Raiders preseason week 2: Ballers & Busters


Here we go again. This team is still far from being a cohesive unit. Their play on the field bears little resemblance to the Raider team that swept the AFC West last season. The stars still play like stars but the players around them don’t seem to be picking up the slack. The result is confusion and chaos and an ugly loss to their Bay Area rivals.

This was one of those games where neither the offense nor the defense can string together enough solid plays to make it worthwhile. Often times the offense would put together a few good plays and then screw it all up, while the defense, for the most part, let the 49ers march down the field and get a break in the end. But those breaks were bound to stop coming as they eventually did.

Bearing that in mind, this was a difficult game to weed out those who held their own while the house fell down around them. But that is what B&B is all about, so I take the challenge head on.

Ballers

Matt Shaughnessy

Top Baller for the second week in a row, Shaughnessy continues to be the Raiders’ primary playmaker. He is a vicious pass rusher and a stout run defender. The Raiders are trying to get their second and third teamers sorted out so the first team defense only played two series. Shaughnessy made several crucial plays in that short time.

He got things started off with a run stuff for a short gain on the first play of the game. Then on third down, with the 49ers knocking on the door at the two yard line looking to score, Shaughnessy bulled into the backfield to slow the runner and allow a tackle for a loss. The ensuing field goal attempt was bobbled by the holder and he threw an interception to hold the Niners without a score.

On the 49ers’ next possession, they drove down the field again. They were nearing field goal range when, on 3rd and 8, Shaughnessy went into a zone drop and picked it off Alex Smith to hold the Niners without a score again. Stopping two scores on his only two series is worthy of top Baller.

Stevie Brown

Brown played nearly the entire game in one capacity or another. He got some work with the first team defense where he made two nice tackles on the 49ers’ first drive. The first tackle, he shot in from the safety spot to assist in a run stuff. Then, with the 49ers on the Raiders’ two yard line, he came up big again. After Shaughnessy had slowed the runner in the backfield, Brown tackled him for a loss and ended their chance of getting into the endzone. The 49ers then opted to attempt a field goal but when Andy Lee bobbled the hold, Brown chased him down and pressured him into throwing an interception. That is three big plays for Brown after just a handful of plays in the game. He finished the day tied for the team lead with five combined tackles.

Samson Satele, Stefen Wisniewski

While the same can’t be said for the other positions along the offensive line, the job at center in this game was superb. There were no bobbled snaps, and neither player gave up any sacks or tackles for loss. In addition, they had some good run blocking and screen blocks. As an offensive lineman, especially the center, the best you can hope for is never to hear your name. The only time anyone noticed either of them was when Wisniewski helped with a perfectly executed screen pass. He was well ahead of Rock Cartwright, and the 49er defenders stayed away from him so he was unable to lay the wood on anyone, but he didn’t need to. The screen went for 15 yards — the longest of the day.

Denarius Moore

At this point, it is probably getting tiresome hearing about this guy. He makes plays in practice and he makes plays in games. With the way he is performing, it will be impossible to keep him off the field this season. Due to the rash of injuries, he was a starter in this game. On the Raiders’ first sustained drive, Moore had two straight catches to get things started off, a 16 yarder and an 11 yarder. When he was done for the day as a receiver, he had a 48 yard kick return. He caught the ball, started left just enough to get the gunner and coverage team thinking that way, then he broke right and flew up the sideline. His blockers knew where he was going to go but if he hadn’t sold it left first, it never would have worked.

Michael Bush

The line didn’t offer him a lot of gaping holes but he made the most of what he got and even made something out of nothing a couple of times. He only had 26 yards rushing but he averaged 4.3 yards per carry. His longest run of the day went for nine yards and it should have been a loss. But after Bush found no gaps on the line, he spun out around left tackle and shot upfield into San Francisco territory for a first down. This play came immediately after he had a six yard screen play and two plays later he had a nine yard catch. That drive would go as far as the 49er 12 yard line.

Rock Cartwright

Like Bush before him, Rock didn’t make a lot of noise as a runner. He did most of his work as a receiver and on special teams. He teamed up with Jerome Boyd for the first tackle of the day on the opening kick return. Cartwright had most of his offense on the Raiders’ only scoring drive. On the first play of the drive he had 7 yards on a screen play. Next play he picked up the remaining yards needed for a first down. A few plays later he had 15 yards on a screen play. The Raiders could only manage three more yards after that but it was enough to put Janikowski in range to kick a 46 yard field goal.

