The Oakland Raiders offense struggled in the pre-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, but Darren McFadden showed he is still the impact player he was in the first half of 2011. McFadden only played one series, but that was enough to put to rest any concerns over whether the Raiders star running back had fully recovered from the lisfranc injury to his right foot that ended his season early last year. In that series, McFadden had three touches for 38 yards. The first was a 4 yard run, the second, a 18 yard screen pass and the third, a 16 yard run.
While the screen pass was exciting, Raiders fans should be most encouraged by McFadden's 16 yard run. The Raiders switched to a zone blocking scheme this off-season and McFadden looked very comfortable in the system on the run. The zone blocking system relies on a running back to read the blocks, make one cut and head up field. McFadden read the blocking perfectly, made a good cut up field and even made a nice cut on his right foot about five yards down field. While it is obviously a small sample size, it looks like McFadden's talents can be put to good use in the zone blocking scheme.
Undrafted Free Agent Rookie Rod Streater Stole the Show
First year general manager Reggie McKenzie may have already provided the first piece of evidence that his hiring was a wise one. With very little to work with this off season, McKenzie appears to have found an undrafted free agent who looks like he will not only make the team, but may even get some decent playing time as a rookie. Rod Streater went undrafted out of Temple, but he had the most impressive day of any Raider in the pre-season opener. Streater played most of the game and finished the night with 6 catches for 66 yards, impressively holding onto the ball after taking big hits immediately after two of those catches.
With Aaron Curry still out and seeking a second opinion on his injured knees, the Raiders must start thinking about who will start for the Raiders should Curry not be ready by week 1. Miles Burris was the starter for the Monday Night Football match up against the Cowboys, and looked good in his first NFL action. Burris played most of the first half and looked solid. The Cowboys kept their offensive starters in the game for three series so Burris got some good action and did not look out classed.
Carson Palmer stayed in the game for two series and finished 3 of 6 with one interception and no touchdowns. However, his numbers would have looked much batter had Jacoby Ford not dropped two balls that were placed perfectly in his hands by Palmer. It is early and there is no reason to be alarmed, but Palmer and Ford did not give a reason to be excited either.
Replacement Referee Goof of the Night
One of the bigger stories this pre-season has been that of the replacement referees, and whether they are capable of calling NFL caliber games. At one point in the first half of Monday night's game, Tony Romo had to show the replacement referees where to place the ball after a play. The referee had mistakenly placed the ball a good five yards away from the hash marks and Romo was seen emphatically showing the referee where the hash marks were and then pointing to where the ball was supposed to have been placed. Romo seems to be one of the many NFL players who are not happy with how the NFL is handling the referee situation.