Oakland welcomes Houston for Home Opener

Photo courtesy of footballsfuture.com

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — After falling to the Jets, 19-14 in New York in Week 1, the Raiders look to rebound Sunday when they host the Houston Texans at O.co Coliseum in Oakland’s home opener at 1:25 p.m.

Making his first career start in the NFL, rookie quarterback Derek Carr played pretty well, but not well enough to help the Raiders start the 2014 season on a winning note.

Carr threw for 151 yards on 20-of-32 passing, with two touchdowns with a passer rating of 94.7. Carr looked poised for much of the game, throwing the ball with no hesitation while making sound decisions.

Oakland may have a rising star in wide receiver Rod Streater.

Even though Streater had 46 yards receiving, I thought the  team-leading five catches and his12-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was most important. Carr seems to trust Streater, which will be important for both Carr’s and Streater’s continued growth.

What Carr didn’t get was help from the running game and against a team that has a stud defensive end like Houston has in J.J. Watt, you are going to need help from your running backs. The running game which was looked upon as a possible strength of the team’s, has got to be a factor on Sunday.

Oakland only mustered 26 rushing yards from the tandem of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew led the team with nine carries, but injured his hand Sunday and didn’t finish the game. A source told Comcast SportsNet’s Fallon Smith that Jones-Drew underwent a procedure to repair the injury.

According to the Bay Area News Group’s Jerry McDonald, Jones-Drew didn’t practice Wednesday and his status for Sunday’s home opener remains in question.

Defensively, I thought that Oakland played admirably. Outside of Chris Ivory’s back-breaking 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to ice the game, Oakland’s defense played tough on Jets quarterback Geno Smith.

Free safety Charles Woodson recorded an interception that led to an early touchdown, while linebacker Sio Moore was all over the field with a team-leading 15 solo tackles, and one of Oakland’s two sacks. Strong safety Tyvon Branch had the other sack.

But Houston is coming to the Black Hole looking to spoil the home opener, while trying to avenge their  28-23 loss to Oakland last season at Reliant Stadium.

Houston (1-0) won their home opener last week ,14-6 over Washington behind their defense, particularly Watt. The Texans sacked quarterback Robert Griffin three times, and recovered two fumbles. Watt recorded one of each to go along with three tackles.

Cornerback Johnathan Joseph finished with a team-leading 11 solo tackles, while strong safety D.J. Swearinger  (1 sack) and cornerback Kareem Jackson finished tied with six tackles. Linebacker Brooks Reed had five tackles, while recording a sack.

Offensively, Houston has weapons and Raiders defensive guru Jason Tarver is going to have his work cut out for him in slowing down the Texans.

Fitzpatrick threw for 206 yards on 14-of-22 passes (109.3 passer rating), including a 76-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins in the second quarter. Hopkins finished with  four catches and 89 yards receiving, while the ageless wonder Andre Johnson led Houston with six catches and 93 yards receiving (15.5 yards per catch).

Oakland’s cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers are battle tested, but will need to play smart and aggressive if they are going to slow down Houston’s duo.

Running back Arian Foster appears to be healthy again, after missing the majority of last season with a back injury. Foster rushed for 103 yards on 27 carries against Washington.

Next week, Oakland will pack their bags for 11 days, heading to New England to take on the Patriots, before flying over to London (a home game sadly), to take on the Miami Dolphins the following week.

Houston faces the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 3.

Players to Watch:

Houston: It’s a no brainer that you want to watch Watt. At 6’5″ and 289 lbs, Watt is just a freak of nature that has an active motor on every down.  With 37.5 career sacks, their is no question that Watt gets to the quarterback. Carr must make sure that he knows where No. 99 is at at all times.

Oakland: Streater is the man that Oakland has to get involved early. In last year’s meeting against Houston, Streater had six catches for 84 yards receiving, including an 18-yard touchdown catch.

 

Raiders host Seahawks in preseason finale

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — As the NFL preseason draws to a close, the Raiders will host Oakland native Marshawn Lynch and the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks at O.co Coliseum Thursday night as both teams look to finish off strong before the games start to really count.

Oakland is coming off their third preseason game, losing to the Packers, 31-21, in Green Bay last week. The Raiders first-team defense played strong early, forcing the Packers into back-to-back three-and-out drives and three straight punts in the first  quarter. Rookie linebacker Khalil Mack was active all over the field, collecting five tackles and an interception.

Linebackers Miles Burris and Nick Roach each finished with six tackles, while defensive end LaMarr Woodley recorded his first sack as a Raider.

Offensively, Oakland’s first-team showed progress, after running back Maurice Jones-Drew stormed for a 40-yard touchdown run on the Raiders’ first possession to tie the game at 7-7, after Eddie Lacy’s 1-yard run on Green Bay’s first possession.

Quarterback Matt McGloin, who has made a strong case to be the Raiders’ No. 2 quarterback, finished 10-of-17 for 162 yards passing, and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver, Bryce Butler. Butler added three catches for 60 yards receiving.

Even with McGloin’s impressive play, rookie quarterback Derek Carr is slated to start Thursday. Carr sat out the Green Bay game to rest his bruised ribs he suffered in Oakland’s second preseason game.

Seattle showed why many experts believe that they can repeat as Super Bowl champions with another dominating performance, dropping the Chicago Bears, 34-6 at home.

Quarterback Russell Wilson looked in midseason form, scoring three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) while passing for 202 yards on 15-of-20 passes. Wilson also had a robust 140.o quarterback rating.

Lynch, who held out the early part of training camp after being unhappy with his contract, had three carries for 16 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run on the Seahawks’ opening drive of the game. Lynch would watch the remainder on the game from the sidelines, tossing the cleats for some basketball shoes.

