After beating the Dallas Cowboys in week one of the NFL preseason, the Raiders were looking up as the first string played well, but last weeks game against the Saints wasn’t so pleasant to watch. With Jared Veldheer out due to surgery to repair his partially torn triceps, the offensive line greatly struggled as starting quarterback Matt Flynn was sacked five times in the first half. The defense didn’t play well either as they allowed 23 points in the first two quarters. There was no pass rush and Drew Brees had all the time in the world to throw the ball. This Friday, the Raiders look to rebound as they host the Chicago Bears at the O.co Coliseum.
The most anticipated moment of the game will be seeing first rounder, DJ Hayden’s, Raiders debut. He has been cleared for full contact and will play this week; something Raiders fans have been anxiously waiting for. This will be the corner’s first game since taking the hit that nearly cost him his life nine months ago. With the poor play by Tracy Porter last week, the Raiders secondary needs a good and healthy showing from Hayden, who has shown he is excited to get back on the field.
Head coach Dennis Allen has said all four quarterbacks may get some playing time this week, but the majority of that time will go to presumed starter Flynn as well as Terrelle Pryor. Last week both quarterbacks struggled against the blitzing New Orleans defense. Flynn led the offense to the end zone in the last two minutes of the half, but due to the pressure from the defense, wasn’t able to do much more. Flynn is clearly in the lead for the starting position and unless Pryor wows his coaching staff these next two games, Flynn will indeed be the starter on September 8th.
The struggles of the O-line were detrimental to the offense, but the Raiders coaching staff has made play changes due to the loss of Veldheer. Alex Barron struggled at the left tackle position last week, so they’ve made adjustments that will hopefully be seen this Friday.
Wide receiver, Brice Butler, has turned heads this preseason with his impressive play and is making a case for a roster spot. He got some playing time as a slot receiver last week and can expect to see more of that these next few week
Returner Josh Cribbs is also a player to keep an eye on this week as his job may be in jeopardy. Jacoby Ford has returned to practice and Cribbs isn’t the player he used to be coming off of his offseason knee surgery. He’s had a disappointing showing in preseason and needs to step up his game.
Lmarr Houston and Vance Walker will play this Friday, as announced by Dennis Allen, as well. The defensive line has struggled, but with the season debut of both Houston and Walker, they can be big boosts to the defense. The Raiders defensive linemen are getting healthier as they prepare for the regular season, and that’s some good news for Raider Nation.
So who won’t play on Friday? Despite returning to practice, Pat Sims and Menelik Watson won’t get any time on the field this week. Neither will Tyvon Branch who has suffered a rib injury. Tracy Porter, Mike Brisiel, and Juron Criner, aren’t expected to play either.
This is an important game for the Raiders as they go against a good team. Time to see if the adjustments made in practice this week have an effect on the field. Enjoy the game, Raider Nation.