Monday, September 24th, 2018 pm30 7:46pm

What we learned from Raiders’ exhibition win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — If there were ever a moment to epitomize the first preseason game, it was the Raiders and Arizona Cardinals taking the field for the opening kickoff Friday and lining up on the wrong sides.

No, it wasn’t a crisp debut, but it was a victorious one for the Raiders, who beat the Cardinals 31-10 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“It’s always nice to get a win,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “Clearly, there’s a lot of things we need to correct. It’s fun to do with a smile on your face.”

The Raiders committed 11 penalties and lost defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. to a first-quarter hip injury.

But they also got two electrifying touchdown runs from George Atkinson III, a pair of touchdown passes by Matt McGloin, and a solid debut from rookie quarterback Connor Cook.

Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr (4) hands the ball off to running back Latavius Murray (28) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game

Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr (4) hands the ball off to running back Latavius Murray (28) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

The bonus on top was a surprise appearance by Karl Joseph. The first-round pick started at strong safety and played one defensive series.

“I felt good in pregame so I was ready to roll,” Joseph said. “They decided to put me in and I was just happy about it.”

Here’s what we learned from the Raiders’ first of four preseason games:

THREE TAKEAWAYS

Injuries bite: It’s hard to get through the first preseason game without an injury. The hope is just to not have any significant ones.

Edwards Jr. went down with 5:08 left in the first quarter with an injury that eventually required him to be carted from the sideline to the locker room. A team spokesman confirmed after the game that it was a hip injury and Edwards left the locker room in crutches.


Advertisement

Del Rio declined to offer anything further.

“I’ve got a policy about discussing injuries this early in the year,” Del Rio said. “We will update in a couple of weeks. For now, it will stay in-house.”

Going deep: The Raiders looked like a team that wants to take shots down the field, with Derek Carr taking several shots downfield to Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.

“It’s good to take those shots,” Carr said. “Get real live reps at it. Practice is one thing, but when they really count, it’s good to take those shots and see what can happen.”

Tackling work: NFL teams don’t tackle to the ground at practice and a first preseason game can show when a team has a weakness in that area. That was the case Friday as several players failed to either properly break down in position to make a tackle or didn’t wrap up correctly.

THREE WHO HELPED THEMSELVES

George Atkinson III: His chances of making the roster seemed slim coming in, but Atkinson showed something Friday with a stellar 53-yard touchdown run — the first of his professional career. Then he added another touchdown from 35 yards out.

Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas (87) stiff-arms Oakland Raiders defensive back Dewey McDonald (35) during the first half during an NFL preseason

Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas (87) stiff-arms Oakland Raiders defensive back Dewey McDonald (35) during the first half during an NFL preseason football game, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri/Associated Press)

“He is very good and very hungry to be a part of this team,” Del Rio said of Atkinson, who had 97 yards on five carries.

DeAndre Washington: The rookie running back needed a few carries to get his feet wet, then broke through with a nifty 25-yard run in which he made a nice cut to the hole and later shook a defender. He also had a 32-yard reception out of the backfield from Cook and had 43 yards on eight carries.

Cory James: The sixth-round pick figured to be mostly a special teams player as a rookie. But he showed nice game speed and an ability to cover, particularly when he shadowed running back Kerwynn Williams to force an incompletion. He finished with five tackles, including one for a loss.

THREE WHO HURT THEMSELVES

Dewey McDonald: The safety’s had a nice training camp and is in the mix to be the team’s No. 3 safety. But in his first chance to make a good in-game impression, McDonald struggled.

He had two glaring missed tackles when he tried to throw a shoulder rather than wrap up. He also was flagged for holding on a punt return that negated a nice gain by Jaydon Mickens.

Joe Hansley: After a strong offseason program, Hansley hasn’t looked as good in Napa. He didn’t help himself in Arizona either when he fumbled the only punt he attempted to return. Success as a returner is his best shot at making the roster and that’s starting to fade.

Jalen Richard: The undrafted rookie didn’t play after also missing Wednesday’s practice with an undisclosed injury. The fact that Washington played so well and Atkinson flashed with some big plays doesn’t help him when he wasn’t able to get out there and state his case.

For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.

Related posts