Even the Seahawks’ punishing defense appears to be ready for another run at the Lombardi trophy, having surrender only 20 points in three preseason games.

Oakland will also see a familiar face Thursday, with Terrelle Pryor returning to the Black Hole. It will be a good test for the Raiders’ defense who haven’t faced a quarterback with the frame and elusiveness quite like Pryor.

Both teams will see each other during the regular season, when the Silver and Black travel to CenturyLink Field for a Week 9 match-up.

With all 32 teams having to reduce their rosters down to 53 players by Saturday, August 30, it will be a busy week in Oakland. The Raiders have 10 open positions on the practice squad to fill as well.

After Thursday night’s game, the Seahawks will open up their title defense on Sept. 4 when they will host the Green Bay Packers, while Oakland will begin the season on the road when they will travel 3,000 miles to New York and face the Jets on Sept. 7.

You can watch the game on KTVU/FOX 2, or listen on 98.5 KFOX.

NFC North again? Oakland welcomes Detroit in preseason home opener.

By. Joe Hawkes-Beamon

OAKLAND — With two rough and tough practices with the Dallas Cowboys under their belts where tempers were hotter than the Oxnard sun that both teams practiced under this week, the Raiders will try to keep that same intensity when they host their first preseason game at O.co Coliseum Friday night against the visiting Detroit Lions.

It will be the second consecutive time Oakland will face a team from the NFC North as the Raiders fell to the Minnesota Vikings, 10-6, in Minneapolis last Friday.

The first-team offense was anemic early with anointed starter Matt Schaub at one point, finding themselves down 10-0. Schaub finished 3-of-7 for 21 yards, but was plagued by three dropped passes that could’ve turned into first downs.

Matt McGloin played well with the second-team offense, finishing with a team-high11-of-18 for 90 yards and a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that pulled Oakland within a score.

“I thought our guys came back and fought. I thought late in the game we were able to move the ball a little bit…I thought at times we could run the ball pretty well,” said Raiders head coach Dennis Allen after the game. “There are some positives there that we can take and continue to work with but obviously we have a long, long way to go as a football team to be the type of team that we want to be, but I’m sure our guys are going to continue to work.”

Derek Carr, the Raiders second round draft pick, finished 10-of-16 for 74 yards and an interception.

Darren McFadden finished with one carry on a nice 23 yard-burst in the first quarter, while Maurice Jones-Drew had 10 yards on two carries (he had a 7-yard run called back due to a penalty).

Overall, Oakland outgained the Vikings, 268-236 in total yards.

Defensively, Oakland looked sound, finishing with six sacks. Defensive tackle Pat Sims recorded a sack on the first drive of the game.

The Lions (1-0) are coming off a 13-12 home victory over the Cleveland Browns to kickoff their preseason schedule.

Detroit backup quarterback Kellen Moore threw for 121 yard on11-of-13 passing, including the game-winning touchdown from 21-yards out to wide receiver Corey Fuller with 1:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.

On the defensive side of the ball for Detroit, safety Isa Abdul-Quddus and linebacker George Johnson had great showings, combining for six tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception.

After Friday’s game, Oakland will continue their through the NFC North when they will travel to Green Bay for their third preseason game against the Packers.

49ers travel to London to take on the hapless Jaguars

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 10:00 AM the San Francisco 49ers (5-2) will be coming to you from across the pond in London, England where they will be facing off with the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7) at Wembley Stadium. The 49ers are on a roll having won four straight contests. They sit in second place in the NFC West behind the Seattle Seahawks. The Jaguars are a team still trying to find their way, and have yet to win a game this season. They are in last place in the AFC South.

Last week the San Diego Chargers beat Jacksonville with relative ease, 24-6. The Chargers grabbed a lead in the first quarter and never looked back. All the Jaguars offense could muster was two field goals. That has been Jacksonville’s season in a nutshell, as they have struggled in every facet of the game in what is clearly a rebuilding year.

San Francisco had slightly better luck with the Tennessee Titans, running away with a 31-17 victory in a game that wasn’t as close as the score makes it appear. The 49ers were pitching a 24-0 shutout heading into the fourth quarter before the Titans found the scoreboard for 17 points during garbage time. Frank Gore continued his strong production, running for 70 yards and two scores on 24 carries. In addition, Colin Kaepernick had possibly his best game since week 1, finding some success through the air and with his feet. He completed 13-of-21 passes for 199 yards, and ran for another 68 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Most importantly he didn’t turn the ball over once. On the defensive side Justin Smith recorded two sacks and Tramaine Brock grabbed his third interception of the season.

Despite the Jaguars problems, they do have some talented players that San Francisco will have to account for. They have a good receiving corps headlined by the young duo of Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the 49ers, they haven’t had a quarterback who can reliably get the ball to them. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t the player he once was, and doesn’t have much of an offensive line to run behind, but still presents a threat. On the defensive side of the ball things don’t look much better for them, but Paul Posluszny is a very good linebacker to try and build around.

As a whole Jacksonville is the worst team that the NFL has to offer. They have scored the least amount of points in the league, and they’ve given up the most. While playing in London is a bit of an X-factor, this still isn’t a game that the 49ers should have any trouble with. Expect them to lean on the running game as they have been over their last four victories, but look for Kaepernick to find more openings to air it out as well.

On the injury front there is no bad news to report this week. Wideout Mario Manningham, who resumed practicing with the team last week, is nearing his return. Coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to rule him out for Sunday’s contest. It may take him some time to be a real contributor again, however. Michael Crabtree’s rehab is going according to plan, and is expected back in about a month.

On a similar note, Aldon Smith, who had to leave the team in Week 3 because of the much-reported on personal issues, could re-join the team within the next couple of weeks.