Raiders preseason week 1: Ballers & Busters

Football is back which means it is time for Ballers & Busters. When I first began doing this series, it was to evaluate the Raiders’ young talent in the preseason and hopefully give a good indication of who would make the team and perhaps make some noise come the regular season. So breaking down performances in the preseason is a return to B&B roots.

This preseason game was one that was in doubt for a while with the lockout. But the CBA was done and the Raider players took the field on time so no games would be missed. This first contest was to be the first full contact any of these players would have this offseason. Its purpose was to bridge the gap between non-contact drills and the regular season.

Hue Jackson as head coach and much of his staff made their Raider debuts. A few new additions to the Raiders suited up in Silver and Black for the first time and quite a few rookies put on an NFL uniform for the first time as well.

So as the Raiders dipped their collective toes in the water, we will see who sank and who swam.

Ballers

Matt Shaughnessy

He was in for one series in which he had a run stuffing tackle for no gain, a tackle on a pass into the flat, and a near interception on a pass deflection. That is a whole day’s work for some players. It is really no surprise when you consider the level of play Shaughnessy has displayed in practice the past two weeks. He is an unstoppable force that will wreak havoc on opposing offenses this season.

Sebastian Janikowski

He really shouldn’t have taken as many field goals as he did but that was through no fault of his own. He hit four on the day with the longest one coming from 57 yards out. He kicked it off the dirt and it split the uprights perfectly. If this were the regular season, that would have tied him with himself for top five all-time. He accounted for 12 of the team’s 18 points in the game.

Cooper Carlisle

The first team offense was in for two series and on those two series, the longest run went for seven yards: a rush by Michael Bush through a gaping hole that Carlisle opened. Two plays later they set up a screen play in which Reece pulled down a nifty one-handed grab. When Reece turned around, he saw Carlisle lay a solid block to clear space for him to take it for seven seven yards.

Jared Veldheer, Stephon Heyer

Veldheer’s blindside protection gave Jason Campbell all the time he needed to work the Raiders’ offense. The first play of the game was a long sideline bomb in which the Cardinals were called for pass interference. The penalty was good for 40 yards and set up the first points of the game. On the next drive Campbell was able to find Denarius Moore for a 26 yard completion. When Veldheer was replaced by Heyer, the protection was much the same. Heyer gave Boller time to work through the remainder of the first half. He also paved the way for a nice 11 yard run by Rock Cartwright on a drive that resulted in a field goal and a Raider 6-0 lead.

Second team defensive line

While the Raiders only played their first team defense one series, the Cardinals kept their first team offense in two series. This was a good test for the Raiders’ second team defense. The Cardinals were able to take advantage of the Raiders’ backup defensive backs. They drove the ball all the way to the Raiders’ one yard line. But they would get no farther. Big John Henderson and company would stuff the Cardinals’ rush attempts three straight times to keep them out of the endzone and force a turnover on downs. A huge goal line stand.

Travis Goethel

Goethel has been the Raiders’ utility linebacker this camp, stepping in for every single position in the linebacker corps. This day he came in for Rolando McClain at the middle linebacker spot. He looked very comfortable running the offense, too. He looked like a mirror image of Greg Biekert out there directing traffic from the middle. Goethel also had three nice tackles in the game. The first was a run stuff for no gain. The second tackle had him tracking down the running back who had taken a pitch around the outside for one yard. He was also in on that goal line stand to keep the Cardinals out of the endzone and give the Raiders the ball back. He is a valuable asset to this linebacker corps and the coaches are confident that if he needed to step up and start at a moment’s notice, he could do it.

Denarius Moore

His 26 yard catch was the second longest gain of the day. It went for 26 yards and most of it was running after the catch. He had three catches on the day but that particular catch showed fans the kind of big play ability coaches and media see from him every day in practice.

