1. Good friends, great competitors
Josh McDaniels and the Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury have history together.
While McDaniels was a defensive assistant for the New England Patriots, the team selected Kingsbury, a quarterback out of Texas Tech, in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. That season, the Pats would win Super Bowl XXXVIII in a tight 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Nearly 20 years since the two were on the same team, "it doesn't surprise" McDaniels to see where the former quarterback is today.
"[H]e was very bright, young guy when we got him there, and he just knew football, understood it," McDaniels said Friday morning. "It came easy to him. He was interested in all aspects of the game of football, picked up things quickly, could talk it very easily, had great questions and just had a football mind. So it doesn't surprise me that he's ascended to this point and he's had success doing it at every level.
"It'll be great to see him. He's a great guy. He's a good friend of mine, and I look forward to competing against him."
2. Road warriors
As the Raiders host the Cardinals this Sunday, they are mindful of their opponents' success on the road last season. The 2021 Arizona Cardinals finished with a 8-1 road record, with their lone road loss coming against the Detroit Lions.
"They did a good job, their coaches did a good job in preparing them for crowd noise," Chandler Jones, who played for the Cardinals over the last six seasons, said. "They did a good job in simulating an away game and I think that's what got us ready to go last year."
As the Cardinals are coming off a Week 1 loss, McDaniels believes they'll come into Allegiant Stadium with high intensity and urgency for a victory.
"Playing away from their home stadium is something that they were very comfortable doing last year and had a lot of success doing it," the coach said. "They certainly got off to a fast start last year, and I know – much like we did – didn't get off to the start they wanted to do last week. But they've got a lot of explosive elements to their game. That's probably the word that I would use to describe them most in all three phases. We're hard at work getting familiar with these guys in all those phases."
3. A star is born
The legend of Daniel Carlson began with a game-winning field goal in State Farm Stadium.
A few weeks after being released by the Minnesota Vikings his rookie season, Carlson arrived in Oakland to take the reins as the starting kicker. In Week 11 of the 2018 season, the Raiders picked up a victory over the Cardinals with another Derek Carr game-winning drive, capped off by a 35-yard field goal to win the game. It was Carlson's first victory as a Raider and his first NFL game-winning field goal.
The kicker has scored five game-winners since.
"I had never had a game winner in college so that was really my first ever game winner that really meant something," Carlson said reflecting on the field goal against the Cardinals. "Rookie season, head spinning, I was still pretty new to the team. I had just signed three-four weeks before that. Just to come back with a long drive to get us in field goal range, get a pretty short one too, it was a great job by our offense."
4. What will we see from Dylan Parham?
The third-round pick out of Memphis is coming off a great NFL debut against the Chargers, allowing no pressures against a stout defensive line and earning the highest PFF grade of all rookie offensive linemen in Week 1.
"Thanks to Coach McDaniels and [offensive line] Coach Bricillo, they've just been helping me [grow] as a utility guy," Parham said. "I've known for a long time the biggest thing that can help me, especially with this team, is being able to play any position. So both guards, I've been repping those since I first got here. Left guard, right guard, whatever they need from me, I know that I need to be able to do it at a high level."
5. Another milestone for Mr. Adams
Davante Adams got off to a great start in the Silver and Black.
The receiver finished last Sunday with 10 catches, 141 yards and a touchdown. His first touchdown grab as a Raider was also his 54th red zone touchdown since 2016, which is the most in the NFL over that span.
6. A battle in defensive versatility
Both the Raiders and the Cardinals defensive players with similar skill sets in Nate Hobbs and Isaiah Simmons.
Both defenses use the players by lining them up a plethora of ways. Week 1 against the Chargers, Hobbs saw snaps all over the field resulting in nine total tackles, two tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a 83.8 PFF overall grade.
"Honestly, it's very fun," Hobbs said on playing multiple positions. "I love being able to go from being at the line of scrimmage and tackling, to being able to cover the No. 1 receiver, to being able to play in the slot, play zone, play man. It's a lot of fun for me and it's one of my favorite things to do."
Simmons, the Cardinals' 2019 first-round pick from Clemson, also gets around in their defensive scheme. He had seven pass deflections and four forced fumbles last season. McDaniels noted the versatile linebacker is a player his offense will have to keep an eye on at all times.
"He can pass rush, he can blitz, he can cover," McDaniels said. "100 tackles last season, he's another player I would put in that category of – he's an explosive player that's difficult to deal with. You have to feel the game out and find him, in terms of where they're going to play him. He gives them a lot of flexibility."
View the best photos from Thursday's practice at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as the Raiders prepare for their upcoming game against the Arizona Cardinals.