Rookie first game jitters are out of the way now. Another week offered another chance to show improvement, but we’re still in the early stages of a long road for these rookies. Here’s what they brought to the table in week two.
- Kolton Miller
- Arden Key
- Brandon Parker
- Maurice Hurst
- Johnny Townsend
- Trent Sieg
- Nick Nelson
- PJ Hall (ankle injury)
After being the lone bright spot among the rookie crop in the season opener, Miller held his own again in week two. At least he did from a pass protection standpoint. He has yet to give up a sack this season. That’s impressive for a rookie, and he gets a lot of credit for that. Though there are potential reasons why that might be over these first two games.
The Rams don’t have much in the way of outside pass rushers. They strength is the defensive interior. The Broncos have elite pass rusher Von Miller and the top drafted rookie pass rusher, Bradley Chubb. Miller lined up almost exclusively on the right side across from Donald Penn and the Raiders schemed for Derek Carr to get the ball out on quick passes all day, which takes pressure off the tackles.
That being said, Penn gave up two sacks (one of those wiped away by penalty), so it’s not like the opportunity was not there.
Where Miller struggled mightily was against the run. He gave up at least three run stuffs at the line, two of which saw Shaq Barrett toss him aside easily to make the tackle. And I didn’t notice a single run in which Kolton was the primary blocker to open things up. He gets credit for protecting Carr’s blindside for sure. But his run blocking very much needs work.
Played four snaps on special teams and that was all.
A hat tip to Key for his work in this game. Early on, he had a missed tackle on an 8-yard run, but luckily it was third and nine, so the Broncos had to punt anyway. He seemed to settle down though from the first game, improving his run defense overall. In the second quarter he had a tackle for loss and a run stop. He added a couple QB hits as well, which haven’t been easy to come by for the Raiders this season.
As few QB hits and pressures as the Raiders have had, sacks are almost non-existent in Oakland right now. They had one in the opener and one in this game. The one in this game came courtesy of Hurst. To be fair, it was off a high snap to Case Keenum, but Hurst gets a lot of credit for being there to take advantage of it. He didn’t make much noise in the game otherwise on 38 snaps (58%).
Townsend had a booming punt and a couple bad punts. He launched his second punt of the day 56 yards into the thin air of mile high with no return, thanks in part to a stop by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But later, he had a punt that went 40 yards to the Denver 36 and his last punt — when the Raiders most needed to pin the Broncos deep, went into the endzone for a touchback and a 29-yard net. Overall, he averaged 47.3 yards per punt with a 42.0 net average. Compare that to his predecessor Marquette King with the Broncos who in this game averaged 51.0 yards per punt and 44.3 net yards per punt and a long of 66 yards.
The team’s new long snapper, just signed as a replacement for veteran long snapper Andrew DePaola who was lost for the season with a torn ACL on the first punt of the opener. No issues here with Sieg’s snapping and he recorded not special teams tackles.
Good days overall for both Kolton Miller and Arden Key, earning them Honorable Mention in this week’s Ballers & Busters. PJ Hall injured his ankle in the opener and is expected to miss at least another week. Still room for improvement across the board, but some positive signs as well. It would be nice to get a look at fourth rounder Nick Nelson at some point, but he’s buried on the cornerback depth chart at the moment.