Back again with your weekly write up of the Raiders O-Line, last week I told everyone to chill out and keep it cool. As far as cool goes, the Raiders looked icy chill out there on Soldier Field.
Facing them were Tommie Harris; a guy who's been off his game since his leg injury years ago but still has a knack for being one of the fastest DT's in football, Julius Peppers; an All-Pro RE known for both speed and strength and is one of the most feared DE's in football, Lance Briggs; overrated but is still a very good blitz option, and the Chicago defensive scheme; a scheme known for sending a lot of all-out blitzes from a talented front seven.
And how did the Raiders O-Line fare against yet another rigorous test? Read on to find out.
Once again this is a preseason game so don't read too much into this. However it is well known that if there's one thing preseason accurately tests, it's the battle of the trenches.
Mario Henderson, man oh man is this guy hard to judge. Goes from great looking couple weeks in 08, to horrible in 09, to looking like an All-Pro in 2010. Matched up on him all day (save for a few breathers where Veldheer came in, more on that later) was All-Pro Julius Peppers.
Peppers did get pressure which is definitely to be expected, but Mario Henderson played him almost entirely one-on-one and allowed 0 sacks. This is isn't some 2 series thing either, this was in whole half of football. Maybe it's the confidence he gets in having Gallery beside him, or maybe it's Mario finally getting great, but he looked great out there.
Speaking of Robert Gallery, I'm disappointed in all of his penalties (but wow did that Michael Bush screen look fantastic on 3rd and 17), but he faced up against Tommie Harris like a true Pro Bowl guard. Campbell never had to worry about his blindside as long as those two were in.
And when the O-Line is neutralizing the RE and DT, that means the C can help the G leaving the RT free to work on the LE. Meaning, if the left side is looking good, the right side is looking better than their usual mediocre selves. That's right, the right side of the O-Line allowing 0 sacks as well. Though against competition arguably as average as the right side themselves.
So pass blocking was great, but their was just two mistakes. The first being the INT throw by Jason Campbell. Campbell threw a bad pass and should have just taken the sack, but that's something he'll learn in 3 weeks when he does his usual 24 hour film study.
The second was an error by the rookie Veldheer. Veldheer came in on a play to give Mario a breather. On that play, Peppers made Veldheer actually look human as he manhandled Jared to sack Campbell and force a fumble. Now Veldheer looked great out there against Peppers in limited action, and that sack was just a simple case of rookie versus veteran all-pro.
Satele was injured with an ankle sprain and Chris Morris came in for his first play. The cold center made a bad snap which resulted in a fumble. Reason I'm not worried about this, that probably just won Veldheer the backup center job. Something we can all be happy with.
However, this was not a perfect game for the Raiders O-Line. Bush and Fargas....I mean Cartwright (hard to tell the difference) were struggling all game to get going against the annually good Bears run D. Combining for 10 carries for 28 yards, things could have been better. But in a game where our passing offense is on fire like that, it's not too bad. But still needs work.
Jackson's power blocking plays were on display on those Campbell and Boller TD runs. Can't wait to see more of that in the regular season.
Overall the O-Line looked great against the Bears and will probably look better next week if Veldheer does in fact start like I think he will.
In a game where your two starting corners are out and the guys you're fielding are a guy named Stanford Routt, and the other a rookie 7th. round pick in Jeremy Ware, you expect nothing short of disaster. Does Jay Cutler only throwing for 99 yards count as disaster? Well for Chicago it is.
Routt actually looked decent out there (I was going to say good but we'll use decent when it comes to Bears receivers), and Ware looked like a vet instead of a rookie (except for a couple rookie mistakes of course). I'm really starting to feel good about the Raiders depth in the secondary.
Cutler had a touchdown and there were some bad plays by the secondary, but when Nnamdi Asomugha, Chris Johnson,and the pass rushing stylings of single blocked Seymour are out, they looked incredible out there.
To Satele, hope you get well soon. Sorry for being so happy about your injury as a chance to see Veldheer in action (hopefully), but that's what you get for looking average yet again. Way to make me look lame for defending you all offseason. Hope you prove me wrong, and hope to see you on the field again soon.