Raiders continue O-Line shuffle

The Oakland Raiders continued to shuffle their offensive line even with the arrival of the regular season in a 24-21 season-opening loss on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From left to right, the Oakland Raiders started the game with Barry Sims, Frank Middleton, Adam Treu, Ron Stone and Langston Walker. Much of the Raiders uncertainty on the offensive line involved first-round draft pick Robert Gallery, the second overall pick in the draft from the University of Iowa.

The Raiders drafted Gallery to replace Sims at left tackle but have also worked him in practice at left guard and right tackle. Gallery started the second half at right tackle and later worked at left guard. Gallery recovered a Rich Gannon fumble to keep a drive alive that turned out to be the game-tying score when Gannon hit Alvis Whitted for a 38-yard touchdown and subsequent game-tying two-point conversion.

Ground (game) zero (factor)

The Raiders hiring of Norv Turner as head coach meant featuring the power-running attack and vertical passing game.

The latter was a factor as Gannon hit Whitted and Doug Gabriel for 38 and 58 yard touchdown passes. The ground game, however, was no factor at all as the Raiders generated just 61 yards on 22 carries. Tyrone Wheatley had just 11 carries for 24 yards while Justin Fargas had seven carries for 17 yards.

Good news, bad news defense

The Raiders rebuilt defense had good stuff and bad stuff. The run defense, which was porous last year, was a not tremendous but passable in limiting the Steelers to 107 yards on 33 carries.

Theoretically, the Raider defense was only responsible for 17 points as Pittsburgh scored one of its touchdowns after taking possession at the Oakland 20, leading to one of Jerome Bettis' three 1-yard touchdown runs.

Oakland's defense on third down, however, was a problem throughout the preseason and did not get any better in allowing the Steelers to convert 6-of-12 third-down conversions, four on the first drive alone. Defensive end Tyler Brayton recorded the Raiders only sack but, for the most part, got very little pressure on Steeler quarterback Tommy Maddox.

Mixed bag for Gannon

Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon is one of many Oakland players trying to redeem themselves after a miserable 4-12 season.

Gannon completed 20-of-37 passes for 305 five yards for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Gannon was also sacked three times and fumbled three others.

Sideline slants

-- Raiders inactive players were WR Johnnie Morant, RB Amos Zereoue, LB Sam Williams, LB Napoleon Harris, OT Chad Slaughter, TE Teyo Johnson and DT Tommy Kelly.

-- Tim Johnson started at one outside linebacker spot.

-- The Raiders, who have been widely known for committing penalties, were flagged five times for 31 yards.

-- The pregame ceremony featured a moment to recognize the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and country music star Jo Dee Messina singing the National Anthem.


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