David Ausberry

Ausberry is another impressive rookie who has raised some eyebrows in camp. The first thing that strikes you is how big he is. You don’t expect a former receiver to be that imposing. The next thing that strikes you is his big play ability. I would compare him to Vernon Davis. He has that kind of athletic ability. He was the Raiders’ final draft pick in round seven. With the Raiders switching him to tight end from wide receiver, the immediate thought was that he was a project destined for the practice squad. He has played his way onto this team in practice. His savvy fade touchdown with toe drag in this game may have cemented that. It was the only Raider touchdown on the day.

Chuck Bresnahan

The defense in this game from the perspective of the defensive line and linebackers, was superb. The first team defense did their job and made way for the second team. The second team, as I mentioned before, was very strong. Bresnahan dialed up a few timely corner blitzes that all yielded positive results. It was a good start to Chuck’s return to the Raiders.

Busters

Walter McFadden

For anyone wondering why I didn’t mention Walter McFadden in camp reports much, wonder no more. He was the Cardinals’ whipping boy in this game. He came in the game on the second series and quickly gave up a 17 yard catch to put the Cardinals in scoring position. His worst drive came just before halftime. On first down, the small corner was handled easily on the block on a six yard run. A few plays later he was called for pass interference. Two plays after that, he had another pass interference. Two plays after that, he gave up a 10 yard catch. The drive ended with the Cardinals’ first touchdown of the day to send them into halftime up 7-6. McFadden would later give up another 10 yard catch and first down before being replaced by Sterling Moore for the remainder of the game. According to the unofficial depth chart, McFadden is the third cornerback. That is a truly scary thought, and a reason that depth chart is unofficial.

Khalif Barnes

He was in for two series and had four false starts. That is inexcusable even for an entire game. One of those false starts turned a field goal attempt into a punt.

Demarcus Van Dyke

After Wal Mac on the depth chart is Demarcus Van Dyke. He is the highest drafted player of all the backup corners and was out there playing with the first team defense as the team tried to get a good indication of what they have in their backup corners. He was up against Larry Fitzgerald in this game which is a difficult task for even the best corners in the NFL. The Cardinals took DVD back to school. They took a long sideline shot at Fitzgerald and Van Dyke appeared to have good position but didn’t high point the ball or go after it aggressively. Fitzgerald reached up and snatched the ball from him for a 43 yard gain. Two plays later Van Dyke missed a tackle on a 15 yard run. Just like McFadden, the drive just before half was not a good one for young DVD, as he gave up two catches on the drive, the first for nine yards and the second was the drive ending touchdown to give the Cardinals the lead. It was his final play of the game.

Hue Jackson

Things went wrong before the game even started. The team captains went out for the coin toss and one said defer and another said kickoff. The refs heard kickoff and that gave the Cardinals the option to start the second half. They chose to receive. So if anyone was wondering why the Raiders kicked off to begin the game and to begin the second half, that’s why. On the defensive drive to begin the second half, Hiram Eugene dislocated his hip, ending his season and perhaps worse. Then there was the fact that the Raiders were inside the five yard line twice and opted to kick field goals instead of going for a touchdown on fourth down. This is the preseason, there is nothing to be gained from kicking a field goal. Add in the fact that Jackson has been preaching the importance of limiting the penalties to the point of having referees on the field all of camp — only to have the Raiders commit 10 penalties for 84 yards including five false starts.

Follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend me on Facebook.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Preseason Week 1: Ballers & Busters

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Kyle Boller of the Oakland Raiders throws to a receiver in the preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Raiders traveled to Dallas for the first preseason game of the year. It was the Cowboys’ second game of the preseason as they had already played the Bengals in the Hall of Fame game last Sunday. But for the Raiders and their fans, it was the first game played since last season.

Seeing the Raiders take the field for the first time in 7 months is very exciting. Seeing those glorious Silver helmets that make the Cowboys silver domes just look kinda sparkly. The Raiders also came out with nearly a full starting squad while the Cowboys were pretty banged up from last week’s game. Even so the ‘boys had their star offensive players Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Jason Witten and Marion Barber III. And even so, the Raiders defense stood strong.

