Raiders vs. Cardinals, NFL Preseason Week One: Both Teams Looking To Gain Confidence

The 2011 NFL Preseason is here, finally. After a long lockout, teams are itching to get out there and see where they're at. This preseason is more important because of the short training camp and absence of other OTAs. The Oakland Raiders will square off against the Arizona Cardinals in week one, and you can find more on the former over at Silver and Black Pride.

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2011 NFL Preseason, Raiders vs. Cardinals: Injury Plagued Wide Receiver Chaz Schilens Injured Again

There was some upsetting, but not surprising news to come out this morning in regards to the Oakland Raiders first preseason game of 2011. Perennially injured wide receiver Chaz Schilens is injured again. There do not appear to be many details about the injury which is not surprising considering the Raiders’ tendency to keep such things underwraps. However, Bill Williamson of ESPN reported that Schilens suffered a knee injury in the game last night.

Schilens was a seventh round draft pick out of San Diego State in 2008 who almost immediately impressed the Raiders and their fans. Schilens runs good routes, has good hands and is the one wide receiver on the Raiders who fits the mold of a possession type receiver as opposed to a speedy, stretch the field type of receiver.

After back to back injury riddled seasons, the Raiders were hopeful that Schilens would finally be healthy enough to become a serious contributor this season. If this injury is a serious one that leads to significant time being lost this season, it is unfortunate, but Schilens may need to start considering a different career path.

Hopefully this was nothing more than a tweak or slight sprain, but no matter what, it is an unsettling turn of events.

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2011 NFL Preseason, Raiders vs. Cardinals: Oakland Rookies Shine in Preseason Loss

Despite taking the lead on a 57 yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal with just over two minutes left in the game, the Raiders were not able to pull out a win in their preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals. This, however, should not concern Raiders fans. It was the first preseason game and the starters were already sitting early in the second quarter. What is important to take away from the game is how the young players performed after a shortened off season.

Before we get to the rookies, the Raiders starters both on offense and defense looked good in the limited time that they played. The Raiders defensive line looked dominant and gave Kevin Kolb a lot of problems in his Cardinals debut. Jason Campbell and the Raiders offense were able to move the football well, even though they were unable to convert a touchdown, settling for a field goal on the only drive with all starters playing.

Now, on to the rookies. Three rookies in particular really stood out for the Raiders, Denarius Moore, David Ausberry and Demarcus Van Dyke.

Denarius Moore has been all the rage during training camp. In fact, he made so many plays that he immediately drew comparisons to last year’s rookie phenom, Jacoby Ford.

It did not take long for Raiders fans at the Oakland Coliseum (no, I will not call it O.co Coliseum) to realize exactly what all of the hype was about. On his very first appearance as an Oakland Raider, Moore showed off his crisp route running, ability to get separation, good hands and perhaps most importantly, his impressive ability to make defenders miss tackles.

Not only did Moore impress with his play at wide receiver, he showed even more Ford-esque abilities when he returned a punt nearly 60 yards, only to get called back on a penalty for blocking in the back. However, the penalty was not committed extremely close to the actual play, and despite it, the return was unbelievably impressive. Moore took the punt on one bounce, caught the ball with Cardinals players all around, made at least four players miss tackles, then used his speed to cut down the sideline before being pushed out of bounds near the ten yardline.

Needless to say, the Raiders need to find a way to get the ball in this playmakers hands often this season.

Another impressive performance came from seventh round pick out of USC, David Ausberry. At USC, Ausberry was a wide reciever until his senior season when he was moved to tight end. The Raiders decided to keep him at tight end, adding yet another athletic threat on offense. Ausberry immediately showed the Raiders they made the right move when he caught their only touchdown of the game in rather impressive fashion.

The Raiders had just recovered a fumbled punt by the Cardinals and found themselves deep in Cardinals territory. With the ball at the 18 yardline, quarterback Trent Edwards dropped back and threw a nice ball to the back left corner of the endzone. Asuberry ran a clean route and got separation from his defender before making an impressive catch, dragging his left foot at the edge of the endzone to get two feet down and score the touchdown.

