Raiders drop preseason opener to Arizona, 24-18

511052.jpg

Raiders drop preseason opener to Arizona, 24-18

Aug. 11, 2011
BOX SCORE NFL SCOREBOARD
NFL PAGE 49ERS VIDEO
OAKLAND (AP) -- Kevin Kolb learned quite quickly how easy life can be with Larry Fitzgerald as a teammate.Kolb found his new favorite target twice in his Arizona debut but was unable to get his offense on the scoreboard in two drives before the Cardinals rallied to beat the Oakland Raiders 24-18 in their exhibition opener Thursday night.The highlight was a 43-yard pass on a play that appeared to be covered by Demarcus Van Dyke before Fitzgerald leaped and took the ball away for the big gain."That's his specialty right?" Kolb said. "The guy had him beat, I gave him a shot at it anyway, and he squeezed it and made a great play. That's why I am glad he is in red and white."Arizona's other three quarterbacks all threw touchdown passes, including a 28-yarder from Max Hall to Isaiah Williams with 39 seconds left for the win.Raiders third-stringer Trent Edwards threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie David Ausberry, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, including a go-ahead 57-yarder with 2:32 to play, but the Raiders lost in Hue Jackson's head coaching debut.
RELATED: Raiders notes -- 1st, 2nd team defenses step up
Oakland committed 10 penalties and settled for field goals on three drives inside the Arizona 25 as the team looked sloppy at times with only two weeks of practice after the lockout."There are 31 other teams with the same issues," Jackson said. "I'm not going to make an excuse. What we have to do is find a better way to address these issues. That's my job. I'll get those addressed."After a year of poor quarterback play following Kurt Warner's retirement, Arizona made the big move to acquire Kolb from Philadelphia after the lockout ended last month. The Cardinals sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick to the Eagles and gave Kolb a five-year, 63 million contract, with 21 million guaranteed.Kolb was unable to practice right away because he signed the new contract, giving him only five practices before his exhibition debut. He completed four of seven passes for 68 yards and also scrambled for 19 yards."It's crazy to think the five days I've been here, because we've already come a long way," Kolb said. "It's exciting to see what the future holds and how much better I can get."Kolb targeted Fitzgerald on four of his seven throws. He struggled on the first drive against Oakland's first-team defense, with his only completion going for no gain to Early Doucet.But when the Raiders brought mostly reserves for the second drive, Kolb got the Cardinals moving. He completed an 8-yard pass to newly acquired tight end Todd Heap on the first play. Kolb then completed the long ball to Fitzgerald followed two plays later by a 17-yard pass."He's a great quarterback," receiver Stephen Williams said. "He's got a great arm. You can just tell the difference and stuff out there. We're still working on timing and stuff. We've only been working out with him for a few practices, but you can just tell the greatness in Kevin already."The Cardinals then moved the ball down to the 1 but Beanie Wells was stopped for no gain on consecutive runs by Oakland's defensive line.The Cardinals got on the board in the final minute of the half on an 18-yard touchdown pass from John Skelton to Stephen Williams that gave them a 7-6 lead. Skelton also drove Arizona to a field goal on the opening drive of the second half.Richard Bartel threw an 8-yard score to Rob Housler in the third quarter for the Cardinals.The Raiders had to settle for field goals on their two first-half scoring drives as the offense stalled as it got near the Arizona end zone. Jason Campbell opened the Jackson era with the deep ball owner Al Davis loves as the Raiders drew a 35-yard penalty when Rashad Johnson interfered with Marcel Reece down the sideline.The Raiders moved to the 21 but Campbell's third-down pass was batted down at the line by Darnell Dockett, leading to a 39-yard field goal by Janikowski.Campbell moved the Raiders from their 1 to field goal range on his second drive with help from a 26-yard pass on third-and-long to training camp rookie sensation Denarius Moore. Khalif Barnes was then called for his third false start penalty of the game as Janikowski lined up for a 52-yard field goal attempt, forcing a punt.Moore had three catches for 37 yards, as well as a 56-yard punt return called back by a penalty."There was a question in my mind that pretty much nothing matters until it happens in a game so I just wanted to come out here, keep a positive head and show my team I'm capable of doing it in a game, too," Moore said. "I'm not going to worry about it anymore."Notes: Heap had a sprained left thumb. X-rays were negative and he said he could have returned. ... Raiders backup S Hiram Eugene left in the third quarter with a dislocated hip.

McKenzie: Osemele gave Raiders OL teeth, Nelson eased Woodson's loss

McKenzie: Osemele gave Raiders OL teeth, Nelson eased Woodson's loss

Raiders general manager built a foundation of talent heading into the 2016 offseason, but needed more to get his team over the hump. Draft picks were essential, and expected. He had significant salary cap space, where he could find some immediate impact players on the open market.

McKenzie signed six unrestricted free agents, a few of them at a hefty price. Most veteran imports worked out well, though some thrived more than others.

It was a solid group that, in addition to the 2017 draft class and some key undrafted pickups, helped McKenzie win the Pro Football Writers of America’s executive of the year award.

He singled out two members of the 2016 free-agent class that helped set the tone for a 12-4 regular season and the team’s first playoff berth since 2002.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele was the first. The former Baltimore Raven signed a record contract for interior linemen but was worth the price, adding attitude to the offensive line during an All-Pro season.

“I think Kelechi solidified our offensive line, from the standpoint of what we wanted from our run game, from a physicality standpoint, what we had always talked about from Day 1,” McKenzie said Thursday in a conference call. “He added to that and he put some teeth into the whole offensive mentality. I felt like that was an impact. I was happy to see him get his first Pro Bowl. That was good to see.”

