Last Friday, the Raiders traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. After a 31-21 loss, the team traveled back to Oakland disappointed. But a few rookies were able to hold their heads high after standout performances.
Khalil Mack, OLB, #52 (1st round)
After two disappointing performances, the Raiders first round pick finally came through big time. Mack had a great game totaling five tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception. Throughout the entire game, he was providing pressure on Aaron Rogers and Matt Flynn.
On one play, Mack broke into the pocket and freed up Lamarr Woodley for the sack.
What really impressed me was Mack's ability to keep outside contain to force plays inside. Once he did that, the talented linebacker would throw the lineman aside and make the tackle. Mack did a much better job of shedding blocks this game.
One particular play, Mack used his hands to get inside of the right tackle. He then nailed the Packers runningback in the backfield.
His play of the game came in the final seconds of the first half. Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw a screen pass in Mack's direction. The athletic linebacker jumped and tipped the ball to himself for an interception.
Even on special teams, Mack was a standout. He almost blocked a punt after a beautiful swim move to get by the blocker.
While it took three weeks, Khalil Mack showed flashes of dominance and consistency. Many of his best plays were against the Packers starting offensive line.
Derek Carr, QB, #4 (2nd round)
Carr was sidelined with a rib injury he suffered last week against the Detroit Lions.
Gabe Jackson, OG, #66 (3rd round)
Jackson was flawless through his first two preseason games. But Friday night, he started off on a bad note.
Immediately after coming into the game, Jackson got swim moved and gave up a tackle for a loss. The next offensive drive, he put his head down and the defender ran past him for another tackle for a loss. The worst play came in the same drive when Jackson was pulling and ran by an unblocked guy that made the tackle.
But after that, Jackson played exceptionally well. He had a massive pancake that was never official because Donald Penn got called for holding on the play. He also began to stick on his blocks longer than anyone on the Raiders offensive line. Jackson even received a shout-out by the commentators for his stellar play.
While it took a few drives to get the ball rolling, Jackson eventually picked up where he left off last game.
Justin Ellis, DT, #78 (4th round)
Ellis sat out the game with a concussion he suffered in the first preseason game against the Vikings.
Keith McGill, CB, #39 (4th round)
Friday night was the Raiders second chance to see McGill in action. He came into the game without butterflies and immediately made a nice open field tackle close to the line of scrimmage. But once the Packers quarterback began throwing the ball McGill's way, it was all downhill.
The 6'3" cornerback first gave up an eight yard slant. He was playing man coverage and let his receiver get inside (worst thing a cornerback can do).
Later in the game, McGill was playing man coverage again when he allowed his receiver to much separation. Jonathan Dowling was late to help over the top and the play resulted in a wide open Packers touchdown.
While McGill played aggressively against the run, his pass defense needs improvement.
T.J. Carrie, CB, #38 (7th round)
Carrie started the game outside while Carlos Rogers played inside as a slot corner. Because of the adjustment, the rookie cornerback was primarily matched up against Packers star receiver Jordy Nelson. Aaron Rogers realized the matchup nightmare and targeted Nelson often. That actually helped the Raiders because Carrie shut down the elite receiver.
In the first quarter, Rogers threw deep to Nelson. While the ball was overthrown, Carrie was right on Nelson's hip the entire time.
One of the best plays of the night occurred when Rogers tried to hit Nelson on a deep comeback in the right corner of the end zone. It looked like a touchdown but Carrie made an excellent play to dive out and stick a hand in to break up the pass.
But the very next play, Nelson caught a ten yard comeback and Carrie dove for the ball again. This time, he missed and Nelson walked in for the touchdown.
His run defense was inconsistent throughout the game. Early in the first quarter, he had an opportunity to tackle Eddie Lacy but completely whiffed.
But later, Carrie stopped another touchdown with a big hit on the goal line to force the wide receiver backwards.
Overall, Friday night was not a bad outing for the Ohio alumnus. He held his own against one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with an elite quarterback throwing to him.
Shelby Harris, DE, #75 (7th round)
After a strong performance against the Vikings in which he recorded a sack, Harris took a step back last week against the Lions. Friday night, Harris had another solid outing against the Packers.
He provided a ton of pressure and almost had two sacks. In the third quarter, Harris looked like he was going to rush outside. He quickly stunted and rushed inside leveling Matt Flynn, but the quarterback got the throw off just in time to avoid the sack.
Harris almost had another sack on Flynn but he barely missed the tackle. Flynn avoided the sack and ran for a seven yard gain.
He improved his run defense too. By keeping outside leverage, Harris continually forced the Packers runningbacks inside where he would throw the lineman and make the tackle. Harris finished the game with three tackles.
Jonathan Dowling, S, #41 (7th round)
Friday night was the same old pathetic story for Dowling. The only bright spot was a tackle he made after a five yard gain.
Instead of setting his feet and exploding into receivers, Dowling dives and often whiffs. The result of his whiffs are big gains since he is a safety and there is little help behind him.
His pass coverage was once again paltry. On the touchdown that McGill gave up, Dowling had a chance to make a play but he was late because of his slow reactions. It takes him so long to read the quarterback and break on the ball.
At this point, it would take an extremely impressive performance next week for him to make the 53-man roster.