Raiders vs. Rams: Evaluating the Starters

A quick look at how the starters played in the Raiders 2015 preseason opener against the Rams

Defense

Raider Nation got their first look at the 2015 Oakland Raiders squad as the team hosted the St. Louis Rams to begin their 2015 campaign.

Head coach Jack Del Rio left his starters out for the entire first quarter, with the starting defense taking the field first. While preseason is never a complete indication as to how the defense will be ran, they got off to a rough start.

Quarterback Nick Foles went right after Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden on the first play, finding his tight end Lance Kendricks for a 26-yard gain. On the very next play, the Raiders defense over pursued when Foles found the speedy Tyvon Austin, who took the catch and run for 35 yards.

After giving up the quick 60 yards, the Raiders defense held and forced a Rams field goal that put them up 3-0. Included in the stop was a nice play by cornerback TJ Carrie who stayed with his receiver all the way down the sideline.

On their second drive, the Raiders starting defense looked much more active. Second-year linebacker Khalil Mack got involved on the second drive as him and fellow second-year player, defensive tackle Justin Ellis collapsed the pocket to get the sack before offsetting penalties nullified the play. But that gave the young defensive end Shelby Harris the opportunity on the next play to get the sack and force the punt.

It was a solid finish for the Raiders starting defense that got off to a rough start. You’d have to think they’ll get more comfortable working together as the preseason continues.

Offense

Second-year quarterback Derek Carr got his young rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper going early. Carr found Cooper on the first pass play of the game, hitting the for Alabama receiver right as he came out of his curl route for a gain of 12. He went right back to him for a short two-yard gain.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave did a nice job looking to get the ball in the hands of his playmaker, even running Cooper on an end around. Though it only went for three yards, Cooper displayed his speed and elusiveness on the play. Altogether, Cooper finished with three receptions for 22 yards and one rush for three yards.

Running back Latavius Murray started right where he left off last season. The young running back showed great patience in the hoe, finishing for 35 yards on six rushes overall.

Carr looked to get his veteran wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, more involved during the second drive. On the first play, Crabtree used some nifty footwork get open for a gain of 14. He then hauled in a short pass but didn’t go down easy, drawing a facemask penalty to put the Raiders in scoring position. On 2nd and goal from the 6, Carr looked for Cooper but Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson made a great play to intercept Carr in the endzone. It may have been a miscommunication between Carr and Cooper, but it was a great play by Johnson either way.

Carr looked sharp despite the interception, finishing 6/9 for 43 yards and the one interception.

Special Teams

Kick returner Trindon Holliday was able to make his debut in the first quarter, but got off to a shaky start. Following the Rams field goal on their first drive, Holliday muffed the punt in the end zone, forcing him to just down it for a touchback.

Holliday got redemption later in the corner, making his debut as the Raiders punt returner. The specialist held on to the ball this time, showing his explosiveness en route to a 22-yard return.


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