OAKLAND -- The Raiders continue to operate on the premise that they know something you don't know.

Having wrapped up training camp as well as preparations to face the Chicago Bears on Friday at 7 p.m. at O.co Coliseum, the Raiders seem resolute in the belief they've got something good going in 2013, even in the face of last week's first-half face plant by the starters in New Orleans.

"We're a different team now than we were at the start of camp," quarterback Matt Flynn said. "We've developed a lot of chemistry and I learned there's a big passion for the game from everyone, from top to bottom.

"I like this team, I like the work ethic and I have big expectations for us."

Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn (15) holds onto the ball and runs against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter of their preseason game at O.co
Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn (15) holds onto the ball and runs against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter of their preseason game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

A strong performance against Chicago would go a long way toward giving merit to the sentiments of Flynn and teammates who have expressed optimism.

While the Raiders have put the New Orleans game in the past, having the starters fall behind 23-0 until late in the first half looked all too familiar to a fan base that hasn't seen a winning season in a decade.

But that was against Drew Brees, who always lights up the Raiders, as well as on the road in a domed environment.

Playing the Bears, coached by former Raiders offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, affords the opportunity to play at home and test themselves in a game for which they have devised a regular-season-type game plan.


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It is also hugely important for roster hopefuls with the first cutdown to 75 players coming Tuesday.

"I don't think there is any question that these next couple of weeks are make or break games for a lot of guys," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "There's still a lot of positions on this team where we haven't made our mind up exactly who those guys are going to be."

Some things to watch for the Raiders against Chicago:

  • How will cornerback D.J. Hayden react to his first live action since last November?

    Hayden has a couple of interceptions during closed practice sessions, but the Bears, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall in particular, provide a big test for the first time in a game situation.

    "I think everyone is excited to see when he has his first live contact," Allen said.

  • Can the offensive line protect Flynn?

    Flynn was sacked five times in the first half against New Orleans on the same day left tackle Jared Veldheer had surgery for a torn left triceps. Allen and line coach Tony Sparano are pondering various combinations along the offensive line and general manager Reggie McKenzie is watching the waiver wire.

    "It wasn't all the offensive line," Flynn said. "There were a lot of things we have to clean up, and that's what we're looking to do. That's what preseason is for."

  • Can the Raiders get to Chicago starting quarterback Jay Cutler?

    Defensive end Jason Hunter was the only lineman to lay a hand on Brees, who had 12 seconds to throw on one of his touchdown passes. Cutler is much easier to sack, and the Raiders have Vance Walker back at defensive tackle and Lamarr Houston returning at defensive end.

    Chicago starts two rookies on the right side of its offensive line in first-round pick Kyle Long (son of Raider Hall of Famer Howie Long) and fifth-round pick Jordan Mills.

  • Will Josh Cribbs show more of a burst on kick returns?

    Cribbs has been returning kickoffs well into the end zone and averaging 23.2 yards without the kind of explosion he has shown throughout his career.

    Despite eight kickoff returns for touchdowns, Cribbs could be pushed by Jacoby Ford. Ford, who's recovered from a hamstring strain, has four career return touchdowns.

  • How will Allen handle the quarterback rotation?

    If the Raiders are putting in a regular-season-type game plan, backup Terrelle Pryor could see first-half action for a selected series with Flynn coming back into the game.

    Allen hasn't ruled out using four quarterbacks, with undrafted free agent Matt McGloin still ahead of fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson on the depth chart.

    For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at twitter.com/Jerrymcd.

    FRIDAY'S EXHIBITION

    Chicago (1-1) at Raiders (1-1), 7 p.m. KICU (tape-delayed 9 p.m.)