Oakland Raiders Preseason Standouts and Seahawks Preview
Jerry Rump – Aug 29, 2012
As the Oakland Raiders continue to progress and build timing and rapport on the field, certain players have stepped up to become surprising standouts that show why general manager Reggie McKenzie, brought them in to earn their spots on the team, or kept them back when he was chopping heads to release bloated contracts and scholarship players (aka, Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley ect).
Of course, everyone in Raider Nation should know who wide receiver Rod Streater is by now, as this undrafted free agent pickup has looked like the steal of the year so far in the preseason. He has come in and only leads the Raiders with receptions and plays with a contagious enthusiasm that ignites the offense.
Finally, in the game against Detroit, everyone saw the talents of the Raiders other standout undrafted free agent wide receiver, Juron Criner. This was the name on everyone’s lips back during the OTA’s and in the second half of the Lion’s game, he did not disappoint, hauling in two touchdowns and racking up yards in his breakout performance this preseason.
A big welcome back to tight end Brandon Myers, as he brought light to something that, up until now, was a real bleak and unproductive position on the offense. I fear to think what could happen if he goes down again in the regular season as David Ausberry can catch, but not block and the other tight end on the team, Richard Gordon, can block, but cannot catch.
If we could somehow combine Ausberry and Gordon together, they might make up one outstanding tight end, as it is, neither provides the consistency that Myers provides and to say we need him healthy this year is about as big an understatement that could be uttered.
The offensive line is really lacking the play of injured 2nd year center, Stefen Wisnewski, but we have seen some interesting play by Kalif Barnes as Cliff Avril was missing in action to put it mildly. Alex Parsons has caught the eye too, as he held up very well against the Lion’s heralded defensive line. In fact, the Lion's heralded defensive linemen, Ndamkong Suh and Corey Williams were both almost complete non-factor, (only one sack-the first play of the game) and the rest of the O-line played a much more improved game, except in goal to go situations.
For some unexplained reason, perhaps experimentation, offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp refuses to show us power blocking in these situations. As a result, the Raiders have struggled immensely in this area during preseason action. Considering we lack a bruising style running back, maybe the “Mad Chemist” is concocting a formula to improve and provide a scheme that will work, but thus far, he has experienced a few explosions in the lab and needs to adjust the formula.
Now for the best thing to come to Oakland in a long, long, while.
Yes, Raider fans, defense has come back to the Silver and Black and has been evident throughout the entire preseason. Kudos to the entire defense during this last game against Detroit as the Lions really possesses a dangerous arsenal of aerial weapons and perhaps the best wideout in all of football with Calvin (Megatron) Johnson. However, their daunted passing attack was grounded quicker than a plane that received a TSA warning and Johnson was a complete non-factor with just one catch for only seven yards.
All across the board, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, has brought consistency, aggressiveness, and most importantly, discipline back to a team that had the 29th ranked defense last season and had so much yellow tossed there ways, that it looked like part of their uniforms.
The defensive line has looked like it could very well be one of the leagues’ best as they have harassed every quarterback they have faced this preseason led by a rejuvenated defensive tackle, Tommy Kelly, who looks to be in pro-bowl form already.
Lamar Houston has been a beast out there and newly acquired free-agent, Dave Tollefson is getting in on the act as well. It is also important to mention that Matt Shaugnessy looks to be showing no ill-effects from the injury that took him down for the season in 2011. Welcome back Matt!
Even the backup D-linemen have shined including Jamie Cumbie, who has batted down 4 passes, sacked the quarterback and looked to be an outstanding backup to rely upon this year. One of Cumbie’s batted balls was picked off by the other backup grabbing attention, Christo Bilukidi, who provides a solid consistency in the middle of the line and is coming on stronger with each passing week.
The big question mark coming into the season was the play of the linebackers and with Aaron Curry currently down, Phillip Wheeler has come on as a well-rounded NFL caliber linebacker that shows a tremendous ability to read a play and cover both running backs and tight ends in the passing game.
The other linebacker, Miles Burris, has shown a high motor and tackles well, but looks lost out there at times as he struggles to read opposing offenses and/or not grasp his role in the defensive scheme. He looked better against the Lions, but he still needs to pick it up and study harder because with the injury hampering Curry’s return, the Raiders need him to really step up.
