SEATTLE – Clear-cut answers were hard to find during the Raiders’ 22-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field,
Especially at quarterback.
Terrelle Pryor could’ve forced the Raiders to start with a good game. He didn’t do that. Not by a long shot.
Pryor was 3-for-8 passing for 31 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice. Not great. He ran three times for 48 yards, including a nice 25-yard scamper where his athleticism was on display.
He didn’t get any help from his receivers, who dropped a few passes.
This wasn’t the electric Pryor of a week ago, the one that commanded the huddle and controlled tempo when in the game.
It was an uneven performance that makes head coach Dennis Allen’s decision more difficult. He must evaluate the pros and cons of starting Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryor and reach a decision prior to formal preparations for the regular-season opener against Indianapolis.
The case of Flynn v. Pryor will be discussed at length in the coming hours and days, with quality debate from either side.
Allen’s decision is a hard one. While it won’t come down to one moment or one game, it wasn’t made any easier on Thursday night.
McFadden sits again: Darren McFadden juked us pretty good. The Raiders running back dressed in full pads, warmed up with the first-team offense and never came back on the field.
McFadden missed his second straight game after injuring his shoulder at New Orleans. He sat last week with lingering effects of the injury, but Thursday’s absence was precautionary. The Raiders didn’t want to risk McFadden’s health so close to the regular season.
McFadden had eight preseason carries for 22 yards (a 2.9-yard average) without a touchdown. The numbers are secondary to good health, which he has heading into a pivotal season.
For starters: Pat Sims made a big impact in his Raiders debut. The veteran defensive lineman, out most all of training camp with a hamstring strain, was a monster on the interior line during his time served. That was especially true against the run. Sims collapsed pockets from the inside regardless of which team he faced during two full quarters of play.
He’s a key addition to a front seven that looked weak in recent weeks stopping the run and rushing the passer.
End Lamarr Houston played better than a week ago and recorded a sack (although Sims gets an unofficial assist for flushing the pocket).
Rod Streater was active early, and is clearly Pryor’s favorite target. The Raiders’ most consistent receiver had two catches for 28 yards on the only drives where Pryor was an effective passer.
Premium reserves: Kaluka Maiava played extensive time in his first game as a Raider. He missed nearly all of training camp with an ankle injury, and fared well playing strongside linebacker for rookie Sio Moore, who sat out with a minor toe injury.
The coaching staff got a long look at Maiava, who will be the backup at both outside linebacker spots. He looks like a sure tackler who isn’t great in coverage but can cover ground well and plays sideline to sideline.
Running back Rashad Jennings can be a bruiser between the tackles, but he showed serious burst in space. He broke through the line, made a quick cut and sprinted on for a 32-yard gain.
Rookie report: This space has been reserved for Menelik Watson, a second-round pick asked to play left tackle for the first time in his life against Seattle.
He played pretty darn well. That statement doesn’t include the low bar set for someone in such a predicament. He wasn’t perfect – he got beat on a sack and lost his man at times, but he was solid through nearly three quarters. He showed athleticism and strength, and has a natural way of playing the position.
Watching the game live, Watson looked like an overall upgrade over veteran Alex Barron. It will be interesting to see what Allen does during the regular season – although tackles cut Saturday will also be in the mix. If nothing else, Watson has earned the right to be considered.
On the bubble: Once the presumptive starter at right guard, veteran Mike Brisiel played the second half after Lucas Nix was pulled for the night. Brisiel hasn’t played since the preseason opener due to a knee strain, but he never got the top spot back.
Nix is the favorite to start at right guard. Andre Gurode can play center and bothguard spots, making Brisiel expendable should the Raiders need depth at another position.
Rookie defensive end David Bass has been a solid pass rusher with a weakness stopping the run. The seventh-round pick showed improvement against the run, with a pair of fine interior stops made with speed off the edge. He also had a sack in the red zone, negated by a penalty across the field
Locked in a tight battle with Ryan Robinson for a roster spot, Bass may have secured one on Thursday.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson played for the first time since the preseason opener. He got the fourth quarter, and completed 8-of-12 passes for 65 yards.
Hayden’s encore: First-round draft pick D.J. Hayden played cornerback into the third quarter and covered well. He wasn’t targeted often, which was a credit to his play.
He came in at cornerback in the first-team nickel package, with Tracy Porter moving into the slot. That could be the rotation implemented during the regular season, until Hayden has earned a starting spot.
Injury update: If the main objective is to come out of the fourth preseason game healthy, then the Raiders won. They didn’t report injuries of significance during the game, meaning they should enter the regular season healthy.
Sitting it out: McFadden skipped his second straight game. OLB Sio Moore (toe), WR Brice Butler (hamstring) C Stefen Wisniewski (undisclosed) and S Charles Woodson didn’t play against the Seahawks. Those absences were precautionary. TE David Ausberry (shoulder) is recovering from an injury suffered two weeks ago. The Raiders hope he can be ready for the regular season.
What's next: The regular season is close at hand. The Raiders play at Indianapolis on Sept. 8, but must trim the roster from 75 to 53 by 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Raiders will begin formal preparation for the Colts next week.