The Las Vegas Raiders improved to 2-0 in the preseason with Saturday’s 34-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
After rookie Aidan O’Connell played the first three quarters in Week 1’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers, coach Josh McDaniels sent three quarterbacks into action against the Rams. QB1 Jimmy Garoppolo started the game in impressive fashion, completing all four of his pass attempts for 39 yards while leading the Raiders on a nine-play, 68-yard drive that ended with the first of three offensive touchdowns. Brian Hoyer finished the half by completing 12 of 22 pass attempts for 144 yards, but threw one interception. Hoyer did manage to lead the Raiders in two scoring possessions, both ending with Daniel Carlson field goals. O’Connell took the reins in the second half and turned in another impressive performance, throwing for 163 yards while completing 11 of 18 attempts, including two touchdowns. Despite these auditions coming against mostly non-starting players, O’Connell once again made his case as Garoppolo’s backup, which seemingly was Hoyer’s job to lose.
One of the biggest question marks coming into training camp was how improved the defensive backfield might be, and Saturday provided some answers. USC-product Isaiah Pola-Mao returned to Southern Cal and provided a highlight reel after intercepting Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett and returning the pick 50 yards for a touchdown during the second quarter. Pola-Mao also registered a pass deflection, one of three by Raiders defenders. Amik Robertson and Roderick Teamer also got in on the action with pass breakups of their own. Las Vegas’ defense limited the Rams to just 148 yards passing. Bennett and Brett Rypien combined to complete 19 of 28 through the air.
Las Vegas’ three quarterbacks targeted 14 Raiders with their 44 pass attempts, and 13 made at least one reception. Some of those targeted were out of the backfield, but the wide receivers who remain hopeful of making the final 53-man cut are making things awfully tough on McDaniels and his staff. Kristian Wilkerson was targeted 12 times and made five receptions for 54 yards, and hauled in one of O’Connell’s two TD passes. Tre Tucker, who had a couple of misses last week, was thrown to seven times and caught three passes for 66 yards. Veteran Keelan Cole, who is all but certain to make the roster for a second-straight season, also caught five passes for 60 yards. Former Washington wideout Cam Sims, who was signed as a free agent in March and is looking to stay in the wideout room, caught O’Connell’s other TD pass.