The Las Vegas Raiders finally played football in front of their fans at Allegiant Stadium, and the place was full of energy usually not felt in the preseason.
That electricity helped the Raiders get off to a hot start, leading to a 20-7 win. Still, not all of Las Vegas’ players fared as well as others, with jobs and roles on the line.
Here are the winners and losers from this historic preseason contest, one that Las Vegas will never forget.
This first game in Las Vegas had the makings of a snoozer due to the Raiders quarterback situation. Starter Derek Carr was held out of the game by coach Jon Gruden, and backup QB Marcus Mariota was out with a minor injury.
That meant third-team QB Nathan Peterman would take the Raiders’ first snaps at Allegiant. He displayed his continued development under Gruden, however, and looked fantastic, especially to start the game. Peterman led a 76-yard touchdown drive to start things off, and he guided a 17-play, 87-yard field goal drive in the second quarter. He played the entire game and finished with 246 yards on 29-39 passing.
It wasn’t a perfect game for Peterman, but his stock went up within the Raiders organization and throughout the NFL. Plus, his play is a favorable sign for Gruden, as well. Perhaps the “QB guru” still knows how to develop signal-callers after all.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding wide receiver Zay Jones in the leadup to the preseason. But he’s yet to make a mark on the Raiders since general manager Mike Mayock traded a fifth-round draft pick for him in 2019. Can he finally deliver this season?
Early returns say yes. Along with Peterman, Jones provided life to the Raiders on the team’s first drive, hauling in a 28-yard catch when the Raiders had yet to settle into the game. Jones almost scored a touchdown, too, but came up just short on another picturesque reception. He finished with three catches on three targets for 57 yards. It’s the preseason, but this could finally be the year for Jones in the silver and black.
This rookie running back from Louisiana Lafayette was much talked about during training camp, especially considering his notable size. Measuring 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Ragas got the ball early and took advantage.
He scored the game’s first touchdown on a fourth-and-1 play, running off the right side of the offensive line to paydirt. He kept churning out yards as the game went along, displaying nimble feet to go along with his sizable heft.
With backup RB Jalen Richard out with an injury, Ragas could have a shot to make the team. He certainly didn’t hurt his chances on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
The Raiders’ new defensive coordinator has a large task on his hands. The Las Vegas defense was awful a season ago, sidetracking the team’s playoff hopes. Bradley was brought to the desert to fix it.
On Saturday, his defense set the tone for change. He sent rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs on a blitz early and found results, resulting in a vicious QB sack. Blitzing is unusual for Bradley’s 3-deep zone scheme, but that aspect of his defense shone as well, blanketing the Seahawks’ offense early and often.
His front four provided decent pressure, and his experiment with second-year linebacker Tanner Muse wasn’t a failure, with Muse batting down a pass in the first half.
If Bradley can resurrect the Raiders’ numerous draft picks on defense and start his first-year Raiders off right, Las Vegas will be in business this season. So far, so good. Despite a few lapses from the reserves in the second half, Bradley’s defense allowed just 194 yards of offense against the Seahawks.