McKenzie also highlighted free safety Reggie Nelson’s efforts. He signed late in the offseason for relatively cheap, but was voted a team captain after his first preseason as a Raider and helped the secondary function with confidence. That was required after losing the eminent Charles Woodson to retirement.

Nelson also had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, including three takeaways that secured victory.

I thought Reggie [Nelson] made some plays and was a true leader back there. When we lost Charles Woodson, from the leadership standpoint, communication standpoint, I felt Reggie came in and did a solid job to help ease that transition. You can never replace a Charles Woodson, but he was able to help ease that transition, especially when we had a young rookie back there (in Karl Joseph).”

Let’s take a look at the Raiders unrestricted free agent class and how they fared:

LG Kelechi Osemele
Contract: 5 years, $58.5 million ($25.4 million guaranteed)
Impact:Osemele ranks among the league’s elite left guards, and brought a nastiness to the Raiders offensive line. He helped immensely in the run game, and didn’t allow a quarterback sack all season. He was a Pro Bowler and a first-team All Pro, the results McKenzie hoped for after offering Osemele a massive contract.

LB Bruce Irvin
Contract: 4 years, $37 million ($14.5 million guaranteed)
Impact: Irvin started slow but rounded into a dominant player and an excellent compliment to star edge rusher Khalil Mack. Irvin had seven sacks and an NFL-high six forced fumbles, showing enough versatility to play well in coverage and against the run.

CB Sean Smith
Contract: 4 years, $38 million ($15 million guaranteed)
Impact: Smith was benched in his first game, and struggled against Julio Jones in his second, but played better after than and largely well the rest of the year. His quarterback rating against was 114.0 and he allowed too many big plays. More is expected from a No. 1 cornerback. Smith had shoulder surgery after the season and vowed to be better in 2017.

FS Reggie Nelson
Contract: 2 years, $8.5 million ($4 million guaranteed)
Impact:Nelson wasn’t perfect in his first year as a Raider, but made some big plays during a Pro Bowl year. He had seven takeaways, including five interceptions, and some big hits in the clutch. He was a solid leader in the back who should be better with a year’s experience in a new system to his credit.

S Bryden Trawick
Contract: 1 year,  $675,000
Impact: Trawick was brought in to be a solid special teams player, and he thrived in that role. He was strong in kick and punt coverage, with a team-high 14 special teams tackles. He showed some defensive prowess late when forced into action, and the safety made some nice plays over the last two games.

LB Daren Bates
Contract: 1 year, $850,000
Impact: Bates is a special teams player first and, along with Trawick, helped anchor the coverage units. He had seven special teams tackles over the year.

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

Lott-led group still working to keep Raiders in Oakland, 'playing to win'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oakland civic leaders and deep-pocketed investors fighting to keep the Raiders from moving insist they are still in the game despite team owner Mark Davis formally applying to the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas.

A local investment group that includes Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott said Thursday they continue to negotiate with government officials, the team and the NFL to build a $1.25 billion, 55,000-seat stadium in Oakland.

"We are in this game and we are playing to win," Lott's group said in a statement. The statement said the Raiders' filing Thursday was expected and done to "keep its options open in Las Vegas."

The Raiders have been seeking to replace their dilapidated home for years. The Coliseum has suffered from sewage backups and other infrastructure problems. It's also the only remaining NFL stadium to also be home to a baseball team - the Athletics - and lacks many of the modern, money-making features of new stadiums.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has been negotiating with Davis and investors to find a new home for the team in the city but has said public financing is not an option. She and other local boosters support the bid by Lott's group to keep the team on Oakland.

"Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty," Schaaf said in a prepared statement.

The city and Alameda County still owe a combined $100 million for upgrades made to the stadium in 1995 to lure the Raiders back to Oakland after the team spent the 14 previous years playing in Los Angeles. The city and county were left holding the bag after personal seat licenses failed to cover the cost of the $220 million renovation that added more than 10,000 seats and luxury boxes.

The city is willing to give the team 60 acres of land on the Coliseum site to build a new stadium.

The local investors are competing with a Las Vegas plan that calls for $750 million in hotel room tax revenue, $650 million from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson's company and $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL.

League owners are expected to vote on the proposed move in March.

Local boosters argue that Oakland offers a better football venue than Las Vegas, a transient tourist town with no professional football history. They say the San Francisco Bay Area's television market dwarves the Las Vegas region's and that it will cost the team $500 million to relocate.

"I think we continue to offer a far superior deal," said Scott Haggerty, president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Haggerty is also on the board that manages the Coliseum.

"I think that Mark Davis has been very patient in trying to come up with a stadium plan and I don't blame him for keeping his options open," Haggerty said. "But the Raiders belong in Oakland."

Haggerty and others also say that a Raiders move out of the region threatens to alienate fans who re-embraced the team after it left Oakland after the 1981 season and played for 14 years in Los Angeles only to move back to the Bay Area.

Davis has said the team will continue to play in Oakland until the Las Vegas stadium is finished, likely by the 2020 season. The Raiders have two one-year options to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2017 and 2018 and are already taking season ticket renewals for next season.

"I'm incredulous this could happen again," said 57-year-old Jim Zelinski, a lifelong Oakland resident and Raiders fan. "I'm disgusted, to be quite frank."

Nonetheless, Zelinski has co-founded a fan organization that is lobbying the Raiders and the NFL to keep the team in Oakland.

"We want to combat the narrative that most Raider fans are neutral and don't care if the team moves to Las Vegas," said Zelinski, who must decide by next month if he wants to renew his season tickets. "The Raiders need to do the right thing."