Derek Hagan

Hagan is one of the newer Raiders as he was signed in the middle of camp. He came in as the most experienced receiver on the team, so it is not really a surprise that he plays like it. It may actually be more surprising no one else grabbed him earlier. He led the Raiders with three catches in this game. He came in on the Raiders’ final drive of the first half and soon had a 10 yard first down catch. Trent Edwards and Hue Jackson wanted to go to him so badly that Edwards stared him down and threw into coverage and was intercepted to end the first half. Then on the first play of the second half, Boller went right back to Hagan, hooking up for an 8 yard completion. Later in the third, Boller connected with Hagan again for a 14 yard catch. Hagan also did some work on special teams as one of the primary blockers to free up Denarius Moore on his 48 yard kick return. If he isn’t careful, he is going to fool around and make this team.

Honorable Mention

Darrius Heyward-Bey

Heyward-Bey led the Raiders in receiving with two catches for 40 yards. One of those catches was a nicely placed back shoulder catch from Campbell that went for 22 yards and put the Raiders at the two yard line. The other was an 18 yard catch. Those two grabs might have been enough to earn him Baller status. But they both came after he screwed up and ended the Raiders’ first drive of the day — he ran a go route when he was supposed to be running a comebacker. Campbell put the ball where DHB was supposed to be and he wasn’t there. The Raiders needed six yards and that play would have been enough to get it. He got chewed out by Hue Jackson after that. Heyward-Bey is the longest tenured of the healthy receivers on this team right now. He shouldn’t be making drive ending mistakes like that. But for leading the Raiders in receiving yards, he deserves an honorable mention.

Darryl Blackstock

Blackstock was a team leader as well. He tied for the team lead in solo tackles (5). The reason he couldn’t quite make the Baller list is because all but one of those tackles came after the opposing player had already gained five yards or more. Granted, some of this responsibility does go to the defensive line and his fellow linebackers. But the Raiders are looking for a solid weak side linebacker and making tackles five yards downfield is not it. Those are the tackles safeties get pats on the back for; linebackers get credit for plugging holes. But for saving the Raiders from some even bigger runs and picking up the slack for his teammates, he gets an honorable mention from me.

Busters

Khalif Barnes

Last week Barnes made the Buster list because he had four false start penalties including three on one drive. This week he makes it for simply playing terribly. He almost single handedly ruined the Raiders’ first drive of the day. Bush was stopped on the Raiders’ first two plays by Barnes’ man. On the second play, Barnes was thrown into the backfield like a rag doll and Bush was stuffed at the line. Then the Raiders lined up for the next play and both Joseph Barksdale and Barnes were in the game at right tackle. The Raiders were forced to take a time out and Hue called Barnes over to lecture him and sent him to the sideline. The drive would end with a three and out for an auspicious beginning to an ugly day.

Barksdale would stay in for Barnes for a few plays but with the Raiders on the two yard line looking to score, Barnes was mysteriously put back in the game. On third and goal at the one yard line, he was demolished again and gave up a tackle for a loss. The Raiders were unable to convert on fourth and goal. On the next Raider drive, Barnes was back in the game at right tackle. And on the first play of the drive, he gave up a hit on Campbell just after he released the ball. That was enough.

Bruce Davis, Jr

The Raider legacy player they signed off the 49ers’ practice squad last season came back to visit his former team and reminded them of why he never made their roster. He was the linebacker who was supposed to plug the hole that allowed Kendall Hunter to take the ball 53 yards for a touchdown. He was blocked easily on several other significant runs throughout the game.

Kyle Boller

None of the Raider passers played well in this game, which I suppose should tell you something if Boller was the worst of the bunch. He was 6 of 11 for just 56 yards and an interception. He came in as the third quarterback and played the entire second half. In that half, he had one good throw, for 14 yards to Derek Hagan late in the third quarter.  Then Boller ended that drive with a screen attempt that was well covered, resulting in his interception. The next drive he had a scramble for no gain and a wide throw that missed his receiver. The game ended on a three and out when he threw wide and incomplete on a flat pass and then held the ball too long in the pocket resulting in a sack. That isn’t going to get it done.