The Raiders may have signed Kevin Boss to replace Zach Miller, but Ausberry has just threw his name in the hat to be Oakland’s tight end of the future.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, third round pick Demarcus Van Dyke showed Raiders fans and coaches something on Thursday night as well. Van Dyke got in the game early and was asked to go man up against one of the league’s best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. Despite being outmatched in size and experience, Van Dyke did a good job of holding his own.

On almost every play that Van Dyke was asked to play man coverage on any receiver, he was on his man like glue. I did not once see significant separation, and on almost every ball thrown his direction, Van Dyke got his head around, put his body in good position and was able to try and make a play on the ball.

Fitzgerald was able to make an outstanding catch for fourty yards while being covered by Van Dyke. However, what should be mentioned is that the reason Fitzgerald had to make such an impressive catch is because Van Dyke was in excellent position and attacked the ball at its highest point, forcing Fitzgerald to use his combination of height and excellent hands to make an impressive catch along the sideline.

Van Dyke may not be able to overtake Chris Johnson as the number two corner for the Raiders, but he certainly made a strong argument to get playing time as a nickel back. Especially considering second year cornerbacks Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware struggled at times against the Cardinals second and third string offense on Thursday.

Other Notes

The Raiders clearly need to work on cutting down the penalties that haunted them once again in the preseason opener. The Raiders committed 10 penalties for 84 yards. If the Raiders want to make a run for the playoffs, this needs to be cleaned up.

The only other area where the Raiders clearly need to improve is in finishing drives. The Raiders first three offensive possessions looked incredibly promising, only to wind up with two field goals and a punt. Scoring field goals instead of touchdowns is a sure fire way to lose games and miss the playoffs.

It is still very early, but these are problems that the Raiders need to address by the time the regular season rolls around.

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Raiders vs. Cardinals Update: Janikowski's Hits Two Field Goals, Oakland Trails 7-6 As Halftime Approaches

The 2011 NFL Preseason is officially underway and the Raiders currently trail the Cardinals 7-6 on a pair of Sebastian Janikowski field goals and a touchdown pass from John Skelton to Stephen Williams. The kicker hit a 39-yarder on the first drive of the game and added a second one that went 25-yards to cap off a 10-play, 45-yard drive.

Jason Campbell started at quarterback and played well. He complete 6-of-10 passes for 65 yards. He did not have any turnovers. Kyle Boller took over behind center and has been perfect mid-way through the second quarter, going 6-for-6 for 32 yards. 

With Derren McFadden out of the game, Michael Bush started and rushed five times for 17 yards. Rock Cartwright has joined in as well with three carries for 15 yards.

Kevin Kolb made his debut with the Cardinals and had a few deep passes - including a nice deep-ball to Larry Fitzgerald - but the Oakland defense has played well all game. The highlight of the night came on a goal line stand. With the ball at the three-yard line and Arizona driving, they held Beanie Wells to two yards on three rushes, including a big stop on fourth down.

The crowd for the game is reportedly just around 10,000 or so, but it has been a good game to this point. The teams are, after all, playing their first competitive football in six months.

Stay tuned to SB Nation Bay Area for complete coverage of tonight's game. For more coverage, be sure to check out Silver and Black Pride!

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2011 NFL Preseason, Raiders vs. Cardinals: Oakland Raiders Position Battles to Watch in the Preseason

As the preseason is about to begin, it is time to take a look at what positions will be contested leading into the season. The Oakland Raiders are coming off of their best season in over seven years and will be looking to build off of that momentum and possibly make a return to the playoffs this year.

In order to build off of last season, it is important that the Raiders have the right personell in the right positions to start the season. The Raiders are pretty much set, as far as depth is concerned, when it comes to the runningback, defensive line and safety positions.

However, there are a lot of questions surrounding the entire offensive line, the cornerback position, the wide receiver position and one outside linebacker position.

Offensive Line

The left side of the Raiders offensive line appears to be fairly set in stone.

Second year tackle Jared Veldheer will be given the opportunity to continue his learning process at the left tackle position. He had a solid rookie season and the Raiders believe he could be their left tackle of the future, so do not expect him to get unseated.

At left guard, second year Raider, Daniel Loper appears to be ready to step in for the departed Robert Gallery. When Gallery missed time last season with an injury, Loper stepped into the starting role and the offensive line did not appear to miss a beat. The Raiders hope he will be able to do the same as a starter this season.

