Oakland Raiders Preseason Week-2: Rookies to Watch Vs Cardinals
John Doublin – Aug 17, 2012
This evening, the Oakland Raiders will take on the Arizona Cardinals in their second preseason game of 2012. Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, things went extremely well for the Raiders' defense, while the offense...not so much.
Similarly, some of the rookies highlighted in the previous installment of this series performed extremely well, while others did not. Tony Bergstrom held his own against a very good Cowboys' defensive tackle squad and Miles Burris, though he made some mistakes in coverage, showed the "motor" he is known for and flew around to make the tackles he was expected to make.
They can be better, but both showed they were "as advertised."
Meanwhile, defensive end Jack Crawford and wide receiver Juron Criner struggled in their Raider debut. Crawford failed to get on the stat sheet at all, despite getting considerable playing time. Criner ran his routes fairly well, but couldn't seem to do the first and most important thing a receiver in the NFL must do—catch the ball!
Moving forward, all four of these young men will likely make the team, but will be up to them individually to step up their game and improve enough to make themselves indispensible to the team. Those that can accomplish that, will don the Silver and Black for a long time; those that can't will find themselves on the waiver-wire eventually.
Heading into Tonight's game against the Cardinals, there are a few rookies who stood out last week and deserve to be talked about and watched closely in Phoenix.
Rod Streater-WR: It seems the hype surrounding the undrafted free agent from Temple is all true! He ran great routes, made tough catches in traffic and appeared to be at ease under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.
Look for Streater to get considerable time due to an injury to Denarius Moore and the lacklustre performance of Jacoby Ford last week. If there is one area in which Streater needs to improve, it's run-after-catch. He needs to show that he can turn up-field and make people miss.
Playing a weak Cardinals' defense will provide Streater the opportunity to take the next step in his development.
Lucas Nix-OG: Nix saw quite a bit of playing time last week versus the Cowboys and did a decent job. Coming out of the University of Pittsburgh, he was touted as a mauling run blocker, but only adequate in pass protection.
This proved to be an accurate assessment as Nix did a great job opening running lanes and getting to the next level of the defense to get blocks on linebackers, allowing Lonyae Miller to be untouched until he was three to five yards downfield.
Nix will need to improve his ability to recognize twists and stunts by the defensive lineman and make the right decision on who to block on pass plays. The strength of the Cardinals' defense is on the defensive line, so this game will be a good test.
Christo Bilukidi-DT: Bilukidi was one of the brightest stars of the second team defense last week. Though he didn't get a lot of penetration or cause considerable disruption in the Cowboys' backfield, he did exactly what is expected of a Nose Tackle—anchor down on the line and soak up blocks. Bilukidi was brilliant at that!
The big-man from Georgia State was a nearly immovable object on the defensive line. He allowed zero push from the Cowboys' interior offensive linemen—even when he was double or triple teamed. This is an invaluable asset when playing over the center.
Christo will need to be more "active" by getting penetration and playing on the opponent's side of the line of scrimmage. This can be achieved by better use of his hands and being a bit quicker off the snap.
Chad Kilgore-LB: With the injury to Aaron Curry turning out to be more serious than initially thought, the Raiders' will be relying on a lot of young players to step up and play well. Kilgore did just that against the Cowboys last week.
Chad was flying to the ball, plugging up running lanes and making tackles. Everything you want to see from a linebacker. Although he was only credited with a total of three tackles, Kilgore forced many more plays to be stuffed for no gain or a loss.
The one area Kilgore will need to work on is pass coverage. There were a couple of instances where he allowed the opposing tight end an uncontested catch. This will likely be the focus for Kilgore, linebackers' coach Johnnie Holland and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
The four young players highlighted in this list had a solid game against the Cowboys in Week-1 of the preseason. Week two will be a test for each of them to prove those solid performances are the norm, rather than just an anomaly.
Be sure to return to Raider Nation Times before next week's game against the Detroit Lions when four more players will be singled out as "Rookies to Watch!"
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