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 second- and third-teamers the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Pre-season football is about using padding to create an impression that the lads hope will carry over to the pitch at training camp.
Here are a few guys who have done that.
G. Lester Cotton Sr
I was skeptical of Cotton this offseason as he filled in as right guard for the injured Denzelle Good. After all, Cotton has only played five games in his career and has spent most of his career being relegated to the training roster. It seemed like just a placeholder until Good came back from injury.
Then Good retired, Cotton stayed and then went into that game and made me believe. Cotton put a key block on the second play of the game and helped Josh Jacobs for 12 yards. It put the Raiders within field goal range and they went 3-0 up to start the game.
Cotton followed with blocks on a nine-yard run by Jacobs, a four-yard run by Jacobs in third, and a place and 15-yard run by Zamir White, resulting in another field goal.
The final play of the first quarter, Cotton came down to block an 18-yard screenplay against Ameer Abdullah. That drive would ultimately result in the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. On the next run he would land again on a screen 19 yards long. Nice day at 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’ snaps and offer some juice to the offensive line this season.
In the first run of the game, White made some nice bursts and took shots for 15 yards. He later showed his receiver skills when he took a screen pass for 19 yards. The drive after that, he showed his strength when he took a pitch to the left on third and one and drove through a defender to take the first down. White even showed he can attack when he stopped on a kick return.
DT Kendal Vickers, ED Malcolm Koonce
Vickers made the first tackle of the game and plugged a run. He also had the Raiders’ only sack in play.
Koonce helped set it up by applying pressure to crash the bag. While Koonce may not have gotten a sack, he did get good pressure at times. He also hit a pass off the line.
QB Jarrett Stidham, WR Demarcus Robinson
His first pass of the game was miraculously completed 31 yards down to Keelan Cole. This even though he was hit while throwing.
After Nick Mullens came in for a few drives, Stidham returned late in the second quarter, completing a 14-yard pass to Tyron Johnson on the third and 11th and a 16-yard pass to Demarcus Robinson. On the next game, he scrambled to the right, directing traffic – getting a block in the end zone from Robinson – and running it for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 20-0 lead at halftime.
S Tyree Gillespie
The reserve safety sophomore put the wood on a few plays, including the one where he put his helmet on the ball to knock it out of the receiver’s hands and force a fumble. It was the only snack of the game for the Raiders.
CB Bryce Cosby
The undrafted rookie’s best chance of making this team is through the work of their special teams. His first play of the game was to make the tackle on a kick return. Then, in the third quarter, he was part of three straight games — coming on to help on a run stuff for a yard, making the tackle on a short catch and breaking a pass in third to punt to force.
T Brandon Parker
It’s a wonder the Raiders offense could do anything in this game with Parker as a left tackle. Saying he was overwhelmed doesn’t quite cover it. He was just flat out working on almost every play he was in the game on.
On the very first game, he gave up the shot at Stidham when he was throwing. The ball was still completed with a roughing of the attached pass penalty. If not, Parker would have missed his block on a pitch play a few plays later, potentially resulting in a punt instead of a field goal.
The second ride was stalled thanks to Parker and Parker alone. They were drawn to Jacksonville’s 22-yard line. Then Parker gave up back-to-back sacks, the second to his former teammate Arden Key, who he may remember destroying in rookie camp in 2018. The result was that Daniel Carlson had to attempt a 55-yard field goal, which he converted.
The second quarter would start the same as the first quarter – with Parker being hit for some run stuff this time. Finally, on his last draw, Parker would give up another sack at the end of the next drive; his third of the game.
This is the guy who is rumored to be the current leading candidate to start with proper tackle. He played from position on the left tackle, but you’d hope he would at least be available on the opposite side, not a saloon door.
RB Kenyan Drake
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Raiders intend to walk back from the committee. And in that fight, Drake didn’t show himself well. While Josh Jacobs and Zamir White averaged over five yards per carry and Ameer Abdullah performed well in screen play, Drake averaged just 1.8 yards per carry on five carries.