GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Raiders opened their preseason Saturday night at Arizona.
A version of them, anyway. One lacking star power.
Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Marshawn Lynch, Bruce Irvin, Michael Crabtree Jared Cook, Gareon Conley, Obi Meifonwu, Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson skipped this one entirely because of injury or retain health. And Donald Penn's still holding out for a new contract.
Pretty tough to test drive the car without so many important parts.
The Raiders did so anyway, with the future smartly in mind. They lost this one 20-10 at University of Phoenix Stadium, though the final score hardly matters.
Several young players being counted on saw extensive snaps, including linebackers Marquel Lee – he was relaying plays in the huddle -- Cory James and defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes.
Marshawn Lynch sitting during the national anthem will be the night's top story. Sean Smith will steal some headlines with penalties and poor play but, the main concern from a football perspective in games like this is health. Offensive lineman Denver Kirkland was helped off the field and carted to the locker room with an apparent leg injury. The Raiders didn't suffer any obvious injuries beyond that.
SEAN SMITH'S NO GOOD, VERY BAD NIGHT
The veteran cornerback didn't start the preseason well, continuing a bad stretch in training camp where he was taken off the first unit in deference to TJ Carrie and moved inside and to a hybrid linebacker role in the dime package.
Smith played inside some, but was exposed outside as well.
He didn't start but joined the first unit on the game's second snap, and was immediately penalized for pass interference. He was flagged for illegal contact later in the first half when he was beat badly downfield. He gave up a few catches during a relatively prolonged stint, and got fooled by a double move that left a Cardinals receiver wide open in the end zone. The ball was overthrown, saving some embarrassment.
Smith is guaranteed $9.5 million this season – he can be cut without pay or dead money against the salary cap next year – and will continue competing for a role in the Raiders secondary.
JOSEPH LOOKS READY
Karl Joseph has had an excellent training camp to this point, and continued that trend in a game. He played aggressive and confident over three series, with a few big hits along the way.
The Raiders need an intimidating presence in the secondary, and Joseph could fill that role if he keeps playing as he has this summer.
MANUEL GETS A HALF, COOK GETS A HALF
The Raiders sat starting quarterback Derek Carr on Saturday, and gave EJ Manuel and Connor Cook equal time. Manuel played the first half, an honor earned after working with the second team throughout camp. He was efficient – Manuel completed 10-of-12 passes for 107 yards -- but never found the end zone. He orchestrated two field goal attempts, though only one went through.
Cook was 10-of-21 passing for 89 yards and no touchdowns in the second half. While he was playing against weaker competition, he looked better in this game than he has in recent practices.
ON THE RADAR
Tight end Clive Walford has had a relatively quiet camp working with the second unit but stood out in this game with three receptions for 44 yards, including a 30-yard grab from Manuel.
Treyvon Hester and LaTroy Lewis had two sacks each in the second half, and running back John Crockett had a 29-yard reception and a 1-yard touchdown run.
Shalom Luani was the second free safety in the game and was consistently around the ball, including an interception opportunity in the end zone that fell out of his hands.
Jaydon Mickens was the initial kickoff returner, but fumbled his first attempt to bring it out. He ended up recovering his mistake. He also had three catches for 31 yards.