Bruce Gradkowski started the second half and ignited the Raiders offense, but it took a roughing the passer penalty in the final minutes and superb rushing by Darren McFadden to seal a 16-14 home win.
The Matt Leinart era is about to end in Arizona. He is being shopped around the league. According to Adam Schefter, the three teams who have discussed trading for Leinart are the Bills, Raiders and Giants.
There are a few ways to look at this news.
Scenario A: The Raiders are not interested, but because other teams know they can always mention the Raiders they get thrown into the mix on just about every possible trade. The Raiders will never confirm or deny these reports.
Scenario B: The Raiders are not content with Bruce Gradkowski and Kyle Boller as the two backup quarterbacks. Despite strong preseason performances and positive reviews from the coaching staff, the Raiders simply want another option.
It certainly makes much more sense for the Bills and Giants, both in need of a quality backup. Scenario B doesn’t seem likely at this point.
It seems this is just another case of the Raiders being used to create interest from other teams.
The 53-man roster cut looms and I’ll have my prediction up sometime before the deadline. The only surprise cut of the first five was veteran tight-end Tony Stewart. The Raiders either like John Owens or will go with just Zach Miller and Brandon Myers this season.
We learned quite a bit about the 2010 Raiders in the third preseason game, often considered a regular season primer.
Bruce Gradkowski can’t seem to stay healthy. Among his ailments of the last two seasons are torn MCLs in both knees, a torn pectoral and sore groin.
Despite Gradkowski’s extensive injury history he has started a few games and been moderately successful. The Raiders still brought in veteran help in Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller in the offseason.
It now appears Gradkowski could be looking up to both on the depth chart come September 12 in Tennessee.
It wasn’t hard to imagine such a scenario given Gradkowski’s injury history and the obvious match between Boller’s skill set and the Raiders favored offensive scheme.
During mini-camp the Raiders quarterback spot was competition and it seemed the Raiders were content to wait for Gradkowski to rehab his pectoral. That turned out not to be the case, training camp started and the starting quarterback was announced to be Jason Campbell.
Gradkowski never really had a shot to showcase he could be the starter and now training camp is over and Gradkowski finds himself in a virtual dead heat with Kyle Boller to be the primary backup.
With Gradkowski sidelined, Boller saw increased camp repetitions and saw prolonged time in the first two preseason games.
Boller has impressed and why wouldn’t he? He has everything you look for in a franchise quarterback. Although Boller’s career never took off and his decision making was always questionable he may just now be putting it together. Maybe, maybe not.
His stint with the Rams in 2009 was rocky, but what wasn’t rocky about the 2009 Rams? He started eight games in 2007 for the Ravens and completed 61.1% of his passes for 1743 yards with 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Two of the interceptions came in relief, not as a starter.
What the media and in turn fans think the Raiders will do and are doing is often not the case.
Perhaps it wasn’t Gradkowski that was in a competition with Campbell, but Boller all along. What other reason is there to announce a competition, but declare a winner before one of the players gets a chance?
There are other explanations and I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not even saying I am, but it would explain the way the Raiders have handled the position.
Gradkowski will get on the field this Saturday and you can’t count the guy out. He’s gritty and gutsy and just might blow Boller out of the water. Boller could also have one of his famous meltdowns.
If neither create further separation, the Raiders will probably go with the better scheme fit who has more tape in the Hue Jackson offense.
Preseason is not a time to worry about wins and losses. The coaches aren’t worried about wins because too often a score is the result of little to no game planning.
The coaches will go back and evaluate every player in the film room, but only a few fans even watch a preseason game more than once.
Tom Cable has stated the offensive problems in last week’s preseason game were minor things that can be tweaked.
That theory will be put to the test today in Chicago.
So what should the fans be looking for in the second preseason game of 2010?
Since this will be the first action of the season for Bruce Gradkowski, Jacoby Ford and Colt Brennan this will be the first chance the coaches and fans have to evaluate their performance and progression.
The poor showing from Jason Campbell and the receivers in last Thursday’s preseason win over Dallas will likely bring a more critical eyes to both groups.
Darrius Heyward-Bey has missed nearly the entire week worth of practice due to fatigue. He hasn’t been ruled out of the preseason game, but don’t be surprised if he is a late scratch. His ‘fatigue’ is something to watch closely.
Chaz Schilens hardly ever practices and the excitement surrounding him has worn off, leaving nothing but health concerns. One has to wonder if he can ever progress without practice reps and if he can stay healthy enough to become a favorite target for newly minted starter Campbell.
Colt Brennan will see his first action of the season, but at this point would have to really impress the coaches to get the nod as third quarterback over Kyle Boller.
Will fans start calling for Gradkowski if he performs better than Campbell against the second string units? They shouldn’t. Gradkowski is the perfect backup. The depth is second to few in the league even if Campbell isn’t an elite quarterback.
The passing game usually hinges on protection and Samson Satele and Cooper Carlisle didn’t do a great job of that last week.
Carlisle doesn’t yet have to worry about his job with rookie Bruce Campbell as the backup, but Satele needs a positive game to stop the calls for rookie Jared Veldheer to replace him.
While Mario Henderson did a solid job last week against a vanilla 3-4 Cowboys defense and all-pro DeMarcus Ware, the bigger test comes this week against the immensely talented Julius Peppers.
If Henderson can successfully block Peppers and Ware in back-to-back weeks the fans and coaches will likely be very pleased.
Chris Johnson was victimized by Tony Romo and Miles Austin last week and will sit out this week due to a sore hamstring. Stanford Routt and the rookies will get an extended look and attempt to cover a young and explosive receiving core.