Filed for print for Friday’s print editions . . . Heading out of town for a couple of days. Steve Corkran is your man in Green Bay . . .
What you see from the Oakland Raiders Friday night will be the closest thing to the real thing.
As preseason games go, facing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field (5 p.m.) is a difficult assignment. The Raiders first-team defense has struggled against Matt Cassel and Matt Stafford, and now faces Aaron Rodgers.
The Raiders first-team offense, moving the ball sporadically through a 1-1 preseason, gets a dose of a Packers defense with Clay Matthews attacking from the right side and Julius Peppers coming from the left.
Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub believes the timing is perfect, given that the Raiders, like most NFL teams, use Week 3 of the preseason to simulate a regular-season game week.
“We approach it that way with our meetings, our schedule, our daily routine,’’ Schaub said. “it’s a dress rehearsal for the regular season.’’
In the Raiders first two seasons under Dennis Allen, the third preseason game has raised more concern than optimism. A year ago, the Chicago Bears moved at will and took a 27-3 halftime lead. Matt Flynn struggled as the starting quarterback (he lost the job to Terrelle Pryor) and the Raiders fell 34-26.
In 2012, although the Raiders won 31-20, Carson Palmer didn’t play well and it was actually Pryor who sparked a victory with a 59-yard run and a 76-yard touchdown pass.
Schaub, the Week 1 starter barring injury, will get his most extended playing time against the Packers. Having completed 11 of 20 passes for 108 yards and an interception in seven possessions, Schaub acknowledges getting the offense rolling against Green Bay is crucial.
“It would be huge,’’ Schaub said. “You want to go out and establish yourself as a team on the road, and there is no better place than in Green Bay, against a good team.
Schaub views the offense as a total entity working together, rather than focusing on putting the team on his shoulders and leading it down the field.
“Our offense goes how the quarterback is going to go,’’ Schaub said. “We need to be more consistent with what we’re doing.’’
Schaub’s lone interception came on a deflected pass against Detroit. More problematic was an earlier throw that was nearly intercepted by the Lions.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson has watched Schaub closely, looking for signs of the player in Houston who had interceptions run back for touchdowns in four consecutive games last season
“After last season, is he making the right decisions?,’’ Olson said. “He had one ball last weke where the corner drove on it and it had a chance to be intercepted. Other than that, he hasn’t been forcing the ball, which is a plus.’’
Other areas where the Raiders will be looking at before they play a get-it-over-with fourth preseason game at home Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks:
– Competing with Rodgers. Rookie corners TJ Carrie and Keith McGill could get plenty of work with Chimdi Chekwa out along with starters Tarrel Brown and Carlos Rogers. A decent pass rush could help throw off Rodgers timing.
“We’ve had critical downs, third-and-6 and third-and-7, where we’ve got to get off the field, ‘’ defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “We have to get better at situational football.’’
– Keeping Schaub clean. Matthews and Peppers will be a big test for left tackle Donald Penn and right tackle Menelik Watson. Schaub was pressured against Detroit, but Allen, Olson and line coach Tony Sparano cited factors other than line play.
– The return game. Carrie and Denarius Moore are the top candidates to return punts, while Latavius Murray and Kory Sheets are vying to return kickoffs.
Given the way Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden are playing, and the ability of Jeremy Stewart on special teams, Sheets may not stick unless he wins the job from Murray to return kickoffs.
– A Mack attack. The rookie first-round draft pick has yet to make a “wow’’ play against a first-team offense. Allen and Tarver insist they are not concerned.
“I’d say Khalil is right on pace with where we need him to be,’’ Tarver said.
– Sorting out the wide receivers. Rod Streater and James Jones are givens, but after that there is a host of receivers with different skill sets in Moore, Andre Holmes, Greg Little and Brice Butler. Butler has yet to be cleared from a concussion, and Juron Criner has missed crucial practice time of late with a hip injury.