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Raiders preseason week 1 Ballers & Busters vs Cardinals

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Football is back! And with it Ballers & Busters. Preseason is right in the B&B wheelhouse because it's all about individual performances and now is when these guys want to stand out and either push for playing time or a roster spot.

It was off to the desert for the Raiders to open the 2016 preseason. The starters played two series and then began exiting the game. Though for the Cardinals, Carson Palmer would play just one series in which he led them down the field for a field goal to leave up 3-0. Derek Carr came back out for a second series and tied the game up. He, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree left after that.

Matt McGloin came in for Carr at that point, and by the time the first quarter was done, the Raiders led 17-3. From there, they would cruise to a 31-10 victory.

Ballers

Starters:

Malcolm Smith

The first tackle of the game for the Raiders was Smith filling his gap and stuffing a run for no gain. He started the second series by sealing the edge to force the run inside for another tackle for no gain by Mario Edwards Jr. He bookended it with tight coverage on the tight end to force a third down incompletion. That was his last snap.

Michael Crabtree

Derek Carr completed three passes for 44 yards. And 2 of those for 38 yards went to Crabtree. The first was an out route along the left sideline on the first play of the game for 16 yards. The second one went for 22 yards up the right sideline on third and 4. It put the Raiders in scoring position and they added a field goal.

Sean Smith

He didn't give up a catch in two series. In the first defensive series against Carson Palmer, he had a pass defended, which he nearly intercepted (and probably should have), came up to stop the receiver for a loss at the 4-yard-line on a bubble screen, and ended it by blanketing his receiver, giving Palmer nowhere to throw, to force them to settle for a field goal.

Clive Walford

Latavius Murray's longest run of the day went for 11 yards thanks to a block by Walford. Jamize Olawale got the ball on the next play and picked up 5 yards behind a Walford block. Then after the forced fumble on the kick return, Walford broke open up the seam where Matt McGloin found him for the first touchdown of the game.

Sebastian Janikowski

He had one field goal attempt from 53 yards out. It was a no-doubter right down the middle and into the net.

Reserves:

George Atkinson III

The final two touchdowns were both scored on big runs from GA3. The first went for 53 yards in which Atkinson bounced out right and shot up the sideline untouched. The second, he saw his opening inside through the back door left and again turned on the jets. This time he put a move and a shuck on a defender to finish it off up the left sideline for six.

Those were his big plays. He started things out with an assist on a return tackle to stop the return man at the 12-yard-line. He later had another tackle on a return to stop the return man inside the 20-yard-line. His ground total for the day was 5 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He still has a uphill battle to make the team, but that hill just got a lot less steep.

Cory James

The day of the game, we ran our story about James as the new middle linebacker behind Ben Heeney and James went out and put his stamp on the position. The second play he was in the game, he dropped back into coverage and took away the target over the middle. This forced a high throw from Drew Stanton where Nate Allen was right there to intercept it.

In the second quarter, he stopped a run that had gotten to the second level short of the first down on third and ten to force a field goal. The Cardinals would miss the field goal from 41 yards out to keep the score at a Raiders touchdown lead at 17-10. He then stopped the next series with tight coverage on a third down incompletion.

The second Cardinals drive of the third quarter, James was all over the place. He sealed the edge to force a run inside where it was stopped for a short gain, then two plays later he had a run stuff for one yard, and finally he shot into the backfield to tackle the runner for a loss of three. That's a net of zero yards on three plays he affected and the Cardinals were forced to punt.

Korey Toomer

Toomer and James were like Haim and Feldman in this one. Toomer is on this team for his special teams abilities. That's where he came up big early on, making the tackle in a return and forcing the fumble. The Raiders recovered and in one play scored their first touchdown. Then he made the tackle AGAIN on the kick return that followed, stopping the returner at the 12-yard-line.

He came in on defense in the second quarter and continued making plays. In the quarter he stopped a run for a 2-yard gain, assisted on a run stuff for no gain. He added another run stuff in the third quarter and finished the game as the Raiders' leading tackler with 7 combined tackles (5 solo).

DeAndre Washington

He entered the game in the second quarter. After his first two runs netted a total of zero yards (-2, 2), his third was breathtaking. Bursting through the line at the left guard spot, he shot into the secondary, where he made a move that juked the defender out of his shoes and Washington scampered for 25 yards. Then in the third quarter, he beat his man to catch a short pass on a slant and went for 32 yards. GA3 went for his 53-yard touchdown on the next play. In total, Washington ran for 43 yards on 8 carries (5.4 yards per carry) and a total of 75 yards from scrimmage on 9 touches.

James Cowser

The one they call ‘Sunshine' was definitely a bright spot for the Raiders. The second play of the second quarter, he pressured the quarterback who nearly threw an interception. Later in the quarter, he made the tackle on a short run and got pressure and a big hit on the quarterback who barely got the ball away for an incompletion. With the Cardinals in first and goal on their first drive of the third quarter, he got around the right tackle to get a hand on the ball as Barkley threw it. It affected the trajectory enough that Neiko Thorpe intercepted it. He had three other tackles, chasing down the QB on a scramble and two run stuffs to finish tied for the team lead in solo tackles (5).

Nate Allen

Allen showed the kind of skills that earned him a long term deal as a starter last season. No sooner did he enter the game, but he was in the right place for an interception on a high pass from Drew Stanton that he then returned to the 12-yard-line. The Raiders would score a touchdown in two plays. Two plays into the next drive, he nearly had another interception. The following drive, on third down, he hit the receiver as soon as he caught the ball and punched the ball out and force a punt. He had another tackle on defense and a tackle on special teams.

Matt McGloin

Two of his first three passes were for touchdowns. His second pass was to Clive Walford for a 19-yard touchdown and his third was a perfectly thrown ball along the left edge of the endzone for Andre Holmes and a 17-3 lead. He wasn't getting a lot of help from his receivers or the zebras. Two receptions were called back by penalties, another was dropped by Seth Roberts, and another was fumbled away by Holmes.

Neiko Thorpe

He had more catches than his receivers did, picking off Matt Barkley near the goal line to keep the Cardinals from scoring on a long drive.

Honorable Mention

Johnny Holton -€” Didn't do much as a wide receiver, but he was money on special teams; returning a kickoff 43 yards and recovering a forced fumble on a Cardinals punt return that led to the Raiders first touchdown.

Darius Latham -€” In one drive in the third quarter he had a pressure to force and incompletion, a run stuff for a 2-yard gain, and put a hit on the quarterback to force an incompletion on third down.

Keith McGill -€” Looked pretty competent at safety. Unfortunately both his pass defended and interception were negated by penalties on other players.

Branden Jackson -€” Had an impressive run stuff in which he fought off his blocker to slide down the line to get the runner for no gain. Also batted a pass down at the line.

Drew Iddings -€” Had a pressure that led to an incompletion and had the Raiders' only sack of the game. It was on 4th and 5 and ended the Cardinals last attempt at scoring late in the fourth quarter.

Betweener

Andre Holmes

Diving catch along the left edge of the end zone for a touchdown -€” Awesome.

Fumble on attempted bubble screen -€” Awful.

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