The rest of the offensive line is up for grabs.

The center position was thought to be locked down by rookie Stefan Wisniewski, but with the re-signing of two year starter Samson Satele, the Raiders will hold an open competition and decide who is the better fit, with the loser likely getting a good look at the right guard position.

At right guard, most thought that last year’s starter, Cooper Carlisle, was going to be released by the Raiders this season. With Carlisle still on the team, the Raiders will be looking at him, second year player Bruce Campbell as well as Satele and Wisniewski as potential starters at right guard.

The right tackle position will likely be the weakest position along Oakland’s offensive like this season. The two front runners for the starting job right now are rookie Joe Barksdale and returning tackle Khalif Barnes. Barksdale has looked good in training camp and could push for playing time. However, there are rumors that the Raiders are trying to bring back Langston Walker. This could be a sign that the coaching staff is not impressed with Barksdale or Barnes at this point.

Wide Receiver

The Raiders receiving corps is full of young talent. Unfortunately for the Raiders, most of that talent has yet to reach its potential. With the return of a healthy Chaz Schilens, the Raiders have four players who are considered viable options as starting wide receivers.

Last season’s starters Darius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy will certainly receive strong consideration. DHB has yet to live up to his high draft status, but Davis seems intent on giving him time to learn while still playing in a starting position. Murphy has shown sparks of brilliance at the position, but has also shown a lot of inconsistency.

Meanwhile, Schilens is finally healthy after two years of injuries. If he can stay healthy and return to the form he had before the injury problems, he could easily become a starting option since the Raiders have been longing for a possession type receiver for years now.

Finally, last season’s rookie phenom, Jacoby Ford is clearly the fan favorite to be a starter. After a rather impressive rookie season where Ford showed the ability to be a game changing threat on offense and in the kick return game, he will be looking to solidify his role as a starting wide receiver for the Raiders.

There is also a dark horse candidate in fifth round rookie Denarius Moore. The wide receiver out of Tennessee has been the star of Raiders training camp so far. Injuries and inconsistency at the wide reciever position could enable Moore to see good playing time as a rookie.

Outside Linebacker

One of the outside linebacker spots is set in stone. Kamerion Wimbley was outstanding in his first year wearing the Silver and Black in 2010. It earned him a big contract and an unopposed starting position.

Opposite Wimbley is another question. Last year’s starter, Quentin Groves, played well at times and struggled a lot at others. Though the Raiders did not bring in any big name free agents to compete with Groves, the spot is not necessarily his for the taking. Rumor has it that second year ball hawk, Travis Goethel, will compete with Groves for the starting role.

Plus, the Raiders will need to figure out what to do with Trevor Scott once he is healthy, and the outside linebacker position is a possibility even though he did not excel there as a starter early last season.

Cornerback

The massive contract given to Stanford Routt means that one of the starting corner positions will certainly belong to him. The opposite corner and the nickleback positions, however, are far from set in stone.

Veteran speedster Chris Johnson is the most likely player to start opposite Routt. Before Routt’s seemingly inexplicable rise to stardom in the eyes of Al Davis, Johnson was the corner faced with playing opposite Nnamdi Asomugha and did a fairly good job at it.

Besides Johnson, the Raiders will be looking to see if second year players Jeremy Ware and Walter McFadden have matured enough to push for playing time opposite Routt. Both players saw the field as rookies due to injuries in the Raiders secondary, however, neither stood out in their limited time.

Rookies Demarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa will likely be battling Ware and McFadden for playing time as the nickle back corner. However, there is also the possibility that safety Michael Huff will see time at nickle back, giving the rookies a year to get caught up to NFL game speed before being thrown into significant roles in the secondary.

These competitions will all start to heat up as the preseason games begin. Given the shortened off season, a strong showing in the preseason could easily lead to a starting role for any number of these guys come opening day.

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2011 NFL Preseason, Raiders vs. Cardinals: Both Teams Looking To Gain Confidence

The 2011 NFL Preseason is here, finally. After a long lockout, teams are itching to get out there and see where they're at. This preseason is more important because of the short training camp and absence of other OTAs. The Oakland Raiders will square off against the Arizona Cardinals in week one, and you can find more on the former over at Silver and Black Pride.

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