Welp, that was hard to watch. While there was plenty of competition for the losers section, there were a couple of Las Vegas Raiders who made some solid impressions.
The second-year cornerback out of Ohio State has certainly been put on notice this offseason. The former first-round draft pick has seemingly lost his starting spot to veteran Casey Hayward. Going up against San Francisco’s starters provided an excellent ‘put up or shut up’ opportunity for Arnette. He rose to the occasion with some blanket coverage. He will probably still start the season as a backup, but he took a nice step toward earning his spot back today.
Ragas was in a tough situation today. He started the game behind a backup offensive line going up against most of the 49ers starters. Also, it was clear to everyone that Gruden wanted to be as conservative as possible. Despite all that, the undrafted free agent out of Louisiana managed to rush for over four yards per carry. He also added three catches for 15 yards. He capped off a terrific preseason in which he made a compelling case to make the team over expensive veteran Jalen Richard. Even if it turns out to not be enough for the Raiders, he likely earned a spot on an opening day roster somewhere in the NFL.
For the third preseason game in a row, Nathan Peterman was the only Raiders quarterback to take the field. While he was not great, he looked competent. He showed that he can still at least be an emergency quarterback. The Baylor product likely did enough to ensure that he can collect NFL paychecks for at least one more season.
Onto the main topic here… the losers. There were so many to choose from that I added a bonus biggest loser at the end.
The linebacker position featured several players that’ll likely see lots of playing time early on in the season. Former college safeties, Tanner Muse and Divine Deablo, both had opportunities to prove themselves against NFL starters. Both were ineffective, especially against the run. This is especially troubling considering the recent injuries suffered by Nicholas Morrow and Javin White. Hopefully, it was a helpful learning experience. At least one of them needs to improve fast for this defense to take significant strides.
Ever wonder what it would look like if all five of the Raiders’ starting offensive linemen got hurt? Well, we got a chance to see that today with the Raiders playing backups and the Niners playing starters. It was not pretty. It was clear on that first drive that Gruden was not willing to risk Nathan Peterman getting drilled by Arik Armstead, causing him to come out and Marcus Mariota having to actually play. Even as the game wore on and both teams got further and further down their rosters, Las Vegas was still outmatched at the point of attack. Last year, the Raiders were lucky to have great depth on the offensive line. It actually led to a couple of those backups becoming starters this year. Unfortunately, it does not seem like that depth has been replenished.
On a day where many jobs were won and lost, one clear loser of a job was Isaiah Johnson. Heading into the game, he was looking like he might be on the right side of the roster bubble. After two horrible penalties today, he might have cost himself a roster spot. His only hope may be the fact that Nevin Lawson is suspended. Even so, that still might not be enough with there being at least five other corners that are clearly ahead of him.
(Bonus) Biggest Loser: Every Raiders fan watching
It looks like the Raiders took a page out of Marshawn Lynch’s playbook and only showed up so that they didn’t get fined. Anyone looking to catch a glimpse of ‘starters versus starters’ was thoroughly disappointed. Most teams around the league, including San Francisco, gave their starters an opportunity to at least get their feet wet. Gruden decided to do the exact opposite, leaving about 30 players back home in Vegas. To make things even more unwatchable, Gruden was about as conservative with his play-calling as it gets. While most teams are ‘vanilla’ in the preseason, the Raiders’ offense was white rice.
As if the visual product wasn’t bad enough, the audio was just as, if not, more insufferable. Raiders fans had to listen to a beloved former radio announcer do a pro-49ers broadcast. It was, as Charles Woodson put it, sickening.
Honestly, the best part of this game was when NFL Network switched the feed over to the Patriots-Giants game.
*Top Photo: Associated Press/Steven Senne