Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) has a laugh on the sideline during the 2017 NFL week 3 preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017 in Arlington, Tex. The Cowboys won the game 24-20. (Paul Spinelli via AP)
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer
OAKLAND — With three preseason games now in the books, the Raiders (0-3) look to end the preseason on a high-note with a win over the visiting Seattle Seahawks Thursday night at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in both team’s preseason finale.
Seattle edged out the Raiders 23-21 in Oakland to close out the preseason schedule last year as both teams rested their starters, which should be the case again this preseason.
Sadly, Raider Nation won’t see new running back Marshawn Lynch carry the football against his former team. Lynch was the heartbeat for the Seahawks during his six seasons in Seattle where he help bring the franchise its first Super Bowl championship in 2013 before retiring after the 2015 season.
Lynch came out of retirement during the offseason and Seattle traded Lynch to his hometown team, where its been nothing but love for the former Oakland Technical High School and Berkeley running back.
Last week, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looked sharp in Oakland’s 24-20 loss to the Cowboys in Dallas, completing 13-of-17 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to backup quarterback EJ Manuel late in the second quarter.
Carr, who saw the return of starting left tackle Donald Penn to the team following a 26-day holdout during training camp in search of a new contract, threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson that capped off a 10-play, 81-yard drive on Oakland’s first possession of the game.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper hauled in Carr’s second touchdown pass of the game, a 48-yard score that culminated a 4-play, 60-yard drive, faked out the camera man during the television broadcast. Cooper, who looks noticeably bigger in the upper-body to help beat the jam from cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage, led Oakland with 78 yards receiving and tied with Patterson with four catches in the game.
Defensively, Oakland still had some mental gaps in pass coverage but did see their defensive line create some pressure on the quarterback that was seemingly absent this preseason.
Rookie defensive tackle Treyvon Hester continues to make it hard for the coaches to cut him, sacking Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on a third-and-13 for a 12-yard loss that led to Dallas’ first punt of the game.
Hester’s three sacks during the preseason is tied for most in the NFL.
Fellow rookie, linebacker LaTroy Lewis had one of the bigger plays on the night.
On second-and-5 from the Oakland 26-yard line, reserve cornerback Antonio Hamilton sacked Cowboys backup quarterback Cooper Rush and the fumble was returned by Lewis 65 yards for a touchdown.
The final game of the preseason will give Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff more film to review before all 32 NFL teams must trim their official roster from 90- to 53-man on Sept. 2.
That means, guys like Hester, Lewis, and even rookie middle linebacker Marquel Lee (who still struggles getting off of blocks from offensive lineman), have to make every snap count on Thursday night against Seattle at 7:00 p.m. PT in front of Raider Nation.
Connor Cook and EJ Manuel, who are battling for the backup quarterback job behind Carr, will get extensive action this week. Cook completed 9-of-16 passes for 89 yards, while Manuel was just 2-of-4 for 8 yards against the Cowboys.
Shouldn’t be a surprise if Cook gets the start over Manuel, who was signed in the offseason as the logical backup to Carr, but Cook, who did make NFL history last year by becoming the first quarterback to make his debut in a postseason game, appears to be the front-runner to backup Carr.
Against Seattle last year in the preseason, Cook came into the game in the second quarter in place of former Raiders backup Matt McGloin and played well completing 15-of-30 passes for 145 yards, but did throw an interception that was returned by the Seahawks 42 yards for a touchdown.
Seattle (3-0) defeated Oakland’s bitter rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, 26-13, last week at CenturyLink Field. Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson completed 13-of-19 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown for Seattle in the first half of the game.
The Seahawks have won three of the last four NFC West crowns and enter 2017 as the favorite to win the division this year, thanks to a stout defense led by the “Legion of Boom” and the aforementioned Wilson, who has won at least one playoff game in each of his first five seasons as the starting quarterback for Seattle.
Both teams open up the 2017 regular season on the road, with Oakland traveling to Tennessee to take on the Titans in Nashville, and Seattle kicking off their schedule in Green Bay against the Packers.