When I started doing Ballers & Busters five seasons ago, it all began with a preseason game. The original idea being to get a good idea of how each of the great many players trying to earn a roster spot performed. The coaches don't pay much attention to the stat line when evaluating these young players. Equally, if not more, important than the stats are those things that don't show up in a stat line.
Those things that aren't counted up or measured are the things which win football games. These NFL hopefuls are counting on the coaches noticing those things when deciding who makes the final 53 and where they all fall on the depth chart. I have already counted up the Ballers and Busters among the starters so we move on to the depth.
The Raiders have a whole new staff which means these players will be based a lot on what they can show them in practice and even more so in the games. For those readers who are new to B&B, the one thing I must point out is this is not an "all things considered" list. I don't give extra credit or soften the blow for extraneous circumstances.
With that in mind, here are those reserves and hopefuls who got the attention of the staff both good and bad.
This undrafted free agent rookie has been shining in camps and he put it on display in this game. The very first play of the second team offense, Streater caught an 18 yard pass from Leinart. The combination of Leinart and Streater was a well oiled machine. Streater caught two passes on his first drive of 18 and 13 yards to help the team into field goal range. He had two catches on the next drive of 11 and 9 yards and two catches on the drive after that of 5 and 12 yards. He was a beast out there and his final numbers were the mark of it 666-6 catches for 66 yards. Those six catches were more than any other receiver. The next best on the Raiders was Lonyae Miller who had three catches for 23 yards. And he did it all in the span of about one quarter of play before halftime. He never had a single game in college with six catches and comes out in his first NFL game and blows up. Who knew? Certainly not the scouts who all passed on him in the draft.
Ihenacho made so many plays on the field in this game that the announcer eventually pronounced his name correctly. He entered the game on defense along with the rest of the second team defense and his first play on the field, he teamed up with Christo Bilukidi for a run stuff at the line. The possession ended with a three and out by the Cowboys. The next series, Ihenacho Libre bulled into the backfield and tackled the running back for a loss despite the offensive lineman being called for holding. After halftime, he had a bit of confusion in coverage with Mike Mitchell that left his man wide open but those kind of kinks are expected from a defense this early in a new scheme. He made up for it later in that same drive when he teamed up with Jamie Cumbie for a tackle for no gain. Ihenacho davita kept it going until the last play when he stopped Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee on a scramble for a one yard gain to end their day offensively.
Streater had a great day because Leinart was finding him so often with on-target throws. Leinart had the best performance of any QB on either team in this game. After starting off with a bobbled snap (he recovered), he settled in and came out on the next possession slinging it. He finished 11 for 16 for 98 yards and a respectable QB rating of 84.9 and led the Raiders into scoring position once although the field goal attempt was no good.
The newest Raider made his presence felt in this game. He entered the game at the start of the second half and made the first tackle on the Cowboys second half opening kickoff return. Later in the third quarter, Dallas opted to go for it in fourth and two. They had a man open in the flat but Kilgore rushed in and leapt in the air to bat the ball down just after it left the quarterback's hands for a turnover on downs. The very next time the Cowboys had the ball, they were lined up in third and ten and they completed a short pass but Kilgore was there to stop it short of the first down and force a punt. Then to start off the Cowboys' final possession, he came up for a run stuff. The series ended in a three and out and gave the Raiders one more shot at getting on the scoreboard.
Tied for the team lead in combined tackles. And that is saying something for a defensive lineman. He also had a tipped ball at the line to force an incompletion.
Had the Raiders' only interception of the game. He also had tight coverage on an incompletion later in the game.
Demarcus Van Dyke
There was little semblance of the DVD we had been seeing in the first week of training camp. In practice, he looked like he was ready to push for the starting job. In this game, he looked like he will have trouble holding onto a roster spot. Not to say he is clinging to the bubble right now but he played so poorly you would think so.
