By Steve Corkran
Friday, August 17th, 2012 at 11:49 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders lost to the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night, 31-27, in an exhibition game. More important, for now, is that the injuries to wide receivers Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey, backup quarterback Matt Leinart and backup running back Mike Goodson don’t appear to be very serious.
For more, you will have to read beat writer Jerry McDonald’s stories and notes whenever he files. He attended the game. I stayed behind and monitored the proceedings from here. Therefore, I won’t use any quotes that I wasn’t present to garner.
Ford left the game early on after getting hurt while tackled out of bounds at the end of a reception. He was taken to the locker room and returned on crutches.
Leinart was hit late at the end of a play on which a penalty was assessed, and he suffered an injury to the right index finger. Fortunately for Leinart and the Raiders, the injury is on Leinart’s non-throwing hand, and he only needed stitches to repair the damage.
Heyward-Bey hurt a shoulder at some point in the game. Goodson suffered a chest injury on the second of his two fumbles in the game, and he was taken to the locker room for observation.
All in all, Raiders coach Dennis Allen can take a deep breath and sigh over not losing any key players for the season. The players will be re-evaluated Saturday, at which time updates will be posted.
– The Raiders defense looked hopeless on the Cardinals first drive, with the Cardinals marching 41 yards on seven plays on a drive that culmiated with a touchdown.
From there, the Raiders defense stiffened and overpowered the Cardinals first-team offense. The key came when defensive coordinator Jason Tarver turned loose his players on a dizzying array of blitzes and stunts.
Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb was under pressure most of the time, waiting to be sacked and looking to throw the ball anywhere before he got decked.
It was refreshing to see so many Raiders players blitzing. Every linebacker blitzed at some point, along with safety Tyvon Branch and others.
– Goodson fumbled seven times on 125 touches when he played for the Carolina Panthers. He fumbled twice on eight touches Friday night.
That’s not what the Raiders envisioned when they traded for him in the offseason. Then again, this was Goodson’s first game, and it came less than two weeks after he suffered a neck injury.
Still, Allen is waiting for Goodson or Taiwan Jones to assert himself as the clear-cut successor to Michael Bush as Darren McFadden’s primary backup.
Jones missed Friday’s game, and he has yet to play in a game so far. So, Allen isn’t all that much closer to knowing what he has in Goodson and Jones than he was at the start of camp.
– Second-year player DeMarcus Van Dyke shined in the early part of training camp, running with receivers, breaking up pass after pass, being in place to make open-field tackles.
His play in the first two games is another matter. On Friday, he allowed completions of 30 and 31 yards, whiffed on a tackle on a run play at the 10-yard line, with the back rolling in for a touchdown, and missed another opportunity to make a play in the run game.
On the flip side, second-year cornerback Chimdi Chekwa intercepted a pass and played well throughout the game, with few exceptions.
– Quarterback Carson Palmer misfired on his first two passes of the game, and he didn’t get much better as the game progressed.
Palmer completed 13 of 24 passes for 107 yards and no touchdowns, while being intercepted once. In fairness, Palmer had back-to-back passes in the end zone that were catchable.
Darrius Heyward-Bey couldn’t hold on to the first one. Rod Streater was interfered with on the second one.
On the interception, Palmer forced a ball into tight coverage, with tight end Richard Gordon having a slim chance of making a play on the ball.
As it were, the ball sailed into the hands of a Cardinals defender, and it was returned just shy of the Raiders goal line.
– Streater was the star of Oakland’s first game, with six receptions for 66 yards. He made a strong case for that honor Friday night with seven receptions for 43 yards.
Also, Streater chased down the Arizona defender on the interception and saved a touchdown, in addition to almost recovering one of Goodson’s fumbles.
With Ford and Denarius Moore battling injuries, Streater is making the most of his playing time and stating his case for playing time once the regular season begins.
– Exhibition games are an ideal time to work on things that come up during the regular season.
Hence, not sure why Allen felt compelled to lete Sebastian Janikowski attempt an 18-yard field goal when he had an opportunity to work on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line.
He also allowed Eddy Carmona to kick a 53-yard field goal late in the game, even though Carmona has no chance of making the 53-man roster.
Again, why not go for the first down on fourth-and-five? That’s something that’s going to come up in a regular-season game, when Carmona is on the practice squad, with another team or out of the NFL.
– How to increase your chances of making the opening-day roster? Cue the tape and watch first-year linebacker Carl Ihenacho for his strip-sack of the quarterback late in the third quarter.
Ihenacho got to Ryan Lindley with a fierce rush, used one hand to grab the quarterback and the other to knock the ball loose, with defensive end Hall Davis there to recover the ball and return it for a touchdown.
Those are the kinds of instincts, technique and playmaking that coaches are looking for in these games.