Jerome Boyd

This was a statement game for Boyd, and the statement he made was not a very positive one. He came in the game first at weak side linebacker. There he gave up a 12 yard catch on third down and missed a tackle on a 12 yard run. After that the Raiders moved him to safety with the second team. There he gave up a 15 yard catch on the 49ers’ first scoring drive. On the 49ers’ first play of the second half, he gave up an 11 yard catch. They would score on the big 53 yard touchdown run on the next play. He was replaced the rest of the way by the two newcomers at safety, who had plenty of problems of their own.

Jared Veldheer

On the Raiders’ second drive of the day, they were on the two yard line looking to score, but were forced to go for it on fourth down when Veldheer gave up a sack on Campbell to end their hopes. On the Raiders’ next drive, Campbell was flushed from the pocket where he was met by Veldheer’s man and sacked again. Campbell was also hurt on the play and had to leave the game. Giving up two sacks in two drives is not good.

Jamie Cumbie

Cumbie was playing in the place of John Henderson who is out with a minor injury. The difference was noticeable to say the least. The 53 yard touchdown run was the first case in point. It was Cumbie’s position that Kendall Hunter ran through without breaking stride. A linebacker should have been there to fill the hole, but it was Cumbie who was completely manhandled to create the gap to begin with. He had a missed tackle and was handled on the block on at least two other runs through the remainder of the game.

Derrick Hill

I have not seen either in practice or in a game why Hill is even on an NFL training camp roster. He is sluggish, doesn’t maintain his position, and most of the time can’t stay on his feet. He came in for the last few minutes of the game and was handled on the three run blocks including getting pancake blocked on the second to last play of the game.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Preseason Week 2: Ballers & Busters

Oakland Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (R) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) for an 8-yard loss as defensive tackle Chris Cooper (L) closes in during the second quarter of a preseason game at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 21, 2010. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

The Raiders came into the Bears game on a high after a dominant defensive effort again the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas the week prior. They looked to not only continue that defensive play but improve upon a sub par offensive performance.

This week the first team players would stay on the field for the entire first half after getting only a couple of series in the first game of the preseason. The coaches and fans were going to get a better idea of what this team will look like this season. Leaving the second half to get a look at the depth players and position battles.

As usual I was watching to see which starters gave fans something to look forward to and which players battling for roster spots helped their cause or hurt it.

Ballers

Kamerion Wimbley

The other day Cable was gushing about how great Wimbley has been playing and so I guess he figured he would go out and prove his coach right– and did he ever. If you watched the game or even if you read the box score you can see why Wimbley being named top Baller was an easy choice. He started the game at strong side linebacker and had FOUR SACKS in just one half of play! He has never had that many in a whole game in his entire career. When you watch him, you can see that he is the ideal rushing linebacker for defensive line coach Mike Waufle. Waufle had a few players like him that helped lead the Giants to a Super Bowl championship. But the sacks are only part of the reason he is top Baller. In fact, Wimbley would probably have been a Baller even without the sacks. He was an absolute beast all day. Sorry, I mean all HALF. It just seems like he was out there all day. He had his first sack on the Bears first possession. It came on third down and he dropped Cutler for a loss of 11. The Bears went three and out and had to punt out of the back of their own endzone. On a later drive he started it off with a nice tackle on a screen to stop it for a short gain and then essentially ended the drive when he had the tightend blanketed in coverage for an incompletion. He then ended the next two Bears possessions in three and outs. The first drive ended with sack number two and the second ended when he dropped the receiver well short of first down. There was just one more chance for the Bears to move the ball before half time and that is when Wimbley really made it count. The first play was sack number three, 2nd play he had a QB pressure, and his final play of the game and the last one before halftime ended with his 4th and final sack. WOW.

Michael Bush

He just looks tremendous. I found it rather appropriate that Bo Jackson was at this game because Michael Bush is the first Raider player I have seen with anywhere near the same combination of size, speed and power that Bo Jackson had. Let me be clear here: I am NOT saying Michael Bush is as fast as Bo Jackson. But Bush is quite fast and you don’t often see his combination of size, power and speed. We certainly haven’t seen in on the Raiders for a while. He looked every bit the kind of back the Raiders hoped he would be and his performances in games have distanced him in the supposed competition with Darren McFadden. The first time he touched the ball, he caught a screen pass and took off for 24 yards. It looked more like the kind of play we are used to seeing the Raiders fall victim to. The first drive would end with a much needed touchdown– the first score for the first team offense this preseason. The next Raider drive he started with a nice pass block. Then on the next play he found a gap and broke off a 16 yard run to set the Raiders up for a field goal and their second consecutive score. Even Bush’s short yardage runs, he fought hard for. He finished with 50 yards of offense on 9 touches.

