RB George Atkinson III gives Raiders food for thought with big runs in win over Cardinals

Oakland Raiders running back George Atkinson III, son of the longtime Raiders safety, put on a show as the third-string back in the Raiders' 31-10 preseason-opening victory Friday over the Arizona Cardinals. With undrafted rookie Jalen Richard not suiting up, Atkinson broke off touchdown runs of 53 and 35 yards and finished with 97 yards on five carries. Did Atkinson, who has spent most of the past two seasons on Oakland’s practice squad, play his way onto an initial 53-man roster? Stay tuned.

QB depth chart: Derek Carr threw “go” balls on four of his seven passes, so it was obvious the Raiders were working on their deep game. Carr completed three of those attempts for 44 yards in two series of work. Matt McGloin, meanwhile, threw touchdowns on two of his first three passes, while rookie Connor Cook completed 7-of-11 passes for 71 yards.

Maybe that dude could start: Signed to be a starting safety last season, Nate Allen was instead limited to five games by injury. Now, he finds himself behind both Reggie Nelson and rookie Karl Joseph. But with reps for both Nelson and Joseph being closely monitored, and Joseph coming back from a torn ACL, Allen looked like a starter. Particularly on his interception ... even if he should have had a second one, which instead bounced off his hands.

Who got hurt? Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., who is returning from a neck injury last season, suffered what a team spokesman later confirmed was a hip injury on his first defensive snap of the starting unit’s second series. Edwards had to be helped off the field and was then carted into the locker room. Edwards was seen leaving the locker room on crutches and was not putting weight on his left leg.

A surprise player who impressed: There has never been a question about Atkinson's speed; it has been about his durability as an every-down back. Alas, all he did on his first carry was bounce to the outside and take off for a breathtaking 53-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. How exciting was the sprint? A celebrating Carr was warned by a ref to stay off the field ... with a smile, of course. In the fourth quarter, Atkinson punctuated a 35-yard TD run with a stop-and-start routine at about the 10-yard line. Impressive.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Raiders looked ...: somewhat tentative. Sure, offensively Oakland seemed to be working solely on its deep passing routes, and the defense was on its heels after forcing an early third-and-10 that Arizona converted. DJ Hayden was in the slot on the third-down play and got turned around on the 11-yard pickup by J.J. Nelson. The Raiders’ first-team units played two series each, while the Cardinals offense played one series.

One reason to be concerned: Poor open-field tackling. It was not just defensive back Dewey McDonald who had a bad night, though his issues personified Oakland’s travails. Twice, McDonald went for a big hit, only to see his potential target bounce off and run away for big gains. And then, when he could have had a sure tackle on a pass play, he tried for the interception, only to whiff. Ouch. Corner David Amerson also had a bad whiff.

Cleaning it up? The Raiders’ stated goal coming onto the game was to “clean” things up, especially in the presnap-penalty area. Welp ... the starters only played two series, but before they had snapped the ball four times, the Raiders were flagged for a false start on new left guard Kelechi Osemele and a delay-of-game penalty on Carr. “We can’t have that stuff,” Carr said on the team broadcast. “Coming into a noisy environment, still, there’s no excuse. We expect more out of ourselves.” The Raiders did have three takeaways to one turnover.

Kicker competition? What kicker competition? Sebastian Janikowski is the leader over Giorgio Tavecchio, no doubt. And his 53-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 was vintage Seabass. Power. Accuracy. Effortless. It was a far cry from his forgettable showing at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2010, when he missed three field goals, including a 32 yarder at the final gun in a 24-23 loss.