. Besides the run plays they gave him (most of which were designed to go to the outside so that he could use his speed to get around the corner) the Raiders targetted Jones on a number of pass plays which were designed to get Jones the ball in open space along a sideline.

It became clear pretty quickly that the Raiders plan on using Jones as a third down passing option, likley in screen plays or dump offs designed to get the young speedster the ball with room to run.

The Raiders already have a very strong backfield with starting runningback Darren McFadden and backup Michael Bush. Those two players together already created one of the more feared backfields in the NFL. Add to that a athletic talent like Taiwan Jones, and the Raiders could easily have the best running game in the NFL this season.

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Raiders vs. Saints: Derek Hagan Shines, Pass Defense Struggles

The Raiders may have lost their third straight preseason game, but they looked much better in this game than they have the rest of the preseason. The offense looked good and the run defense appears to have fixed the problems that embarrassed the Raiders against the 49ers last weekend. Unfortunately, the Raiders secondary looked terrible against the Saints.

The Raiders offense came out strong taking the ball 90 yards on their first drive, capping it with a great touchdown catch and run by Derek Hagan, but the Defense just could not stop Drew Brees and the Saints passing game. By the end of the first quarter, the Saints had put up over 140 yards through the air.

Rookie Demarcus Van Dyke looked very raw in his third preseason game. He had difficulties against the Saints receiving corps throughout his time in the game and really did not have a single impressive play. On the other side of the field, Stanford Routt’s best play came when a Brees pass hit him in the back of the head (back of the head since he once again failed to get his head turned around in time for the pass).

While the pass defense struggled, the run defense looked stout most of the game and two new players on the offensive side of the ball really impressed.

Wide receiver Derek Hagan not only ensured a spot on the team with his performance tonight, but he also gave the coaching staff some food for thought when they decide how much playing time receivers are going to be getting in the regular season. Hagan finished the game with six catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. That included two plays with rather impressive runs after the catch.

Rookie Taiwan Jones also impressed in his debut with the Raiders. Jones got 13 touches and put up 81 yards including a 22 yard touchdown run. He also caught two passes for 18 yards. Jones showed the speed and explosiveness that lead the Raiders to draft him an gave Raiders fans something to be excited about.

There is only one preseason game left and the Raiders are finally starting to look like they are ready to start the regular season.

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Raiders vs. Saints NBC Sunday Night Football Blacked Out In Bay Area

The Oakland Raiders are set to make their 2011 debut on NBC's Sunday Night Football as they face the New Orleans Saints in week three of the NFL preseason. The bad news for Bay Area football fans is the game will be blacked out because the Raiders did not reach the minimum tickets sold. Given that it's only preseason it's not the end of the world, but if Terrelle Pryor makes his debut tonight, that would be kind of weak to not get to see what the young quarterback can do.

For those desperate to get a little football, you can still listen to the game on the radio. Raiders fans can listen to the game on KITS 105.3 FM and KFRC 1550 AM. Greg Papa, Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett will provide the play-by-play and commentary on the radio.

The Raiders have numerous question marks heading into the 2011 season but they also have a lot of interesting young talent worth watching. Aside from the enigmatic Pryor, the Raiders drafted wide receiver Denarius Moore and running back Taiwan Jones. Both youngsters have shown a lot in training camp and will be looking to improve their roles for the upcoming season. If you can find a place to watch the Raiders-Saints game, I highly recommend it.

For more on the Raiders head over to Silver & Black Pride. For more on the Saints, visit Canal Street Chronicles. Follow the rest of preseason week three at SB Nation NFL.

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Raiders vs. Saints NFL Preseason: Plenty of Positions Still Up for Grabs

As the Raiders prepare for their third preseason game of the year, injuries and uncertainty has left a number of starting positions up for grabs.

The offensive line is the primary area of uncertainty. At this point, there is really only one position that the starter can be predicted at this point. The Raiders think that second year player Jared Veldheer could be their answer at the left tackle position and will be given the opportunity to start at that position again this year.

Besides Veldheer, there is competition at both guard spots. Daniel Loper, Cooper Carlisle, Bruce Campbell and rookie Stefan Wisniewski are all considered potential starters at both guard positions. Coming into the preseason, it looked like the starters would be Daniel Loper and Stefan Wisniewski. However, strong performances in the first two weeks by Cooper Carlisle and the potential of workout warrior Bruce Campbell mean the starters will not likely be named until the end of the preseason.

At center, there is still competition, but it is not quite as fierce. Returning starter Samson Satele has a good chance of being the starting center again this season. The Raiders clearly want to replace Satele as they believe he is too small to play in Hue Jackson’s power blocking scheme. They attempted to replace him last season with Jared Veldheer and again tried to replace him by drafting Stefan Wisniewski this year. However, Wisniewski does not appear ready to take over as the starting center, meaning Satele will likely survive another season as the Raiders starter in the middle of the line.

At right tackle, the Raiders are looking at a very close competition between rookie Joseph Barksdale, Khalif Barnes and newcomer Stephon Heyer. Raiders fans should be excited that Barksdale is so competitive in this competition. The Raiders have struggled at the tackle positions for years now and guys like Barns and Heyer, while serviceable, are not the answer. Barksdale is a big, powerful kid with a lot of upside. If he can distance himself it would be a good sign for the Raiders offensive line.

Besides the offensive line, wide receiver is the only other position on offense still undecided. With injuries to two potential started in Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy, Denarius Moore will get another shot this weekend to show that he is deserving of serious playing time as a rookie. It will also means an opportunity for Darrius Heyward-Bey to continue his impressive preseason and prove that he can be the player the Raiders were looking for when they drafted him.

On the defensive side of the ball, one position battle was answered through injury. Many thought that Travis Goethel would challenge incumbent starting outside linebacker Quentin Groves. However, a season ending injury has all but ensured that Groves will be starting again this season.

That leaves the cornerback position as the only other position on defense with serious questions. Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson will likely be the two starters come opening weekend. However, the nickel and dime back positions are far from set. Rookie Demarcus Van Dyke is attempting to prove he is worthy of time at nickel back, while second year players Jeremy Ware and Walter McFadden are simply trying to ensure they will make the team and hope to get some playing time.

Meanwhile, the Raiders have brought in veteran cornerback Lito Sheppard to compete for time at the nickel and dime back positions. Sheppard, a former pro bowl corner, is past his prime. However, his experience is valuable for a position lacking in that department. The Raiders are hoping Sheppard will provide some stability to a shaky position.

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Raiders vs. Saints NFL Preseason Preview: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore Looking To Shine

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.

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