Welcome to the Team . . . errrr. . . Sorry, Seeee Yaaaaaah!!
Captain Jack Rack 'em Levy – Sep 3, 2012
So, now that we’ve finished the debacle known as the Oakland Raiders’ last preseason game in Seattle – and I do hope many of you took my advice and took in a movie and a nice dinner instead, because the game indeed was practically worthless for many brave enough to take it in (including those ‘taking it in’ via field level viewing in Seattle…)
In the end, only a short-field drive in the fourth quarter led by Terrelle Pryor, spending the majority of his night running for his life behind a sieve alternately known as the ‘forgotten’ Raiders’ offensive line – forgotten because I don’t think anyone playing on the line in the second half gained employment on the Raiders’ roster, let alone ANY NFL roster – led to a Eddie Carmona ‘chip shot’ field goal to avert a shut-out in Seattle, with the ‘Hawks winning 21-3.
So it was off to the airport for the returning plane ride back to Oaktown, and even then things were eventful for our Pirated warriors.
It seems (per media reports) free-agent boomer-punter-in-waiting Marquette King suffered some injury ON THE PLANE which immediately garnered him a spot on the Raiders’ injured reserve listing. Well, due to the fact that Shane Lechler’s leg required vast amounts of alternating ice-and-heat since it was extensively used during the game, as the Raiders’ “O” didn’t show up (and the starting offense was in/out in a blink of an eye in the first quarter), King’s injury perhaps occurred on the plane ride TO Seattle…
No matter. I do believe that Captain Jack aka Carnac the Magnificent prognosticated this ‘mysterious injury’ a few weeks back - "Let's Get This Sucka Kicked Off!" – (Really, it’s IN THERE!!)
Speaking of others on the special teams, let’s give a mighty cheer for our just signed punt return standout that will lead us to the playoffs single-handedly with long return after long return, many for touchdowns obviously. Hey Roscoe, have a few minutes to talk to our fans here buddy?
((Crickets chirping… you know the sound bite.))
Oooooooooooooooh… yeah, seems Mr. Parrish has to find another place of employment – along with twenty or so others he shared the locker room with this past week – all who will have a great account of their summer’s activities should they be asked to write a book report once they get back to school… or narrate their tales on a coffee break from whichever work place they’ll find themselves at next week.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…. So who will the Raiders count on for punt return duties during the season since starting receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore (doubling as return specialists) are still ‘iffy’ at best and haven’t seen the field in several weeks? Ok, maybe not exactly, as they’ve been working out and stretching (Moore) and walking in a boot (Ford) adjacent the practice facilities, so they’ve at least SEEN the field, but you catch my drift…
Enter Coye Francies, the free agent signed prior to the Seahawks game who knew the punt return schemes like the back of his hand… oh, sorry, perhaps the schemes for the Seahawks – who cut him a few days prior to the game with the Raiders. He did set out to impress during his time on the field, and since Parrish fumbled his first return and muffed his second try (the ‘hawks couldn’t recover inbounds), the bar was set pretty low for Coye. Not to be outdone by the vet Parrish, Francies fumbled his lone punt return attempt. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice right? Well, it did indeed get him noticed by all of the Raider Nation.
Thank goodness we had Bryan McCann back there for the remainder of the game, who actually made a nice return in the fourth quarter giving the Raiders field position needed for the eventual shutout-saving score. Yep, at least for the season opener, we’ll be covered for returns since McCann was here previously and will work out as the punt returner/extra DB/Special Teamer needed in a pinch.
And when the ‘final 53’ came out (eventually I should say, but that is subject for a piece at a later time…) McCann’s name was on the list, along with Francies (although shaky in his appearance, he had only been in camp a few days), Cumbie (who had an ‘extra-effort’ game against the Lions which undoubtedly propelled him to a roster spot, although he didn’t play much if at all against the ‘hawks), Chekwa (despite his rough outings this preseason, being ‘beaten like a drum’ in zone coverage and whose sole ‘moment’ came in Arizona on an interception of an underthrown ball), and Bilukidi (who had his ‘welcome to the NFL' moment, playing the entire game against Seattle, as the coaching staff gave him his chance to ‘sink or swim.’)