Robert Gallery

Gallery got off to a rough start in this game on the second play of the game he was called for holding and then two plays later he was called for a false start. It wasn’t looking good. But he quickly shook it off, regained his focus and showed why Tom Cable knows which side his bread is buttered on. How quickly did he shake it off? The next play. He had a killer block that sprung Michael Bush for 24 yards on a screen. The play made up for the 15 yards he lost and then some. The drive ended when Jason Campbell took the QB sneak in 1 yard for a touchdown. And Campbell knew who to follow to paydirt too. He went right behind Gallery and scored. The next Raider drive Gallery blocked for Bush again to pick up 16 yards on the carry and the Raiders were up 10-0 just like that. We didn’t hear from Gallery for a while, which is just what you want from an offensive lineman. The next time his number was mentioned, he was recovering a crucial fumble after Jason Cambpell was sacked just before halftime. If the Bears would have recovered, they would have already been in scoring position. His value to this team may be hard to measure but it is impossible to deny.

Jason Campbell

He did not play well last week. But as has been the case for Campbell his entire career, he constantly improves. He started this game almost perfect. He started off the first drive with a well executed screen pass to Bush for 24 yards. Then his first really nice pass was a timing route to Jonnie Lee Higgins with a comebacker. One of those passes he throws before the receiver even turns to look for the ball and it was perfectly placed for 18 yards. A few plays later he fit a ball in to Louis Murphy between defenders that went 26 yards and set the Raiders up at the 2 yard line. He would sneak it in for a touchdown a few plays later. He didn’t have a single incomplete pass while completely dismantling and demoralizing the Bears on that first drive. He later had an interception but he had an oncoming rusher in his face which caused him to throw off his back foot. He carries some blame but most of that blame goes to the lineman that was beaten(I will get to him later). There were a few rough series after that but Campbell still managed to have one more nice drive in which he had a 10 yard scramble for a first down and two completions to set up another field goal.

Slade Norris

Just after halftime, the Raiders were forced to punt. The return man for the Bears muffed his attempt to field it and the Raiders recovered the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. For those who watched this game on TV, you may have seen and heard the credit for this touchdown go to Mike Mitchell. He ran out of the endzone after the play with the ball in celebration and kept it along the sidelines(I am guessing for his collection). The cameras followed Mitchell in his celebration and Greg Papa several times said that Mitchell scored it. But alas, it was Slade Norris who scored that touchdown. I saw it happen and wondered first of all how Papa and the cameras could be so mistaken, but more importantly why Mitchell would be acting as if he was the one to score it? It seems a bit disrespectful to his teammate to parade around like that knowing full well he didn’t score the TD. But regardless, the official scorers have Norris scoring the TD as does the film when the Raiders review it in the coming days. Norris is proving to be a a damn fine special teams player. Later in the game he shot into the backfield to block a punt that bounced out of the back of the endzone for a safety. That makes 8 points directly attributed to Slade Norris in this game. A little less bounce on that blocked punt and Norris may have had a SECOND TD in the game. Yes Mike Mitchell, I said a SECOND TD.

Louis Murphy

As per usual, Murphy is the most reliable Raider wide receiver. Sure, Schilens has great hands but to be reliable he kinda has to be on the field. Murphy is a straight up Baller in every sense. He fights to get open, has great hands and is always looking to score. And despite the amount of trash he talks, he has proven that he is as selfless as they come. The first pass was a 26 yarder he hauled in that slightly behind him because Campbell had to fit it between defenders. But Murphy reached back and pulled it in, then fought for a few extra yards to set the Raiders up at the 2 yard line. On the Raiders final scoring drive before half time, he had a 14 yard catch and a 4 yard reverse(it would have gone further but Yamon Figurs missed his block). He finished with 3 catches and a team leading 53 yards receiving.

Stanford Routt

Chris Johnson was expected to be out but prior to the game Nnamdi Asomugha was also scratched. This meant that Stanford Routt was the closest thing the Raiders had to a starting corner on the field. He played superbly in this game too. Probably the best I have seen him. I had Johnny Knox as one of the biggest threats to the Raiders in this game and Routt shut him down. He had a pass defended on Knox on third down early in the game and then later Routt had another pass defended on Devin Hester. More impressive may be that he didn’t allow a catch in the game which means he was not giving Cutler anyone to throw to.

