There was a lot of star power at State Farm Stadium on Thursday night.
It was No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray's second preseason game, and Antonio Brown donned the silver and black for the first time as a Raider, although he didn't play.
The Raiders' defense had its way with Murray, holding the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner to 3-for-8 passing for 12 yards and 4 yards rushing. Paul Guenther's defense also sacked Murray twice, including once for a safety.
Despite the poor outing, Murray seems confident he and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury can put up big numbers in the desert with the Air Raid offense.
Following the Raiders' 33-26 win, Brown -- who remains out as he rehabs from frostbitten feet -- met up with Murray and had a simple message for a player many consider one of the future faces of the league.
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Murray looked sharp in his preseason debut, but he was flustered by the Raiders. The Cardinals' atrocious offensive line, which almost got Josh Rosen killed a year ago, hasn't improved at all. That's a huge issue for a team that plans to go empty and try to sling the pill a lot. Of course, Kingsbury and Murray also admitted their game plan was very vanilla as they continue their install.
As for Brown, the Raiders star went through pregame drills and appears to be close to showing the world he still is one of the game's top receivers.
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs had a tremendous rookie season. If not for a late-season shoulder injury, he likely would have been named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Alabama product is firmly situated as the lead back in what should be an improved Raiders offense in the team's first season in Las Vegas. The Raiders added pass-catching weapons Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards and Nelson Agholor in the draft and free agency, and Jacobs himself intends to be an improved receiving threat for quarterback Derek Carr (h/t Raiders Wire.)
"I worked on a lot of things that receivers do,” Jacobs said Wednesday at training camp. "Not just running-back routes, like how to get off the line, how to stack on top once you get vertical. I’ve just been working on all the little technical things that receivers do. Just trying to implement that into my own style and bring what I can to the table."
"My goal is to catch at least 60 balls this year," he added.
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Jacobs hauled in 20 receptions for 166 yards as a rookie, so that goal would represent quite a significant jump if attained. He certainly has the athleticism and ability to increase his reception total, but given the additional receiving talents on the roster, he might find it difficult to get that kind of volume. After all, there are only so many balls to go around.
Nonetheless, that's the kind of attitude the Raiders surely love to see out of one of their core offensive building blocks. There's every reason to expect Jacobs will improve upon his rookie season, and not simply as a runner.
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Timing sometimes being everything in life, it was almost too perfect that Nick Kwiatkoski finally got his chance to start on a consistent basis over the last seven games of last season.
Circumstance had previously blocked that possibility. A talented young linebacker with sideline-to-sideline and three-down play capability, Kwiatkoski was the victim of an extraordinarily talented Chicago Bears defensive roster that was particularly strong at linebacker.
On many other teams, he would have been a starter. In Chicago, he was a reserve.
But then came the opportunity for consistent playing time when Danny Trevathan went down with an injury in November. Kwiatkoski was inserted into the lineup. And with free agency pending and his long-range prospects uncertain, it was finally his time to show he could be counted on as a full-time starter.