LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A lot of starters didn’t even make the trip to Miami for the Raiders’ exhibition game Saturday night. Once again, starting quarterback Derek Carr didn’t play. Three games, all wins. but no snaps for Carr.
Yet first-year coach Josh McDaniels says there is a lot to be upbeat about after a 15-13 victory over the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
“We get a lot of guys that are nicked up, bumps and bruises,” said McDaniels, explaining why some starters — including Carr — didn’t make the trip from Las Vegas. “That’s this time of the year. Every team’s dealing with it. We’re not unique.”
As for the bright spots, defensive lineman Tashawn Bower, who played two seasons in New England before joining the Raiders, led his unit’s strong effort . The defense held Miami to 37 rushing yards, and Bower had five tackles, including two for losses, and a sack.
“Physical guy. It’s not my first year being around Tashawn,” McDaniels, an assistant coach in New England before joining the Raiders, said. “He loves to play football. He’s doing his job the right way. He’s setting a good example for the way we want to try to play on the edge with his opportunities. He’s rushed the quarterback. He used some power tonight.”
Bower, entering his fifth NFL season out of Louisiana State, downplayed his performance.
“I think I’ve done well but I mean there are 10 other guys out there helping me out, you know,” he said. “There are times where we can’t get to the quarterback unless there is good coverage and vice versa. There are 10 other guys doing their job to help us all out.”
The Raiders also got some nifty play from quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham, Chase Garbers and Nick Mullens.
Stidham, who started, was 7-for-10 passing for 80 yards and directed the team’s lone touchdown drive, a 12-play, 75-yard march on the opening possession that was capped by Zamir White’s 2-yard scoring plunge.
Brittain Brown, a rookie out of UCLA, led the Raiders in rushing with nine carries for 70 yards, including a 36-yard scamper.
For McDaniels, seeing newcomers like Bower and rookies like Brown produce makes his job tougher and, hopefully, his team better. Fighting for roster spots brings out the best.
Said McDaniels: “Every guy that’s suited up in a National Football League game, whether it’s regular season game or preseason game, is there for a reason. They’re fighting hard for roster spots. They’re fighting hard for the things they’re trying to improve on.
“I thought our guys really just battled and competed. Like I said, there will be a lot for us to improve on when we watch the film.”
In addition to Carr, other top-line performers who didn’t play for the Raiders including receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, running back Josh Jacobs and defensive ends Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby.
As for the Dolphins, they got their first look this preseason at quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He played the first two series, completing 6 of 8 passes for 58 yards.
“I was really happy with Tua because he’s been having such a good camp, just in his development and ownership of the offense,” Dolphins first-year coach Mike McDaniel said.
The Raiders finish their exhibition season Friday, playing the New England Patriots, McDaniels’ former team, at Allegiant Stadium.