Welcome back as we kick off the 2022 season of Ballers & Busters. There was a lot of good and some not so good in the Raiders lopsided win over the Jacksonville Jaguars’ second and third teamers Thursday night.
Preseason football is all about making an impression in pads that guys hope will carry over to the field in training camp.
Here are a few guys who did that.
G Lester Cotton Sr
I was skeptical of Cotton this offseason as he was stepping in at right guard for the injured Denzelle Good. After all, Cotton has appeared in just five games in his career and has spent most of his career relegated to the practice squad. It seemed like a like just a placeholder until Good came back from injury.
Then Good retired, Cotton remained, and then went out in this game and made me a believer. Cotton laid a key block on the second play of the game, helping spring Josh Jacobs for 12 yards. It put the Raiders in field goal range and they went up 3-0 to start the game.
Cotton followed that up with blocks on a nine-yard Jacobs run, a four-yard Jacobs run on third and one, and a 15-yard Zamir White run, leading to another field goal.
The final play of the first quarter, Cotton got downfield to block on an 18-yard screen play to Ameer Abdullah. That drive would ultimately lead to the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. On the next drive, he would again get downfield on a screen that went for 19 yards. Fine days work for Cotton.
RB Zamir White
Josh Jacobs got the first two drives of the game and played well. Then White came in and showed why he’s a serious contender to eat into Jacobs’s snaps and offer the offense some juice this season.
White’s first run of the game, he showed some nice burst and took off for 15 yards. Later he showed his abilities as a receiver when he took a screen pass for 19 yards. The drive after that he showed his power, when he took a pitch out left on third and one and drove through a defender to pick up the first down. White even showed he can tackle when he made the stop on a kick return.
DT Kendal Vickers, ED Malcolm Koonce
Vickers made the first tackle on the game, stuffing a run. He also had the only sack by the Raiders in the game.
Koonce helped set it up by getting pressure to crash the pocket. While Koonce may not have gotten a sack, he got some good pressure at times. He also batted a pass at the line.
QB Jarrett Stidham, WR Demarcus Robinson
His first pass of the game, miraculously was completed 31 yards downfield to Keelan Cole. This despite being hit as he threw.
After Nick Mullens came in for a couple drives, Stidham returned late in the second quarter, completing a 14-yard pass to Tyron Johnson on third and 11 and a 16-yard pass to Demarcus Robinson. The next play, he scrambled out right, directed traffic — getting a block in the end zone from Robinson — and ran it for the touchdown to give the Raiders a 20-0 lead at the half.
S Tyree Gillespie
The second-year reserve safety laid the wood on a few plays, including the one in which he put his helmet on the ball to knock it out of the hands of the receiver to force a fumble. It was the only takeaway of the game for the Raiders.
CB Bryce Cosby
The undrafted rookie’s best shot at making this team is through his special teams work. His first play of this game was making the tackle on a kick return. Then in the third quarter, he was part of three plays in a row — he came up to help on a run stuff for one yard, made the tackle on a short catch, and broke up a pass on third down to force a punt.
T Brandon Parker
It’s a miracle the Raiders offense was able to do anything in this game with Parker at left tackle. To say he was out of his depth doesn’t quite cover it. He was just flat out getting worked on nearly every play he was in the game.
On the very first play, he gave up the hit on Stidham as he threw. The ball was completed anyway with a roughing the passer penalty tacked on. If not, Parker missing his block a couple plays later on a pitch play might had led to a punt instead of a field goal.
The second drive was stalled thanks to Parker and Parker alone. They had moved to the Jacksonville 22-yard-line. Then Parker gave up consecutive sacks, the second one to his former teammate Arden Key who he may remember destroying him in rookie camp in 2018. The result was Daniel Carlson having to attempt a 55-yard field goal which he converted.
The second quarter would begin just as the first quarter did — with Parker getting beaten, this time for a run stuff. And, finally, on his final play at the end of the next drive, Parker would give up yet another sack; his third of the game.
This is the guy who is supposedly the currently leading candidate to start at right tackle. He was playing out of position at left tackle, but you would hope he would at least be serviceable on the opposite side, not a saloon door.
RB Kenyan Drake
It is increasingly evident the Raiders intend on going with running back by committee. And in that battle, Drake did not show up well for himself. While Josh Jacobs and Zamir White averaged over five yards per carry, and Ameer Abdullah showed up well in the screen game, Drake averaged just 1.8 yards per carry on five carries.