On Saturday night, the Oakland Raiders played their first pre season game against the Arizona Cardinals. With many starters not playing (including Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch), there was no surprise, the Raiders looked off. The first team defense was not able to get Carson Palmer off the field on several third downs, allowing the Cardinals to score on their first position. That set the tone for the rest of the game. Offensively, EJ Manuel and company struggled to net positive drives in the first half. Finally, and probably the biggest story from the game, Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem. Here are some key observations from the game against the Cardinals.
1. Rookie Marquel Lee played like a rookie on Saturday. He seemed a little lost during his reads, which is expected for a young guy. At the same time, the former Demon Deacon played with a high motor all night. With that being said, Lee should get better with more reps, but the Raiders need him to improve quickly to take control of the middle linebacker position.
2. The debut of Eddie Vanderdoes was solid, as expected by his impressive camp thus far. Several times, the former UCLA Bruin controlled the line of scrimmage and held firm in his gap assignments. At this rate, Vanderdoes will have a strong impact on the defense this season.
3. Sean Smith’s training camp struggles carried over to the game in Arizona. Smith was flagged for pass interference early in the game. What made matters worse, he was turned around on several plays. None more apparent then the double move that should have been completed for a touchdown if a better pass was thrown. Smith will need to dig deep to turn things around, because if doesn’t, more snaps will be lost once Gareon Conley returns to the practice field.
4. On offense, the line was pushed back on multiple plays on Saturday. If this game taught Reggie McKenzie anything, it was Donald Penn is needed. Since the unit was missing a lot of starters, no need for concern regarding the skill positions. On the bright note, EJ Manuel continued to solidify his spot as the backup quarterback with his solid performance.
5. Lynch, who did not play in the game, sat during the nation anthem. Head Coach Jack Del Rio stated after the game that he talked to the Oakland native regarding his action afterwards. Lynch made it known to Del Rio that he’s sat during the anthem for 11 years now, so this was just him being himself. Del Rio reiterated to the media that this will not be an issue for the team.
Raider Nation, no need to panic. This game had several big stars sitting out. And the stars who did play, like Mack, played a series at most. The starters should play next week, when the Raiders host the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night. After that game, we can really start to analyze the team as a whole.
From the list of player you were excited to see on Saturday, which player played the best? Which one struggled? Lastly, do you think Sean Smith can turn things around before the start of the season? Let me know in the comments below.
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