Oakland Raiders Vs San Francisco 49ers: 10 Raider Surprises
On Saturday evening, the Oakland Raiders hosted the Bay Area rival San Francisco 49ers. The Raiders lost the game 28-24 but there were several players that surprisingly stepped their game up to try and take a role with the Raiders.
The Raiders just may have something if these players continue what they're doing to go with the Raider's known players.
Turn the page to see who these surprises are.
Corner Stanford Routt
Stanford Routt finally get's it!
He seems to be breaking up everything that comes his way these days. When Raider Head coach Tom Cable spoke of the "heated battle" with Routt and fellow corner Chris Johnson, I didn't believe it.
But with his performance this preseason especially Saturday, I am a believer.
But Ted Ginn Jr. is only the 49er number two receiver.
To that I'll say two things.
One: Routt will be guarding number two receivers all season long if he win the job.
Two: Covering Ted Ginn Jr. was something Darrell "I think I'm the Best" Revis couldn't do last year.
Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
I thought that Bruce Gradkowski lost his back-up job!
Kyle Boller has the big arm and has looked very good this preseason. I thought that the injuries and time missed would hurt Gradkowski against a guy who knows Jackson's offense better than Campbell.
Gradkowsi was 14-22 for 202 yards and two touchdowns to show Raider Nation that he is back. It's time to revisit that whole back-up quarterback situation now.
I love how he re-energized the lifeless crowd after seeing Campbell get carted off the field.
The good news is the Raiders have gone from not having a quarterback to having three that can play.
Fullback Marcel Reece
It looks as though Marcel Reece has arrived as a weapon in the Raider offense. He has improved his blocking but still needs to better there.
However, this fullback has some speed and has shown it over the last two preseason games. He had a 34-yard reception in Chicago followed by a 40-yarder on Saturday.
I expect him to sneak up on some teams that plan for the Raiders more known weapons.
The Raiders have a fullback that can beat you deep.
With all of the dangerous weapons they already have, Reece will be a real surprise to opposing defenses.
Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey
He caught the ball!
Darrius Heyward-Bey looks like a football player now.
Did you see how easily he caught the ball.
I'm not calling him Jerry Rice but his transformation from track man to football player is now complete. Now we get to find out if Heyward-Bey can become a great player.
He caught three passes for 46 yards on Saturday evening.
He did have a drop but I gave him a pass because he was trying to get up field before he had the ball. I'm sure he will focus more on the catch before running in the future.
If Heyward-Bey is going to keep catching the ball, he will easily have a 1,000 yard season. The 49er defensive backs were so scared, they gave him the 15 to 20-yard comeback routes.
I am happy to see that he took the money and is actually making himself into football player.
Corner Walter McFadden
Walter McFadden was another guy breaking up passes all day long on Saturday. He actually had a chance to make an interception while running stride for stride with Ginn Jr.
He looks like an excellent number three corner.
Is Chris Johnson expendable now?
Defensive Tackle Tommy Kelly
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Tommy Kelly shouldn't really be a surprise because of his contract. He is also a returning starter that is pretty well known in Raider Nation.
What's the surprise?
He is outplaying every defensive tackle in the league this preseason. There is no need for preseason stats but Kelly has held his point of attack in the run game and put constant heat on opposing quarterbacks.
He had Alex Smith running for his life Saturday.
His hard work and weight loss this off-season is paying off.
Corner Jeremy Ware
Jeremy Ware is learning the corner position quite well these days and showed it Saturday. He broke up a pass or two himself as we know most of the 49er offensive damage came from the run game and tight ends.
Tight ends like the one he came up and up-ended on Saturday.
Defensive End Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper looks very happy to be back home.
The former Raider 2001 sixth round draft pick has bounced around the league and is looking to stay home this time.
Outside Linebacker/Defensive End Quentin Groves
Quentin Groves is another one of those Raider OLB/DE hybrids.
He has also put non-stop heat on opposing quarterbacks this preseason. That no-stop heat especially had 49er quarterbacks on the run Saturday evening.
Jay Richardson may be done in Oakland.
Safety Mike Mitchell
This is the most pleasant of my surprises.
Mike Mitchell was out there blasting on guys Saturday evening.
But that isn't the surprise.
The surprise is that it was done from the free safety position and he looked good doing it. Mitchell was struggling in coverage as a strong safety but at free, he won't have to cover tight ends.
He will be free to roam and blast on opposing receivers.
He will also give running a hard blockade from the end-zone when they get past the front seven.
Huff should be the one in on nickel situations now.
I hope you enjoyed the slide show.