Ellis' Raider Debut Against Team That Cut Him

You think you're excited for tonight's Oakland Raiders preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys?

Imagine how Raiders linebacker Greg Ellis feels. Two months ago, the Cowboys cut him from the team.

Tonight, Ellis gets his chance to apply egg onto the faces of former teammates when the Raiders kick off their preseason at 7 p.m. at the Oakland Coliseum. Good old-fashioned Cowboy hatred was one of the primary recruiting tools that Al Davis used to persuade Ellis to join the Raiders.

"When (Al Davis) first called me, he said, 'Greg, guess where we're going to be on Thanksgiving,'" Ellis told the AP. "I said, 'Where?.' He said, 'We're going to be in Dallas playing your Dallas Cowboys.'"

Since the Raiders do play the Cowboys again on Thanksgiving Day, don't expect Coach Cable to bust out anything interesting in tonight's game plan. Offensive and defensive schemes will less complex than Tecmo Bowl, and starters like Greg Ellis will play one quarter, tops.

One exception to that rule is our speedy rookie friend Darrius Heyward-Bey. DHB has missed time with a sore hamstring and a case of turf toe, so he'll see a few extra reps. "Cable said (Heyward-Bey) will probably start and play the first half," David White notes on his SF Chronicle blog.

The three-headed running back attack will play beyond the first quarter as well. Coach Cable has said this week that he would rotate Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas, and Michael Bush throughout the first half.

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell will have first quarter duties, and Jeff Garcia is out with a sore calf. If you're a big Charlie Frye or Bruce Gradkowski fan, boy is tonight the game for you.

The Raiders come in tonight as two-point favorites, if any of you are so out to lunch that you gamble on preseason NFL games. Most of us would just be happy to see the first team play well enough to make the Cowboys look even worse than they do with their new haircuts.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who started tailgating at about 8:30 this morning.

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