One of the most closely watched positions for the Oakland Raiders this preseason has been cornerback, where the Raiders are thin and inexperienced.
A key is the development of DJ Hayden. The No. 12 overall pick of the 2013 draft. Hayden has been inconsistent in his career, which has carried over in camp. He did not do himself any favors Saturday night. He was burnt regularly, was penalized and gave up a 10-yard touchdown pass in which he was fooled badly.
QB depth chart: Former Vikings QB Christian Ponder joked this week that he knew he would be booed by the Minnesota crowd, and he was. Raiders fans might have been booing as well. Ponder, who entered the game leading the chase to be Derek Carr's backup, had a good game last week against the Rams. But against the Vikings, Ponder, a former first-round pick, was almost intercepted several times as he finished 7 of 11 passing for 69 yards. Ponder’s competition, Matt McGloin, was great last week but just so-so against the Vikings. He was picked off on his first pass. Ponder is probably leading the backup race, partly because of his history with new Oakland offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. The two were in Minnesota together.
A surprise player who looks amazing: Young defensive lineman Denico Autry was very active and made some plays. He was a rotational player last season and could get more playing time this season if he keeps this up. Fellow young defensive lineman Shelby Harris made plays for the second straight week.
Cooper watch: The Viking put veteran cornerback Terence Newman in single coverage on Raiders rookie Amari Cooper. It didn’t end well for Newman. Cooper, the No. 4 overall draft pick, caught a 40-yard pass from Carr to the Vikings’ 8-yard line. It set up a touchdown. How much do you want to bet that other teams will learn from the Vikings’ mistake?
Other rookie watch: Cornerback Dexter McDonald, a seventh-round pick, struggled late in the second quarter. He is no sure thing to make the roster. The Raiders need their young cornerbacks to answer the bell, and Saturday was a rough night. Ben Heeney and Mario Edwards Jr. forced a fumble on a sack that was recovered by Harris. Heeney, a fifth-round pick, has been terrific in two games and Edwards, a second-round pick, improved from a shoddy performance last week. Undrafted rookie running back Michael Dyer had a bounce-back game and it wouldn’t be a shock if he moves ahead of veteran Trent Richardson in the roster race.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Raiders looked ... just OK. They had their moments on both offense and defense, but the Vikings made their fair share of plays as well. I think Oakland’s first teamers fared better last week in a cameo appearance against St. Louis in an 18-3 Oakland win.
One good reason to freak out: Latavius Murray looked good again. Murray is going into his first year as a full-time tailback. He had 20 yards on four carries, including a 6-yard touchdown run. He has 55 yards on 10 carries in the preseason and has run hard.
Mack Attack: Khalil Mack looked just as good as he did last week. Mack had a three-yard stop on a run early in the game and later provided great pressure. He is going to be a joy to watch this season.