Raiders’ first-team offense scoreless in opener
ALAMEDA – The talk of a revitalized offense for the Oakland Raiders under new quarterback Jason Campbell and coordinator Hue Jackson has been put on hold after the exhibition opener.
The first-team offense struggled to move the ball and was unable to generate any points in a little more than a quarter of action in Thursday night’s 17-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
The Raiders scored all of their points – including a late interception return for a touchdown by Jerome Boyd – in the fourth quarter, long after most of the regulars on both teams had called it a night.
“It’s a guy here and a guy there,” coach Tom Cable said Friday. “It looks to be probably a little better than what I thought last night after the game. So I think we can fix it, and fix it rather quickly.”
Campbell was 7 for 13 for 49 yards in his first game with the Raiders, with most of his completions coming on short passes underneath.
The Raiders will be counting on much more from Campbell when the regular season starts. They acquired him in a draft-day trade from Washington and then cut loose former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell shortly after that.
With Russell getting the bulk of the playing time last year, the Raiders finished second-to-last in the league in scoring with 197 points and gained the second-fewest yards on the way to their record seventh straight season with at least 11 losses.
That led owner Al Davis to bring in Jackson to replace Cable as the play-caller and to trade for Campbell, who had fallen out of favor after five years in Washington.
The Raiders generated only one first down in three drives in the opening quarter with Campbell and the first-team offense. Cable then sent them out for an additional series that was a little more successful, although Dallas was resting some of its starters by then.
Michael Bush ran for a first down and Campbell got two through the air on passes to Louis Murphy and Todd Watkins as the Raiders moved the ball to the Dallas 30. Then on a fourth-and-1, Jackson called for a pass play out of the shotgun and Campbell badly missed tight end Zach Miller on his final throw of the night.
The Raiders gained 48 of their 73 yards with Campbell at quarterback on that last drive, offering Cable some sense of optimism that improvement could be coming.
“The rhythm thing was most important. I did not like the second series very much,” Cable said. “It just felt like we were going to put the line and the quarterback back out there together and see if they can kind of put some cohesiveness together which they were able to do a little bit. The thing I am encouraged about is it was a guy here or a guy there that were breaking down. I look for us to be better this week.”
Second-year receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had nine catches in a disappointing rookie year, was unable to generate the production the Raiders hoped for based on his drastic improvements in practice.
Campbell threw only one pass Heyward-Bey’s way on the first play of the game, but Terrence Newman broke it up. When Campbell did go deep, it was to Murphy. The first pass was knocked away by a defender and the second led Murphy to far outside and he caught it out of bounds.
The bright spots offensively came from running backs Rock Cartwright and Michael Bennett, who are battling for a spot behind Michael Bush and Darren McFadden, and receiver Nick Miller, who made a leaping touchdown grab of a pass from Kyle Boller for Oakland’s first score.
Bennett, a former Pro Bowler with Minnesota, carried 12 times for 68 yards and also had 33-yard reception off a screen pass. Cartwright added seven carries for 25 yards and caught two passes for 28 yards.
The biggest positives for the Raiders came on the defensive side of the ball, where they held the Cowboys to 263 yards, no touchdowns and came up with six sacks.
The bulk of the pressure came from young defensive ends Matt Shaughnessy and rookie Lamarr Houston, who each had two sacks.
“It’s exciting,” Cable said. “They were productive. They were productive not only rushing the passer but against the run. They can do better at some things for sure. I think definitely an encouraging start.”
Notes: The Raiders reported no major injuries from the game. CB Walter McFadden had a minor shoulder injury and could practice Saturday. LB Sam Williams had a possible concussion and his status is unknown.
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