Raiders vs. Rams: Evaluating the reserves

A quick look at how the reserves played in the Raiders 2015 preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams.

Defense

  • Rookie fifth-round pick linebacker Ben Heeney has had a strong offseason, and it continued through his first appearance in a preseason game. The young linebacker continued to be in the right place at the right time racking up six tackles and one sack. He also almost made his first interception, but did force the incompletion. Heeney is an interesting player to keep an eye on.
  • Safety Jonathan Dowling had a near interception that went off of his fingertips. Dowling broke on a pass after watching the quarterback’s eyes, but the receiver may have gotten a hand on the ball to deflect it just enough.
  • Defensive lineman Benson Mayowa was able to apply some nice pressure with the second-team defense. He continues to develop after seeing significant playing time last year with the Raiders.

Offense

  • Backup quarterback Christian Ponder looked good after coming in to start the second quarter. Ponder displayed his athleticism on his second play, escaping the sack and scrambling for ten yards. He showed it again later on the drive as he rolled out and found wide receiver Brice Butler for a 16-yard gain. After leading the team down to the goal line, Ponder found Andre Holmes on a slant for the team’s first touchdown.
  • Running back Trent Richardson came in to spell Latavius Murray in the second quarter. Richardson showed some explosiveness, gaining six yards on his first carry. He did however miss a hole later, but finished with five rushes for 18 yards.
  • Taiwan Jones was converted back to running back in the offseason, and got the chance to display his burst on Friday. Despite finishing with just 15 yards on three carries, he took a pitch on the outside and burst upfield quickly for an 11-yard gain.
  • After impressing for much of the offseason, rookie running back Michael Dyer had a rough go in his first game. Dyer finished with just 11 yards on five carries.
  • Wide receiver Brice Butler had himself a nice game, hauling in six receptions for 57 yards and one touchdown. Butler needs to continue to have a strong preseason with so much depth at wide receiver now.
  • Wide receiver Seth Roberts saw a lot of playing time, giving the Raiders a nice long look at a player that has steadily progressed since signing with the Raiders. Roberts finished with four receptions for 42 yards.
  • It may take a lot for Matt McGloin to beat out Christian Ponder for the backup quarterback position, but he did finish the game 10/11 for 104 yards and one touchdown. It could be a fun battle to continue watching.

Special Teams

Interestingly enough, head coach Jack Del Rio inserted starting cornerback TJ Carrie in the second quarter to return a punt. The punt went out of bounds though, not giving Carrie a chance to return the punt. It’ll be interesting to see if Carrie continues to be an option for punt returns, given his level of importance on the Raiders first-team defense.


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