WR Denarius Moore. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders take on the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, August 28, at O.co Coliseum. After dropping the first two preseason games, the Raiders have spent the last week fixing their mistakes, improving, and preparing for preseason Week 3. "I think it's an unbelievable test," said Head Coach Hue Jackson. "It's probably the best test we can get; playing against a tremendous offensive football team with a quarterback who I think is one of the best in football. I think it's a great test for our football team, just the New Orleans Saints versus the Oakland Raiders. It gets no better than that."
Preseason Week 3 is often the dress rehearsal for many of the starters and an opportunity for the team to gauge where they are as a collective unit. "I think the team has to get ready," said Coach Jackson. "A lot of teams don't play their starters very much. I think we haven't played a ton of plays and to get ready for a big Monday night game in Denver, I need to make sure that this team is battle tested and ready. They have to go out and compete. The things I see in practice and the things I see in meetings are the other part of the equation to make sure that this team is ready to play."
The Raiders defense has been preparing for an impressive Saints offense that includes QB Drew Brees and WRs Marques Colston and Robert Meachem. "Oh it's a great test," said CB Stanford Routt. "With Drew Brees, he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, top five. They've got a great receiving corps with Colston, Henderson, Meachem, Moore, Graham their tight end, the Heisman trophy winner running back, Mark Ingram. They definitely give you a bevy of weapons out there on the football field. "
The defense knows they'll be tested from the start of the football game and paid close attention to detail during Wednesday's practice. "I expect Drew Brees to have them running very efficiently on Sunday," said S Stevie Brown.
WR Derek Hagan expects the Saints defense, which includes LB Jonathan Vilma and CB Tracy Porter, to be fired up and ready to go with the starters getting increased playing time. "Obviously, this is the third game and we know a lot of the starters are going to play a lot of that game," said Hagan. "We're definitely looking forward to it. It's going to be a battle. We're looking forward to getting better, but we also want to come out with a victory and that's definitely something we're looking forward to."
This week's match up with New Orleans is an opportunity for both the coaches and the players to assess their progress and continue to improve for the regular season. "This is definitely going to be a test to see where we are mentally, physically, and as a whole – defense, offense," said Routt. "You saw how they did against San Francisco back in Week 1 with all the blitzing so Week 3 is going to tell you where you're at."
The Raiders expect to learn a lot about themselves as a team through Sunday's performance. "I think how the flow of the game goes on offense and defense , how they gel, how you play; whether you're out there blowing coverages, blowing assignments, offense out there with false starts, dropping passes, stuff like that – it's going to show you where you are," said Routt.
The players have a day off tomorrow before closing camp with one final practice on Friday. The Silver and Black will reconvene in Alameda at their practice facility for a walk-through on Saturday. The Raiders host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. PT on NBC Sunday Night Football.