If you thought the the Hindenburg disaster was deflating, you probably didn’t see the Oakland Raiders’ preseason loss in New Orleans. The Raiders’ offensive line imploded, the defensive line pressure was nonexistent, and the long list of injuries grew. 28-20 was the final score but the game was never close to start.
Despite the carnage, there were still silver linings, which were too thin to be visible with the naked eye:
1. Matt Flynn
Man that was tough. Flynn absorbed five sacks in two quarters of action but never complained or lobbied to leave the game. He started his last drive with three minutes left and led an 82-yard march that ended with a score with 31 seconds left to Denarius Moore. Making the most of his sudden pocket security, Flynn finished the possession with six completions in a row and capped what was an abysmal half on a high note. The Raiders have their leader.
2. Brice Butler
Adding to his breakout preseason performance versus the Dallas Cowboys, Butler corralled in three receptions for 38 yards leading the club in both categories. The 23-year-old out of San Diego State has overtaken Juron Criner for the fourth wide receiver role and is now pressing Jacoby Ford for third-string repetitions. So far so amazing for the 2013 seventh rounder.
3. The punters!
Chris Kluwe and Marquette King remain neck-and-neck for the punting job, but for good reason. In three tries each under the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Kluwe averaged 49.3 yards per punt and dropped a ball inside the 20 while King boasted a 57.3 yard average but surrendered a touchback.
Whoever loses this competition will likely get picked up by another NFL team this season, so the duo can sleep easy on the decision, which may go to King by default for his youth and potential.
4. The kickers!
There’s no competition here, but Eddie Carmona is looking more and more like solid insurance in case of a Sebastian Janikowski injury. Both nailed a long-range field goal on Friday, and their leg strength was a major asset on kickoffs. Carmona must still work on consistency, but when you consider the oversaturation of the placekicker street market, if Janikowski is ever impaired for a few weeks the Raiders will have a replacement who’s familiar with the organization.
5. Maintained composure
There were moments in New Orleans when the Raiders could have started to panic, but the players stayed calm and produced three turnovers in the second half to make it a one-score game. Such resilience was lacking on the rosters of 2011 and 2012. As for preparing for the regular season, there’s obviously still much work to be done until September ninth, but Oakland’s more experienced hands are taking it in stride.
“That’s why you play these preseason games, because you know you are going to make mistakes,” explained Tracy Porter, who was burned in pass coverage repeatedly by his former team. “Tonight was the second preseason game, so we have a lot of time to learn.”
Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice / USA TODAY Sports