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Head coach Dennis Allen was disappointed with how his Raiders opened the exhibition season Friday in Minnesota. A good night’s sleep hasn’t changed that.
But, as he poured over tape of a 10-6 loss to the Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium, he found several positives to build on. That, at its core, is what the preseason is all about.
He was happy with the running game, blockers and rushers alike. There was reason for optimism after 18 carries produced 86 yards, a touchdown and a 4.8-yard average.
He was happy with the pass rush, which tallied six sacks and eight tackles for losses.
The front lines, which general manager Reggie McKenzie poured effort and money into fixing, showed signs of strength.
“I think that’s something that, as we move forward, that we can build on and gain from,” Allen said.
[RECAP: Raiders stagnant in loss to Vikings]
His players left Minneapolis last night dissatisfied, not distraught. This is a veteran group, not easily bowed by something that happens in August. These guys know the preseason is a process, and that the goal is to improve each week.
“The game tape is going to be a good teaching tool for us,” left guard Austin Howard. “We were going to work hard in the coming week win, lose or draw, but this allows us to see what we did right and what needs to get fixed right away. I truly believe that we’ll come back next week stronger than ever.”
Some other notes from Allen’s Saturday conference call:
-- No. 5 overall pick Khalil Mack played the entire first half on Friday night, and had mixed results in his professional debut. The outside linebacker was credited with two tackles, one for a loss, but didn’t flash dynamic ability against the Vikings.
A learning curve is to be expected, especially against another team’s first unit.
“I think you saw a guy that is a rookie that was playing in his first game,” Allen said. “I did see some things where … A couple of times we activated him on rushes and he was able to cause some disruption. But there were some times where, a little bit in the run game and a little bit in the pass game, he is just a little bit late in reacting to his responsibility.”
-- Despite early struggles against first-team quarterback Matt Cassel, who was 5-for-6 for 65 yards on a touchdown scoring drive, Allen was fine with his secondary’s play. He said the Vikings made plays with “tight window throws”
“That’s what you want to see because I feel like if you continue to contest those plays,” Allen said, “you’re going to get your fair share of them.”
-- Allen singled out defensive end Shelby Harris (two tackles, including a strip sack), cornerback TJ Carrie (four tackles) and defensive lineman Ricky Lumpkin (two tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit) for standing out on film. He also liked what Latavius Murray (seven carries, 28 yards) and Kory Sheets (five carries, 18 yards) did in the running game.
-- Penalties were obviously a hindrance in Friday’s game, and Allen said that the experience gave his Raiders a better idea of what will be called in the regular season. Officials are placing extra emphasis on illegal contact and hands to the face, which the Raiders were tagged for on Friday.
[RELATED: Penalties hurt Raiders in exhibition opener]
“With the rules and points of emphasis, we’re going to see those things,” Allen said. “So, it was good for us to get out, play a preseason game, see how the officials are going to call those things. We’ll get an opportunity to clean some of those things up before we go out and play the next game.”
-- The Raiders emerged from Friday's exhibition relatively healthy. Other than defensive tackle Justin Ellis, who was diagnosed with a concussion Friday night, only cornerback Jansen Watson (toe) suffered an injury that could impact him in the immediate future.