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Raiders preseason week 1 Ballers & Busters vs Cardinals: Part two

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The second part of the Ballers & Busters in which we give out the bad news.


Sean Smith

What is going on with Sean Smith? Where is the player that locked down receivers for the Chiefs in 2015, earning a 4-year, $40 million deal to come to Oakland? This guy doesn’t even look like he belongs on an NFL roster, let along a starting corner.

Smith entered the game on the second play and immediately was called for pass interference. He remained in the game even after most other first teamers had left and early in the second quarter was beaten on a double move, forcing him to grab the receiver to keep from getting torched. In his favor, I suppose, is that he made the smart play to give up a 5-yard penalty rather than a huge completion. Three plays later, on third and five, he was blocked to give up a 10-yard catch on a bubble screen. The very next play he gave up a 26-yard catch that set the Cardinals up at the 8-yard-line. They would score their second touchdown three plays later.

The Cardinals’ final drive of the first half, and Smith’s final of the game, he gave a large cushion to his receiver on third and 3 surrender the 11-yard first down. Had Breon Borders not come over to make the tackle, that pass would have resulted in a lot more than 11 yards. A few plays later he was lucky not to have given up a touchdown. His man put a double move on him and got open heading for the end zone, but Drew Stanton overthrew it. They settled for a field goal and a 17-0 lead.

TJ Carrie

The man who has been taking first team reps in Sean Smith’s place in training camp didn’t have a great game either. Not nearly on the same level as Smith, but still not good. The first Cardinals third down of the day, Carrie gave up a 12-yard catch.

Early in the second quarter, Carrie was also blocked on the 10-yard bubble screen on third and 5 along with Smith and Breon Borders. The next play, Carrie went on the blitz and looked to have Drew Stanton sacked, but Stanton made a quick move into the pocket and Carrie flew by him. This allowed him time to find an open man for a 26-yard completion. That set up the Cards’ second touchdown of the game.

Carrie’s final stat line was two combined tackles (1 solo) in one half of football.

Marquel Lee

Just for the pats on the back for this rookie, I will start by saying he did some good things. He was second on the team with 6 tackles (5 solo), had a fumble recovery, and was in coverage on a couple incompletions. The struggles he had were in the areas that have been of great concern for the Raiders of late and that’s how he lands here.

On third and six on the Cardinals first drive, they went to a familiar source – the tight end. Lee was charged with covering Jermaine Gresham and gave up a 9-yard catch for a first down. Two plays later, Palmer completed a pass between Lee and Cory James in the zone.

The Cardinals’ second drive, Lee gave up an 11-yard catch to the running back and gave up the right edge for a 15-yard run. It was that drive that ended with Justin Ellis forcing a fumble that flew right into Lee’s arms.

The Cardinals’ second touchdown went to tight end Troy Niklas who had escaped Lee’s coverage on third and goal to score from 7 yards out. The following drive, Lee gave up a 13-yard catch to the running back on third and 7 to set up a chipshot field goal. To his credit he had good coverage on the final third down to limit the damage.

Gabe Holmes

Holmes’s first chance to make a play came as a blocker. On 4th and one he was tossed aside to give up a run stuff for no gain and turn the ball over on downs. The Raiders shouldn’t have been calling for Jalen Richard to be a short yardage back in the first place, but Holmes didn’t help matters. He later made a good block on John Crockett’s 29-yard catch and run, but lost the goodwill he created with that block when he fumbled the ball away to end the next drive.

Vadal Alexander

EJ Manuel was sacked once. And it was Alexander who surrendered it. Alexander was beaten badly on the rush. That was a sack right out of the blocks on third down. Two plays before that he gave up the pressure on Manuel that caused his first incompletion of the game. This wasn’t the Cardinals’ best pass rusher either. Both times it was Kareem Martin who has started four career games with 2.5 career sacks in three seasons.

Connor Cook

Missed a great opportunity to make a play on his very first pass of the game. Johnny Holton was wide open on a crossing route and Cook inexplicably threw it way over his head. Another incompletion on third down and a potential huge play to start the second half turned into a three and out. Cook would again miss Holton on a long pass a bit later, though a 19-yard connection with Jaydon Mickens on third down would make up for it. The drive would end on the Gabe Holmes fumble.

The Raiders’ lone touchdown drive came in the third quarter with Cook at quarterback. But the big plays on that were both out of the backfield. The first was a 29-yard catch and run on a dump to John Crockett, the other was a 24-yard end around by Jaydon Mickens. The touchdown was a run by Crockett.

Despite facing mostly third team defenders and guys who will be unemployed in a few weeks, he completed less than 50% of his passes (10 of 21) for 82 yards and no touchdowns with a passer rating of 58.0.

Ian Silberman

He was late on a pull block from center to the left guard gap, allowing running back John Crockett to be tackled in the backfield for a 2-yard loss. In the fourth quarter, he was tossed aside easily, allowing George Atkinson III to be stuffed in the backfield for a 3-yard loss.

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