The Raider offense is still getting on track however. Understandably of course, they have a lot of young players as well as a new starting quarterback. But Ballers & Busters is not about “all things considered” so with that in mind, here are those guys who proved their worth, a few that need some work and a few that may have moved closer to the unemployment line.

Ballers

Matt Shaughnessy

A few people may have been a bit surprised to see him in the starting lineup. Then he went out and showed everyone why he deserved it. The Raiders seem to be playing personel at certain positions based solely on the teams’ strengths. This may seem like a no brainer but that isn’t usually the case with the Raiders. They moved Seymour inside to DT and Tommy Kelly over so they could start both Lamarr Houston and Shaughnessy at the ends. Shaughnessy’s fantastic play is the primary reason why. Cable knows the Raiders are better off with him on the field then as a backup. He ended the Cowboys third drive of the game on it’s 2nd play. It was John Kitna’s first pass attempt and Matt sacked him a few inches from a safety. The next play he held his gap causing a run stuff for no gain for a three and out and a punt from the back of their own endzone. On the very next Cowboy possession, he had yet another sack; this time on first down. The drive would end two plays later. Then again on the very next Cowboy possession he had a run stuff at the line on first down. A few plays later that drive would end with the Cowboys going for it on 4th and 1 and failing that led to a turnover on downs. This was just before halftime and he was replaced in the second half. But he did plenty of damage in his half of football.

Lamarr Houston

As I mentioned a moment ago, he lined up opposite Shaughnessy at defensive end. He was a three technique defensive tackle in college at Texas and many folks questioned the Raiders moving him to defensive end. I am going to say at this moment, that move has proven to be the right one. On the Cowboys very first possession, with all of their starters in the game and fresh, Houston had two sacks. Let me reiterate: TWO sacks on ONE drive. This in his first ever NFL game against an offense that has been picked to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this season. And make no mistake, the Cowboys have a few injuries but not on their offensive line. So these were the real starters he was facing. He then came out on the next possession, still against the Cowboy starters and pressured Romo into a thrown into coverage that fell incomplete. He played more than most the starters because he is a rookie but he didn’t look like a rookie when he was blasting through the Cowboys’ veteran offensive lineman.

Nnamdi Asomugha

Two plays in a row on the Cowboys’ first drive Nnamdi defended ‘his’ side of the field well. The first time he showed them they aren’t to try and run at him as he quickly shot to the line to smack the Runningback as he attempted to get through a gap. The next play, he showed yet again, just how truly awe inspiring his coverage skills are. He ran Roy Williams route for him and was in position to make the interception if it weren’t for Roy Williams alertly turning into the defender and batting it down. Otherwise Nnamdi would likely have taken it back for a touchdown. Two plays later, Romo was looking to his area of the field and saw his prospective receiver was so blanketed that he couldn’t throw it. The time wasted gave Lamarr Houston a chance to come in a sack Romo. Nnamdi and Tyvon Branch get a little credit for their coverage on the sack by Houston. Yes, folks, the aptly named “coverage sack.” As usual, Romo didn’t test Nnamdi again– not even in a preseason game. And with Cable and co. not needing to see much more from Nnamdi either, he was out after a couple series to give Routt some extra work in relief.

Trevor Scott

He is proving to be the primary key to this team showing 3-4 looks. His coverage ability and speed are truly remarkable. His one sack of the day was a big one too. It ended the Cowboys first drive. He was moved up to the line into a 3-4 LB/DE set and shot into the backfield to sack Romo and force a fumble. The Cowboys would recover and counted themselves lucky they escaped with a field goal. On the next Cowboys possession, they tried a tricky pitch play. Stanford Routt read it correctly but was juked into a football follies worthy ‘ankle breaking’ type moment. Scott was right behind him though to nail the runner for a minimal gain. He was taken out in favor of Thomas Howard a drive later.

