Young Raiders Defenders Look Good in Loss to Packers

Rookies Joseph, Ward and Calhoun show they could be big contributors for Oakland in 2016

The Raiders came out of Green Bay Thursday night with a 20-12 loss to the Packers and a poor offensive showing, but saw evidence again that rookies Karl Joseph, Shilique Calhoun and Jihad Ward can play.

Joseph, the team’s No. 1 pick, started his second straight game at safety and came up with a big play early, in combination with Ward, who’s moved into the starting lineup at defensive end.

After the Packers marched down the field in the first quarter behind big, physical running back Eddie Lacy, Lacy tried to score up the middle from a yard out. But Ward, a second-round pick from Illinois, met him and slowed him down, and then Joseph – who came into the NFL with a reputation as a big hitter -- finished him off for no gain.

Tweeted Jimmy Durkin, who covers the Raiders for the Bay Area News Group: “Karl Joseph with a tremendous play there. Nice goal line tackle.” Added WVU Pride on Twitter, of the former West Virginia star:  “Karl Joseph stuffed Eddie Lacy … 255 pound Eddie Lacy. Karl is something else!”

The Packers, however, came right back on the next play to score a touchdown.

Joseph was in on three tackles, with Ward making two stops.

Later, in the fourth quarter, Calhoun, a third-round pick out of Michigan State who’s also getting time at defensive end, came through with a sack. Wrote Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group: “Nice sack by Shilique Calhoun. Has had his moments holding the edge a time or two as well.”

Bottom line: The Raiders defense, already formidable with the addition of veterans Bruce Irvin, Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith this past offseason – and with perhaps the best young defensive player in the game in Khalil Mack – could be even more ferocious in 2016 the way Joseph, Ward and Calhoun are showing they can contribute.

On Thursday night, however, it was the Raiders offense that couldn’t get going. The Raiders fell behind 7-3 in the first quarter and could manage just two field goals before getting a late touchdown on a blocked punt, with the ball recovered in the end zone by Nate Allen. Giorgio Tavecchio missed the PAT, however.

Oakland could muster just 187 total yards, seven first downs and held on to the ball just over 24 minutes, while losing the turnover battle 2-0.

The Raiders get their next exhibition opportunity  on Aug. 27 against the Tennessee Titans in Oakland.

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