In Head Coach Jon Gruden’s return to the sideline – a return anticipated by Raider Nation for over 15 years – the Silver and Black took down the Detroit Lions 16-10 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
With AC DC’s Hell Bells as the theme song for the party, the Raiders kept the good vibes going on the field, handling business in their first live action since January.
Carr and the starting offense played just one series, which ended in a 47-yard, Johnny Townsend punt, but although the Silver and Black came up empty on the opening drive, Marshawn Lynch provided the highlight of the night, busting of a 60-yard run that ended up negated by penalty.
After Carr’s exodus, third-year man Connor Cook took over under center, and I have to say, the former Michigan State Spartan moved Gruden’s offense quite effectively for much of the evening.
From a 41-yard pass to Johnny Holton, to a few impressive connections with Martavis Bryant, Cook looked poised in the pocket, and confidently got the Raiders where they needed to go, even using the 1:21 at the end of the half to put rookie kicker Eddy Piñeiro in position to connect on a 48-yard field goal.
“He did some good things,” Gruden said of Cook’s performance. “There’s still a couple things decision-wise I think he’s got to correct, but he moved the football, he put points on the board, and I liked his two-minute drill at the end of the half.”
Going back to the rookie kicker for just a second, Piñeiro looked good in his Raiders’ debut, going 3/3 on field goals.
When all was said and done, Cook finished with 141 yards, on 11 of 19 passing, adding one touchdown, in what was his most confident outing in Silver and Black.
After Cook’s night ended, EJ Manuel went the rest of the way, leading a scoring drive of his own in the final minutes of regulation.
Defensively, Friday night served as a banner outing for rookie defensive tackle P.J. Hall who tallied a sack, as well as a batted pass at the line of scrimmage, along with providing a consistent interior pass rush during his time on the field.
With 11 Raiders held out of action Friday night, players lower on the depth chart got a chance to show the coaching staff what they have, and a handful of them made of the most of those opportunities, including running back Chris Warren III and linebacker Shilique Calhoun.
Warren provided some juice out of the backfield in the second half, and Calhoun – a third-round pick in 2016 – was active around the quarterback, showing the type of disruptiveness he can bring to the table when he’s rocking and rolling.
While the win was nice, perhaps most importantly, the Raiders got out of Friday night’s game mostly healthy, something that a handful of teams around the league were not lucky enough to experience.
The Silver and Black will now return to Napa, and get back on the practice field Monday, as they embark on the final stretch of Training Camp 2018. The team will break camp Thursday, before flying to Los Angeles Friday afternoon in advance of their preseason tilt against the Los Angeles Rams.
Head Coach Jon Gruden and Co., will arrive in Southern California 1-0, not a bad start to Gruden’s return to the sideline.