The Oakland Raiders went on the road to take on the Arizona Cardinals during Week 1 of the NFL Preseason on Friday night. Jack Del Rio’s club got out to an early 17-3 first quarter lead and only poured it on from there as the Raiders defeated the Cardinals 31-10 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Although the Cardinals outgained Oakland, 383-322, the Raiders’ defense forced three turnovers, which turned into 14 first-half points. It was certainly an encouraging performance from the entire team, but there were some individuals who really shined, along with a couple of issues that the Raiders will need to clean up.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Oakland Raiders’ 31-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Offensive Line Could Be One Of The Best In NFL
The Oakland Raiders’ offensive line opened up massive holes all night for the running game. Oakland’s running backs gained 166 yards on the ground on just 21 carries for a whopping 7.9 YPC average against the Cardinals. In addition, the line didn’t give up a single sack in an impressively dominant performance to open the preseason. If the unit plays like that all season long, the Raiders will be a playoff team.
George Atkinson III Looked Unstoppable
The son of former Raiders safety George Atkinson made a name for himself on Friday night against the Cardinals. Albeit against the third-string defense, Atkinson busted two long touchdown runs for Oakland as he accumulated 97 rushing yards on just five carries in a sparkling performance. Atkinson signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft, but was released last September before being re-signed to the team’s practice squad in November.
Atkinson played college football at Notre Dame and has experience as a kick returner. He also ran track at Notre Dame and his speed could force the coaching staff to find a spot for him on the roster if he continues to put on these types of performances the rest of preseason. If not with the Raiders, Atkinson could definitely earn a look with another team.
DeAndre Washington Showed Why Everyone’s So Excited About His Play
Teams shied away from Washington for a number of reasons in the 2016 NFL Draft. Those reasons include his height as he only stands 5-foot-8, the offense he played in at Texas Tech only plays out of the shotgun, and he has a tendency to fumble.
On Friday night, none of those concerns showed up as Washington looked like an explosive player both at running back and in the return game. He recorded 43 rushing yards on just eight carries, added a 32-yard reception and exploded for a 31-yard kickoff return. Washington is a guy to certainly keep an eye on for the Raiders in 2016.
Mario Edwards, Jr. Injury Is A Slight Concern
Edwards was forced to miss the final two games of the 2015 season with a neck injury, but the Oakland Raiders were excited to have their starting defensive end back for camp. Unfortunately, Edwards suffered a hip injury early in the game and was carted to the locker room. According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, Oakland may have dodged a bullet as the injury isn’t expected to keep Edwards out for too long.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) August 14, 2016
Eleven Penalties Is Unacceptable
The Raiders are always near the top of the league in penalties committed and penalty yards. Last season, Oakland had 138 penalties accepted, which was the third-most in the NFL, and 1,102 penalty yards, which was good for sixth. Against the Cardinals, the Raiders committed 11 penalties for 86 yards and Del Rio can’t be happy
Overall, the Raiders played extremely well in their first preseason game, but the penalties must be cleaned up and the offense must do better than 3-for-12 on third downs. That being said, the Oakland Raiders have a lot of good things to build on heading into a season where the team is expected to compete for the AFC West title.
[Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images]