Welcome back as we begin the 2022 season of Ballers & Busters. There was a lot of good and some not-so-good in the Raiders’ lopsided win over the second- and third-ranked Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Preseason football is all about making an impression in the pads that guys hope to carry over to the field in training camp.
Here are a few guys who did just that.
G Lester Cotton, Sr
I was skeptical of Cotton this offseason as he was stepping in at right guard for the injured Denzel Good. After all, Cotton appeared in just five career games and spent most of his career on the practice squad. He looked like a mere substitute until Goode returned from injury.
Then Good retired, Cotton stayed and then came out in this game and made me a believer. Cotton made a key block on the second play of the game, helping Josh Jacobs scamper for 12 yards. That put the Raiders in field goal range and they went up 3-0 to start the game.
Cotton followed that with blocks on Jacobs’ nine-yard run, Jacobs’ four-yard run on third-and-one and Zamir White’s 15-yard run that led to another field goal.
On the final play of the first quarter, Cotton came downfield to block on an 18-yard play on an Ameer Abdullah screen. That drive would eventually lead to the Raiders’ first touchdown of the game. On the next drive, he would again go downfield on a screen that stretched 19 yards. Good days work for Cotton.
RB Zamir White
Josh Jacobs got the first two hits of the game and played well. White then stepped in and showed why he’s a serious contender to eat off Jacobs’ snaps and offer the power forward some juice this season.
White’s first run of the game, he showed nice break and took off for 15 yards. He later showed his ability as a receiver when he took a screen pass for 19 yards. The kick after that, he showed his power when he took an out to the left on third-and-one and went over a defender to pick up the first down. White even showed he can handle it when he made a stop on a punt return.
DT Kendal Vickers, ED Malcolm Koonce
Vickers made the first play of the game, stuffing a run. He also had the only Raiders sack of the game.
Koonce helped set it up by getting pressure to collapse the pocket. While Koonce may not have been sacked, he did get some good pressure at times. He also made a pass on the line.
QB Jarrett Stidham, WR Demarcus Robinson
His first pass of the game was miraculously completed 31 yards downfield to Keelan Cole. This despite being hit while throwing.
After Nick Mullens went in for a couple of tackles, Stidham came back late in the second quarter, completing a 14-yard pass to Tyron Johnson on third-and-11 and a 16-yard pass to Demarcus Robinson. The next play, he broke out to his right, directed traffic — getting a block in the end zone by Robinson — and ran it in for a touchdown to give the Raiders a 20-0 halftime lead.
S Tyree Gillespie
The second-year reserve safety put the wood on several plays, including one where he put his helmet on the ball to knock it out of a receiver’s hands to force a fumble. That was the only score of the game for the Raiders.
CB Bryce Cosby
The undrafted rookie’s best chance to make that team is through his special teams work. His first play of that game was to make the tackle on a punt return. Then in the third quarter, he was part of three straight plays — he came around to help on a one-yard run, made a tackle on a short catch and broke up a pass on third down to force a punt.
T Brandon Parker
It’s a wonder the Raiders offense was able to do anything in this game with Parker in left. To say he was beside himself doesn’t quite cover things. He was just adamant that it was being worked on almost every game he was in the game.
On the very first play, he gave up Stidham’s hit while throwing. The ball was ended anyway with a roughing the ball by the passer. If it wasn’t, Parker’s missed block a few plays later on a field goal might have resulted in a punt instead of a field goal.
The second drive was stopped thanks to Parker and Parker alone. They had moved to the Jacksonville 22-yard line. Parker then gave up back-to-back sacks, the second by former teammate Arden Key, who you may remember destroying him in rookie camp in 2018. The result was Daniel Carlson having to attempt a 55-yard field goal that he realizes.
The second quarter would start just like the first quarter – with Parker scoring, this time on a run. Finally, on his final play at the end of the next drive, Parker would give up another sack; his third of the game.
This is the guy who is supposed to be the leading candidate right now to start at right tackle. He was playing out of position at left tackle, but you’d hope he’d at least be useful on the opposite side rather than the lounge door.
RB Kenyan Drake
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the Raiders intend to continue running back by committee. And in this fight, Drake did not show well for himself. While Josh Jacobs and Zamir White averaged over five yards per carry and Ameer Abdullah performed well in the screen game, Drake averaged just 1.8 yards per carry on five carries.