ARLINGTON, Texas – Derek Carr took a snap from center and shifted focus to his right. He cocked a cannon arm back, but did not fire. The pump fake was so effective it fooled the cameraman.
He shifted back left, found Amari Cooper open down the sideline and fired. For real this time.
Cooper caught it in stride and ran into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown. Perfect pass. Easy catch. Proof Carr is ready for the regular season.
Raiders coaches had seen enough. They pulled Carr on the ensuing drive. With one exhibition remaining largely populated by bubble players and roster cuts, it’s likely the last time he’ll see the field until Sept. 10 against Tennessee. That game actually counts.
Carr was 13-for-17 for 144 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. He’s 20-for-26 for 244 yards, four touchdowns, an interception and a 128.9 passer rating in the preseason.
The same can be said for the Raiders offense, which received solid contributions from DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, Jared Cook, Cordarrelle Patterson and, of course, Cooper.
The Raiders defense wasn’t on that level, nor is it expected to be during the regular season. That unit, which stayed together through most of the first half, gave up 10 points in the first two series and forced punts on the final two.
The second defensive series was the worst, allowing 80 yards and a touchdown on six plays. TJ Carrie committed a costly interference penalty, Darren McFadden had an 18-yard run, and a Reggie Nelson misread left Jason Witten wide open for an easy touchdown.
Here are a few other takeaways from Saturday night’s game:
PENN RETURNS: Donald Penn has two practices and a walk-through under his belt this preseason. He ended a contract holdout Wednesday and proved ready to play in Saturday’s exhibition. He didn’t start but played the second and third offensive series, seemed to fare well when examined live.
That allowed Marshall Newhouse to play on right tackle – he was on the left with Penn missing -- leaving their starting line intact for the first time all preseason. Penn still has time to be fully prepared for the regular season, and Saturday’s play was an important step toward in an expedited process.
LB SHUFFLE: Cory James was the only constant among the two starting linebackers, and he missed Saturday’s exhibition for a reason undisclosed during the game. Marquel Lee and Jelani Jenkins started in the base defense, with Tyrell Adams coming in for Lee in the nickel package. Adams had six tackles and Jenkins tallied five, including one for a loss.
The Raiders are still searching for a starting duo inside, though they could look outside the roster for help.
SECONDARY STILL SUSPECT: The Silver and Black defensive backs have been under fire recently for poor play in the preseason, most notably for blown coverages created by misreads, miscommunication and eye violations.
TJ Carrie seemed to struggle against Dallas starters. Free safety Reggie Nelson was responsible for the Jason Witten TD.
The biggest issue, however, may be David Amerson’s health. The only consistent cornerback this preseason, Amerson went down hard in the second quarter, and seemed to be unconscious for a spell. His arms were limp during that time, though he was evaluated by trainers and eventually left the field under his own power.
The Raiders didn’t provide an injury update during the game, or by the time this story was published. Amerson has had three concussions in his career, including a Week 2 incident last year. He didn’t miss a game then.
The Raiders need Amerson ready to go by the regular season opener and need some stability on the other side from Carrie, Sean Smith or still-injured first-round pick Gareon Conley.
Oakland's secondary struggled on all units. Dallas quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush were a combined 23-for-27 for 228 yards and three touchdowns in just over three quarters.