Michael Bennett

Michael Bush was replaced in the game by Rock Cartwright in the second quarter. And while Cartwright had some success, it was Bennett who really tore up the Cowboy defense. He came in on the Raiders second drive of the second half and immediately began picking up large chunks of yardage. His first run went for 9 yards and he pushed through the line for a 1st down on the next play. Then he ran to the right and showed he still has a lot of speed as he got the edge and took the ball for 18 yards. Two plays later he picked up another short first down. On the next play, however, Brandon Myers couldn’t handle his man on the block causing a Bennett to be caught in the backfield. Two incompletions later, the drive stalled. But not until after Bennett had 31 yards rushing and three first downs. A couple possessions later he had a 14 yard run on a drive that ended with the Raiders only offensive touchdown as well as the Raiders first score. The next Raider drive turned out to be their last and it was almost all Michael Bennett. After a short completion to Jonnie Lee Higgins, Bennett either ran or caught every single play the rest of the way. He had 43 yards on the drive including a 33 yard screen catch and run. He finished with a run in which he fought off two defenders in the backfield to turn negative yardage into a short gain. It set up a field goal to put the Raiders ahead of the Cowboys 10-9. He finished the game with over a hundred (101) total yards along with 68 yards rushing on 12 carries (5.7 ypc). Cartwright did some things to help his cause as well but Bennett really shined.

Jerome Boyd

Boyd obviously makes this list for his huge interception that he returned 50 yards for a touchdown to seal the Raider victory. But he was also very solid in this game prior to that. He has a couple of run stuffs to start the 4th quarter and he was flawless in coverage as well. But oh man, that interception for a touchdown was really something wasn’t it? It would only have been better if the Raiders were at home and he leaped into the Blackhole afterward. He continues to prove that how much of a find he was as an undrafted free agent last season.

Nick Miller

Another guy from the 2009 undrafted free agent class for the Raiders who just continues to impress. And he too was a guy who had one really great play that earned him a spot on this list. He took a well placed, but extremely difficult pass into the corner of the endzone from Kyle Boller and made a truly amazing touchdown catch. Leaping in the air and coming down with his feet barely inbounds to give the Raiders their first score and only offensive touchdown of this game. What might be more remarkable than his play on the field in the fact that this guy slipped out of the draft and into the Raiders’ laps last year.

Travis Goethel

I know this list is getting long but there was too much good play to leave some of these guys out. Goethel was drafted by the Raiders in the 6th round out of Arizona State. He played outside linebacker there but the Raiders had ideas on changing him to middle linebacker. That is kind of backward from the usual transition. Middle linebacker is far more demanding than outside linebacker. But Goethel looks pretty good so far. He came in in the fourth quarter after McClain had started much of the game and he was releived for a quarter by Ricky Brown. He had two run stuffs in the Cowboys first drive and aided in the Cowboys going three and out on their next possession. On the Cowboys final two drive attempts he showed his coverage skills when he had a tip pass that was nearly intercepted and later had a pass defended. He keeps this up and the Raiders will find a place for him at any linebacker spot they can.

Yamon Figurs

I have been very hard on Figurs since he arrived. In practice he has drops and doesn’t seem to have soft hands at all. But in this game he not only looked good in the return game, but he had three really nice catches. One was a high pass along the sideline that he leaped up and came down with while toe tapping inbounds. Another of them he used his speed to shake his defender and hauled in a comebacker for a first down. On his punt return he split two prospective tacklers and then juked a few more and took it for 16 yards. It was the only significant return of the day by the Raiders.

Kyle Boller

He didn’t do anything spectacular in this game. And most of his passing yards seemed more a product of a guy making a tough catch or simply breaking wide open. But he gets credit for his timing, finding the open man and not making any stupid mistakes. The touchdown pass to Miller was a tough catch to make but Boller put it where only Miller could catch it. He also had a very well executed screen pass to Michael Bennett that went for 33 yards. He finished going 12 for 21 for 148 yards (12.3 ypc) a TD and no interceptions.

