Friday night’s game against the Cardinals in Arizona is just an exhibition, but you can bet Jacoby Ford is excited about it.
It’s an opportunity, after all, to erase the experience of his performance against the Cowboys Monday night.
In that exhibition opener, the Raiders' Ford: 1) dropped two passes that would have been first downs; 2) muffed a punt return; and, 3) didn’t battle a Dallas defender for a ball thrown by Carson Palmer that turned into an interception in a 3-0 Oakland loss.
“It’s definitely not the way I wanted to come out and put anything on film like that,” Ford told reporters Wednesday. “But games like that happen and that’s why you’ve got to have a short-term memory and put it behind you. Good thing it’s preseason, so you kind of just put that behind you now and go into the next game, work on improvements the next time.”
By all reports, Ford’s performance in the Oakland exhibition opener was a surprise, because the third-year pro has been having a good training camp in Napa and has developed a great rapport with Palmer.
“He didn’t play up to his expectations or our expectations in the game the other day,” said first-year head coach Dennis Allen. “It’s one football game. It’s not the end of the world.”
Coming on the heels of last season’s disappointments, however, Monday night’s performance by Ford was worry-inducing.
After a marvelous rookie season in which Ford returned three kicks for touchdowns, played all 16 games and averaged 18.8 yards on 25 catches, Ford suffered a second-season slump. He played just eight games because of injuries, caught 19 passes and returned one kickoff for a score.
So, the Raiders and their fans have been looking for a rebound season from the former Clemson standout.
In Allen's and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s new West Coast offense, Ford figures to be a key receiver and will be the primary punt and kick returner, reports Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group.
“When I was healthy (last year), I was effective,” Ford told McDonald. “The freak injuries (hand and hamstring last season), that was just something I couldn’t control. I’m definitely looking past that. That definitely was a tough season. I’m focusing on Year 3 coming up.”
A healthy Ford combined with Darrius Heyward-Bey, second-year pro Denarius Moore and impressive rookies Rod Streater and Juron Criner could give Palmer several fast, deep-threat options.
Palmer, for one, isn’t worried about Ford. He has confidence in him.
“It’s nothing that needs to be talked about,” Palmer told The Associated Press of Ford’s drops Monday night. “I have complete faith in him and he’ll catch the next one.”
Thanks to a short week, Ford gets his chance Friday night.