A lot went wrong for the Oakland Raiders in their preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday. Cornerback Sean Smith showed that the Raider won’t get much for his big contract. Fellow CB T.J. Carrie is still a depth player regardless of how great he’s been in training camp.
And the secondary is still not communicating right, leaving receivers wide open deep down the field. Outside of that, the Raiders are okay, having rested a lot of important pieces to their team. Outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin didn’t play so don’t mark the defense down too much.
The offensive line even did pretty well considering Marshall Newhouse is the only starter that played. But the best part of that game were a couple of players in positions of need that showed up. Backup quarterback EJ Manuel looked like an NFL starter on Saturday with his touch and accuracy.
And he had the type of numbers you want your starter to have in his first preseason game. Manuel was 10-12 for 107 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and a quarterback rating of 103.8. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing appears to be refining Manuel after he was a bust in Buffalo.
God forbid franchise QB Derek Carr gets hurt again but Manuel continuing this would be huge for the Raiders. We all remember the disaster that happened at the end of last year when Carr got hurt. Many call the Raiders O-line Carr insurance but Saturday night’s version of Manuel is premium Carr insurance.
It looks like the Raiders may finally have one of their late-drafted inside linebackers work out. Cory James, the team’s 2016 sixth-round pick, was all over the place against the run and the pass. Against the run he got in his fits, took on guards, shed them and ran to the ball.
He also looked decent in coverage and had a hurry that caused Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer to miss a TD pass. Jenkins led the team and tied for the lead in the game with seven tackles. Lined up next to him, 2017 fifth-round pick Marquel Lee appears to be still learning.
If he’s not ready to go for Week 1, perhaps James could play the MIKE position with vet Jelani Jenkins at the WILL. Either way, it looks like the Raiders have drafted and developed at least one solid starting ILB. Along with a solid backup QB, this is an area the Raiders should feel better about this year.