Raiders notes: Fringe players to get audition in preseason opener

Published: Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 - 6:25 am

NAPA – Flashing their ability in training camp is nice, but for players who are not locks for the Raiders' 53-man roster, this evening's preseason opener against Dallas is the first of four opportunities to make a lasting impression on coach Dennis Allen.

"You play the game under the lights, and that's when it counts, so we obviously are going to weigh these very heavily," Allen said of the Raiders' four preseason games.

"It's kind of like being in college and you get some homework assignments – that's like practice. They count, and it's part of your grade, but you're going to take your midterm, and you're going to take your final, and those are going to weigh the heaviest."

Asked what positions he'll keep an eye on in the 5 p.m. game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Allen singled out tight end, depth at cornerback and the youth on the second- and third-team offensive lines.

Brandon Myers' shoulder injury leaves Richard Gordon and David Ausberry as the Raiders' top options at tight end. At cornerback, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa are hovering behind projected starters Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell, with Pat Lee recently making a push for more playing time.

As for his first game as an NFL head coach, Allen said he's "looking forward to the opportunity" but not getting caught up in it.

"I think once you get into the flow of the game, my focus is just going to be on managing the game and making the right decisions to put our guys in the best position to have success," Allen said.

The rookie – Allen said he'll be looking mostly for consistency from rookie Miles Burris, who continues to work with the first team at weakside linebacker while Aaron Curry tends to his ailing knees.

"The good thing is you can see improvement and correcting some of the things he might have made a mistake on before," Allen said. "He gets them corrected. He still has a long way to go."

Curry, who's seeing a specialist in Los Angeles, has not practiced all camp. Burris, a former Granite Bay High School standout, likely will start his first preseason game just months after the Raiders made him a fourth-round draft pick out of San Diego State.

"I'm just taking it for what it is, and I know it's a big deal, but I just got to take it one play at a time," Burris said. "I don't let my mind go through how surreal it is, or that I've arrived, because I haven't. I haven't played a play yet."

The veteran – Spencer has vivid memories of his first preseason game. As a rookie cornerback for the 49ers in 2004, he lined up for his first play across from Jerry Rice, then playing for the Raiders.

"I remember he caught a curl route, and we were playing at Candlestick (Park), and the crowd erupted," Spencer said. "I was confused, like, OK, I thought this was a home game."

Spencer said his message to the younger players before tonight's game will be not to take it for granted.

"It may be that you only get this one preseason game," Spencer said. "Just letting them know that this is their résumé, when you don't have a lot of game film and things like that, this is your résumé for all 31 other teams."

Et cetera – Tests confirmed linebacker Mario Kurn, a rookie, and wide receiver Duke Calhoun will require season-ending ACL surgery. Both were injured in practice Saturday.

• The quarterback order tonight will be Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor.

• Running back Darren McFadden is "going to get his plays and his touches," Allen said. Neither Mike Goodson (neck) nor Taiwan Jones (hamstring) will play, so Allen foresees fullbacks Marcel Reece and Rashawn Jackson possibly lining up at tailback.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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