The numbers on the scoreboard don’t count during the exhibition season, but the numbers on the stat sheet often do, indicating strengths and weaknesses.
So when the Raiders’ secondary was exploited for 388 yards passing by the New Orleans Saints Sunday night in a 40-20 exhibition loss, there was much focus on when starting cornerback Chris Johnson would return from injury.
On Tuesday, Johnson was back on the field from what he called “an oil change” and told reporters that “hands down” he’ll be in the starting lineup for the regular-season opener against the Broncos on Sept. 12. He’s not expected to play Friday night in the exhibition game vs. Seattle, however, meaning rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke – whose mistakes Sunday night vs. the Saints were well-documented – will get another learning experience.
Johnson, who had surgery for an undisclosed injury two weeks ago, was a surprise participant in Tuesday’s practice.
He told reporters afterward he’s “ready to go.”
“I’ve felt better the last couple of weeks than I’ve felt in the last two years,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur.
Johnson also came to the defense of Van Dyke, who’s been targeted by opposing QBs this summer.
“When I first came in, it was the same way,” Johnson told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “It just takes one or two plays for you to just knock a ball down or pick the ball off, and they’ll respect you. If you don’t do that, they’re going to continue to pick on you.”