It's true, this was the Oakland Raiders' first time tackling to the ground since training camp opened more than two weeks ago. And it looked that way early in the exhibition opener, a 10-6 loss Friday night to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Raiders did not look ready, and getting flagged for a penalty on the first play of the game -- a false start on right tackle Menelilk Watson -- set the tone. A bad one. There were countless drops, both on offense and by the defense on potential interceptions. Matt McGloin got the Raiders on the scoreboard with a 10-yard rushing TD with less than two minutes to play.
Here are some other thoughts on the Raiders' first preseason game of the year.
Matt Schaub made his Raiders debut and played three series. Known for his accuracy -- his career 64.0 passing percentage ranks ninth in NFL history -- the quarterback was off target early, badly missing Andre Holmes twice, and finished three of seven for 21 yards. He had Mychal Rivera open at midfield on a seam route but the ball was slightly behind the tight end, who could not haul it in despite getting both hands on the ball. The question then is this: What was off more, Schaub's placement or the routes run by his pass catchers?
Rookie Derek Carr replaced Schaub and, while he was more accurate, the second-round draft pick showed he also needs to work on his touch. He overthrew fullback Jamize Olawale in the left flat after rolling out and the ball was picked off. Later, he underthrew a wide open Juron Criner on a deep post pass. Carr threw for 74 yards on 10 of 16 passing.
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, getting extended run with DJ Hayden out, acquitted himself well. Besides breaking up a couple of passes, Chekwa also had a nice tackle. Rookie TJ Carrie also impressed. Starting corners Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, either by design or unfamiliarity, played a lot of off coverage and had tough outings.
We already referenced the Raiders' first penalty, which came on the first play of the game, but there was also a costly 15-yard facemask flag on backup tight end Brian Leonhardt. The Raiders had 13 penalties for 94 yards. "When you're good, you can overcome these kinds of obstacles, but the Raiders aren't that good," former Raiders coach Tom Flores said on the team's broadcast. Flores, the Raiders' two-time Super Bowl winning coach, is already in midseason form.
The Raiders' first-team defense left much to be desired as the Vikings shredded it for a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive on Minnesota's first possession. Defensive tackle Pat Sims had a sack but rookie linebacker Khalil Mack, who played into the second quarter, had two tackles with one for a loss.