With the San Francisco 49ers Oakland Raiders preseason game in the books it's time to breakdown how the Raiders fared. Due to the Bay Area rivalry, this was the Raiders most physical matchup to date.
There were a number of shoving sessions and trash talk. This was the closest you could get to a regular season game and the Raiders should come out better for it. Here are a few notes on the game.
Jason Campbell looked very good during his time on the field, gaining 93 yards on six of eight passing. He looked to be in complete control on the first drive, and made some great throws to Marcel Reece and Darrius Heyward-Bey. A stinger knocked him out of the game, leading to later reports of a wrist injury. All reports seem to show he's fine and should be a go for the first regular season game.
If there was any concern over who would be the backup to Campbell, it was officially put to rest. Bruce Gradkowski entered the game after Campbell was carted off; the team didn't skip a beat.
Gradkowski finished with 202 yards and two touchdowns; one being an excellent seam route to Louis Murphy who ran for 74 yards late in the second quarter. If Campbell goes down for an extended period of time, the team will still be in good hands.
Murphy once again made his case for being the main wide receiver target of the season. He had an unsightly drop, but he knows how to get open. If Chaz Schilens can overcome these injuries, the Raiders passing game starts to look far more formidable.
Rookie Walter McFadden had a good day defensively. McFadden broke up two passes and looked very composed overall. McFadden should slowly start to find more playing time as the season goes on.
The run defense looked very weak in this contest. Frank Gore had a 49 and nine-yard run consecutively before quickly being removed from the game. Michael Huff had a clear shot at Gore, but chose to make a big hit with his shoulder instead of wrapping up Gore with his arms.
Rookie Anthony Dixon continued the physical runs while the Raiders continued to have trouble making sure tackles. The Raiders will have to be more physical when they meet up again in mid-October.
Mario Henderson had a tough time in pass protection giving up two sacks. Jason Campbell seemed to hurt his wrist on the first sack and received a stinger on the second sack.
Special teams coverage was very bad this game. Rookie Phillip Adams gained 108 yards on three returns with one going for a touchdown.
Jared Veldheer took his first shot at center this game and it was an up-and-down experience. There were a number of running plays where Veldheer helped push the pile for positive yards. There were other times where it seemed he missed a few assignments. He looks far sturdier in the middle than Samson Satele has looked the past two games, but it may be better to let him continue to develop at left tackle. His versatility is still a welcomed addition to the Raiders line.
It might have been a vanilla game plan by the 49ers, the lack of a number one receiver, or a vanilla defense by the Raiders, but the talk of moving Nnamdi Asomugha around wasn't as prominent as it could have been.
To my untrained eye, I only noticed Nnamdi move into the slot once that game.
Darrius Heyward-Bey led the team in receptions with three catches for 46 yards. What seemed more of a concern was that he caught two of those balls with his body. Although DHB has put a lot of work in, I doubt he becomes a natural hands catcher. If he continues to improve to be a regular contributor, he'll probably still be in the top half of dropped passes.
McFadden did not have a good game rushing. Gaining only nine yards on seven attempts is not encouraging. The stats don't show it, but he had a much better performance in the passing game. It's amazing how much ground he gains in a few steps, but he doesn't seem to have good hip swivel to make players miss. With Michael Bush's thumb injury, McFadden may be the main ball carrier for game one. The Raiders will have to adjust if that's the case.
There was a pair of penalties by Erik Pears in the third quarter that put the Raiders in a third and 15. Gradkowski completed a 17-yard pass to Heyward-Bey for a first down and the drive eventually ended with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller
Last year, the Raiders would not have been able to overcome a down like that.
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