Three takeaways from Raiders preseason opener at Arizona

Key starters don't play; Smith struggles

John Dickinson
August 13, 2017 - 11:00 am

Most Notable

Marshawn Lynch not standing for the national anthem prior to the game. Jack Del Rio told reporters after the game he spoke to Lynch and Lynch told him he hadn’t stood for the anthem in 11 years. Del Rio expressed to Lynch that he “strongly believes in standing for the national anthem” but added that he’d respect him as a man to do his thing and not stand. Del Rio wrapped his comments by saying it’s a ‘”non-issue” moving forward.

Who didn’t play… Those who didn’t see action for the Raiders were more notable than those who did. Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Khalil Mack, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch Jared Cook, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson all sat out on Saturday night. With expectations high in 2017, Jack Del Rio wasn’t taking any chances for a meaningless game in mid-August.

The Good

EJ Manuel started for Derek Carr and looked like the most competent backup QB the Raiders have had in over a decade. Manuel completed 10-of-12 passes for 107 yards. If the Raiders are forced to go to Manuel for a short period of time due to a Derek Carr injury, it appears they will be in much better position than they were with Matt McGloin.

Clive Walford was on the receiving end of a 30-yard EJ Manuel pass and totaled 3 catches for 44 yards. The tight ends figure to be a bigger part of the Raiders passing game this season with Walford and the addition of starter Jared Cook.

Reserves Treyvon Hester and LaTroy Lewis each had two sacks.

The Bad

Sean Smith. The Raiders have been searching for more effective ways to use Smith throughout training camp. They’ve used him as a tight end covering linebacker in sub packages.  During his time on the field Saturday night he picked up two penalties in coverage, one while getting beat downfield on a deep ball. He was also beat on a double move for a would-be touchdown that fell incomplete in addition to allowing two catches. The Raiders have to be nearing a tipping point on Smith who they need on the field contributing but can’t seem to be effective covering on the outside.

Rookie Marquel Lee got the start at inside linebacker and struggled. Lee got beat for a first down on the Cardinals first offensive series and was repeatedly pushed down field on running plays. Lee was credited with 6 tackles (5 solo) and recovered a fumble forced by Justin Ellis. The learning curve will be steep for the fifth round pick who is being called upon to help improve one of the NFL’s worst defenses, despite having the Defensive Player of the Year in Khalil Mack.

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