New acquisition cornerbacks, Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell broke out in the game against Detroit as they look to finally be feeling comfortable in Tarver’s scheme. Actually, considering the two have been matched up against premiere NFL wide receivers in all three preseason games, these two have not faired badly at all and this should bring a ton of relief to Raider fans everywhere!
Backup cornerback, Chmidi Chekwa, is improving nicely, but his counterpart, Demarcus Van Dyke, has struggled tremendously as he just cannot seem to find the ball when it is thrown his way and he continues to be out of position on way too many plays where he should make a tackle.
Sometimes I must wonder if DVD is focused upon Football’s Fabulous Females more than the game. Don’t get me wrong I completely understand his fascination there, but if he wants to keep his job, he better just work upon focusing on the football!
Safety performance has been top notch as expected, because they were the one area in the defensive backfield that Raider fans could take some pride in during that horrible scheme run last year by a defensive coordinator whom will remain forever more un-named.
Tyvon Branch is back to anchor the back line and both Mike Mitchell and Matt Giordano have been in position and picked off a few passes to show they are acquiring the new scheme and beginning to thrive in it. Even Michael Huff has seemed to step up and looks promising.
All in all, the credit for breakout performer on the defense has to go to coach Tarver as he seems to be really re-inventing the veterans and improving the new acquisitions to bring the defense back to being an intimidating force once again.
As far as the final preseason game against the Seahawks goes, this will be mainly a fine tuning opportunity and an outing for questionable position battles to be finally addressed. The starters, for the most part, almost always sit this game out in order to rest up for the season opener in less than two weeks. That sure sounds good doesn’t it?
One area that seriously needs to be improved and is surely highlighted by head coach, Dennis Allen to be reviewed heavily is the one unmentioned element of the team thus far in this article and for good reason.
Special teams has been absolutely pathetic out there all preseason and is the spot that a lot of players hoping to make the team will need to perform better or special teams could turn out to be the Achilles heel of the Raiders going into the 2012 regular season.
One promising player in this area has been K, Eddie Carmona, who nailed a 56 yarder off the dirt in the game against the Lions in relief for the injured Sebastian Janikowski.
Other players that have struggled or not quite grasped the concepts the coaches are emphasizing will have one last chance to get it together or find the dreaded red tag in their locker come Friday morning.
Of course, not every player will make the 53 man roster and some favorites in preseason may be released or sent to the practice squad. For instance, Mike Goodson and Lonyae Miller will have this one last preseason game at Seattle to impress in the running game and become the third running back on the squad because one of them has to go. This will provide another spot to pay attention to in the final reps before we get down to business for real.
Another area of intense competition revolves around the backup linebackers position as Nathan Stupor, Carl Ihenacho, and Chad Kilgore will battle it out in this last preseaon game to see if they can impress the coaching staff enough to make the team.
As this article is being written the Oakland Raiders have signed WR/KR/PR, Roscoe Parrish, to perhaps shore up and improve the return game. It surely was not a signing to play as a starting wide receiver as the Raiders have that position solidly on lockdown. Anyways, my teammate at Raider Nation Times, Stuart Kovacs, is all over this acquisition and provides further analysis in his article that was released earlier Tuesday.
For more analysis and a further breakdown of the upcoming matchup versus the Seahawks be sure to check out articles from Senior Editor, John Doublin, and the rest of the crew at RNT.
At this point before the season breaks, we here at RNT would be remiss if we did not Thank YOU, the fans, for supporting not only the Raiders, but us as well. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do here and it is for this reason I give you all a big shout out for your continued support and encourage you to help spread the word about us if you like what you’ve been seeing!
Let’s get this last preseason game going already, so we can get down to business and start this stuff for real with a Monday Night beatdown of the hated San Diego Chargers on September 10th where legendary ESPN analyst Chris Berman, will be calling the play by play for the first time ever in his storied career! As if we needed anything more to excite us for the upcoming start to the season, right?
It is time to pay these haters back for so much abuse, not just from last year, but especially since the 2002 season. It’s been a long time coming and the new era Raiders are really just bringing back the traditions of a team that dominated and scared opponents whenever they knew the Autumn Wind was on the schedule.
So let’s get this party started! What do you say RAIDER NATION?
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