ALAMEDA _ Worried about the Raiders?
Judging from the social media reaction following a 20-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers, it seems a lot of people are wondering if the consensus trendy pick to make a playoff run is really just more of the same.
Following practice Saturday, the first one since the loss to Green Bay two days ago, it’s pretty clear Jack Del Rio can live with the results because 1) They don’t count; and 2) His team is reasonably healthy.
“There are always things that you look at on tape and things you know you need to correct,” Del Rio said. “I thought we did some good things defensively after the first drive. We got some conditioning there. Everybody came out healthy. We learned some lessons.
“I think that’s part of work in the preseason; looking at a lot of different players and the evaluation continues. It’s very fruitful from that standpoint. They don’t carry forward into the regular season. It’s still preseason and we’re going to get our work done.”
— It was the first practice in Alameda since training camp ended, but was still a training-camp style of practice. That changes this week. The media is no longer allowed to watch practice and the Raiders will simulate a game week, as is standard procedure for the third preseason game.
It remains to be seen whether Del Rio will opt to play starters into the third quarter, and he certainly will be more vanilla in terms of scheme, given the fact that the Titans are also the Raiders’ opponent on Sept. 25 in Week 3 of the regular season in Nashville.
“It’s a little early for discussing those kinds of things,” Del Rio said.
— Remember when Karl Joseph said during training camp he wouldn’t be surprised if he sat out the first two preseason games?
Joseph has started both games, getting nine snaps against Arizona and 21 against Green Bay.
The Packers game contained the most important single play in Joseph’s development _ a second-and-goal stuff of 234-pound power back Eddie Lacy at the 1-yar d line. Fellow rookie Jihad Ward got Lacy low, while Joseph came in high for the finish _ precisely the kind of play he was known for at West Virginia.
“On that first drive, I was telling myself, `I need to feel it again,” Joseph said. “That hit felt good _ especially coming against a big back like Eddie Lacy and on the goal line.”
Joseph appears to be on schedule to be somewhere near full strength for the regular-season opener. He was ready to go from the first day of training camp and his progress has been steady.
“The training staff did a great job getting me ready,” Joseph said. “I was a little hesitant, I didn’t know how much I was going to play and not feeling 100 percent like myself. But it’s important for me to go out, get those reps, knock the rust off and by New Orleans I’ll feel a lot closer to myself.”
— Cornerback DJ Hayden got turned around a time or three against slot receiver Seth Roberts Saturday, but he continues to have a stranglehold on the slot corner spot. He played six snaps against Arizona and then 21 against the Packers with the first team nickel defense.
Hayden concedes it’s different in the middle of the field as opposed to being on the island outside, where the starters are Sean Smith and David Amerson.
“There’s more to it in terms of run-fits, but you can disguise your play more and it gives you a chance to make more plays,” Hayden said. “You have more field to work with.”
— The right tackle spot has Menelik Watson firmly in the lead over Austin Howard, at least according to the way the first team has lined up since the start of training camp.
Watson was on the verge of winning the job last season but was lost to a torn Achilles in the final preseason game. Howard, who had played guard in 2014, took over and started 13
games before he was lost to a knee injury.
Del Rio isn’t proclaiming a winner and there’s no sense in doing so, particularly since Watson has been susceptible to injury.
“It’s going well. Both guys have had good camps, staying healthy,” Del Rio said. “We’re happy about that. I think it’s great to have Menelik back. He brings a little temperament, a little athleticism to the position. Obviously Austin filled in and did a great job for us last year. That’s been a good competition.”