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Monday, September 8, 2008
Setting up in Oakland


Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

OAKLAND -- Just getting set up in Oakland for tonight's game between the Broncos and the Raiders.

It is still the middle of the afternoon in Oakland and it is a bright, warm sunny day. Weather shouldn't be a problem.

The stadium is far from opening but the public lot is packed with reveling, optimistic Raiders' fans.

Oakland's cheerleaders, the Raiderettes, are still in their pre-game practice. They've been on the field for about an hour. Some Oakland assistant coaches just wrapped up a pre-game workout; some coaches ran around the field and others ran the stadium in the first level.

Like every NFL stadium, there is a huge "GU" on the field. It is in memoriam of NFL Hall of Famer and the NFLPA's executive director Gene Upshaw, who died last month of cancer. The memorial hits home here since this is the field where Upshaw was a star guard and the face of the tough Oakland Raiders of the 1970s.

Here are some quick thoughts on what I'm looking for tonight:

Will Javon Walker step up and play well tonight in his first game as a Raider and his first game as a former Bronco?

Can either team stop the run?

Will Darren McFadden explode in his NFL debut?

Will Jay Cutler continue his hot streak from the preseason?

Is JaMarcus Russell ready?

Can Denver rookie receiver Eddie Royal give Cutler the boost he needs without suspended Brandon Marshall?

Can Denver tight end Tony Scheffler make a difference after not playing in the preseason much?

All of these are vital questions pertaining to the outcome of the game. We'll see how it all unfolds.