.... And the pre-season is over. With the exhibition game of exhibition games concluding, we now watch for the cast-offs and hit the ground running. It's all about Tennessee.
While this exhibition of exhibitions bears little resemblence to what we'll see in Tennessee it still offers insights into the product. It was also not without it's highlights.
Actually, my two favorite Raider highlights of the pre-season. Who cares if it took them about a year and 3 pre-season games longer than I hoped? There's no time like the present!
Mike Mitchell finally got to lace up his whooping shoes. He destroyed Justin Forsett. It was one of those hits that creates a vacuum when the waves of the collision push out the sounds of the crowd, leaving a void that is quickly filled with a mushroom cloud of "Oohs..."
As if his big hit wasn't enough to get the Nation fired up, Mitchell offered this quote after the game. Mitchell:
Darrius Heyward-Bey was not to be outdone by his draft-mate. He showed a glimpse of what could make him special. He used his speed to get a little separation, than displayed impressive hops and went up and caught a ball with his hands and still managed to toe tap both feet for a 34-yard completion.
Build on that DHB! You can be unstoppable. There is not a defender in the league that can keep up with you and go up to battle you for a ball. It is going to be one or the other and usually neither. You are too fast, too tall, too big and have the hops to top it off.
Also, worth noting is the block he threw on the scoring screen pass to Tonga. I am not trying to let my expectations build up, but this game was a big step for DHB. So...moving on before I get carried away.
Another highlight of the night came from Jason Campbell's mouth. Campbell:
I can't talk about the injury or anything that is going on right now, but come the Tennessee game I'll be ready.
While he wouldn't be the first player to be incorrectly place a timetable on a return; I'll take the good news where I can get it. Even if he is wrong, the Raiders back-ups showed again why Campbell missing a game or two is no reason to panic.
Still, in a game where virtually all of the starters sat out, it was not the action on the field that was the most revealing. The biggest glimpse of the future is offered by those who didn't play. Most notably:
- Jared Veldheer: If he played, I missed it. Satele started at Center. This could very well mean Veld is the Week One starter. It may have been nice to get him a little experience tonight, but what the hell, they guaranteed he'd be healthy.
- Marcel Reece: Your starting fullback 2010. The FB screen is going to be weapon this year. The FB blowing holes open for the RB's is not.
- Stanford Routt: Did he finally take over the #2 DB spot? I never thought this would be a legitimate question, but given his performance and Chris Johnson's...um more on CJ later.
Travis Goethel: He didn't play and there were reports he wasn't even their because of an injury issue. Let's hope it's not serious. *Update: From Cable on Goethel's absence:
There's an injury issue, but we'll talk about all that when we talk next week.
- I think there is a chance they are faking the injury to help slide Goethel onto the practice squad.
- John Henderson: I didn't see big John get any snaps. Good news to me as this should mean he is on track and ready to give his 20-30 snaps a game of run support.
We also learned some things from those who did play.
- Chris Johnson: Did he play? I didn't notice him out there. Oh wait..... What can we say about CJ? Nothing good and nothing fit for print. You expect a little rust after missing some time, but that was more than a little rust, that was some serious decomposition. Did CJ and Routt switch unis at the start of camp?
- The WR Race: Yamon looked the best on returns, but JLH and Nick Miller looked way better running routes and catching the ball. Of these three, only Miller is eligible for the practice squad. This'll be interesting....
- Todd Watkins: I didn't notice him in on any offensive plays, but I did see him on special teams. I am not sure if this is a good or bad sign for his future with the squad.
- Jacoby Ford: Looks like he is back on track after the quad set-back.
- The LB Race: Goethel's mysterious absence probably opens the door for Ricky Brown. No one really did anything here to sway the coaches decision. I assume Thomas Howard is still on the trading block.
- Khalif Barnes: Played the whole game at LT. Pure speculation here, but I say this means the Raiders decided to cut him and they were doing him the favor of getting some tape of his play at LT to send to other teams.
*Update: Something that didn't occur to me, but makes sense after seeing Jerry McDonald mention it, is it is possible Barnes got a crash re-acclimation to LT so that he can be the primary back-up as the Raiders clear the way for Veldheer to center.
- Walter McFadden: Hamstring issues that hopefully don't turn him into this year's Nick Miller.
- Jeremy Ware: Had a great INT, but a little too much contact for a rookie drew the yellow. He also looked good blitzing. With McFadden's hammy any doubt of him not making the roster are erased.
- Stevie "Big Play" Brown: Looked good. I gotta believe he is moving up the depth chart. Which means...
- Hiram Eugene: May have played his last game as a Raider
- Manase Tonga: Practice Squad? The guy is a load. Still, looked a little raw blocking, but worth keeping around.
- Bruce Campbell: Looked solid when he wasn't getting penalties. He wasn't getting the push on runs that I'd like to see, but then nobody was.
- Samson Satele: Looks good on screens. He had a nice block on the Tonga score. Got blown up, by someone I've never heard of on another play.
- Michael Bennett: He got a lot more carries than blocks. He runs hard and patient though and I expect he'll be around at least 'til Bush is ready. With blocking like he saw in the first half, it wouldn't matter who was running the ball.
- Chris Cooper: Did he help or hurt his chances with his sack?
- LaMarr Houston: One of the few starters to play. He got snaps at end and tackle. I like the thought of them cultivating his versatility.
- Trevor Scott: Another presumed starter who played and he played DE. I assume this is just giving him reps for potential Nickel and Dime packages, but who knows what the coaches were thinking.
- Special Teams: Anyone trying to make the team via a special teams play...didn't.