OAKLAND – The Raiders will be looking for a long snapper this week.
Andrew DePaola suffered a knee injury early in Monday's 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and is likely headed for injured reserve.
They'll sift through available options for the future. In the moment, the Raiders looked to Lee Smith for help.
The Raiders tight end was the emergency long snapper and was called to action after DePaola went down.
Raiders fans had nightmares of Travis Goethel filling that role in the 2012 season opener to disastrous result. His long-snapping struggles put the Raiders in a bind and contributed heavily to a loss to San Diego.
Smith did a whole lot better. There were no issues with field goals or punts, though Smith sailed one snap punter Johnny Townsend was able to corral.
"I think the last time I snapped a ball was in high school," Smith said. "I'm not even going to lie to you, that was the most stressful game in my career. I love playing tight end, I have a lot of confidence in myself at tight end. I had to tell myself it wasn't Monday Night Football and the whole world wasn't watching."
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Fellow tight end Derek Carrier could tell his teammate was in a tough spot. He walked over to Smith near the Raiders bench, sat down and said a quick prayer. That re-centered Smith, and helped him keep nerves at bay.
"He could tell I was in a bad place. It was stressful," Smith said. "I can't even lie to you guys. I'm just glad they all got back there. I feel horrible for my man [Andrew DePaola]. Obviously you don't want anyone to get hurt, but the first game of the year on an exciting team. There's a brotherhood on this team not like I've seen before in my career."
The Raiders won't have Smith snapping again next week. They'll sign someone off the street. Jon Condo snapped for the Raiders last year, and the team had other options in camp this summer.
The Raiders were flagged at a shocking clip in the first half that slowed as the game wore on. Those penalties included four holding calls, three false start penalties and two long pass interference calls. All told, the Raiders were flagged 11 times for 155 yards.
"We have to minimize penalties, find a way to get off the field," linebacker Tahir Whitehead said. "No matter what is going on in the game, as defense we need to find a way to get off the field."
Cooper, Nelson taken away
Starting receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson were non-factors in the season opener, combining for four catches and 32 yards. Cooper is the most talented offensive skill player, yet was taken out of this game by a talented Rams secondary. He had just one catch for nine yards.
"We had all day to throw," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. "We did call his number several times and sometimes the coverage did take it away. We have to do a better job as a coaching staff getting him the football and that will be the goal this week."
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