NFL preseason takeaways: What we learned from AFC West in Week 2

NFL preseason takeaways: What we learned from AFC West in Week 2

The NFL preseason action ramped up a touch last week as teams prepare for the all-important third "dress rehearsal" preseason game.

In the AFC West, the Raiders continue to deal with Antonio Brown, his feet, his helmet, a fish head and anything else you can think of. They also looked pretty good in stifling Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.

The Broncos made Jimmy Garoppolo look like a practice squad quarterback in his return to action, while the Chargers struggled on the ground against the Saints in the absence of Melvin Gordon.

There are just two preseason games left until the games start counting, and there were a number of things to be gleaned about the division in the latest round of exhibition games.

Here's what we learned about the AFC West in Week 2 of the preseason:


While Brown tested out his new "ugly lid" in pregame warmups, the star receiver didn't see game action. He stood on the sidelines and laughed with his teammates as the Raiders went to work shredding one of the worst teams in the NFL a season ago. 

In their first action of the 2019 season, quarterback Derek Carr and the first-team offense knifed through the Cardinals with relative ease. A heavy dose of running back Josh Jacobs gave way to a pretty 27-yard pass from Carr to Tyrell Williams. Two plays later, Carr hit Ryan Grant on a short out route and the veteran receiver jaunted into the end zone for a 13-yard score. That was all for Carr, Jacobs and the rest of the offense, but that one drive showed Carr's continued mastery of head coach Jon Gruden's system is paying off.

If the Raiders' offense enters the season healthy, Carr and Co. have the potential to rack up a lot of points.


I talked last week about how absurd it is the Chiefs were able to add rookie Mecole Hardman to an offense that already includes Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins, not to forget reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

We all know it was the other side of the ball that held Kansas City back last season and kept the Chiefs from knocking off the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

During the offseason, head coach Andy Reid sent defensive coordinator Bob Sutton packing and hired Steve Spagnuolo to bulk up the unit. The scheme change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 appears to already be getting more out of defensive end Breeland Speaks, who was playing at outside linebacker by Sutton last season where he was tasked more with covering running backs than getting after the quarterback, something he was quite good at while playing at Ole Miss.

Speaks has looked much more engaged while playing defensive end in the preseason. He picked up a sack in the Chiefs' first game before spraining his knee in their loss to the Steelers. It looks like he shouldn't miss much regular-season time, and his evolution shows the change to Spagnuolo's scheme might be paying off. 


The Chargers have one of, if not the most feared pass rush units in the NFL. Full stop.

Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa form a talented duo that few teams can keep at bay and LA got even better up front. In the draft, the Chargers added Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery which just isn't fair. 

Tillery showed his stuff in the Chargers' preseason loss to the Saints, abusing Nick Easton -- who is competing for the Saints' starting center job -- before sacking Taysom Hill.

Good luck blocking the Bolts.

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There's no telling what the Broncos are going to get out of an offense heavily reliant on an aging Joe Flacco, Emmanuel Sanders coming off a ruptured Achilles and a Philip Lindsay-Royce Freeman two-headed backfield.

However, it looks like new head coach Vic Fangio already has the defense cooking.

The Broncos starters mauled the 49ers during their time on the field Monday night. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller terrorized Garoppolo, holding the Niners to 32 yards on 15 plays, with a sack, a forced fumble, an interception, a near pick-six and two balls batted down at the line.

Denver's defense is legit.

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner misses practice ahead of Jets game

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner misses practice ahead of Jets game

ALAMEDA --Raiders slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner did some light work in Wednesday's practice, conducted as a walk-through without helmets. 

He didn’t advance to more significant practice activity on Thursday -- he didn't do anything, as a matter of fact -- decreasing odds he’ll be ready to go Sunday against the New York Jets. 

The veteran doesn’t need much time to get ready, but they’ll want his hamstring right before bringing back an integral defensive cog.

Nevin Lawson occupied Joyner’s spot in the slot against the Cincinnati Bengals last time out and fared well, which gives coaches the confidence to let Joyner heal upright.

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Joyner and offensive tackle David Sharpe are the only players in jeopardy of missing this game.

Trent Brown remains limited with a knee injury, though he has played almost every week despite dealing with several ailments throughout the season.

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
OT David Sharpe (calf)

Limited practice
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
OT Trent Brown (knee)

Raiders ready for unique challenge of blocking Jets' Jamal Adams

Raiders ready for unique challenge of blocking Jets' Jamal Adams

ALAMEDA -- Through 10 games this season, Derek Carr's insurance has been well worth whatever premium he paid.

The Raiders' offensive line, self-dubbed "Carr Insurance," has allowed only 15 sacks on the season, the second-best mark in the NFL behind only the Dallas Cowboys' vaunted offensive front.

Oakland's favorite insurance company will face a brand new test Sunday when it deals with the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Over the last two weeks, Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has unleashed star safety Jamal Adams as a blitzer, something the LSU product excels at. Adams has been a terror in the box, helping revitalize the Jets' defense while racking up five sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a touchdown.

Adams now has six sacks on the season, two away from the record for a defensive back set by Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson in 2005.

Blocking Quinnen Williams, Hendry Anderson, C.J. Moseley and Co. is one thing for the Raiders' offensive line, but diagnosing a safety blitz and being able to pick it up is entirely something else. 

"Jamal Adams is one of the best players in the league. The guy is unreal," quarterback Derek Carr said Wednesday. "When you turn the tape on, you can feel his presence without being there. I remember we played him '17 here, and I remember telling him, 'Keep that intensity.' Because if you can play like that all the time -- because I was impressed by him -- I said, 'If you can play like that all the time, you're going to be one of the best to be in this league.' Now, I have nothing to do with him being one of the best in the league, but I do remember having that conversation."

Adams will come from anywhere and everywhere Sunday at the Meadowlands. After being involved in trade rumors near the trade deadline, Adams made it known he thinks he's one of the best players in the NFL. He has played like it since then, helping spark the Jets' defense in wins over the Giants and Washington.

The Raiders are aware of Adams and know they can't let him disrupt their flow.

"He's a fearless player. He's one of the most aggressive players that you will see. His playing speed is rare," head coach Jon Gruden said. "He's a linebacker playing defensive back. He's a defensive lineman playing defensive back. He's a defensive-back deluxe. He can do it all. He can rush, he can cover. He's really good. He's a sideline-to-sideline leader on that team. He's got our attention."

A blitzing defensive back might seem like something that would be easy to exploit. If the Jets are going to bring Adams down into the box and send him on blitzes, make them choose to put the other safety on either Darren Waller or Tyrell Williams and take advantage of the opposite matchup.

However, it's not as easy as it sounds, especially with a guy like Adams. The LSU product has the blessing of the Jets to freelance and go off-book when he feels is necessary.

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It's going to be a collaborative effort for the Raiders to keep Adams off Carr's back. The line, backs and tight ends all must be on the same page, be clear in identifying their calls and work together to neutralize the Jets' unique defensive weapon.

Rookie running back Josh Jacobs could play a critical role in keeping Carr upright. Blocking Adams is a challenge he's ready for.

"You know he's going to be a dog," Jacobs said. "He's going to come with everything he's got so you just have to match his intensity."

Adams is a game-wrecker, and the 6-4 Raiders must account for him in a game they need to win to keep pace in the AFC West.