Chris Cooper

Beginning on the Bears second possession of the 2nd half, Cooper helped end three consecutive drives. He got into the backfield to stop the Running back and force a tackle for a loss to end the first one. He chased the quarterback down causing him to run out of bounds for a short gain on third down in the second one. And with the Bears set up at the Raiders 5 yard line looking to score, he chased the runningback down from behind and tackled him in the backfield for a loss. They would settle for a field goal. The Bears would have a total of six more offensive plays the remainder of the game.

Honorable Mention

Michael Bennett

He had another solid game as a reserve. After having over 100 total yards last week, he comes back and has 64 yards rushing and a 78 total yards in this game. One drive in particular was almost entirely his. He had 32 yards on 6 touches in the drive that ended with a Raider touchdown. Then on the first play of the Raiders final drive, he shot up the middle for 44 yards. The Raiders seem to be leaning toward Rock Cartwright as the Raiders third back but Bennett is making that decision very difficult for Cable.

Jerome Boyd

He was a force in this game with three run stuffing tackles for minimal gain. He also had containment on the running back two other times that resulted in a tackle for no gain and a tackle for a loss.

Desmond Bryant

Played well as we have grown accustomed to seeing from him. He got the start with Richard Seymour out Bryant played nearly the entire game. He had three run stuffs, one of which was a tackle for loss. And he had the quarterback pressure that caused Bears QB Dan LeFevour to throw the ball right into the hands of…

Stevie Brown

He has ended both of the Raiders preseason games with interceptions. In the Dallas game he came down with a last ditch hail mary attempt. This after he had an easy tip ball go right threw his arms early in the game. And this week he leaped in the air to pull down LeFevour’s long pass attempt and returned it 46 yards down field to set the Raiders up in scoring position. Not bad for a late 7th round pick.

Busters

Samson Satele, Chris Morris

Or better known as the Raider centers. They were both Busters last week too. They just seem to get worse. Satele seemed to have turned a corner last year but now he looks like he has regressed. Morris has been bad all along and is only around because the Raiders don’t have a better option(yet). Satele gave up a run stuff on the second play of the game. Then later in the first quarter he was beaten badly on the rush causing Jason Campbell to throw under pressure and off his back foot resulting in an interception. This killed a successful drive in which the Raiders were looking to score on their first three consecutive possessions. The very next play, the Bears’ Matt Forte broke through a huge hole to go 89 yards for a touchdown. Satele had just one more run stuff to give up before he came out of the game with an injury and was replaced by Chris Morris. Morris and Campbell immediately began practicing snaps when Satele was down on the field. Then Morris lined up and promptly snapped the ball early and off target for a fumble the Bears would recover. The Bears would score another touchdown with the short field to take the lead 14-13.

Rolando McClain

It is probably best that the fans not set their expectations too high for McClain so early on. He has a lot of room for improvement and will go through some growing pains. This game was a good example of such growing pains. He started out well with a run stop for a short gain. But a few plays later he was caught up in a block while the Bears runner picked up 13 yards. What earns him a place as a Buster, however, is the fact that he had 8 Bears points go directly through him. The 89 yard run by Matt Forte should have been stopped at the line. It was McClain’s assignment but he over-ran the play and instead of plugging his gap, he ran right into the blocker and Forte shot through the hole untouched and with a full head of steam that carried him 89 yards to the endzone. A few minutes before halftime the Bears scored another touchdown. They had missed an extra point earlier so they now looked to make up for it with a two point conversion. Forte took the handoff around the right side of the line and literally walked into the endzone. McClain was out of position on the inside so there was absolutely no one home on the right edge of the line. So for the second time, Forte came through McClain’s gap untouched. It should never be that easy. He has a lot of work to do.