Busters

Shaun Bodiford

All he had to do was fair catch a punt. And he couldn’t handle it. I kinda feel bad for the guy really. This may be his last shot to make an NFL roster and he fumbles a fair catch. He may have just written his ticket out of Raider camp and perhaps the NFL. The muffed punt return gave the Cowboys the ball inside the Raider 20 yard line and with the Cowboys already up 6-0, they were able to go up 9-0. Luckily the Raider defense was able to hold (are you sensing a recurring theme here?) and keep it from being 13-0 at that point. Athough, the mere fact that a guy who muffs a punt is top Buster is pretty good news.

Samson Satele

On the first play of the Raiders second possession he gave a weak block attempt on a run play that caused Michael Bush to be stuffed at the line and the drive would end with a three and out. On the Raiders next drive, and one that started out looking rather promising, Satele was just looking as his blocking assignment ran by him to sack Jason Campbell for a 9 yard loss. The drive ended on the next play. He was replaced shortly therafter by Chris Morris but he had done enough damage. Speaking of which…

Chris Morris

No wonder the Raiders are trying former standout offensive tackle Jared Veldheer at center. With Morris in there, I fear greatly for the Raiders. On his very first series in the second quarter, he was tossed aside by his man and gave up a tackle for loss that had the Raiders backed up at their own goal line. Then after a short gain gave the Raiders some breathing room, he was called for holding. The Cowboys declined the penalty because it was third down and the Raiders were forced to punt out of the back of their own endzone.

Langston Walker

Yes, three offensive lineman in a row. Offensive lineman are supposed to be invisible for the most part. Most people only really notice them when they mess up. Langston’s first mistake was a false start on third and short that turned it into 3rd and long causing the drive to die. Then a couple drives later, which was his last of the game, he gave up a tackle for loss on Michael Bush. It may not seem like much but you average these out over a whole game and it looks pretty bad.

Jason Campbell

He should only get better from here. He got off to a rough start on his first pass. The very first play of the game, he stared down Darrius Heyward-Bey and tried to force a ball to him that was nearly intercepted. then after a couple of very short dump passes, the drive ended. Two possessions later he began the drive by not leading Louis Murphy on a long pass attempt that was knocked down by the defender. If he had led Muphy at all, it would have been a long completion as Murphy had his man beat. A few plays later Murphy had his man beat again along the right sideline and Campbell threw it wide and out of bounds. Yet again Murphy had his man beaten and had he been led on the throw it would have been a huge gain. The next drive Campbell had his first two decent completions to Murphy for 13 yards and Todd Watkins for 11 yards. But on 4th and 1 he ended the drive by throwing a pass that was way too high to his receiver. That would be his last play of the game. His line was 7 of 13 for 49 yards which is just 7 yard per completion.

Jeremy Ware

His first play of the game he gave up a 9 yard catch. A few plays later he was burnt badly by Sam Hurd and gave up a 32 yard completion. That was enough to put the Cowboys in field goal range of which they converted to go up 6-0. He held his own for a while after that until he gave up a first down catch on 4th down on a play that would have ended the game had they been stopped. Luckily for him the game ended two plays later anyway with Boyd’s interception touchdown.

Click here forthe Complete Ballers & Busters Index

Follow Levi on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend him on Facebook

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Preseason Week 1: Ballers & Busters

Football is back! The preseason may not matter in terms of wins and losses but for the diehard fan, it still means a lot. And it should. It means a great deal to the coaches and players. We all get our first glimpse of the kind of talent this team has and the position battles that are in store the rest of camp.

With football games being played, comes my Ballers and Busters. Where I break down those players who thrived and those who dived (I like rhymes). Those who were the keys to the victory or the reasons for defeat.

Luckily, in this game, the Raiders trampled the Cowboys and there are far more keys to the victory than flaws to point out that need to be worked on or replaced.

