The Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals open their 2011 preseason campaigns with a Thursday night contest at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Raiders are coming off their first non-losing season in nearly a decade and will look to build on that under new head coach Hue Jackson. The Cardinals struggled to their first losing season since 2006, but have high hopes this season with the significant offseason trade for QB Kevin Kolb.
The Raiders had significant offseason turnover that could present a roadblock to building on last season's 8-8 record. The most significant departure was that of Nnamdi Asomugha. The all-world corner had his contract voided due to an unexpected clause requiring a sack, interception, fumble recovery, or even a minimum tackle total. Due to the lack of throws in his direction, he did not reach these minimums and is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Aside from Nnamdi, the Raiders lost top tight end Zach Miller, guard Robert Gallery, linebacker Thomas Howard and wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins. They will look to find replacements throughout the roster, and it all begins with the first preseason game. Arguably the most interesting battle will be to see how high Denarius Moore can climb over the next month. He is currently third string on the depth chart but word on the street is that he is really impressing in camp. A strong preseason combined with the continued struggles of Darrius Heyward-Bey could net him some serious playing time in 2011.
The Arizona Cardinals had their share of turnover as they lost Steve Breaston and Tim Hightower, among others. However, their 2011 season and really the future of the franchise will be determined based on a single transaction. The Cardinals decision to trade cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Kevin Kolb was the kind of impact move that could set up the Cardinals to be division front-runners moving forward. Of course, if Kolb doesn't work out they'll find themselves back at square one.
Cardinals preseason games will primarily center around Kolb's performances. While only so much can be gleaned from preseason action, that will not make much difference in the scrutiny surrounding Kolb. Every pass will be dissected as Cardinals fans hope and pray he is indeed the answer. The Cardinals have plenty of story lines to follow throughout their preseason depth chart in 2011, but Kevin Kolb is far and away the biggest.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, August 11; 10:00pm ET
Location: O.Co Coliseum, Oakland, California
Raiders: KICU TV36 (Tape Delay - Midnight ET)
Cardinals: KNXV ABC15
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Raiders: KITS 105.3 FM/KFRC 1550 AM
Cardinals: KTAR 620 AM