Let’s look at some key aspects of the game as the Raiders survived as the Rams missed a two-point conversion in the final seconds.
Record: The Raiders are 2-0. The Rams are 0-2.
What it means: For the second straight game (the Raiders opened the preseason with a 20-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks at home last week, Las Vegas sat most of its starters. First-round pick, right tackle Alex Leatherwood, and second-round pick, safety Tre’von Moehrig, both played extensively again. Center Andre James played last week, but he sat this week. Clearly, Las Vegas thinks James, who has played one NFL game, is ready to play in the regular season.
This was the Las Vegas starting offense:
Raiders first team offense:
QB: Nathan Peterman
RB: Trey Ragas
WR: Zay Jones, Keelan Doss, Willie Snead IV
TE: Derek Carrier
OL: Brandon Parker, Lester Cotton, Nick Martin, John Simpson, Alex Leatherwood
They went 3-and-out to start the game.
— Tashan Reed (@tashanreed) August 22, 2021
Thus, Leatherwood was the only projected starter to play. Perhaps backup quarterback Marcus Mariota will play some next week. Nathan Peterman played the whole game Saturday night.
This was the Raiders’ starting defense:
Raiders first team defense:
DL: Clelin Ferrell, Darius Philon, Solomon Thomas, Carl Nassib
LB: Javin White, Tanner Muse, Asmar Bilal
CB: Keisean Nixon, Rasul Douglas
S: Johnathan Abram, Tre’von Moehrig
— Tashan Reed (@tashanreed) August 22, 2021
So, safeties Moehrig and Johnathan Abram were the only projected starters to play, Clearly, the Raiders want to see as much of Abram as possible in Gus Bradley’s system. Fifth-round pick Nate Hobbs was the first-team nickel and he has a shot to win the job. Defensive tackle Quenton Jefferson, who is expected to start, also played some.
Honestly, the starting defensive line if Clelin Ferrell, Darius Philon, Solomon Thomas and Carl Nassib is not terrible. It shows the improved depth on the defensive front. Ferrell has looked solid in the preseason, but, of course, he is playing against backups. it will be interesting to see how he develops during the season when he’s on the field.
Hobbs made more big plays, including a third-quarter interception. He has been a preseason star and the Raiders will surely get him on the field a lot during the regular season. Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden said after the game Hobbs has exceeded expectations and he received a game ball, which is rare for a preseason game.
Second-year linebacker Javin White also had a nice game. He may soon locked up a spot on the 53-man roster if he is healthy, which is a big question after he was hurt later in the game. White was part of a defensive breakdown as the Rams tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter after a short drive after a Peterman interception.
Javin White ROBOTs off the back and falls back under the over route. He’s going to force the front office to make a tough decision soon. pic.twitter.com/TfFmGgcyWB
— BD Williams (@BDWilliams18) August 22, 2021
The Rams kept most of their starters out too as Bryce Perkins started at quarterback. So, yes, most of the value of this week was the two scrimmage days between the Raiders and Rams in Thousand Oaks.
For the second straight game, undrafted rookie running back Trey Ragas scored on fourth down. This kid is making a huge push to make the 53-man roster. Jalen Richard must be hearing foot steps.
Of course, Gruden’s offense struggled last year in the red zone, so this preseason success could be good karma. Ragas’ score came on the Raiders’ second drive. The offensive line played well, including Leatherwood, on that drive. The offensive line and Peterman struggled to end the first half.
Backup defensive tackle Darius Philon has been good and he solidified himself with a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter the drive before Marcell Ateman, who likely won’t make the 53-man roster, scored to make it a 17-10 game.
Overall, it was a sloppy night. But, again, that’s nothing stunning. That’s what happens when the backups play most of the game.
Injury report: White was banged up in the third quarter and had to be helped off the field with a knee injury. He was carted to the locker room and it didn’t look good. With Nicholas Morrow and Nick Kwiatkoski out, the Raiders could make a push to sign veteran linebacker K.J. Wright. Third-round pick, pass-rusher Malcolm Koonce also got banged up, but he returned and finished the game strong. Gruden said after the game that he is “concerned” with both Morrow, who has a foot injury, and White’s injuries. Cornerback Keisean Nixon left the game with an injury as well. Gruden also said guard Richie Incognito has a calf strain and they hope he is ready to play Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens.
What’s next: The Raiders finish the three-game preseason slate August 29 at the San Francisco 49ers. It will be the first time in 10 years that the two teams meet in the preseason. Kickoff is 1 p.m. PT.