Five takeaways from Raiders’ win over Lions in preseason opener

OAKLAND — Derek Carr played only one series, and it almost featured an interception. He fluttered a pass over the middle after his arm was hit, but Jordy Nelson knocked the ball away from Lions safety Glover Quin to prevent an easy pick. The Raiders’ starting quarterback completed two of four passes for 11 yards before ceding duties to Connor Cook in Oakland’s preseason opener Friday night, a 16-10 Raiders win.

Here are five early takeaways from Jon Gruden’s return to the Coliseum and our first look at the 2018 Oakland Raiders in game action.

Rookie DT stands out early

P.J. Hall began training camp on the physically unable to perform list, so he’s played catch-up the last week in Napa. Hall didn’t start on Friday, but he stood out early with a third-down sack and a batted pass. Hall brought down Lions starting quarterback Matt Cassel for a nine-yard loss on third-and-five to force a punt on Detroit’s first drive. Later in the first quarter, Hall deflected a Cassel pass at the line of scrimmage and celebrated accordingly.

“P.J. Hall had a big sack to get things started,” Gruden said at halftime on the TV broadcast.

The Raiders drafted Hall in the second round and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst in the fifth to sure up a defensive line that was anything but sturdy a year ago. The Raiders needed help at defensive tackle, especially after Denico Autry signed with the Colts in free agency. Mario Edwards Jr. and Justin Ellis were the first two DTs on the field for Oakland, but don’t be surprised if the two rookies play sizable roles this season.

If Hall’s early exploits are any indication, the Raiders made a nifty little selection with the Sam Houston State product.

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Connor Cook looks sturdy as backup QB

Last year’s third-stringer is this year’s backup (for now) thanks to a strong first couple weeks in Napa, and he continued a solid preseason on Friday night.

Cook’s early highlights included a 41-yard completion to Johnny Holton, a 24-yard completion to Paul Butler and a seven-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Switzer after scrambling to his left.

Cook went 11-of-19 for 141 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Most importantly, though, Cook made smart decisions when he scrambled and didn’t throw an interception. EJ Manuel trotted out under center for Oakland’s first drive of the second half, putting a bow on Cook’s efficient day under center that solidified his standing as the No. 2 for now.

“He did some good things,” Gruden said. “There’s still a couple things decision-wise I think he’s got to correct, but he moved the football, he put points on the board, and I liked his two-minute drill at the end of the half.”

Kolton Miller commits costly penalty

The rookie left tackle played only two series – one more than the three interior offensive linemen but the same as starting right tackle Ian Silberman – and made one costly …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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