GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Raiders certainly wish Thursday night’s preseason game actually counted, because they kicked the Arizona Cardinals’ butt when the top players were on the field.
The starting offense looked great in a one-series cameo. The first-unit defense gave No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray fits over multiple series. Backup quarterback Mike Glennon was pinpoint accurate, with a perfect passer rating over 14 throws, in an effort that might’ve secured his spot as the No. 2 signal-caller.
It was a good night at the office for the Raiders, who have three more training-camp practices before concluding the preseason in Alameda.
Let’s not make too much of one exhibition game against the NFL’s worst team last year, but the Raiders executed well and showed signs of promise in a 33-26 victory over the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s events:
Carr has some weapons
The Raiders' first-unit offense was humming on the opening drive, paced by rookie Josh Jacobs’ tough running. The Alabama product is a downhill runner able to slash into small pockets of space and squeak out extra yards. He ran just four times, but the talent’s clearly there for the first-round draft pick.
The true test this season is whether he proves durable enough to take all the touches coming his way.
Jacobs' work sets up the passing game well, where Tyrell Williams is a clear threat, Ryan Grant has shown some juice in games and Darren Waller is a mismatch waiting to happen. The offense ran smooth Thursday while operating without their best weapon, whom we’ll talk more about in a bit.
Those guys will make life easier on starting quarterback Derek Carr, who has been as efficient and focused as ever during this training camp.
Top defense starts preseason off right
The frontline Raiders defense played four series in this game, and gave Murray a real welcome-to-the NFL moment. They harassed the young, agile quarterback on every drive, holding him to 3-of-8 passing for 12 yards. The Cardinals couldn’t run well either, even with David Johnson toting the rock.
We can’t take too much from playing a Cardinals team learning a new offense with a new coach and a new quarterback, but Oakland's defense flashed some encouraging signs that must be built upon in the next preseason games.
AB is really close
Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown looked comfortable running routes with his team during pre-game warm-ups, running hard, striding well and cutting without issue. Those are all signs he’s almost all the way back from foot issues that have sidelined him for all but one training-camp practice.
There’s a realistic expectation that he will be back practicing before the Raiders break camp Monday. He runs so smooth, with precise movements, and he didn’t seem hindered in pre-game work done in full pads.
Brown’s rehab from suffering frostbite on his feet during a cryotherapy mishap has been well documented, including roughly 10 days spent in Florida during camp receiving specialized treatment. He’s close to full speed already, meaning the Raiders will have plenty of time to integrate Brown’s unique talents into the offense.
Thursday’s work should bring an end to fan hand-wringing over their superstar receiver being away from the team.
Now if only he can get his desired helmet certified …