LIONS INSIDER

Lions at Raiders preview

Posted Aug 15, 2014

Tim Twentyman takes a look at five storylines to follow as the Lions take on the Raiders in Oakland for their second preseason game.

The Lions hit the field Friday night in Oakland for their second game of the preseason. Coaches and talent evaluators want to see vast improvements over last week’s come-from-behind victory over Cleveland. The preseason is about getting better each week so teams can hit the ground running when the games start counting.

The first preseason game is essentially a dry run, especially for a new staff that’s implementing new schemes on both sides of the football. Coaches and players are expected to fix their mistakes from the first week and play a much better brand of football in Oakland. Coaches want to see players making progress.

“I think that every day this team is getting just a little bit better,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “You’re always not going to be pleased with everything that happens in practice, but overall they work hard, they concentrate, they’re contentious.

“We may drop a ball here or maybe jump offsides, but we’re trying to minimize those things. I think every single day, we measure them and we keep track of those things that we are seeing improvement in.”


FAIRLEY OBVIOUS

Nick Fairley has lost reps in practice this week as he’s been running with the second unit.

Fairley’s weight has steadily risen since reporting to training camp at 305 pounds and he's really had an uninspired two weeks of camp so far.

Will Fairley start the game alongside Ndamukong Suh at tackle or will he have to earn that spot back by his play Friday night and in practice moving forward.

This is a big year for the free-agent to be and it hasn't gotten off to a good start.

Will MEGATRON PLAY?

Caldwell has already ruled out defensive end Ziggy Ansah. Receiver TJ Jones won’t play either because he’s still on PUP.

As for Calvin Johnson, we won’t know until about 90 minutes before the game if he’ll make his preseason debut or not.

Caldwell has been very good about giving Johnson days off during training camp and limiting his reps. The Lions need him healthy and ready to go in September, not August, but there is a benefit to  seeing all the offensive parts together – if only for a few reps -- in the preseason to see how the defense reacts to it and have something to look at on film.

BACKUP PLAN

Orlovsky played just ok against Cleveland, completing 12-of-23 passes for 89 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was the victim of a couple drops by his receivers, but also looked uncomfortable at times.

Third-string quarterback Kellen Moore relieved Orlovsky at the end of the third quarter and finished 11-of-13 passing for 121 yards and threw the game’s only touchdown pass, a 21-yarder to Corey Fuller in the final minutes to help the Lions come from behind to win.

The Lions will be looking for Orlovsky to lead more scoring drives in Oakland. They’ll want to see if Moore can keep it up and maybe inch his way closer to Orlovsky on the depth chart.

DEFENSIVE MINDED

The Lions were one of only three teams (Arizona and Baltimore) to not allow a touchdown in their preseason opener. They allowed four field goals in a 13-12 victory.

The defense recorded eight passes defended, which was the best in the league, playing pretty well on the back end.

They didn’t record a sack, however, and will no doubt look to ramp up the pressure against Oakland.

KICKING COMPETITION

Caldwell has tried to put both Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio in competitive situations all throughout camp.

That includes Wednesday’s gauntlet-style competition with the entire team watching.

Friday’s game in Oakland will give the coaches another good evaluation of the competition. The Lions will be outdoors on a cool night and are playing on a field that doubles as a baseball stadium with suspect turf at best.