Tonight, the Detroit Lions face off against the Oakland Raiders in their second preseason game of the year. Like with last week’s game against Cleveland, there are some story lines to watch in this game. After a poor showing offensively last week, we look to see improvement in the offense. We also look to see if the defense can continue to perform as they did last week. We have a few key players to watch this week, and finally we watch to see how the rookies fare.
The first key is to see if the offense can pick it up against Oakland. All throughout camp we heard how the offense was getting manhandled by the defense. In the first preseason game, we saw a largely unproductive offense and a solid defense. In the second game, we should expect more from the offense in terms of production. How much we see of Matthew Stafford and company is unknown at this point, as head coach Jim Caldwell said last week that it all depends on how long it takes the first team offense to show him what he wants to see out of them. If they string together a good long productive drive, they may not see more than one or two series against Oakland. More than that, we need to see better production from the offense. Last week, the Detroit Lions offense generated one touchdown and two field goals. That totals out to three productive drives out of an entire game. Dan Orlovsky, who was the prime target for criticism this past week, was very unproductive and needs to step it up this week. Kellen Moore needs another solid showing this week to bid for a roster spot. Overall, the Detroit Lions receivers need to move the ball better in order to break up the logjam behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.
The defense played well last week, leading many to believe that Teryl Austin’s defense will carry the team this season. Pride of Detroit did a great breakdown of the defensive formations and how the new alignments put the Detroit defenders in positions that fit their strengths as opposed to using the players we have to fit into the coach’s desired formations. It will be interesting to see how the secondary plays against Oakland as they desperately need to put forth a consistently strong effort in week after week.
Kyle Van Noy had a solid game against Cleveland. Look for him to build off of that against an Oakland offense that is still trying to find its identity. Eric Ebron, who only had one catch last week, was lined up in many different formations last week. Look for him to be more productive in his second showing in a game situation. Caraun Reid was solid last week as well. Look for him and Larry Webster to solidify themselves as a force together and build chemistry together. After all, they could be the future of the Detroit Lions defensive line depending on the situation with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
Players to Watch
The top five players to watch this week are as follows:
Nick Fairley – After a poor camp and getting demoted to the second team defense, look for Fairley to either rebound with a strong performance or play himself out of a roster spot. The likelihood that he gets cut is very slim, but with this being a contract year for him, he could be playing himself out of Detroit after this season.
Kellen Moore / Dan Orlovsky – Orlovsky played poorly last week and needs to rebound with a strong performance. In contract, Moore played exceptionally well and earned more reps this week. Look for Moore to try to push Orlovsky for the backup job and look for Orlovsky to respond to that pressure.
George Winn – Winn had an outstanding game last week running the football. The problem is, he had a fumble that counteracted much of that great performance. If he can hold onto the football and play as good against Oakland as he did against Cleveland, he may be able to squeeze by Mikel Leshoure for a roster spot.
Ryan Broyles – With Broyles finally healthy, it is time to see if he can step into the number three receiver role that he was drafted for. Outshining fellow receivers Kevin Ogletree and Kris Durham can go a long way toward that goal.
Chris Greenwood – Greenwood is in a make or break situation. He’s finally healthy and needs to play well if he wants to have a chance to make the roster. The Lions need help at corner, and are likely to part ways with Greenwood if he cannot put forth a great preseason this year. Greenwood has the size and speed to be exactly what Detroit needs, but he needs to show he is up for the task and it starts now.