Alex Daniels

It was surprising to see Daniels playing as the goal line fullback with the first team in this game. He didn’t even see the field last week. Cable speaks very highly of Daniels and he has played well in practice. Heck, I thought he played well at defensive end before they moved him to fullback. In practice this last week it became obvious that his receiving skills were not part of those rave reviews. So what is assumed is that Cable is referring to Daniels’ blocking skills. Which makes it more surprising that it is his poor blocking in this game that lands him on this list. The Raiders drove the ball all the way downfield on their first series and were set up at first and goal from the 2 yard line. With the way Bush was running the ball, he should have gotten in easily. But he was stopped for almost no gain on two straight attempts because Daniels couldn’t seem to find the guy he was supposed to block. Jason Campbell ended up having to take the ball in himself on a sneak on third down. Marcel Reece was the actual starting fullback and he was replaced by Manase Tonga and then Chane Moline. Daniels was put back in the game near the end. At which point, he missed his blocking assignment again and got Bennett tackled for no gain. With the tough competition at fullback, Daniels just made his chances even slimmer.

Michael Huff

For the most part Huff did a good job in this game. But as is often the case, one play can earn a guy a spot as a Baller or a Buster. That Matt Forte 89 yard run was one such play. And Huff looked horrible. Sure Forte came through the hole without anyone slowing him down but he put one little change of direction on Huff and he was gone. Huff looked like he didn’t want to have anything to do with him on the run. He didn’t lay a finger on him or even slow him down in the slightest. If he had at least simply missed the tackle as opposed to completely whiffing, Tyvon Branch would probably have caught up with Forte around mid-field.

ALSO SEE: No McFadden, no Schilens, no DHB, no problem in win over Bears

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Preseason Week 2: Ballers & Busters

Ballers:

Zach Miller

He has continued to show just how good he is as well as his rapport with JaMarcus Russell. He caught four passes in the first half including a 23 yarder as well as that spectacular diving fingertip TD catch which was the highlight of the night.

Nnamdi Asomugha

Yeah I know “Tell me something I don’t know” right? He was so shutdown that you have to check the tape just to know he was in the game. NO balls went anywhere in his vicinity.

Stanford Routt

He was the other starting corner with DeAngelo Hall being out. He also stayed in long after Nnamdi went out and didn’t give up a single catch. In fact, he only had one ball even thrown his way and he batted it down no problem. He also had a nice blitz and pressure on the Titans QB that resulted in an incompletion. At one point, he had two odd penalties in a row but those are forgivable and fixable because this is preseason.

Ricky Brown

He had SIX tackles for low or no gain as well as a few more tackles. He was seen flying around the field making tackles including running down the Titans speedster Chris Johnson from behind.

Chaz Schilens

Was he telling Andrew Walter to throw the ball where he could barely catch it? Because he had three straight catches that were true highlight reel material. The first of those was the most eye popping and was even more of an extension than Zach Millers TD catch. The next one was a 24 yarder in which he took a pretty viscious hit. He definitely has a some great hands as well as leaping ability and savvy. Can you say gem?

Thomas Howard

Sacked Vince Young once and chased him down another time for a very short gain. He also stuffed a Titans running back at the line for no gain at one point.

Darren McFadden

He had nearly double his yards per carry average from last week. He carried the ball 6 times for 44 yards including his first carry which was an 11 yarder straight up the middle (which sceptics have questioned). His big run was a 25 yarder just before the half that made every Raider fan watching lick their chops in anticipation for the coming season. It also set us up for a long field goal that put us up at the half.

JaMarcus Russell

He looked confident and accurate. Most notably though he was pressured 4 times and was able to escape it EVERY time. He is very crafty and fleet of foot when he needs to be and has no wasted movement. He always has his eyes looking downfield in case someone gets open. Especially when he rolled out of the pocket and stuck the ball where only Zach Miller could get it in the end zone. The skeptics will shut their mouths for a while on whether he can manage this offense.

Jarrod Cooper

His first mention was making the tackle on special teams (of course!) But he was always in the picture making his usual hard hits and had two tackles for no gain.

Michael Bush

He is like a bigger, faster, more powerful Zack Crockett for this team. He ALWAYS makes something out of nothing. He ran for three first downs and two of those were hard fought runs. The other showed his instict for finding the hole and bursting through it. He had 14 carries for 60 yards.

Honorable Mention:

Sam Williams

He made the tackle on a kick return. Which may not be a big deal except it was Chris Carr he tackled for no gain and afterward he was all in his ear. Nice work Sam.

Justin Fargas

He was ineffective in the run game (3 rush for 3 yards) but he gets in here because he blocked Albert Haynsworth just enough to let JaMarcus get the TD pass off to Zach Miller. It is about the little things.