 


In this first game of the preseason, the starters get their first taste of real competition and there can finally be some real hitting without letting up. Unfortunately, that also means this is the most likely game for serious injuries to occur. The players are not completely in game shape and haven’t really hit anything since January. One false move could mean the end of a season. Isaiah Ekejiuba went down with a shoulder injury in the game which scared all of us. He will be needed for his special teams prowess as well as his line backing skills this season.

This game is also the best chance for the fringe players to make an impression. Their short term objective is to earn playing time for games two and three. Playing time will be much more hard to come by in those games and then they can, more importantly, earn their way past the first cut down and into the final game of the preseason. At which time they can make their final push to make this team. So the first game is crucial to their NFL career hopes.

Which brings us to our list. Some hopefuls made impressions as well as some players that have a bit more security in their roster spot. Although on a team that won only five games last season, very few roster spots are safe.

Ballers:

Chaz Schilens

Is this guy for real? Sure seventh rounders succeed in the NFL from time to time but Schilens is looking like the second coming of Marques Colston. And if Chaz had been given the chance from the start of last season, I have no doubt he would have been mentioned in the same breath as Colston. He only played the part of the first half and still racked up five catches for 52 yards during that time. Almost all of those were either solid, steady, receiver type stuff or simply awe inspiring. The first play from scrimmage for the Raiders, JaMarcus Russell hooked up with Schilens for an 11 yard catch. Then with the Raiders in the red zone, Russell threw a six yard bullet right into the chest of Schilens that put the Raiders in on the 2 yard line looking to score on their first posession of the day. Then after a holding call that pushed the Raiders back ten yards, Russell hooked up with Schilens again for ten yards to set up a Janikowski chip shot field goal for the first score of the day. On the Raiders next drive, he plucked a high pass out of the air for a 15 yard gain on third down to keep the drive alive. But his final catch was the most amazing of them all. He caught a ball in the right flat that was at his feet, did a baseball slide and got up just before the defender could touch him down, juked him and ran for 11 yards. The play put the Raiders at the 4 yard line and they scored a touch down two plays later. That catch showed the kind of poise, athleticism, confidence, and skill that Schilens has. He is and will be something truly special. Mark my words, we will hear Schilens and Colston compared to each other many times before this season is over and long after.

Darren McFadden

On his first carry of the day he made everyone else on the field look like they were in slow motion as he took a ball off right tackle for a quick 13 yard burst. Then two plays later he picked up a rushing defender and manhandled him to allow JaMarcus Russell to tuck the ball and scramble for a 17 yard run. Then a few plays later he took a screen pass for 9 yards. Ok so, let’s do a versatility check: speed off the edge? Check, blocking? Check. Receiving? Check. All that is left is running between the tackles. So can you guess what he did next? That’s right, he broke one off straight up the gut in a breathtaking burst of speed for a 45 yard scamper. The play set up what would be the first TD of the game. I don’t know for sure but that may have been the fasted 45 yards I have ever seen. He gets to top speed so fast, it seems to defy laws of physics. That was his final play of the game. All told he rushed for 63 yards on just four carries and a played a role in at least 99 yards from scrimmage in just three Raider posessions. Straight Baller.

Bruce Gradkowski

He struggled in mini camps, OTA’s and some of trainging camp but he looks like those struggles are over. He came in for Russell in the second quarter and looked like he is taking this Raider offense by the reins. He is supposed to be fighting for a roster spot as the third stringer but from the looks of it, Jeff Garcia shouldn’t be too comfortable with his second string job. He completed 9 passes for 161 yards and a TD in what amounted to less than a half. And while Russell clearly favored Schilens, Gradkowski was far less picky. He was showing great poise in the pocket and spreading the ball all over the field. He completed pass to Schilens, Tony Stewart (for TD), Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Brandon Myers, Jonathan Holland, and Nick Miller. The last pass he threw in the game was a beautiful, perfectly thrown bomb to Nick Miller that went for 48 yards and set up a Raider TD two plays later. He has also been praised for his hard count which had drawn many Raider lineman offsides in practice and he drew a Dallas lineman offsides once in this game as well. Charlie Frye looked decent as well but with Gradkowski tearing up the Cowboys second string, he doesn’t look like he will be letting go of his roster spot.

