The Detroit Lions are set to take on the Oakland Raiders on the road on Friday night. Here are 10 things to keep an eye on during the game:
1. How Dan Orlovsky responds to the backup QB "drama"
After an uninspiring performance in his first game back with the Lions, Orlovsky has been the target of a lot of criticism this week. What's more, there have been a lot of calls for the Lions to demote Orlovsky to third string. Against the Raiders, Orlovsky will have a chance to make a statement, and he could really use a strong performance to quiet the chatter about the backup quarterback job.
2. How Kellen Moore follows up last week's performance
One way for the chatter to continue about the backup quarterback job is if Moore has another strong outing. The expectation is for him to remain in the No. 3 spot, but perhaps he could sway the coaches to give him some No. 2 reps in the future if he has another good game.
3. The overall game plan
Last week's game plan against the Cleveland Browns seemed almost excessively conservative. That's par for the course in the preseason, I suppose, but I'm interested to see if the Lions open things up at all in their second exhibition game. I'm not saying they should go crazy with looks they may be saving for the regular season, but something more than an ultra-conservative game plan would be nice.
4. How long the starters play
Along the same lines, it will be interesting to see how many reps the starters get this week. Last week, the offensive starters barely even played, and the defensive starters weren't in the game for that long, either. Once again, that's par for the course in the preseason, but perhaps the first-team offense and defense will get an extra series or two this week.
5. George Winn and Mikel Leshoure
His fumble aside, Winn really looked impressive at running back last week. He certainly looked better than Leshoure, who is fighting to make the team as one of the backups at running back. Before last week, the thinking was that Winn was simply fighting for a spot on the practice squad, but depending on what happens this week, perhaps he could get into the mix for a roster spot, especially if Leshoure has another lackluster game.
6. Travis Swanson's snaps
Swanson had a bad snap that led to a turnover in last week's game, and he has seemingly had quite a few issues with snapping the ball throughout training camp. Although he is expected to be a backup as a rookie, you never know when an injury might happen, so the Lions need to be able to trust him at center. It'll be tough to do that if his snap problems continue, though.
7. How Nick Fairley handles his demotion
It's been a pretty tough week for Fairley, who was demoted to the second-team defense in practice. C.J. Mosley took his spot with the starters, and much has been made about Fairley's weight and overall effort. He's not going to be able to put those concerns to rest in a preseason game, of course, but how Fairley responds to this difficult week could say a lot about his mindset going forward.
8. If any defensive backs really step it up
The Lions got some good performances out of a couple backup safeties last week (Isa Abdul-Quddus and Jerome Couplin), but the secondary as a whole has a lot to prove. That goes for both the starters and the backups, and it would be nice to see some cornerbacks and safeties really bring it this week.
9. The kicker battle
Although Nate Freese seems to be emerging as the clear favorite to win the Lions' starting kicker job, a lot could happen in the final few weeks of the preseason. If Freese misses a few kicks in Oakland and Giorgio Tavecchio has a perfect day, for example, perhaps Tavecchio could jump into the lead. This position battle is far from settled at this point.
As always, the main goal for this week's preseason game is to simply get through it without any serious injuries happening. The Lions emerged from last week's preseason opener as an extremely healthy team, and hopefully it will be more of the same this week.