Derrick Burgess

Pressured Vince Young twice causing incompletions.

Ronald Curry

Only had one catch but he caught it in the flat and faked the defender so bad that I think he literally broke his ankles. It was just silly.

Terdell Sands

He shed a block on a run and tackled the back for a short gain and had a tipped pass that nearly resulted in an interception by Kirk Morrison.

Louis Rankin

He is very good at finding holes to run through. He doesn’t wow you but in a zone blocking scheme, finding the hole is the important thing. He still is the favorite to be the 4th back on this team.

Andrew Walter

Looked very composed and had no interceptions. But then again he always looks that way in the preseason.

Adimchinobe Echemandu

I was a little torn here because he did break off that 72 yard run. But he was caught from behind by Marquis Cole (who was cut from the Raiders last year). And then he had two chances to make it in the end zone and couldn’t get in (first time he was stopped by Cole AGAIN). Then the third play was Oren O’Neal fumbling so we got no points to show for it all.

Greg Pakulak

Had two punts. One for 71 yards and another for 53. I think it was Lechler in diguise. What is it about strapping on that Silver helmet that turns guys into great punters? (don’t bother listing off the bad punters we have had. I am well versed. It was in reference to Guy and Lechler only)

Aaron Elling

Hit all three field goals attempts including a 56 yarder just before half time. In case you didn’t know; that is one yard better than the Raiders record of 55 which Janikowski did twice. Aaron Elling may have found himself a job with another team after this performance. Thank you Nedney…er…Elling.

Busters:

Jonnie Lee Higgins

You knew he was going to be at the top of this list. I just told Rob yesterday that Jonnie Lee Higgins could just come back down to earth and prove that last week was a fluke. Not only did he come back down to earth but he went subterranean. He of course had the fumble in the end zone to give the Titans a touchdown. But he never should have caught that kick in the first place. He caught it on the 6 yard line when he should have let it go and then he ran backwards with it trying to get tricky and failed miserably. That wasn’t even where his problems began. Prior to the fumble he ran an in route on what was supposed to be an out route and Russell threw the pass where he was supposed to have been. Every time he was the return man he was tackled for little or no gain. He fair caught another punt on the 8 yard line! The 2nd time they tried an end around with him he looked sluggish and stiff and was tackled for no gain. I really feel for the guy because this has to be the worst game of his young career. I hope he finds an AFL team that wants to sign him.

Michael Waddell

Another guy who came down to earth. Last week he forced two fumbles and recovered one of them himself. I saw quite a bit of him in this game as well. He was the guy getting beaten badly by LaVelle Hawkins twice including a 51 yarder for the Titans only offensive TD. He was beaten badly a third time as well. Then when he was given a chance to return a kick he stepped out of bounds accidentally. You gotta be aware of where you are on the field. And knowing where your receiver is might help too.

Javon Walker

His first pass was a short pass that was right in his hands and he couldn’t catch it. The next pass was not in his hands but he didn’t look crisp in his break and his defender was all over him because of it. He was not heard from again after that.

Mario Henderson

He was beaten by a third string DE who hit Andrew Walter so hard from behind that Walter got a nose bleed and played the rest of the day with a bloody reminder across the front of his jersey. Mario that is how you get your QB killed and yourself cut.

Jay Richardson

Was blocked out of the way on a 23 yard run by LenDale White in the first quarter. He also was called for offsides at one point.

Chris Johnson (not the Titans RB)

Gave up a long catch in the 2nd quarter and despite staying with his receiver in pretty good coverage most of the time, his man always seemed to catch the ball. Hey Chris, the stats and the score doesn’t care if you were close by when your receiver caught the ball. He also fumbled the ball on a kick return because he was holding the ball out in his hand like we were all taught never to do.

Hiram Eugene

Was beaten BADLY twice on the final drive that resulted in the Titans field goal for the win. Keep in mind that this is the 3rd team that he was going against and everyone knew that the Titans had to pass to move the ball down the field. Well perhaps everyone except Hiram Eugene.

Nick Sanchez

He was not beaten badly like Eugene but he was on the hook for 3 other catches two of which moved the Titans down the field on that last drive. He was always right there to make the tackle but like I told Chris Johnson “the stats and the score doesn’t care if you were close by when your receiver caught the ball”. See you on the flip side Nick (if the flip side is the waiver wire)

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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