So I’m sure we can all be proud and stand in line while we congratulate our ‘2012 Raiders Roster’ to include all these bubble pla… errrrr… what do you mean that McCann, Cumbie and Chekwa aren’t on the Raiders' Active Players Roster anymore? They WERE on the ‘final 53’ on Friday night…
((Sounds of hitting keyboard and diligent perusing of webpages revealing the Raiders have picked up… who? Phillip Adams, DB late of the Seahawks – didn’t we just pick up a Seattle DB in Francies? – Keenan Clayton, LB from the Eagles and ‘Big Willie’ Smith, OT from the Redskins. Labor Day saw the signing of CB Joselio Hanson from the Eagles, one of the best nickel corners available after cuts were made. The 'Turk' then sought out Demarcus Van Dyke, whose celebration skills weren't enough to keep him on the roster.))
Well, guess you can’t sleep on ol’ Reggie McKenzie, who undoubtedly saw a need in picking up an acclaimed nickel CB as well as another DB, LB and OT. Adding quality players in all of those positions were vociferously being screamed through blood-curdling shrieks from fans across the Nation for several weeks towards the new GM – or maybe it was to his twin brother, since really can YOU tell them apart? Yeah… I thought not either.
I’m sure either Reggie knew these players from his experience in player personnel development in Green Bay, as he wasted little time in getting these players inked to contracts. Either that, or the Raiders’ scouting department have new 'walking orders’ from the front office to look at ‘players’ and not ‘measurables’ – or I’m sure several of the Al Davis preferred physical beasts would still be wearing Silver and Black.
Ok, not ragging on CC, but perhaps the ex-Ohio State product wasn't up for the new Raiders’ defense of mix-and-match zone coverages and not (almost) exclusively bump-and-run schemes. Dennis Allen is a defensive pedigreed coach with extensive knowledge of the defensive backs, and didn't think that Chekwa was a good fit for the Tarver defense - on our final roster anyway. Chekwa was in fact signed to the Raiders' practice squad where he'll be able to take more reps until he 'gets it' or is gone, either through another cut or added by another team thinking he can best fit THEIR scheme.
Chekwa was joined on the Practice Squad by several of his teammates - LBs Nathan Stupar and Kaelin Burnett, WRs Travionte Session and Brandon Carswell and C Colin Miller. New to the Raiders' Silver and Black color scheme was RB Jeremy Stewart (cut by the Jets) and DT Vaughn Meatoga (no I'M A TOGA!! cut by the Bengals),
I don’t know enough about three of the four players we did sign late for the final roster, but then again, it’s not my JOB to know all the nitnoid details either – that would be the job of those at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway – and I trust their decision. But looking at the names of the players known by the Captain through previous 'battle actions' displayed, overall I’m quite pleased with those we have in starting positions, key backup spots as well as miscellaneous contributors to the team.
And for those clamoring to sign Kellen Winslow Jr. – if not just to ‘stick it’ to his father and longtime Chargers’ apologist Kellen Sr. – I say this to you: His knees are shot if not totally gone and on this Raiders’ team we need football players, NOT soldiers! I rest my case…
So now we’re all set (???) with the Raiders going into battle starting September 10th – next Monday for those not paying close attention – against the hated San Diego Chargers. Philip ‘Cry Me A’ Rivers still resides under center and Antonio Gates is still their greatest pass-catching threat, but the Bolts will be without starting Running Back Ryan Mathews and Left Tackle Jared Gaither due to nagging injuries.
((Calling all Defensive Linemen and 'Backers - It's Rivers Crushing Time with a rookie slated to start in Gaithers' spot.))
Also remember much-heralded Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson now plays in the NFC South with the Buccaneers, while first round pick and pass rushing specialist Melvin Ingram was injured in their third preseason game, so if Ingram isn't back to 100% himself, all should bode well for a season opening victory for your men in Silver and Black.
There it is Raider Nation – the ‘REAL’ start of the new campaign is but days away, and I’m very excited to see how well this team of primarily young players meshed with wily and capable veterans can get that ‘plus one victory’ enabling them to end the ten year malaise following Super Blow (SIC) XXXVII.
We here at Raider Nation Times look forward to bringing you our commentary, thoughts and opinions throughout the season… so let’s start with the ‘war cry’ we’ve all grown to love…
Until next week, the Captain bellows his last preseason
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