NEW ORLEANS -- It hasn't mattered if the defensive coordinator is Rob Ryan, John Marshall, Chuck Bresnahan or Jason Tarver.

It's irrelevant if the secondary is manned by Gibril Wilson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Stanford Routt or Tyvon Branch.

Whether it's preseason or the regular season, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees toys with the Raiders secondary as if it were a 7-on-7 session, with receivers breaking into the clear and catching perfectly timed passes.

Having Brees to play against will gauge the progress of the Raiders' revamped secondary when they visit the Saints in an exhibition game Friday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at 5 p.m. (PDT).

"It will be a great challenge for us defensively to go against them and kind of get a little benchmark of where we're at," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.

Brees, who already has a Pro Football Hall of Fame resume, enters another realm against the Raiders.

In four games since 2008, two in the preseason and two in the regular season, Brees has completed 77.3 percent of his passes (75 for 97) for 907 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions -- a stratospheric passer rating of 133.0.

The Raiders won't be at full strength, with cornerback Tracy Porter possibly sitting it out with an undisclosed injury and first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden not scheduled for contact until practice Sunday.


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Still, the play of the secondary, with cornerback Michael Jenkins and free safety Charles Woodson joining Branch, has been one of the bright spots of camp when contrasted with the leaky pass defense in Allen's first season.

In the exhibition opener against Dallas, Sio Moore had a coverage sack of quarterback Tony Romo and on another occasion Romo had to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone with no open receivers despite having seven seconds to throw.

Romo was able to do some damage -- he was 4 of 5 for 65 yards on one drive -- but the Raiders kept the Cowboys' starting offense out of the end zone.

Something along those lines against Brees would be something to build upon.

Some other areas Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie will watch closely as they begin to envision a 53-man roster:

1. How will Alex Barron fare as the left tackle in place of Jared Veldheer?

There aren't a lot of options other than moving Khalif Barnes to the left side. The Raiders will look at out-of-work tackles and watch the waiver wire closely. McKenzie could also examine the possibility of a trade.

2. How much of Terrelle Pryor's specialty packages will Greg Olson show?

Against Dallas, the offensive coordinator showed a couple of variations of the spread formation, including the pistol (with the running back lined up behind the quarterback), and Pryor says there is plenty more where that came from.

Do Olson and Allen cut back to keep the element of surprise or use the opposite tactic by throwing a lot on film and giving opponents even more to prepare for?

3. Which wide receivers will stake their claim?

Against Dallas, it was Brice Butler, who had two catches for 70 yards including a diving 30-yard touchdown reception from Matt McGloin. Rod Streater remains the most consistent receiver on the roster and the most trusted target for starting quarterback Matt Flynn.

Undrafted rookie Connor Vernon had some solid moments during practice this week. The longer Jacoby Ford sits out because of injury, the more someone like Vernon has a chance to stick.

4. Chris Kluwe or Marquette King at punter?

The Raiders need to see King, backed up in his own end zone, needing to get off a punt under duress. It's almost a Flynn-Pryor scenario, with Kluwe staying with the first team for now because of his consistency and the faith that he won't make a key mistake.

5. Can anyone flash as a pass rusher?

Undrafted Ryan Robinson did some good things last week and gave himself a chance. Seventh-rounder David Bass has his moments but occasionally looks undersized and unable to disengage.

Rookie defensive tackle Stacy McGee, forced into a starting role, is a beast at times during one-on-one blocking drills, and doing it in a game situation could help him break into the rotation assuming Pat Sims and Vance Walker return soon to reclaim their spots.

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 GAME
Raiders at New Orleans, 5 p.m., KTVU