OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders played their starters for three series, bleeding into the second quarter, on both sides of the ball. While the offense, particularly quarterback Derek Carr, looked crisp, the defense was burned to a crisp ... other than reigning NFL defensive player of the year Khalil Mack.
It was a good tuneup for both sides, though you have to wonder how much the Raiders will subject their front-line players to potential injury in the next two exhibition games, even if the defense needs major tinkering as the Raiders fell to 0-2 with the 24-21 loss to the Rams.
QB depth chart: Taking the field against live action for the first time since suffering a broken right fibula on Christmas Eve, Carr was sharp. In three series, he completed 7 of 9 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns with an interception on a play when Michael Crabtree stopped running his route. Carr threw a couple of deep jump balls to Amari Cooper -- with Cooper making an acrobatic move for a completion on one throw, Rams defensive back Kevin Peterson knocking down the other.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Raiders looked ...: Offensively, the Raiders looked ready for Week 1 at the Tennessee Titans. Defensively? Not so much. Derek Carr & Co. looked like a fine-tuned machine, even as left tackle Donald Penn's holdout continues and Marshall Newhouse continues to settle in at the position. Cooper, as mentioned above, made a ridiculous catch down the right sideline and Crabtree juked Troy Hill on his 13-yard TD catch and run.
One reason to be concerned: Yeah, the defense. Rookie middle linebacker Marquel Lee again looked overmatched too many times for comfort -- even if he is a fifth-round draft pick. Cornerback TJ Carrie, who again started at right cornerback ahead of Sean Smith, had a rough go of it, too. Smith, who is facing assault and battery charges, could potentially miss time, and first-round draft pick Gareon Conley has not practiced since minicamp in June because of a leg issue. A lot of things need to be cleaned up on this side of the ball. Imagine the issues if Mack -- who had a sack, three QB pressures, four tackles (two for a loss) in three series -- was not on the team.
That guy could start: If Lee continues to struggle, perhaps Tyrell Adams gets another look at middle linebacker. One potential street vet signing is off the market after Rey Maualuga signed with the Miami Dolphins, though Perry Riley Jr. is still out there. Adams was the starting MLB throughout the offseason program until the first week of training camp. He made a nice play in the third quarter, coming across the field to stop Rams running back Justin Davis from getting a first down on a screen pass after an 11-yard pickup.
Rookie watch: Seventh-round running back Elijah Hood was held out of the Raiders' preseason opener at Arizona last week but got a lot of work against the Rams. Hood had a team-high five carries but finished with only 12 rushing yards, including a 9-yard pickup. With Marshawn Lynch, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard ahead of him on the depth chart, and fullback Jamize Olawale getting short-yardage opportunities, Hood might be better suited for the practice squad ... for now. Plus, he left for the locker room in the third quarter.
Lynch debuts: After sitting again for the national anthem, Oakland's favorite son made his debut in a Raiders uniform (he did not play last week). Lynch had the first carry of the day for the Raiders on their first offensive play and broke off a nice 6-yard gain through the left side of the line. He had two runs for 10 yards. Lynch, who went to Oakland Tech High School, said it was a "blessing" to play at the Coliseum for his hometown team this week.
Jon Feliciano, kick returner?: Usually the Raiders' swing interior offensive lineman, Feliciano saw a kickoff come right to him on the return team. So he did what any 6-foot-4, 325-pounder would do -- he fielded the kick cleanly and ran it back to the tune of an 18-yard pickup. Perhaps he was buoyed by his clean fielding of a punt from Marquette King in a camp-ending competition this week.
Backup QB controversy?: I kid ... kinda. Because after coach Jack Del Rio said this week that EJ Manuel had taken the lead in the backup QB competition, Connor Cook outplayed Manuel against the Rams. Manuel was just 3-of-9 passing for 16 yards and looked off all night. Cook, meanwhile, led the Raiders on an 11-play, 65-yard drive that culminated with his 17-yard TD pass to Johnny Holton to give Oakland a short-lived lead with 6:30 to play.