1. Getting in sync: It was truly alarming how out of sync the Raiders’ first-team offense looked in last week’s preseason opener, looking like a band of new players getting together for the first time rather than a well-oiled machine. Wait, that’s exactly what the Raiders were against Minnesota as quarterback Matt Schaub completed just 3 of 7 passes, receiver Andre Holmes ran a wrong route and tight end Mychal Rivera had a case of the dropsies. Since then, though, the Raiders have had two physical practices with the Dallas Cowboys and while Oakland started slowly on offense, the Raiders started to click, especially Schaub and receiver Denarius Moore.
2. Reducing penalties: Stop me if you’ve heard this before about the Raiders’ need to play a more disciplined brand of football. Sure, a gaggle of the 13 flags thrown at Oakland against the Vikings were for the so-called point of emphasis infractions, but getting a baker’s dozen the first time out did not bode well -- nor did the Raiders getting flagged on their first offensive snap (false start) or on the first offensive snap of their second series (face mask). After playing one preseason game and practicing in front of a raucous pro-Raiders crowd in Oxnard, California, nerves should not be an issue for the rebuilt Raiders.
3. Cornerbacks: OK, so, if Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had his way with the Raiders’ corners and Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant did the same in Wednesday’s practice, what should we expect from Calvin Johnson besides more of the same? (This assumes Johnson makes his exhibition debut after undergoing finger surgery following the 2013 season.) True, anyone would have trouble with Megatron and it probably is not a fair gauge for the likes of Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers. But Oakland’s secondary is thin at the moment (DJ Hayden is still on the physically unable to perform list and Chimdi Chekwa is nursing a sore knee) and what better opponent to test yourself against than Johnson? In any event, the Raiders need someone, anyone, to step up besides Chance Casey, who also had his fill of Bryant in Oxnard.