By Kevin Saito @Kevin_Saito on August 13, 2014
A so-so performance in their preseason debut against the Minnesota Vikings left the Oakland Raiders with a lot of work to do, but some solid things to build upon. The Raiders have stacked up several solid practices as they look to rebound from their loss in the preseason opener. The team is focused and their spirits are high as they get set to face the Detroit Lions.
Here are five things to look for in Week 2.
CB Tarrell Brown, a free agent acquisition this offseason, got abused by Minnesota's big, physical receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson. Now he gets to face Megatron and Golden Tate. How will he fare? And will the younger players, TJ Carrie, Keith McGill, Neiko Thorpe and Chimdi Chekwa, who have been stepping up with some solid play, continue that trend? Will the Raiders' secondary be able to shut down Detroit's high octane passing attack?
In very limited action, both Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew showed good speed and good pop. With those two, along with second-year standout Latavius Murray – who has been praised by HC Dennis Allen – all but guaranteed to make the team, the battle for a roster spot will be waged between Kory Sheets, George Atkinson III and Jeremy Stewart. Those three must do something special to have a chance to make this team.
The Raiders amassed 13 penalties, which set them back 94 yards in the game against Minnesota. It's long been a problem for the Raiders, and they must find a way to keep from taking costly – and sometimes stupid – penalties. Dennis Allen says cutting down the number of penalties was a point of emphasis in practice this week, so we will see if the team comes out with more focus and discipline in Week 2.
Mychal Rivera is the most accomplished pass catching TE currently on the Raiders roster. He'd made quite a splash during camp, but Rivera had a couple of costly, drive-killing drops in the game against Minnesota. Not to mention the fact that the Raiders don't have a suitable blocking TE. Allen has hinted that he will be using FB Marcel Reece in a hybrid role just to get some consistency in both areas. Will we see Reece lining up as a TE? Perhaps.
Though Matt Schaub's pedestrian performance against Minnesota isn't nearly as bad as some are making it out to be, he clearly needs to step it up. He will likely get more than the three series of work he got against the Vikings, possibly an entire quarter, and must show that he can move the chains, sustain drives, make the smart throws, and get the Raiders into the end zone – if for no other reason than to get his critics off his back.
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