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The Morning After: Raiders starters show off energy and chemistry in win over Cardinals

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NFL: Preseason-Oakland Raiders at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

That was one hell of a first half of football, even if it was preseason football. It’s hard to not get too excited watching how well this team is coming together, their chemistry and energy right now is what is most intriguing. The whole team is enjoying playing with each other, celebrating each other, and truly working together so far through these first 2 preseason games.

lf they can bring this same type of commitment to each other into the regular season then the Raiders could really surprise this year. It’s still too early to say how it will all work out come regular season play because it’s always hard to tell what is really going to work and what only worked against the vanilla of preseason. What does translates to the regular season though is the energy and camaraderie that we are seeing.

That togetherness does get ingrained this early and absolutely can follow into when real football begins. After struggling all of last season with chemistry and the upheaval of seeing even the best players on the team be jettisoned, it’s awesome to see these players settle down into a rhythm with each other.

It doesn’t hurt that this is one of the deepest rosters on the offensive side that the Raiders have seen in years. The only area of the offensive roster that obviously could still use some improvement is along the offensive line, and that is mostly because of injuries and suspensions at that. Outside of figuring out how to replace Gabe Jackson for the first half of the season, this Raiders offense has really come together well so far.

These receivers though, I can’t say I ever remember such a tight competition for spots this late into the preseason. It’s already going into the 3rd preseason game and it is still a crapshoot on deciding who is going to make the roster, and what order they will show up on the depth chart. Now we got the added benefit of getting a glimpse of what Tyrell Williams has to offer too, his catch on the opening drive set the tone for the huge first half from Oakland and was a thing of beauty.

Watching these guys have their way with the defenders so regularly is especially exciting considering that it doesn’t even include Antonio Brown being on the field. Each one of these receivers have shown the ability to win their match ups even without an individual receiver the talent of AB taking attention away from everyone else.

Watching the talent level at receiver right now on this team from the top down is definitely the most intriguing aspect of what the Raiders have to offer come the regular season. Keelan Doss especially has continued to wow with his route running and hands, he did not disappoint in his 5 catches for 38 yards in this one. It’s an incredibly tough battle to make this team at receiver but unless Doss falls apart in the final 2 preseason games it’s hard to imagine him not making the roster at this point.

Pretty damn cool for a kid from Alameda County to be able to make the last Oakland Raiders roster, it’s hard to imagine anybody not rooting for this young man to see his childhood dreams come true. All he has to do is keep doing exactly what he has been doing and he will be the last UDFA WR ever to make the OAKLAND Raiders.

Yesterday was also the first chance we had to see rookie running back Josh Jacobs, and he showed exactly why Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock used a first round pick on him. He only had 4 rushes for 21 yards, but his cutbacks and power were very impressive. The best part of his debut to me is that it didn’t even showcase his hands as a receiver yet, he was this exciting to watch and it didn’t even show one of his greatest strengths.

As for QB’s, it was Mike Glennon’s day to shine for sure. This was the best that Glennon had to offer, though he still had one bad pass where he missed a wide open receiver for what would have been a touchdown. That’s pretty nit picking considering he went 11 of 14 for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns though, it was a great day for Glennon when he needed it most. When Glennon has time to throw he does toss a beautiful ball, but it still isn’t enough to forget about his two horrible interceptions last week.

Mike Glennon’s performance likely put him back in the lead for the back up spot even though Nathan Peterman went 8 for 8. That is because Peterman only had 41 yards on those 8 completions, though Peterman did have an outstanding 15 play, 80 yard touchdown drive that saved the victory for the Raiders. Still, you need to be able to throw the ball down field as a QB and averaging 5 yards a completion is not going to move the needle very much on that end.

We have been neglecting the defense so far, and they deserve some highlights here as well. Especially LaMarcus Joyner, he just brings that swag with him that the Raiders desperately need. Joyner had his Raiders debut, and it came with a safety sack on Kyler Murray. That’s not the part that highlighted what he brings to the team though, it was his sideline interview later on when he called out the Cardinals college offense as “pretty boy offense” that he plans on running out of the NFL.

That is exactly the type of leadership that has been missing from this Raiders team, and it’s the same type of personality that rookie Johnathan Abram brings with him too. Then you add in the notorious Vontaze Burfict (who also had a nice tackle for a loss in his debut) and you have a defense with some serious personality on it. The Raiders defense was manhandled regularly last season, it’s hard to picture a defense with this much confidence from their leaders being beaten up like that again this season.

Another new addition player that has really been showing his worth is Clelin Ferrell, again he showed up big time while watching the defense even though he only had 1 tackle. Ferrell has consistently been in the face of the offense though, his energy level and physicality is a lot of fun to watch. For a pick that was panned as a reach at number 4 overall, he has showed why he was that high of a pick so far for the Raiders.

One last area of defense that is worth highlighting is the inside crew of Maurice Hurst, P.J. Hall, and Johnathan Hankins. Hankins especially has looked great clogging up the middle but Hall also had two solid run stops that included very nearly stripping and recovering a fumble. Hurst on the other hand hasn’t made many plays so far, but you see his #73 in the thick of it regularly.

After a solid rookie year for Hurst there are a lot of expectations going into his sophomore year, and he looks like he is ready to meet those higher expectations. If that three man crew in the middle can stay healthy they are going to hold the anchor for this defensive line and hopefully allow Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell to be freed up to finally start getting some sacks for this Raiders defense.

In the end, this game wasn’t nearly as close as the score says and has given the fans a lot of reasons to get excited about the upcoming season. There are only 2 preseason games left and then the real football begins, but first comes the all important dress rehearsal of Week 3 of the preseason.

The Raiders will be taking on the Packers next week Thursday in Winnipeg, Canada for what will be the most extensive action from the starters. Hopefully they continue to show this same energy and chemistry against Green Bay, if they do you can bet the chatter will start about the Raiders having possibly turned the corner back to respectable football again.