Top five takeaways from Raiders exhibition win vs Cardinals
Top five takeaways
The first preseason game is a valuable teaching tool. The game tape offers the first opportunity to see how players apply training-camp lessons in a live football environment. Some players shrink, others stand tall. Evaluations become more concrete as the preseason rolls on, and the 53-man roster comes into greater focus. Friday’s 31-10 exhibition victory wasn’t perfect – preseason games never are – but showed the Raiders have solid depth in most areas and some young players with real talent.
5. Tackling troubles
The Raiders spend significant time on tackling fundamentals. Head coach Jack Del Rio stresses their importance each day, so he was disappointed in his team’s tackling effort against Arizona. Analytics site Pro Football Focus credited them with nine missed tackles, including embarrassing ones from Dewey McDonald and David Amerson. Del Rio addressed the issue, saying he wanted tackling ‘a little crisper’ in the first outing, and that will be a continued point of emphasis throughout the preseason
4. McGloin owns the preseason
Backup quarterback Matt McGloin earned an NFL job with an awesome preseason in 2013, and has wowed each summer to remain in high standing. He threw two touchdowns – Clive Walford and Andre Holmes caught them – in his first three passes, which gave the Raiders cushion that helped secure victory. He has 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in the preseason since 2013. McGloin has had rough moment in camp, but always shows up in preseason games when given the chance.
3. Raiders show LB depth
Linebackers Ben Heeney and Malcolm Smith plan to play most every snap on the interior. Depth behind them was a concern, without proven commodities waiting in the wings. Young players Cory James and Korey Toomer were active and generally effective against the Cardinals, showing the Raiders may be in better shape there than originally thought.
2. Running backs show spark
The Raiders had 166 yards on 21 carries against Arizona. While stats don’t matter much, it was important to see efficient runs throughout the depth chart. Latavius Murray was good, but Friday’s first look at DeAndre Washington has to give the Raiders confidence. He had 72 yards of total offense, including an excellent 25-yards rush where he showed elusiveness and physicality. George Atinkinson III also had two big touchdown runs, making it an especially tough game for undrafted rookie Jalen Richard to miss with injury.
1. Health of chief concern
It remains uncertain who much time Mario Edwards Jr. will miss with a hip injury suffered in Friday’s game, but his ailment underscores the importance of health during games that don’t matter much. It would be a boon if they can get Edwards Jr. back before the regular season. Any time spent without him or another impact starter would hinder their desire for a fast start. At this point in the preseason, injuries are the only thing that can have a lasting negative impact on a Raiders team with a roster largely set.