- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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OAKLAND -- The Oakland Raiders' first-unit defense had itself a nice night.
The defense was fast and aggressive. It put constant pressure on Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer and was stout against the run. Young players such as defensive linemen Benson Mayowa and Mario Edwards (two sacks), linebacker Khalil Mack (two sacks) and safety Nate Allen (two interceptions) shined.
QB depth chart: Christian Ponder is likely going to back up starter Derek Carr. Ponder has been the second quarterback in all the preseason games. However, Matt McGloin played in the final five-plus minutes and he led Oakland on a game-tying touchdown drive. Still, it seems like he is behind Ponder. Because of needs at other posts, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raiders try to trade McGloin, a free agent to be.
Watson hurt: Starting right tackle Menelik Watson left the game in the first quarter. He tweeted that he ruptured his Achilles. That's a season-ending injury. He will be replaced by Austin Howard. Howard, who signed a five-year, $40 million deal last year, played guard last season and couldn’t unseat Watson this summer. The Raiders liked Watson's toughness. Now, it has to turn back to Howard.
A surprise player who looks amazing: Denico Autry started for the injured Justin Tuck at defensive tackle. Autry played well as he has all summer. Autry is going to be part of the mix for the Raiders.
Rookie watch: Edwards, a second-round pick, sacked Palmer and also had a sack late in the game. Edwards has a half sack last week. Edwards had 8.5 sacks in three years at Florida State. If he can be a consistent pass-rusher, to complement Mack, it will be a huge boost for Oakland.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Raiders looked really good on defense, so-so on offense: The Raiders were leading 15-3 at halftime. Oakland’s defense swarmed Palmer and was by far the better unit. However, Oakland’s offense was shaky. It had 1 yard rushing on 12 carries in the first half and quarterback Carr was inaccurate. He threw an interception for a touchdown on his final play of the game, in the third quarter.
One good reason to freak out: Tight end Mychal Rivera had a nice game, including an 18-yard reception on third-and-16. The Raiders wanted third-round pick Clive Walford to make an early contribution but he has missed all but two practices of training camp with a hamstring injury. He will need time to catch up when healthy. But Rivera is showing he’s capable.
Returners taking shape: It is looking like Taiwan Jones is going to return kicks and cornerback TJ Carrie is going to return punts. It’s still a work in progress and things can change, but that’s where we’re at right now.
10hJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com
12hJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com