Jerome Boyd

Boyd is an undrafted free agent out of Oregon. He played linebacker during his time there and had great success but went undrafted due to his lack of size for a linebacker. So the Raiders picked him up with the intention of switching him to safety. It didn’t take long before they were convinced enough in his abilities to cut recently acquired safety Keith Davis. Then with the injury to Mike Mitchell this week, Boyd was bumped to second team. And he went out there and showed the coaches that their faith in his abilities were justified. He led the team with six solo tackles on the day. His size and speed is what helps him in coverage and his line backing skills make him a a valuable asset against the run. It didn’t seem to matter where he was on the field in this game, he was making plays. And wherever the ball was, he was in the picture. He was in the game with the second unit and it wasn’t long before he had a run stuff at the line. He later had another run stuff tackle for no gain to go along with a tackle on a kick return. Another instance in which rookie Slade Norris was out of position to make the tackle and Boyd swooped in and made the tackle instead to stop a potentially long run on a drive that ended without a score for the Cowboys. Last year there wasn’t a single undrafted free agent rookie on the team when they broke camp. This year it looks like at least Boyd could change that.

JaMarcus Russell

He was extremely efficient and mostly on target. He only missed three passes and had no interceptions or fumbles. He averaged under ten yards a reception but he marched the Raiders down the field in both of his posessions. The second drive was stunted by a sack and a penalty or it would have surely yielded a score as well. As it stood, a Lechler punt pinned the Cowboys at their 5 yard line where they went three and out and the Raider had great field position on their next drive. He had a great 17 yard scramble that he may have tried to force into coverage last season. Once he had his hole, he didn’t hesitate. He tucked it and ran and split two linebackers along the way. Efficiency was a big problem for Russell the first part of last season. So that is a big deal. Now for his accuracy.

Tyvon Branch, Michael Huff and Hiram Eugene

All three of these guys looked good on Thursday. Tyvon looked every bit the strong safety and Huff and Eugene were holding it down at the free safety position. Branch only recorded one tackle officially but he was in on another run stuff and he had a QB pressure on a blitz that resulted in a three and out for the Cowboys. His one tackle was on a third and long in which he gave up a short catch to stop the drive and force the Cowboys to punt from their own end zone. Huff had the only interception on the day for either team. And it was a beauty. He executed a text book read on a long pass and got there right as the ball did and caught it as it reached the receiver. Eugene did what he always does; Act as the last line of defense. He saves the Raiders so often from a sure score so often. There are few guys that can make an open field tackle like he does. The first time we saw him he was cleaning up after a missed tackle on pass into the flat to stop it after 7 yards. The next time was on an end around that had the entire rest of the Raider defense fooled. He stopped it for just 12 yards on a play that would likely have been taken to the house had he not been there or missed the tackle. All-around nice work by the Raider first and second team safeties.

Jay Richardson

If there was a play to be made around the line of scrimmage, he always seemed to be there. Often times he was the one making the play. The only sack of the day credited to the Raiders was given to Ricky Brown but if Ricky hadn’t gotten the QB, Richardson was ready to make the tackle. He also helped take the QB down. He was there for another play that may as well have been a sack because the snap was bobbled and Richardson was right there to tackle the QB as soon as he picked up the ball. After that the coaches said “ok we’ve seen enough, let’s see what some of the newbies have to offer.

Mario Henderson

As usual, JaMarcus Russell was unthreatened from his side of the line while he was there. You didn’t hear his name at all which means that he was doing his job. He also held the pocket and opened the huge hole that JaMarcus ran through for his 17 yard scramble.

