The first preseason game never has been and never will be the snapshot of an entire team for an entire season. We didn’t learn a lot about the Raiders during last night’s 24-18 loss to the Cardinals. As you’d expect there is plenty of rust on the Raiders and every other NFL team. We the fans might not have missed any football but the players have missed plenty.
With no OTAs two weeks in camp is barely enough time to get more than 90 men in the same place at the same time so it’s going to take a minute to get them all on the same page.
Still, there are definite patterns you can see emerging early as the camp battles heat up.
Here are a few things that caught my eye during last night’s game
- Right tackle is going to be the position of MHN (Most Help Needed). Khalif Barnes has the job only by default right now. He had three false starts (one on special teams that took the Raiders out of field goal range which is saying something when Sebastian Janikowski is your kicker). I’ll chalk that up to camp rust but these pre-snap penalties have got to. Joe Barksdale looked good but also gassed. No doubt the O-linemen are the ones hurting the most right now. Everyone is struggling to get in game shape but their road is just a little tougher right now.
- Stephon Heyer is going to be the most valuable sub of the season. He played both guard positions and some left tackle. He looked fresh the whole night and will prove invaluable as there are sure to be injuries during the season.
- Jason Campbell and the entire offense is out of sync as you’d expect this early in the process. JC underthrew on a couple of deep balls one to Marcel Reece to start the game and another to Darrius Heyward-Bey who ran a nice stop and go rote and would be been in the end zone had Campbell led him with the throw. The timing will get there but it was nice to see Reece used out wide and DHB to get open. Reece also bailed out Campbell by making a great grab on a screen pass that was thrown low and behind the athletic fullback.
- It is too early to start calling any of the battles but I’d give Trent Edwards the inside track to win the backup job. Kyle Boller did look good but Edwards was sharper. The ball came out of Trent’s hand quick, he was comfortable in the pocket avoiding the rush and even scrambling. Edwards also threw a beautiful ball to David Ausberry for the only Raider TD of the night.
- Speaking of Ausberry, he showed exactly what the Raiders expected when they picked the Central Valley native in the 7th round. Ausberry’s wide receiver skills are blending nicely into a tight end package. He showed good hands but better feet on his TD catch from Edwards.
- On a side note, I do like that the NFL reviews every scoring play. Yes, it slows down the game but it will save sports talk radio a lot of angry calls on Monday mornings. Plus it gave us a chance to see Ausberry’s sick grab over and over again.
- The first team D only got one series but looked great. The D-line is going to cause havoc in 2011. Matt Shaughnessy was all over the field seemingly involved in every play. He’s got a real nose for the ball as does Michael Huff. Typical of Huffy, he flies to the ball but whiffs on open field tackles. Still, I love the activity of Chuck Bresnahan’s bunch.
- Speaking of Bresnahan, he’s blitzing and mixing up coverages. The Raiders played a little zone. The shocker was how often Bresnahan actually put that Raider speed to work by sending his blazing DBs after the Cardinal QBs.
- Lamarr Houston had the play of the day for the Raiders when he shed his blocker like a tackling dummy and stopped Beanie Wells on the goal line. Houston and Shaughnessy could be a deadly duo on opposite ends.
- Want to know what the new rule for kickoffs looks like? Jano booms the first kick of the season through the uprights. Seabass was the only offense of the night for Oakland. Four field goals including a 57-yarder. And to think he hadn’t even attempted one in camp until this week. Dude is that good.
- DeMarcus Van Dyke got his first real taste of the NFL. Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald went to work on the rookie. DVD had great coverage on Fitzgerald on the sideline but got caught ball watching. By the time Van Dyke found the ball Fitzgerald had made a one handed grab on the sideline for a big gain.
- The Raiders also picked on the Cardinals’ rookie DB. Patrick Peterson has much higher expectations than Demarcus Van Dyke however he’s going through the same process. Peterson wasn’t schooled by an All-Pro though. Shaun Bodiford went to work on the LSU standout by burning him twice on the same drive. Bodiford looked good in the passing game but was too casual with the ball on a kick return.
- While we’re talking about receivers, Denarius Moore’s urban legend keeps growing. Moore had a 68-yard punt return where he showed good vision, strength and speed. The kick was called back thanks to a Kevin Brock hold (another costly flag, Coach Jackson). Nick Miller had a good grab. He needs to make the most of the extra time he’s getting with Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford out.
- If getting picked on is cool then Walter McFadden is Miles Davis. As a rookie he was constantly targeted and in his second year the same thing is happening. No matter who he was checking and no matter who was playing QB for Arizona, they all went right at McFadden. He can’t seem to find the ball, always face guarding and seems to loose focus getting caught looking in the back field at times. Can we please see Jeremy Ware get more snaps?
- The second string D-line got no pressure on the QB…ever. Jarvis Moss is the only one that stands out. He’s active but Desmond Bryant just can’t seem to take that next step. Hopefully it’s just the early rust.
- Want a snapshot of the preseason? Just take a look at the fumble and recovery the punt coverage team caused in the third quarter. Three undrafted free agents converged on one great play (sound like a scene from an Oliver Stone football flick). Chris Francis stripped the rock with Bani Gbadyu and Kevin Brock fighting for the ball like their jobs were on the line…cause they are!
- The aforementioned fumble wasn’t called a fumble on the field so it gave Coach Jackson his first chance to throw a review flag. He admitted to losing sleep recently over when to throw the flag during an NFL contest. It’s the little things that haunt first year head coaches.
- Hiram Eugene had to be carted off the field. The last thing we need is for the secondary to get thinner already. No word on his injury yet but it didn’t look good as he couldn’t put any weight on his hurt leg.
Topics: Bani Gbadyu, Beanie Wells, Chris Francis, Chuck Bresnahan, Darrius Heyward-Bey, David Ausberry, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Denarius Moore, Desmond Bryant, Hiram Eugene, Hue Jackson, Jacoby Ford, Jarvis Moss, Jason Campbell, Jeremy Ware, Joseph Barksdale, Kevin Brock, Kevin Kolb, Khalif Barnes, Kyle Boller, Lamarr Houston, Larry Fitzgerald, Louis Murphy, Marcel Reece, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Huff, Nick Miller, Oakland Raiders, Patrick Peterson, Sebastian Janikowski, Shaun Bodiford, Stephon Heyer, Trent Edwards, Walter McFadden