Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders play host to the Arizona Cardinals this Thursday night at O.co Coliseum in their first preseason game of the 2011 campaign. The team has spent the week at training camp preparing to face the Cardinals. They are ready to show Raider Nation what they've accomplished through 12 days of training camp. The coaches have been focusing on the Arizona offense and defense, getting the players' minds right for facing a real opponent.
"It's easy when you start going against each other out here and you get used to each other; offense will have a good day, defense will have a good day," said defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. "It's totally different when you get out there and it's a whole new set of routes, a whole new blocking scheme in the run game, so you've really got to sit back and see where you're at, understanding your defense. "
While staying focused and studying hard, the players are excited to get out there and play in a real game of football. "We are getting closer to a game day and I think any time you can see an opponent at the end of the tunnel you get excited," said Head Coach Hue Jackson. "So there is a lot of energy with our team right now and our coaches, but as I said yesterday, I think they are tired of going against each other."
The guys are ready to hit someone in a different color uniform. "I'm tired of going against my guys," said RB Rock Cartwright. "It's finally an opportunity to go hit somebody else."
The Raiders offense will be facing Arizona defensive veterans DT Darnell Dockett and LB Joey Porter. "They're definitely physical up front," said TE Brandon Myers. "They have a lot of good guys; it starts with Dockett and Porter there. They're going to be after the quarterback and I definitely think those are their two main guys."
Coach Jackson is familiar with the defense the Cardinals will employ. "They can show a lot," said Coach Jackson. "I mean Ray Horton comes over from the Pittsburgh Steelers where he has been with a very successful program. I am sure he wants to implement his style, his attacking style like the Steelers play on defense in Pittsburgh. I am sure he wants to bring that to Arizona. They're a 3-4 team that we played against a year ago, so we are pretty familiar with what their personnel is. We are pretty familiar with their Pittsburgh style, but the bottom line is we are going to go out and play."
Despite spending significant time focusing on the Cardinals, the Raiders are more concerned with executing their own style of football. "We have to know what their scheme is, but we have to line up and play Raider football," said Coach Jackson. "We have to play the way we play and we don't want anybody dictating the game to us. We want to dictate the game to them."
Myers has bought in to Coach Jackson's philosophy. "I think we're more focused on what we do and how we control the offense and get better," said Myers. "It's game one, we'll worry more about the defenses as we go down the road and get in the regular season."
For Marcel Reece, the first preseason action is about getting the feel for the game again and learning from mistakes. "Just make a couple plays and then once you get your plays in, you watch from the sideline and get more mental reps," Reece explained in his training camp blog. "You have to see what you did wrong when you're looking at the game and get ready for the next one."
The Raiders defense will contend with veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald, new Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, and RB Beanie Wells. "I expect them to come out fast and try to put some plays up on us like any team would and establish themselves," said DE Matt Shaughnessy. "I played against Beanie Wells in college and last year. He's a runner similar to Michael Bush -- physical, speed. We just have to take him down."
The preseason match up with the Cardinals is an opportunity for the Raiders offense and defense to get back to basics and show what they can do. "We'll probably run base defenses and pretty much vanilla offenses, but we still have to stop the run and run the football and do the basic things in football," said DE Richard Seymour. "With any sport, if you can do the basic things of your sport really well, if you can hit and be physical, I think you'll be successful. Obviously, we aren't trying to game plan and things of that nature, but we still have a job to do."
The players have been practicing since July 28 and will have their first chance to put everything they've learned together this Thursday. "We've been grinding out here," said Cartwright. "Guys have really put in the work so I think we're ready. We're going to go out there and see what we can do. We're going to go out there and lay everything on the line Thursday night."
The Raiders host the Cardinals this Thursday at 7:00 P.M. PST at O.co Coliseum. Follow the action live on Raiders.com, the Raiders official Facebook page, and Twitter.