Oakland Raiders' Winners and Losers from Preseason Week 1
The Oakland Raiders are a young, talented team still learning to play together under head coach Hue Jackson's system. Sure, everyone wants to win a game every time they step on the field, but don't be foolish enough to think that's the most important thing this preseason.
If that were the case, the Raiders would have had their starting defense on the field every time the Cardinals had their starting offense out there. The preseason is mainly about finding out who you can trust to play the right way in your system.
Therefore, the real winners and losers aren't the teams based on the final score but the play of the individuals. Coaches are thinking, "Good! I can trust this guy to do that! Oh! I don't think I could trust that guy to do that!"
Turn the page to see who the Raiders' winners and losers were from the first preseason game.
Winner: Denarius Moore
Denaruis Moore has been making plays all camp long and did it last Thursday when the light came on. That's what you like to see in a youngster, especially when you don't have a proven veteran at his position on the team.
He had a beautiflul 26-yard catch and run early in the game and a long punt return called back. Everything Moore has shown the team in practice was seen by Raider Nation last Thursday.
The Raiders look like they have another playmaker for the 2011 season.
I'm sure Jackson wants to see Moore!
Loser: Chaz Schilens
I thought Chaz Schilens was an Andre Johnson waiting to happen as I predicted a healthy season for him. Boy was I wrong as Schilens already has an injured knee (the severity is not known at this time).
With his size, speed, hands, route-running, and vertical leap, Schilens has All-Pro ability. However, like ESPN NFL Live analyst Trent Dilfer always says, "Your best ability is your availability!"
That's what Schilens is missing so I'm not looking for him to be trusted going forward.
Winner: Darius Heyward-Bey
Good for him!
Darrius Heyward-Bey actually looked like a No. 1 receiver out there on Thursday night! I had actually given up on him, thinking he had no chance as he became the fourth or fifth receiver on the team.
When this is the case, I love to be wrong!
Anyone can work on catching a football so that wasn't the problem I saw with the former first round pick. He obviously has speed, but couldn't get open, and he's not the kind that makes catches in crowds.
Last Thursday, Heyward-Bey ran great routes and got separation from the man guarding him. He should have had a big play in the game but quarterback Jason Campbell threw the ball short.
Heyward-Bey running routes like that will break out in 2011.
Loser: Louis Murphy
Louis Murphy was drafted in the fourth round of the same 2009 draft class as Heyward-Bey. And that year, it looked like he made up for the miss on Heyward-Bey; making big, clutch plays against the Chargers, Bengals and Steelers.
In 2010, he was on pace for a 1,000-yard season until that was derailed by injuries while Heyward-Bey was still learning. This year so far, Murphy is out with an undisclosed injury while Heyward-Bey looks to have improved.
The disabled list is the wrong place to be when your competition is looking good.
I actually had Murphy as the No. 1 receiver if Schilens were to go down going into camp.
But he now has Moore gaining on him while he's hurt.
Winner: Demarcus Van Dyke/Rod Woodson
Demarcus Van Dyke took his rookie lumps Thursday, but looked like he's going to be good pretty soon. He took on one of the game's best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and was with him step-for-step on both plays.
He did give up a 43-yard catch to Fitzgerald the first time but the play showed all he needs to do is play the ball better. They went deep on him again the next play and Van Dyke cut off Fitzgerald's path to the ball.
A valuable lesson was learned.
I like the coaching decision to get Van Dyke the experience.
For that, I have to give cornerback coach Rod Woodson a win too.
Loser: Walter McFadden
After a shaky start to his career as a Raider corner last year, he seems to have gotten worse. It seemed like the Cardinals threw at Walter McFadden every time they needed a play in the passing game later in the game.
This is a tremendous loss for McFadden because he had a chance to get a leg up on fourth round pick Chimdi Chekwa. Chechwa now has a chance to heal, come back, and show that he is worthy of being a Raider corner.
The Raider coaching staff is looking for him to come back even more now.
Winner: Chimdi Chekwa/Sterling Moore
Chekwa's shoulder injury has kept him out of camp and the only way for an injured player to win is for his competition not to play well. Coaches are more inclined to be patient with an injured player if his competition does't play well.
McFadden didn't play well so the Woodson will wait on Chekwa while he looks more into undrafted free agent Sterling Moore, who played well last Thursday. Moore has also had a good camp so that gives him even "Moore" of a shot while McFadden slips unto the suspect list.
