Behind Enemy Lines PART 2: Raiders vs Lions

How is Big Mike Williams doing? Is Josh McCown the real deal at quarterback for the Raiders? Scout.com Raiders' expert Denis Savage answers these questions, and more, as Sunday's season opener looms.

Nate Caminata: Is Jamarcus Russell another Bo Jackson (and I don't mean his athletic gifts), and if he does sign, how has his holdout affected both his career and the Raiders organization?

Denis Savage: The Russell negotiations are coming to a head - finally. Expect him to be wrapped up shortly and the impact hurts Russell's development more than the Raiders. Oakland is a better team than most give them credit for, but Russell had a legitimate chance to take the reigns by the end of the year. Now, Russell will have to catch up and during the season isn't a time when true learning can be done. He essentially will be a rookie next year when he starts off-season workouts. Only then will he be able to truly pick up the nuances of the offense by working with the receiving corps. Right now, those crucial reps have to go to the starter.

Nate Caminata: There was rumored to be some fallout between Al Davis and Lane Kiffin in regards to the cuts. Are the Raiders a 'bipolar' organization, and how will that apparent friction affect the team in the season opener?

Denis Savage: Honestly, this is Lane Kiffin's team and the stamp he has put on the organization - bringing accountability and competition in its truest form has been refreshing. Every player has been put on notice that they have to perform or they won't be around. That air of uncertainty helped tremendously in training camp and gave lesser known players a chance to make the team if they performed well - and several did.

The friction won't turn to undo turmoil when the season begins. Instead, it might turn into a catalyst for a brighter future. B.J. Ward, a safety who was ferocious in camp, could very well blossom into an elite player. It will also push the incumbents currently in front of Ward on the depth chart.

Nate Caminata: Lions' fans favorite player (note sarcasm) is Mike Williams. How is "BMW," and does he have a chance to revive his career in Oakland? Will he play much against Detroit?

Denis Savage: Lane Kiffin has a familiarity with Williams from his days at USC and there is no denying his potential, particularly in the red zone. Williams comes in with low expectations and buried behind Jerry Porter, Ronald Curry and Travis Taylor. He won't have a huge role in the offense to begin the year but expect him to be moved into packages inside the twenties and in win-win situations to give him confidence. Wide receiver screens should suffice and corner end zone routes to take advantage of his size. A few touchdowns could bring the real Mike Williams out.

Nate Caminata: Speaking of former Lions' castoffs, Josh McCown is the apparent starter for Sunday. How has McCown looked in the Raiders offense, how long will it take before Daunte Culpepper unseats him?

Denis Savage: Daunte Culpepper seemed to have a better preseason at first look. McCown, however, has a better understanding of the playbook and what Kiffin wants from his quarterback - ball security, short passes, and intelligence. He does not have the big play ability of Culpepper but if he shows he can move the chains he will stay in Kiffin's good graces.

I don't expect it to last. Culpepper has adapted well and if he can get rid of the ball rather than taking unnecessary sacks, we could see some of the old Viking quarterback. The hook could be quick, especially if the Raiders start out with a couple of losses.

Nate Caminata: If there is anything on Sunday that Lions' fans should be concerned about on Sunday, what is it?

Denis Savage: The running game. While it sounds funny given their lack of execution toting the rock last season, the addition of offensive line coach Tom Cable was perhaps the biggest addition of the off-season. The offensive line took a lot of heat last year, and rightly so, but they were also not put in the best position to succeed, receiving multiple opinions on how to do their job effectively. Cable brings a different scheme and that will open running lanes for LaMont Jordan. It is amazing what an offensive line coach can do. Ask the Chargers who went from old Detroit line coach Carl Mauck to Jack Henry and immediately turned a seemingly porous offensive line into one of the best in the game. The transformation won't be that large but it will be noticeable.


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