Originally published on SBReport.net on Aug. 31, 2012
The fourth and final preseason game is widely regarded as the final tryout for players attempting to make the team before teams cut down to the 53-man roster, and that’s just how it played for the Raiders.
Despite losing 21-3 to the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie gained valuable knowledge of second- and third-string players hoping to make the team.
Star running back Darren McFadden didn’t see the playing field, and rightfully so as the coaches know what they have in him. This allowed Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson to get more carries.
Jones still only carried the ball 7 times, and that includes six straight carries to start the game. Jones finished with just 12 yards on his 7 carries, including a long of 15 yards that came on a draw play on 3rd and 12. Jones struggled mightily when the Seahawks defense pursued the sweep heavily and was forced back inside. Jones will need to continue on running upfield instead of dancing around behind the line.
Starting quarterback only stayed in the game for one series in which he handed the ball off to Jones six straight times before the Seahawks forced a punt from Shane Lechler.
The second-string offense came out after the first series and didn’t find much success ont he field either. Leinart was held to just 3/11 passing for 14 yards and an interception. Leinart’s interception occurred when he threw the ball high to wide receiver Brandon Carswell who tipped it and it was intercepted by the defender.
The Raiders starting defense was without defensive tackles Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour. Desmond Bryant and rookie Christo Bilukidi started in their place and did a solid job. Bilukidi had a solid game and most likely secured a roster position with his play on Thursday night.
Bilukidi showed the ability to shed blockers and make the tackles, while also showing gap control and stopping runners from cutting back. Bilukidi finished with 4 tackles in his effort to earn the fourth defensive tackle position on the team.
Newly signed return man Roscoe Parrish had a rough outing during his first game on the team after being signed on Tuesday. Parrish attempted two punt returns and fumbled the first and muffed the second attempt out of bounds after not being able to get his helmet on in time for the punt. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders give Parrish another opportunity by keeping him on the team, or rely on cornerback Bryan McCann who had a decent game returning the ball.
McCann may also be on the bubble but proved his worth with a kickoff return for 24 yards and one punt return for 18 yards that led to the Raiders only score, an Eddy Carmona field goal in the last minute of the game. McCann also made a nice defensive play to break up a pass late in the game as well.
The Raiders defense did a solid job to contain quarterback Russell Martin and the Seahawks starting offense, which was without starting running back Marshawn Lynch. Wilson finished just 5/11 for 72 yards.
Running back Mike Goodson showed more explosiveness than he has this preseason when he was stuck running left but cut it back to the right for a 17-yard gain. Goodson finished with eight carries for 26 yards.
Rookie linebacker Miles Burris, who has been starting in place of the injured Aaron Curry, had another solid game. Burris continuously made nice open-field tackles on Seahawks players, stopping them in their tracks. Burris finished with four tackles of his own and is expected to start in place of Curry when the regular season begins.
The Raiders second- and third-string offensive line struggled much of the time, giving quarterback Terrelle Pryor little time while remaining unable to open holes for Goodson. Pryor was forced to scramble much of the time, including a play in which he escaped what looked to be a sack, then scrambled right to hit his wide receiver for the first down on a 3rd and 12 play. Pryor finished 6/9 for 55 yards to go with nine yards rushing on two attempts.
Second-year cornerback Chimdi Chekwa had a rough game and was picked on in back-to-back slant patterns in the red zone. Chekwa needs to show some development from when he was drafted last year.
Safety Brandon Underwood may have also been on the bubble heading into the game, but also made a statement with his 4 tackles and seeming to always be around the ball. The same can be said for cornerback Pat Lee who had a nice game as the gunner on special teams, also having a nice pass break-up on a comeback route from Matt Flynn.
After having a solid game against the Detroit Lions with three passes defended, defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie remained relatively quiet Thursday night, meaning the fourth defensive tackle will likely be Bilukidi’s.
It will be interesting to see if the Raiders decide to keep Parrish on the roster for his return capabilities or use the spot on a different 6th wide receiver such as McGee. McCann’s game today in the return game may have helped decide the front office’s decision, or he may have made it more difficult.
The front office also has a tough decision at the linebacker position with Chad Kilgore, Carl Ihenacho and Nathan Stupar. Kilgore and Ihenacho have been pleasant surprises and Ihenacho can serve as a pass rusher on third down, giving him added versatility. Kilgore has shown he is instinctive and can hustle, but may be put on the practice squad as part of a numbers game. The same can be said for Stupar. Stupar has shown he can play special teams, but is often unable to shed blockers which came apparent in the touchdown run by fullback Vai Taua when Stupar got pushed back into the end zone. Stupar did have a sack and fill some gaps nicely to accumulate six tackles. The Raiders have a tough decision when it comes down to these three linebackers.
The best thing that came out of the night: no injuries to the starting staff. The Raiders appeared to suffer only one injury, to Bilukidi which appeared to just be cramps.
With wide receiver Denarius Moore expected back, the Raiders will head into the offseason with a relatively healthy team to take on the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football on Sept. 10.
McKenzie and the front office will be busy tomorrow as they attempt to identify the team’s 22 players to cut, while looking at the almost 700 other players that are released by the other 31 teams in the NFL. McKenzie and Allen will be looking to find any players that could be a possible upgrade to their roster.