This was not a great first preseason game for the Oakland Raiders. Here are five players who helped themselves out with a solid game against Arizona.
Saturday night in Glendale did not yield the result that Raider Nation wanted. The Oakland Raiders were largely awful in the first half of their 20-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in their preseason opener. Arizona was playing in its second preseason game, so the Cardinals played with more precision than anything Oakland hoped to do with many of its starters not playing.
It’s not about winning preseason games, it’s about effort and the Raiders’ effort in the first half was not acceptable. They were pushed around on both sides of the ball. Cardinals quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton were able to move the ball at will on the hapless Raiders secondary. It only became a relatively close game once Blaine Gabbert came into quarterback much of the second half for Arizona.
In the second half, Oakland would play with more confidence in what was an otherwise sunk cost of a game. You could see some of the second-team players really battling to try to make roster spots. A few of them really stood out for their willingness to compete at a high level with their backs against the wall.
Here are five Raiders that moved the needle in a positive direction with how they played against the Cardinals on Saturday night in Oakland’s preseason opener.
Jaydon Mickens was a practice squad player for the 2016 Raiders in his first year out of the University of Washington. With the top-four wide receivers largely set in Oakland with Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Cordarrelle Patterson and Seth Roberts in that order, making the team as a fifth wideout was going to be difficult for a guy like Mickens.
He was a former undrafted player out of Washington, but has shown signs of promise in the return game. While he nearly fumbled a kickoff deep in Raiders territory, Mickens would manage to hold on to the ball and didn’t let the near embarrassing incident rattle him. He would go on to have the best night of any skill position player for the Raiders.
Mickens had three catches for 31 yards, second to only tight end Clive Walford, who had three catches for 44 yards. As a runner, Mickens was able to pick up an impressive 24-yard gain on an end-around in the ground game. It was brilliant play design by new offensive coordinator Todd Downing. Giving Mickens the carry had to have been a huge confidence booster for the kid.
Overall, Mickens showed on Saturday night that he can do any number of things to help the Raiders gain field position. Had he not almost fumbled that kickoff, Mickens would have been higher up on this list. That near bonehead play could have cost him dearly had he not been in sync with quarterback Connor Cook in the second-half offense.