Kyle Orton seemed to be picking on Van Dyke every time he put the ball in the air. Orton's second completion of the day was to Van Dyke's receiver for a 12 yard gain and a first down. Later he gave up an 11 yard catch on third and four for another first down. A few plays later, he was called for pass interference. It was enough to set up the Cowboys for their only score of the day on a chipshot field goal. On the next possession, he gave up a catch that went for 13 yards on third and 15. It would have been a first down if Mitchell hadn't come over and stopped it from going any farther. The Cowboys would go for it on fourth down and fail. Van Dyke was replaced by a third teamer after that. But if he keeps this up, that third teamer could soon be him.
I was pretty excited to see Pryor play in this game. Not just because we had never seen him perform in an NFL football game but because I was eager for the world to see the player I had been seeing in camp the past two weeks and prior. And he didn't disappoint, as expected. That is to say, he was disappointing. At least to those who had convinced themselves he was a sleeping super star as opposed to being a third stringer who has no shot at moving up the depth chart.
Pryor entered the game early in the second half to thousands, perhaps millions of wide eyed fans. His first series went three and out. Pitch play for four yards, handoff for one yard, and 3-yard scramble. His "big arm" would have to wait.
His next series, he dropped back on the first play and as fans stood, he threw the ball at the receiver's feet, incomplete. Next play he dropped back again and missed Juron Criner with a wide pass. Third down now and Pryor back to pass again. This time he completes it to David Ausberry for 11 yards and the first down. A new set of downs and a fresh slate. The series ended three plays later, exactly where it started. The final play, Pryor didn't like what he saw and tried to scramble. He ran around and around....and around until he was sacked for a nine yard loss. The only thing that was missing was Benny Hill music.
The next drive actually moved into scoring position with the help of a couple timely penalties on the Cowboys. His plays went like this: held ball sack, 7-yard scramble, throw behind receiver incomplete (holding penalty), 4-yard scramble, 9-yard scramble, throw behind receiver incomplete (pass interference penalty).
The final drive of the game was put on Pryor's shoulders against the tough Dallas third team defense. It went like this for Pryor: 6-yard dump off, catch for loss of one, wide incompletion, 15-yard completion, 8-yard completion, 8-yard scramble, wide incompletion, sacked, low pass nearly intercepted, soft up-for-grabs throw into traffic for easy interception. Game over.
I have long said Pryor most closely resembles Tim Tebow and this game showed that. I mean, minus him running it for a touchdown. Pryor may "run like a deer" as Mike Mitchell put it, but he was more of a deer in headlights in this game. Too many times, he made one read and got happy feet. He finished 8 for 15 passing with the game ending interception for a QB rating of 32.6. I thought he would at least break out with a big play with his legs in this game but he didn't even do that.
Khalif Barnes looked dominant in this game. Which perhaps only stood to widen the gap between he and Barksdale who is supposed to be pushing for a starting job. This second year offensive tackle got in the game midway through the first quarter and quickly gave up a run stuff. The next drive ended when he gave up a pressure on Matt Leinart which resulted in an incompletion. Then on the final drive of the game, he gave up a sack for a loss of 14 yards. It put Terrelle Pryor in 2nd and 24 and the Raiders hopes ended two plays later with an interception.
Drafted a round after Demarcus Van Dyke who is also on this list, Chimdi did himself no favors as he is desperately clinging to a spot on this roster. Unlike Van Dyke, Chekwa has looked terrible in practice. His play in this game was a continuation of that. But while Chekwa's poor play in practice has surrounded his coverage as a defender, his first play was a boneheaded move on special teams we didn't see coming.
In the first quarter after a nice punt by Marquette King which the return man left alone, it bounced and rolled toward the goal line with Chekwa following it closely. He hovered over it as it rolled, hoping to stop it inside the one yard line. But he waited too long and it reached to goal line to spoil a great punt and a chance to pin the Cowboys at their own goal line.
We would have to wait until just before halftime to see Chekwa's failings in his primary position at corner when he gave up a 20 yard catch. He later gave up a short catch to help the Cowboys move a little closer for their field goal.