The Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Rams 17-16 on Saturday in their second preseason game. Rams quarterback Bryce Perkins failed to connect on a pass in the right corner of the endzone on a two-point conversion at the very end of the game.
The Raiders were on the road this past week, but by the way fans showed up to both joint practices and the game in SoFi Stadium, it didn’t feel like an away game for the Silver and Black. At one point during the game, the Jumbotron flashed a message asking “whose house?” and by the crowd’s makeup, it really wasn’t clear.
The game didn’t feature most starters. However, we did see the young players, as well as some of the key roster battles. Let’s take a dive into them.
For the second consecutive week, rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs had a huge impact on the game. He displayed impressive instincts on multiple plays, including his tackle for a loss on the team’s first possession in which he fought through a blocker and tackled J.J. Koski behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of 4-yards.
Later in the first quarter, Hobbs disguised his blitz, came off the edge hard, and almost sacked quarterback Bryce Perkins. He was able to wrap up the Rams quarterback, who ultimately broke free of the sack. But Perkins had no one open and felt pressure that led to him throwing the pass away.
The best play of the game came due to the fact Damon Arnette was out. Hobbs was asked to help and play on the outside, something he had done only a few times in practice before. “I was playing [outside] corner when I picked the ball,” Nate Hobbs said after the game. “I played like two plays Tuesday’s practice at corner, the rest was at nickel.”
In the third quarter of the game, Nate Hobbs was playing on the outside and ran stride for stride with Rams second-round pick Tutu Atwell, who ran a deep post from the left side of the field. Perkins threw the pass into triple coverage, and it was Hobbs who high-pointed the pass and intercepted it.
At this point, Hobbs has won the starting slot position even though the team hasn’t officially announced it. Not only is he ahead of Nevin Lawson on the depth chart, but he’s making play after play. There was an interception, multiple hits to the quarterback, including a sack last week, and undercutting routes to force incompletions.
“He has the it factor,” Gruden said. “He rarely makes the same mistake twice.”
Nick Martin vs Jimmy Morrissey
With Andre James resting against the Rams this week, we saw a ton of action between the backup centers Nick Martin and Jimmy Morrissey. Against the Seahawks, both players had pretty good games. However, against the Rams, Nick Martin really struggled.
Martin allowed a few pressures and was beaten twice on running plays, including one that was blown up in the backfield for a loss of 3 yards, on third and short, forcing the Raiders to punt the football.
Morrissey, on the other end, had himself a great game for the second straight week. On one play, he took the Rams 1-tech defensive tackle and drove him back three yards, allowing the running back to pick up the first down. On another, he and the right guard pancaked the defensive linemen while pass protecting.
The battles are still going, but Gruden and Cable might consider giving Morrissey the first shot at center during the final game of the preseason. Morrissey, although a rookie, has shown he can handle himself in the NFL.
Tanner Muse has shown why the Raiders listed him first as the strong-side linebacker on the depth chart. He had a game that included him making multiple plays to help the Raiders win, including a play that showed great awareness. He lined up in the A-gap presnap, faked like he was dropping back in coverage, and came on an inside delayed blitz. He went unblocked and sacked the quarterback.
Last week, the Raiders sent Muse on a blitz, and he jumped up and batted a pass down by Geno Smith. Muse’s football awareness has been displayed on multiple plays this preseason. He won’t be a full-time starter, especially since he’s playing the Otto role, a specialized position that typically only plays during base defense when three linebackers are on the field at the same time.
However, with Javin White’s injury, it looks like Muse has all but locked up a spot on the 53-man roster. If he continues to develop, the Raiders have something special in Muse, who will be a special teams leader for the Silver and Black.
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