Raiders hold off Cardinals, 10-7

Starters look sharp, especially on offense, in the sweltering heat of Arizona

Jon Gruden doesn't believe in holding anything back during the preseason. Whether he's using established veterans or untested rookies, the Raiders head coach insists on keeping things the same no matter what time of year it is. That's why when Oakland traveled to Arizona on Saturday, the Raiders greeted the Cardinals with a dizzying array of offensive formations that caught the hosts off guard. ‘'We do have a lot of new players, a lot of keys guys that we want to get acclimated to the way we do things around here,'' explained Gruden following Oakland's 10-7 win over Arizona. ‘'You have to make sure you get yourself accustomed to all the personnel changes we make in the different formations. Otherwise you'll get penalties, delay of game calls and things like that.'' The Raiders had no such problems in running their preseason record to 2-0. Unlike in their win over Dallas a week earlier, the Raiders dominated early and didn't have to leave things up to the back-ups. Instead, Oakland took care of business early then sat back and watched the reserves pick up the save. Raider quarterbacks thoroughly picked apart the Cardinals' defense, combining to complete passes to 12 different receivers in the first half. Starter Rich Gannon was the most effective at spreading the ball around, using six different receivers while driving the starting offense 71 yards in a drive that culminated with a 27-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. Gannon left after that brief appearance but most of the remaining starters on Oakland's offense remained in the game through the first half. Bobby Hoying, who was 12-for-15 in last week's preseason-opening win over Dallas, continued his steady play. After Rodney Peete worked one series in place of Gannon, Hoying took over and drove Oakland 60 yards to its lone touchdown of the first half. During the drive Hoying hit wide receiver Jerry Porter for a 34-yard completion, then looked for Porter again near the goal line but saw the ball bounce off his receiver's hands and into the air. Tight end Roland Williams pulled the ball down at the 2-yard line where he was met by a host of Arizona defenders before Oakland's offensive linemen crashed into the pile and pushed Williams into the end zone for a touchdown. Hoying was 9-for-14 for 106 yards before giving way to rookie Marques Tuiasosopo early in the third quarter. Defensively the Raiders bottled the Cardinals up for the most part, recording three sacks in the first half and one interception. Arizona managed just 20 yards against Oakland's starters and had only 67 total yards in the first half. That was a good sign for the defense, which looked out of sync in the win over the Cowboys a week ago. Arizona didn't score until Marcel Shipp's 1-yard run 42 seconds into the fourth quarter. ‘'It was great progress from last week to this week,'' said cornerback Eric Allen. ‘'You could tell this was our second preseason game and their first. We were looking real sharp, real clear out there.'' The Raiders had to be encouraged by the play of their defensive line, particularly the tackles. With Darrell Russell's suspension dropping him down Oakland's depth chart, the question as to how the Raiders would fare in his absence was a hot topic in practice this week. But the line played much better than it had a week earlier. Grady Jackson looked strong in his first game since undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. It was Jackson who collapsed the pocket and forced Arizona quarterback Dave Brown into the arms of Raiders defensive end Trace Armstrong for a sack. Armstrong would later add a second sack, his first two of the preseason. ‘'It was a lot of fun out there tonight,'' said Armstrong. ‘'This was a good step for us, to get out there and get after the Cardinals.'' A few other areas of interest for the Raiders against Arizona: Punting: For the second straight game Shane Lechler had a surprisingly inconsistent day. In three attempts at punting from the Cardinals' half of the field Lechler had two touchbacks and one punt that traveled just 19 yards. Though the second-year punter rebounded with a kick of 46 yards, he also had a punt partially blocked before finally putting things together to pin Arizona at its own 3-yard line on the Cardinals final drive of the game. Special teams coach Bob Casullo insists he's not overly concerned with Lechler's slow start but until the second-year punter starts to land more punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, it will be a situation worth keeping an eye on. Linebacking: Travian Smith got a rare start in place of strongside linebacker Elijah Alexander, who was nursing a bum shoulder. Smith's night was nearly uneventful – he was called for one offsides penalty in the second half, negating a fumble recovery he made – but Oakland got strong nights from back-ups Eric Barton, Bobby Brooks and Ryan Phillips. ‘'I'm very pleased with the way the defense played overall,'' said Gruden. ‘'We let (starting quarterback Jake) Plummer out of the grasp a couple of times or it would have been a better night. But I like the attitude of this team right now.''

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