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5 things to watch: Raiders vs. Packers

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Raiders have been designated as the home team Thursday night in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, when they face the Green Bay Packers in their third preseason game.

But coach Jon Gruden said after practice Tuesday that the team would “treat it like a normal road game” in a season that will see the team travel 32,023 miles, nearly 9,000 miles more than the Bills, Giants and Jets combined.

“We have to respond to a tough schedule,” he said. “We’re going to fly a lot of hours this year, and we’re going to play home games in foreign countries. That doesn’t sound right, but that’s the facts.”

The Raiders not only will not play this preseason game in their final season in Oakland, but will surrender a regular-season home game when they play the Chicago Bears in London.

Here are five things to watch:

1. Tuneup for Carr?

Gruden played few starters in the first game of the preseason, getting his starting offense just one drive last week in Arizona.

Gruden said the coaching staff was still undecided on how much to let the starters go in the third game, which is traditionally the week teams give the first unit its most extended run of the exhibition season.

Some players may not even make the trip.

As he walked off the practice field Tuesday, quarterback Derek Carr was coy with reporters when asked whether he was going to play, offering nothing more than a shrug and a smile.

2. Tougher test for the defense?

The defense has looked vastly improved over the first two preseason games.

But the revamped unit could get a better gauge on just how much it has improved if it gets a chance to match up against Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

A sore back has limited his participation in practice, and he is trending toward missing another game. While new coach Matt LaFleur hasn’t made a formal announcement, it’s not likely Rodgers plays against the Raiders.

3. On the upswing

While the guard position is largely unsettled due to injuries and pending suspensions, Trent Brown and Kolton Miller are firmly entrenched as the team’s starting tackles.

An interesting battle is brewing for the swing tackle spot. Brandon Parker entered camp as the favorite to win the job, but he’s being pushed by David Sharpe.

Gruden wants to see how both potential candidates perform Thursday.

4. Who’s number two?

After two preseason games, Mike Glennon appears to have an edge over Nathan Peterman in the backup quarterback battle, although little has been settled. Glennon bounced back from two interceptions against the Rams with a big game in Arizona.

A scene from Tuesday’s “Hard Knocks” seemed to indicate Glennon is the front-runner. The idea was floated in a coach’s meeting to have Peterman enter the game first against the Cardinals only to have Gruden shut it down.

Who enters the game first Thursday could be telling.

5. Turn them loose

While many fans are watching to see how the potential starters perform, the coaching staff and personnel departments have their eyes further down the depth chart, where the roster battles are intense this time of year.

Thursday represents one more chance for players to either make their case to stay on the roster or impress some other team that watches the film.

Gruden is excited to see it.

“We’ve got a lot of players that have worked really hard to put themselves in position to make the team,” he said. “This will be the biggest game of their careers in that regard.”

Gruden also seems to like winning these games even if they don’t count in the standings. He pointed to the Raiders’ success on the scoreboard in the first two games as evidence his team hasn’t been distracted by “Hard Knocks” and the Antonio Brown saga. The Raiders are 2-0 in the preseason for the first time since 2010.

More Raiders: Follow at vegasnation.com and @VegasNation on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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