Louis Rankin

He was given the ball to start the second half. On four of the seven plays on that drive, Gradkowski put the ball in his hands. Those plays were 4 yard run, 19 yard screen pass, 9 yard run, and 2 yard touch down. Then two drives later, he was given the ball for the first two plays and had two consecutive 7 yard runs. He averaged over five yard a carry and had 50 yards from scrimmage on just 7 touches. If this team keeps four running backs, or someone gets injured, he is the odds on favorite to fill that role.

David Nixon

Even without the tackle that Slade Norris made that Greg Papa gave Nixon credit for (Nixon is 48 and Norris is 58), he still had a really nice day. Most of the time he was in was when the Cowboys third string QB was playing, and that guy likes to run whenever he can. And when he did, Nixon was usually waiting for him. He tackled him twice in the open field on a scramble. He also sniffed out a screen and tackled the receiver immediately as he got the ball. He had a run stuff on the day as well. But his most memorable moment was when the Cowboys’ punt returner fumbled the catch and Nixon was Johnny on the spot to dive on it to give the Raiders the ball inside the Cowboys ten yard line. The drive ended three plays later with a Raider touch down. He is going from undrafted to un-cuttable (is that word?).

Busters:

Stanford Routt

We have been reporting all week, that Routt has been getting burnt constantly since he has practiced with the first team. And on Thursday, he brought the same thing to the playing field. The Cowboys didn’t have a great deal of success passing the ball in the first half but when they did, it was nearly always Routt that they victimized. Of course this makes his name ironically appropriate but let’s not take the obvious…um…Route on this one. I’m just saying that if he were a starter, a “route” is exactly what the Raiders would have on their hands. But I digress, to the game. He came in for Nnamdi Asomugha in the first quarter and on his FIRST play on that side he gave up a 12 yard catch on third down. Two plays later, he was called for holding. Then he finally gave up an 11 yard touchdown on the drive to put the Cowboys up 7-3 when on their first drive Nnamdi almost single handedly forced them into a three and out. He played one more short series and was out for the remainder of the game. Which is probably good. He did enough damage.

Cooper Carlisle

This is some of the worst play I have seen from Carlisle. He must have been a bundle of nerves or something. Either that or he was doing his best Kwame Harris impression. It was a damn good impression too. He was called for holding with the Raiders on the 2 yard line and looking to score a touchdown on their first drive. It ended in a field goal. Sound familiar? Then with the Raiders threatening to score again on the next drive, he had a false start. It ended in a punt. Sound familiar? Shake out those nerves Cooper. You are better than that. Come on man. Take a lap. Take a knee. But for now just take a seat.

Samson Satele

Trust me I get it. He is new to the team and will need some time to figure it out. But this is not the “take into consideration” list. It is Ballers and Busters. And Satele was not on his game. He was blocking air when a Cowboy defender came shooting through the middle to sack JaMarcus Russell for an 11 yard loss. The next time you heard his name (which for an Olineman is usually not a good thing), he was being called for tripping. Which means he was out of position or tossed aside and had to stick his foot out as a last resort. He did have a couple of nice blocks on the day including helping to spring McFadden for his 45 yard scamper. But it was nothing a backup could not have done. Giving up a clear shot on Russell and a penalty in limited duty is much more damaging.

Trevor Scott

He was pretty much invisible all day. As the starting pass rushing defensive end, he should at least be getting some pressures. The only time I saw him was when he was completely fooled by a fake on an end around and couldn’t recover to defend his area. Even if it hadn’t been a fake, he was on the wrong side of the field to make a play so he shouldn’t be biting that hard on the fake anyway.

Jason Horton

I counted like three times I saw Horton putting his arms up as if to say “What’d I do?” after a flag was thrown. He had a nightmarish day for a guy trying to make a team. He was called for pass interference (which for the record was a BS call) and then a few plays later he was called for illegal hands to the face. These penalties put the Cowboys in field goal range and they converted. Then later in the game he was called for an arm bar/pass interference. All of these penalties were automatic first downs and the last one was near the goal line to put the Cowboys in scoring position. The Raiders kept them from scoring but that is beside the point.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Quantcast