The intensity will go up a notch tonight as Lions head coach Jim Schwartz plans to keep his starters on the field for an extended period of time against Oakland.
A few things you should keep your eye on tonight:
- Mikel Leshoure will play, but likely won't get the same extended action as the starters. Look for Mikel to play somewhere between 15-20 plays. When he's out there, they'll test each of his possible responsibilities, from running to blocking to pass-protection. The key for Mikel is to keep his emotions in check and not try to do too much. It's his first game action since Illinois beat Baylor in the Texas Bowl on December 29, 2010.
- Who steps up at right cornerback? Bill Bentley, Jacob Lacey and Alphonso Smith are all battling for a starting spot across from Chris Houston. The Lions would like to see someone make some plays tonight to help get them closer to a decision.
- Can John Wendling continue to play well? When Louis Delmas is healthy, the starting spot at safety will be his. Until then, the Lions are looking to see who can fill the gap. Wendling has consistently improved and made some impact plays against the Ravens last week. Was it a one-game wonder, or is he onto something? Beyond Wendling, who provides depth at safety? Ricardo Silva and Sean Jones are candidates.
- The Raiders first offense hasn't scored a touchdown in the first two preseason games and there's a lot of attention here in the Bay Area on that topic. Carson Palmer has said he's taken chances in the first two games that he wouldn't in the regular season, just to see if they'd work. Expect a more efficient, more conservative approach from Oakland tonight as they attempt to get their offense clicking a bit.
- To a man, the Lions point to last year's win in Oakland as one of the best of the season. Coming back from a 13-point deficit late in the fourth quarter in a hostile environment was one of the highlights of 2011. Even though it's preseason, how will they respond to that rowdy crowd tonight?
Join us for our Lions Tailgate pregame show on 7 tonight at 6:30, followed by kickoff between the Lions and Raiders at 7pm. Matt Shepard, Rob Rubick and Charlie Sanders join me for the pregame and Matt and Rob will call the game live on WXYZ.
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