The Raiders did not play most of their starters in their first preseason game Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals. Without their best players, the Raiders coaching staff were obviously more interested in how their position groups would perform than “winning” a preseason game.
"To me, the major things I was interested in seeing, I can't wait to see the film, is what we did at linebacker and what we did on special teams." Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said following the game. " We have so many of those decisions to make to replace guys like Daren Bates, (Brynden) Trawick, and Andre Holmes and those guys that were impact players on our special teams."
Del Rio may find himself excited by the performance of the Raiders linebackers but will certainly find some areas the special teams unit can improve on. Coaches can forgive rookie to have an issue lining up properly in their first preseason game but Justin Ellis is no rookie.
Lining up over the center here cost the Raiders five yards on 4th and four. A veteran player shouldn’t have these types of mental lapses. Games in the NFL typically end with a single score difference, the Raiders cannot afford to extend opposing teams drives. The Cardinals took advantage of the second chance and scored a touchdown a few plays later.
The second example was a blocked field goal attempt to end the Raiders following drive. Blocked field goals will happen from time to time, especially considering the distance the Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski can convert from. A blocked kick can obviously cost the team a victory and the coaches are going to correct any technique issues that may have contributed to this block.
The Raiders have a few areas they need to address after their “loss” but that is what the preseason is for. It is great to have Raider football back and will only get better when the starters are actually playing.