Arizona Cardinals wide receiver (10) DeMarco Sampson makes a leaping catch over Oakland Raiders cornerback (23) DeMarcus Van Dyke in the fourth quarter during a preseason game
In this second game of the preseason, the backups would get equal time with the starters, if not slightly more time in some cases. With the exception of one or two players, the second team would enter the game to start the second half. The would inherit a 13 point deficit of which to try and overcome.
Darren McFadden took a seat before the end of the first quarter and now the rest of the first team, including the stout defensive front, joined him on the sideline watching their backups compete for their jobs and roster spots.
For some of these players, this is the last, best shot at showing what they can do in a game. Next week the starters will get most of the action, leaving just a few drives at the end to stand out before the first cutdown day.
Here are those who impressed and those who did not.
The former San Jose State Spartan continues to impress. He was a Baller last week because of his run defense. There wasn't a lot in the way of Ballers this week among the second and third teamers so by default, the guy with the most important defensive play on the team earns top billing. That play consisted of him flying in and sacking Cardinals' QB Ryan Lindley and with a sweeping arm motion, stripping him for a fumble. It was recovered in the endzone by Hall Davis for a defensive touchdown to complete the second half comeback and tie it up at 24-24.
After a miserable first preseason game that landed him on the Buster list, he makes a full comeback this week. He had the Raiders' only interception of the day and it came on his first play on the field. With a nice bit of coverage, he showed what can happen when you are in the right position and facing the quarterback when the ball comes your way. The interception gave the Raiders great field position and they marched down for their first touchdown of the preseason. Later, in the fourth quarter, he had tight coverage to force an incompletion. The Raiders would force a fumble on the next play and get the ball back.
This guy is just everywhere. He goes undrafted and then unsigned as a free agent following the draft. Then the Raiders sign him the day before camp and he looks better than half the second and third team defense. The first time he saw the field was on special teams where he promptly tackled the return man. Then he was given just one full possession to work with and he made it count. He had three tackles on that one drive and all were run stuffs for short yardage, the last one was a solo tackle for no gain.
He touched the ball twice in this game. The first time, he caught a 26 yard pass from Leinart. It was underthrown but Criner played it perfectly, leading the corner until the last instant when he left the corner and came back to get the pass. The drive resulted in a touchdown three plays later. His other play was an end around that went for 8 yards in which he showed some nifty moves.
He was looking pretty good for a few minutes there. He led the Raiders on a touchdown drive and was on the march again until Cardinals' defensive lineman Ricky Lumpkin laid a vicious late hit on him which nearly took his helmet off and lacerated his right index finger.
This is a rare category saved for those players who make quite a few plays both good and bad and therefore should be mentioned if only to explain why they are neither a Baller nor a Buster. With McFadden leaving early because... he's Darren McFadden, and Mike Goodson leaving shortly thereafter with a shoulder injury, Miller carried the load again.
He did pick up some good yards (15 carries for 54 yards) and he even scored the only offensive touchdown of the game-the first by the Raiders this preseason. But he also left some yards on the field. To say he doesn't show great field vision is somewhat of an understatement. Several times, he was seen running into tackles. He would get past the line and not know what to do with himself.
He also had one major mistake in this game. In the second quarter, with the Raiders down 8-17, they lined up to punt. From the left side of the line, a Cardinal player came flying in nearly untouched. Lonyae Miller completely whiffed on his assignment and the rusher blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown. Granted, Marquette King messed up his steps and took too long to punt it away, but that rusher should never have been able to fly in untouched like that.
For the second week in a row, this DVD was a horror film. At least for the Raiders he was. For the Cardinals, this DVD was a delightful romantic comedy they could just watch over and over again. Every time he got beat, it was big time. It started early in the fourth quarter when he gave up a 30 yard catch. He had tight coverage and the receiver just jumped over him. Next play, he completely missed on a tackle and gave up the touchdown. Then two possessions later, it was the Cardinals last possession. They were up by four points and needed a sustained drive to put away the game. And DVD handed it to them. The drive started with two run stops and the Raiders were thinking they might get the ball back with some time to score. But on the next play, DVD was beaten badly to give up a 31 yard catch. A few plays later, the Cardinals were in third down again. They needed just one more first down to be able to kneel out the clock. They run outside but instead of DVD cutting off the edge and forcing the runner toward the linebackers, he goes inside and the Cardinals pick up 14 yards to put the game away. He didn't cover or tackle in this game. Just like last week. To think we were watching this DVD thinking it was a thriller after the first week of camp.
Two fumbles lost. Need I really say more than that? The first one resulted in a short field for the Cardinals and a touchdown in four plays. The second one was taken back when Brisiel forced a fumble of his own. But it was a fumble lost none the less. Goodson was hit hard on the play and left with what Dennis Allen referred to as "weak shoulder". It could be a residual effect of the neck injury he suffered earlier in camp that had him out the first preseason game. He also carried the ball six times for five yards. That's right, he averaged less than a yard per carry. And that was with the first team offensive line in front of him. We have seen him play much better and I am convinced his play on Friday has a lot to do with the neck injury and perhaps some fear stemming from the hit. But there is no way around the fact that he had a terrible day.
For those wondering who this is, he's the Raiders' special teams coordinator. And for those who already knew who this is, he's still the Raiders special teams coordinator. The Raiders' special teams for these first two weeks has been a catastrophe.
It started on the opening kickoff when Jacoby Ford couldn't find space to get past the 14 yard line. Same exact thing happened last week. Even the same exact yard line he was stopped. His next return was stopped short of the 20 yard line as well.
Then when Marquette King punted, the Raiders gave up a 46-yard return to their 41 yard line which set up the Cardinals for a short touchdown on their first drive.
Things went pretty well for a while until midway through the second quarter, King has a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders were called for holding and had to start at their own 7 yard line. And we're now at halftime.
The opening kickoff of the second half was returned 53 yards. Then after a turnover, the Raiders drove for their first touchdown. But that celebration was short lived as the extra point was blocked. These special teams issues have got to be cleaned up. Those kinds of issues will plague a team all season if they're not careful.
He looks completely lost out there. He entered the game after Leinart was knocked out with a lacerated finger. The drive was going great and the Raiders were moving. He took over with the Raiders knocking on the door at the Cardinals' 29 yard line. But apparently Pryor was afraid of who might come to the door because he went backward from there.
His first pass, he threw to Eddie McGee who was covered at the line so it was for no gain. Next play, he rolled out right and into a waiting former Raider, Quentin Groves. Pryor did a little dance while Groves watched and then Groves tackles him with ease. What began as first and ten in field goal range was now third and 25 out of field goal range. A short run play later and the Raiders punted it away. Next drive he handed it off twice for eight yards and then couldn't pick up two yards on a scramble. Next drive started with a short field after a turnover. It began with him floating a pass short on a deep route to Criner that was nearly intercepted. Two plays later, the Raiders settled for a field goal. And his day ended there.
Too many familiar names on these lists from last week. Barksdale did his damage all in one drive. The last drive of the third quarter he started by giving up a run stuff. Then he effectively ended it when he allowed Ricky Lumpkin to get by him and nail Leinart to knock him out of the game. Barksdale was understandably jumpy after that and had a false start on the very next play. Getting your quarterback killed is usually a one way ticket to Busterville more times than not.