Young Raiders Defenders Lone Bright Spots in Ugly Preseason Opener

The Oakland Raiders didn’t score until less than two minutes were remaining in the fourth quarter of a preseason game. The good news is that the game didn’t count, and the Raiders still have time to correct the errors that led to an ugly debut.

Penalties were a big problem in Friday's 10-6 loss, and the starters on both sides of the ball didn’t look sharp, but we are dealing with very small sample sizes of a much larger product. The preseason is like a sample of cold cheese that will be used to make a hot pizza.

After decades of losing, even an ugly exhibition loss is disappointing to Raiders fans, but there were a few bright spots. Oakland’s second-team defense mostly shut down the Minnesota Vikings' first-round pick—quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Raiders may have improved their starting units with veterans this offseason, but they still need young players to play key roles in 2014—especially at cornerback, where former first-round pick DJ Hayden is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. On Friday night in Minnesota, cornerbacks TJ Carrie and Chimdi Chekwa both carried over their strong training-camp performances into the preseason game and made their case for bigger roles going forward.

Chekwa is going into his fourth year with the team after being one of Al Davis’ final draft picks. After initially finding himself on the practice squad under the new regime, Chekwa has put himself in position to lock down a key role on defense.

“Chimdi’s a guy that’s fought his way into a role in the nickel defense,” head coach Dennis Allen said Tuesday after practice. “I’ll be excited about seeing him go out and play against a different group of receivers and see how he does.”

Allen should be pleased because Chekwa’s performance was easily one of the best of the night for the Raiders. Chekwa had...

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