Chekwa and Moore are winners.
Loser: Mike Mitchell
Mike Mitchell is the controversial second round pick chosen after Darius Heyward-Bey in 2009. The man is a huge hitter that couldn't get on the field because of a camp injury in his rookie year and coverage issues according to Tom Cable last year.
But Mitchell was much better than the eight touchdowns given up by Branch in coverage last year; not to mention in tackling. The bigger, stronger, harder hitting Mitchell is a much better fit to play in the box too.
I was actually looking for Mitchell to take or at least challenge for the strong safety spot in 2011. But the start of the 2011 season is marred by injury just like the 2009 season and Jackson loves Branch too.
Once again, "Your best ability is your availability."
Winner: Stephon Heyer
Stephon Heyer looked very good at guard and left tackle on Thursday night.
His versatility makes him a very valuable player on this team.
As a guard, Daniel Loper and Cooper Carlisle better watch out for this mountain of a man at 6'5", 335 pounds. At tackle, Khalif Barnes better quit twitching before the snap and be on point for the rest of camp.
Heyer came to Raider Nation on a mission and will end up with somebodies position.
Loser: Bruce Campbell/Khalif Barnes
If Cable was as determined to get Bruce Campbell on the field as he was Jared Veldheer, he may be a solid player by now. He is the freakiest athlete of all the offensive lineman in the NFL and should have had a fair shot at left tackle or guard last year.
But, last year has come and gone with the move being made, so right tackle or one of the guard spots is an option. With Heyer coming to Raider Nation and showing something, Campbell is losing while on the disable list.
All I'm going to say about Barnes is that he needs to remember the snap count or wait until the ball is snapped. Three penalties for 15 yards in just a little over a quarter's worth of work isn't how you win a job.
He was a solid left tackle at one time.
On the other hand, Davis loves Campbell and he has started to practice.
Winner Stefen Wisniewski
I know that you're not supposed to give a rookie from the Raider family anything but Stefen Wisniewski has it. It is everything that you need in a franchise center for your offensive line to improve, leading to offensive success.
At 6'3", 315 pounds, Wisniewski has excellent size for a center, he's very smart, and has a huge mean streak. All three of those traits, along with playing a half a second after the whistle like his uncle Steve Wisniewski were on display last Thursday.
Hue Jackson said of Wisniewski's performance, "Jackson told Raiders. com, " I thought Wisniewski did an excellent job, and unbelievable job."
Wisniewski has been taking reps with the first team at guard lately but I think that's until the Raiders get healthy at guard.
If not, it looks like he's going to start somewhere.
Winner: Joseph Barksdale
Joseph Barksdale has looked like quite the third round find so far in the preseason. He has done well in camp, as well as in last Thursday's preseason opener against the Cardinals.
The reason why the Raider drafted Barksdale was because of size (6'4", 325 pounds), strength, and athleticsism. The big question about Bardsdale going into camp was his the fire or lack there of in Barksdale's belly.
The question was answered a few days ago when he got into a little tussle with defensive lineman Tommie Hill. Since then, Barksdale started taking a few reps with the first team as he is now in the mix for the starting right tackle position.
He also looked very good against the Cardinals.
Winner: David Ausberry
David Ausberry would be the talk of the Raider Nation if it weren't for Moore. While Zach Miller is sleepless in Seattle with buddies Tom Cable and Robert Gallery, the Raiders go to sleep knowing they have a guy that can be a special pass catching tight end.
I expect Kevin Boss, who is solid himself, to start at first, but it's just a matter of time before Ausberry takes over. The 4.4 40-yard dash running Ausberry is just the type of vertical threat tight end both Al Davis and Al Saunders loves.
Being a USC fan, I knew about the pass catching skills but questioned his blocking. Ausberry has answered that question all camp long so far and made the best catch of this young preseason for the Raiders.
He is going to make plays.
There are your winners and losers out of last Thursday's game for the Raiders. It doesn't mean that any of these guys have truly won anything yet because there are three more of these preseason games.
As for the losers, it's not over yet for them as well as they have time to make up for what the did wrong. The name of the game is consistency so whoever puts the most good games together will win the war.
And if its about the best players playing for the Raiders, they'll be named to the starting 11 or make the team.