Oakland Raiders @ Green Bay Packers: Miscellaneous Observations

Aug 18, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Johnny Holton (16) catches a pass as Green Bay Packers cornerback Robertson Daniel (31) defends during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Johnny Holton (16) catches a pass as Green Bay Packers cornerback Robertson Daniel (31) defends during the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers didn’t go as hoped, as the team fell 20-12 in an underwhelming overall performance.

There were winners and losers in terms of individual performance, but beyond that, there is still plenty of information to digest.

Here are miscellaneous observations from week two of the preseason:

  • George Atkinson III followed up his spectacular week one with a dud in week two — three carries for three yards, one catch for fifteen yards — but he did log two tackles on special teams. That could be important, because that is an area where Taiwan Jones excels, so GA3 will have to outperform Taiwan in both facets to win a roster spot.
  • Jihad Ward pushed an offensive lineman to the side and made a goal-line stop, while also being on his knees. So yeah, he’s strong. Ward got some assistance from Karl Joseph, so that was cool to see the Raiders first two draft picks in tandem.
  • Taiwan returned the first kickoff, so it still might be his job to lose, but there are some other factors to consider. DeAndre Washington is also seeing kick return reps, and Johnny Holton is seeing time at gunner. It will be interesting to see how this situation shakes out, because as mentioned above, GA3 is also seeing some special teams time.
  • Darius Latham is the big winner from the Packers game. He saw the most defensive snaps, he rotated in with the first-team, and he played well throughout the game. With Mario Edwards Jr. out for possibly the first two weeks, Latham has a real shot to sneak onto the 53-man roster.
  • Latavius Murray looked sluggish and generally ineffective. Six carries for 19 yards is not ideal, even if it is just the preseason. In a contract year, expectations are typically higher, as players usually perform better in these types of situations. Will Latavius?
  • Missed tackles is a problem for the second week in a row. Pro Football Focus counted eight missed tackles for the Oakland defense — an inexcusable number. Oakland faces Mark Ingram, DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry and Devonta Freeman the first three weeks, so this will need to be cleaned up ASAP.
  • Antonio Hamilton was given an opportunity to return a punt — he’s been one of the better performers there in camp — but he failed to capitalize. In a punt from the endzone, Hamilton had plenty of room to catch the ball, but let it bounce and cost the offense 13 yards. Still, I think Hamilton ends up on the practice squad as the only cornerback.
  • Once again, the first-team offense failed to get into rhythm. The starters played the entire first half and only managed 74 yards and 3 points. Carr ended up with a high completion percentage, but that was largely thanks to a 2.9 yards-per-attempt. Will the offense open up in week three of the preseason?
  • Don’t worry too much about the scheme of the offense or the defense. Many teams run vanilla schemes on both sides of the ball — don’t want to give away too many secrets. Offenses will run very simple plays and the defense will run largely Cover 2. Practice is where the complex stuff gets implemented.
  • The fifth WR spot is Johnny Holton’s to lose. That was the expectation before the preseason started, and he’s only solidified that through two weeks. Against the Packers, he logged two catches, and he’s also seeing time as a gunner — an important aspect to any bubble player making the roster.
  • Shilique Calhoun looked much better. He set the edge and forced the runner inside on one play, and he also logged a sack. The team also used Calhoun in a variety of ways, so that was interesting to see — he lined up on both sides of the ball, and he also stood up, and had his hand in the dirt. It’s clear the team expects him to have a big role early.
  • After a fantastic debut against the Cardinals, Cowser was nowhere to be found against Green Bay. He simply was just ineffective all game long, recording 16 snaps and no tackles, no pressures. So we have one good game and one bad one — let’s see what happens in week three.
  • Hayden was talked up as being much improved in camp, but that is still yet to be seen in-game. He had a handful of rough plays against the Packers, where he was beat for a sizable gain, and another where he failed to wrap up on a tackle. Hard to be optimistic about him turning things around.
  • Cory James impressed once again. It’s early, but the sixth-round pick might be a steal. He’s versatile, athletic and fundamentally sound. He had one particular play where he looked great in pursuit, running down the quarterback for a tackle. Another play, he took on a blocker on a screen play and tripped up the ball carrier — if he didn’t, it would have been a huge gain.
  • Denver Kirkland has been the best UDFA OL. If the Raiders carry a ninth OL, it will be between him and McCants. Kirkland is eligible for the practice squad whereas McCants is a veteran and therefore is not practice squad eligible, so that may be the deciding factor. But Kirkland can play and could have a future on the team.
  • I have Brynden Trawick winning the fourth safety spot, making the 53-man roster. Between him, Keith McGill and Dewey McDonald, no one is running away with the job. The tiebreaker therefore might be special teams ability, and the advantage would be with Trawick if that was the case. He blocked a punt against Green Bay, which Nate Allen recovered for a touchdown.
  • It seems like half the fan base loves Sebastian Janikowski, while the other half thinks it’s time for him to go. Jano’s career is obviously winding to a close, and a replacement will be needed soon — but that time isn’t right now, and the replacement isn’t Tavecchio. If Giorgio were good enough, he would already be employed elsewhere. Missing a easy PAT doesn’t help his chances, either.