Welcome back, we are kicking off the 2022 Ballers & Busters season. There was a lot of good and some not so good in the Raiders’ lopsided victory over the second and third players of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Pre-season football is all about impressing in shin guards that the guys hope will carry over to the field at training camp.
Here are a few guys who have done it.
J. Lester Cotton Sr.
I was skeptical of Cotton this offseason as he replaced an injured Denzell Good at right back. In the end, Cotton only played five games in his career and spent most of his career on the practice team. It seemed to be just a placeholder until Goode returned from his injury.
Then Good retired, Cotton stayed, and then he came into this game and made me a believer. Cotton laid a key block in the second play of the game, helping Josh Jacobs rebound for 12 yards. This put the Raiders in the field goal zone and they went 3-0 ahead to start the game.
Cotton then blocked Jacobs’ nine-yard run, Jacobs’ four-yard run on third and first, and Zamir White’s 15-yard run, resulting in another field goal.
In the final game of the first quarter, Cotton entered the field to block Amir Abdullah’s 18-yard play. This drive eventually resulted in the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. On the next drive, he hit deep into the field again on a screen that went 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 showed up and showed why he’s a serious contender to eat Jacobs shots and give the offense some juice this season.
In the first set, White showed a good run and rebounded for 15 yards. He later showed his ability as a receiver when he made a 19-yard screen pass. The drive after that showed his strength as he took a left hand on third and first and blew a defenseman to pick up the first down. White even showed he could handle it when he stopped for a kick back.
DT Kendal Vickers, ED Malcolm Koons
Vickers made the first tackle of the game with a run. He also had the only Raider bag in the game.
Kunse helped set it up, getting the pressure to smash the pocket. While Koonse may not have gotten fired, there has been good pressure on him at times. He also hit a pass on the line.
QB Jarrett Stidham, WR DeMarcus Robinson
His first pass of the game was miraculously completed 31 yards from Keelan Cole. And this despite the fact that he was hit during the throw.
After Nick Mullens hit a couple of shots, Stidham returned late in the second quarter, completing a 14-yard pass to Tyrone Johnson in third and 11 and a 16-yard pass to DeMarcus Robinson. On the next play, he scrambled to the right, turned traffic – got a block in the end zone from Robinson – and drove it to a touchdown to give the Raiders a 20-0 lead at the half.
With Tyree Gillespie
The sophomore back-up laid the groundwork for several games, including one in which he put his helmet on the ball to knock it out of the receiver’s hands to get it fumbled. This was the only withdrawal from the game for the Raiders.
CB Bryce Cosby
An undrafted rookie’s best chance of building this team is through the work of his dedicated teams. His first game in that game was a tackle on a return kick. Then, in the third quarter, he was involved in three plays in a row – he came up to assist in a one-yard run, tackled on a short catch, and cut a pass on the third down to force a punt.
T Brandon Parker
It’s a miracle the Raiders offense could do anything in this game with Parker in the left tackle. To say that he was out of his element is not quite the same. He just worked hard on almost every play that was in the game.
In the very first game, he turned down a shot at Stidham when he was throwing. The ball was still completed, and the passer’s penalty was awarded rudely. If it wasn’t, Parker, missing the block after a couple of games, could have resulted in a punt instead of a field goal.
The second trip stalled thanks to Parker and only Parker. They moved to the 22-yard Jacksonville line. Parker then gave away sacks in a row, the second to his former teammate Arden Key, whom he may remember destroying him in rookie camp in 2018. As a result, Daniel Carlson had to attempt a 55-yard field goal, which he converted.
The second quarter will start in the same way as the first, with Parker being defeated, this time by running. And finally, in his last performance at the end of the next trip, Parker threw another sack; his third of the game.
This is a guy who is supposedly currently the leading candidate for a proper tackle start. He played out of position with a left tackle, but one would hope that he would at least be useful on the opposite side and not at the saloon door.
RB Kenyan Drake
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Raiders intend to retreat as a committee. And in that fight, Drake showed himself not in the best way. While Josh Jacobs and Zameer White averaged over five yards per carry and Amir Abdullah performed well in on-screen play, Drake only averaged 1.8 yards per carry on five carries.