Normally in the second preseason game, the reserves see a bit less work than they did in the first preseason game. Not in this case. The Raiders were sitting out their starters, so the second preseason game became another chance for the backups to prove themselves.
Chris Warren has been proving himself since the beginning of his time in Oakland. He wasn’t a priority free agent, he had to try out. He proved he was worthy of being signed. Then he proved himself worthy of a shot in the game with his performance in training camp. Now he’s proving himself on the field as well.
“Chris is doing a great job,” said quarterback EJ Manuel. “I think coaches got on him early in camp, but I think it only helps him. . . it’s been great, obviously, to see come alive, he played great the first week, but honestly he has been doing that the past couple of weeks in practice.”
Warren had an outstanding first preseason game against the Lions last week, rushing for 86 yards on 16 carries. It earned him the first carry and the bulk of the carries against the Rams Saturday in LA. And he stepped up, running for 110 yards on 18 carries and adding his first touchdown as well.
“I’ll remember this one for a while,” Warren said of his first NFL score. It came from three yards out in the third quarter and was the Raider first point in the game.
Getting in the end zone was something he wasn’t able to do in the first game despite his solid running then. So, has he finally proven himself?
“Not yet, we’re still in preseason. Coaches aren’t showing their full hands,” said Warren, who has downplayed his performance at each phase.
“I believe that I’m showing that I’m capable but I don’t believe I’ve proved anything yet. I still need to go back out there and prove some more stuff.”
His coach likes what he sees from his big unheralded back, but he agrees, there is much left for Warren to prove yet.
“He’s a good back, isn’t he?” Gruden said of Warren. “I mean, he’s run for almost 200 yards in two weeks. And I know he’s not playing against the regulars but he’s not playing with the regulars either. He’s a big powerful back that’s taking are of the ball.
“He’s got to get better without the football — that’s what it’s all about with him. We know he can run, we know he’s powerful and fast and elusive, but he’s got to get a lot better without the football to be an NFL back.”
That’s the mental side of the game. Something you would figure Warren can improve upon considering his father was a Pro Bowl NFL running back.
“Mostly just the [pre-snap] reads,” Warren said of where he still must improve. “You’re supposed to read from the ‘Y’ in. Just making sure that I’m not biting on a fake or a delayed blitz and getting out into my route. Just quicker recognition.”
The Raiders may have something in Warren. Even through two preseason games, his talents have shown up. The third preseason game we should see a lot more of the starters, but we should see a good amount of work from him again Warren in the preseason finale.