Few highlights in Raiders' exhibition loss


Few highlights in Raiders' exhibition loss


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- How to best describe the Raiders' 31-27 exhibition defeat to the Arizona Cardinals?Start with sloppy. Sprinkle in some disconcerting injuries. And then pour some more sloppiness all over the thing.Sure, there were some positives to take from the preseason game -- the first-team defense was dominant after sleepwalking through its first series -- but they were few and far between.Twice the Raiders got inside the Cardinals' 3-yard line and had to settle for field goals."We've got do a better job of executing down there," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "It's frustrating to not score there."We've got to execute bettereliminate the turnovers. The self-inflicted wounds, they're tough to overcome."A Carson Palmer interception and a Mike Goodson fumble led to a field goal and a touchdown, respectively, and a blocked Marquette King punt by Justin Bethel was scooped up and returned for a score, giving the Cardinals 17 points on the Raiders' "self-inflicted wounds," in Allen's words.In fact, Palmer did not look especially comfortable under center, and the offensive line looked out of sorts employing its zone-blocking scheme.Palmer overthrew a wide open Darren McFadden down the left sideline in the first quarter that would have resulted in a 23-yard touchdown then tossed an ill-advised pass to tight end Richard Gordon down the left seam in the second quarter.In playing the entire first half, Palmer was locked in for small stretches but ended with pedestrian numbers, completing 13 of 24 passes for 107 yards and a 48.4 passer rating."I just need to keep grinding," Palmer said. "Obviously, I won't complete every ball. You want to go down and score on every drive, but I just have to keep improving, keep grinding and keep continuing to improve in everything I practice."When we move the ball like we did, we need to get more points out of it."In the second quarter alone, the Raiders outgained the Cardinals 90-4 and had seven first downs to their two, yet were outscored, 17-3.Running back Darren McFadden, meanwhile, showed explosiveness on two plays -- a 22-yard run and a 17-yard catch and run -- but also had three runs for no gain.The positive? The way the Raiders' defensive line dominated the Cardinals' starting front five and spooked quarterback Kevin Kolb after the initial scoring drive."He's skittish," Kelly said of Kolb. "He's scared back there. As soon as we got close, he was looking for the ref. He ain't even looking at the routes no more."The Raiders medical staff, meanwhile, had to look on in semi-horror.First, Jacoby Ford went out with a sprained foot. Then, running back Mike Goodson departed with was first described as a chest injury but later called weakness in his shoulder. Somewhere in there, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey endured a sprained shoulder and in the third quarter, while having a productive outing, backup quarterback Matt Leinart suffered a bad cut and needed stitches on the index finger of his right (non-throwing) hand on a roughing-the-passer penalty.NEWS: Ford, Goodson injured Leinart hurt
"I was doing well until, unfortunately, what happened, but I'll be O.K.," said Leinart, who was five of eight passing for 66 yards."We're going to get X-rays and see what happenedit's not my throwing hand so we'll see."The Raiders were already without 13 scratches, only two of which were not injury related.At least the reserve defense had a highlight.Late in the third quarter, linebacker Carl Ihenacho strip-sacked Ryan Lindley and defensive end Hall Davis scooped up the ball and returned it seven yards for a touchdown."I kind of peeked behind me to see where the tackle was before returning it," Hall said, "and I had time to pick it up and go."It was a team effort."Indeed, in every respect. Positive and negative.

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”