The Raiders and Seahawks are set to renew their long-time rivaly with a preseason match up in Seattle. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks in their final preseason match up of the 2012 campaign. The Raiders play the Seahawks, their former AFC Western Division foe, for the seventh straight time in the preseason and for the fifth time in the last six years in Seattle, including last year. Seattle has won seven of the 10 matchups since they began facing each other in the preseason in 1974.
This game is important for many of the players on the current Raiders 75-man roster. The team will make their final cuts to 53 players Friday. WR Travionte Session wants to take advantage of his playing time and prove himself to the coaching staff. "I'm going to treat this one like the Super Bowl," said Session. "I know the 'ones' aren't going to play much. I'm trying to get out there and put on a good show for not only myself but for the team, so I can come out here and make this team."
The Seattle game is the final opportunity for the players to show what they've got. "It's real important," said LB Kaelin Burnett. "It's all on the line right here," said Burnett. "I just have to go out there and focus and just play. I know they're going to be cutting down to the 53, but just take it as any other game, just go out there and play and have fun."
Veteran CB Bryan McCann has been in this situation before and knows what's on the line. "It's very important to a guy like me who's fighting for a roster spot," said McCann. "I'm going to get the most amount of playing time that I've had this preseason so it's definitely important that I go out there and do well and show them that I deserve to be on the roster."
The Raiders first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, G Tony Bergstrom, wants to finish the preseason on a positive note. "To me, [it's] very [important]. I didn't play as well this last game. You're going to have ups and downs, you just want to make sure you never have back-to-back downs. So, this next game is a big deal for me in that way, and also it's the last preseason game so you want to make sure that everything is going well. You want to hit the season going up."
SS Mike Mitchell is anticipating a lot of playing time. "[This game is] very important because I get to play a lot and I'm really excited about that," said Mitchell. "It just gives me another opportunity to prove myself to the team and to the coaches. I don't think the starters will be in too much so we should get a lot of good quality snaps."
Each player has individual goals for the fourth preseason game with the overarching goal of making the Raiders 53-player roster. "I want to be mistake free – 100 percent on assignments, on alignments," said McCann. "And not miss any tackles. To go out there and be aggressive, have my nose in everything, be in as many plays as I can be and get the coaches attention so that they know I need to be on this roster."
Session wants to take full advantage of the opportunity the fourth preseason game presents. "Just to come out and do well," said Session. "I've been blessed to be put in this position and given this opportunity. I just want to come out and take advantage of it and show that I can play at this level."
Mitchell just wants to leave it all on the field. "Get my hands on as many balls as I can, make as many tackles as I can, just do my job every play with 100 percent execution and effort," said Mitchell.
In addition to proving themselves, the players know that at the end of the day, they need to win. "You want to win and every game is important, it doesn't matter if it's preseason or any game," said Ausberry. "[But I want to] do my job and show up when I get a chance. Catches and things like that will come; my job is get out there and do what my assignment is and that's pretty much what I'm focused on."
Although each player has their individual goals, they still need to prepare as a team for the Seahawks. The Raiders offense anticipates seeing a similar defense to the one they saw with the Detroit Lions. "It helps us to have the same defensive front scheme that we just had last week on a short week," said offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. "So they're a four-down [linemen] team and we'll see a similar front that we just saw against Detroit. They do run to the ball real well, they're very fast to the ball. It was fun to watch them a little bit at the end of last year in preparation for this game and see the progress they made. A good friend of mine, Gus Bradley, that I worked with in Seattle, and I saw progress there. Similar front-four scheme, more of a single safety-middle type coverage team."
Ausberry echoed Knapp's explanation. "They're a 4-3 team, similar to Detroit," said Ausberry. "We're expecting a lot of blitz from them. They're an athletic team and we're expecting them to try to get after us a little bit, but we're prepared to handle it."
Bergstrom is anticipating a challenge with the Seahawks defensive linemen. "They're a lot like our defense: a lot of 'under-fronts.' But they'll mix in some crazy things. They've got a really big D-end who can really move around out in 'backerville,' so they've got a few wrinkles to throw at you. They've got big, stout D-linemen and some linebackers who can move so it will be a test."
The offense will also have to contend with Seattle's "12th man." CenturyLink Field is known for the noise, which poses a challenge for opposing offenses. "We have been working on silent cadence in practice for that reason," said Coach Knapp. "Spending my year up there in 2009 I did find out some information and how they developed that stadium and the echo they created and it is deafening. It's hard to concentrate in there and that's one reason why, what was it the Giants, had 15 false starts in one game. I mean it's deafening so I'm hoping that we do get that effect because that would be good for our ball club."
The Raiders defense is also looking forward to the test this game presents. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver says he wants his unit challenged. "Seattle's run game is very similar to our run game here, where they want to stretch you apart and cut it up the field," said Coach Tarver. "That's a good test for our run mechanics, for our fit mechanics that we talk about. We talk about mechanics on how everything works together in the run game. This guy's here, this guy fits here, the next guy needs to go here. That's what it's a great test of, especially for our young guys in the game."
Mitchell feels ready for whatever the Seahawks bring. "I think they have a lot of guys with a lot of stuff to prove, so it's going to be a good game, we're excited," said Mitchell. "They have two pretty good quarterbacks, so we might be able to see both of them, maybe all three of them, I'm not sure, but they have a good team and we're going to be ready."
The Raiders will face the Seahawks at 7:00 p.m. PT on Thursday. The game will air on TV in the Bay Area on KICU TV 36 instead of KTVU Fox 2. You can also follow along on Raiders.com, the official Facebook page and Twitter. LIVE 105 (KITS 105.3 FM) is the Raiders Flagship radio station. Greg Papa, Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett will have the call live from CenturyLink Field.