A few thoughts on the Raiders' come-from-behind 17-9 preseason opening victory at Dallas (yes, I saw it on TV the same as the most of you. I'll travel with the Raiders in the regular season).
- The defensive front four looked much improved. Dominant at times, what with five sacks in the first half while limiting the Cowboys to 31 yards rushing and 86 yards passing. And I loved, just loved rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston going back in the game at the end after starting. Gave the kid a sense early of what it felt like to close things out in an NFL game, albeit an exhibition. Matt Shaughnessy was an absolute force as well.
- Jason Campell was as advertised - solid, but not spectacular - in his Raiders debut under center. He was seven of 13 passing for 49 yards in four series and seemed to have trouble early finding a rhythm against the Cowboys' first-string defense, badly overthrowing an open Zach Miller on a fourth-and-one play.
- Kyle Boller, meanwhile, may have shown Charlie Frye the door and is knocking on Bruce Gradkowski's door to be Campbell's backup. Granted, a gift-wrapped interception fell through the Cowboys' hands inside Dallas' 10-yard line late but Boller looked legit against backups. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 148 yards, included a beautiful four-yard fade to the diminutive Nick Miller in the left corner. Boller's play may have also sealed Colt Brennan's fate as the recent emergency acquisition - Frye has a sore right wrist, Gradkowski an injured groin - was supposed to play but did not with Boller leading the comeback.
- Speaking of Nick Miller...so THAT'S why the Raiders used a valuable roster spot on him and his broken shin virtually all of last season. At just 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Miller stands out on a football field for his lack of size. But his acrobatic fourth-quarter TD is what got the Raiders on the scoreboard and got things rolling.
- Michael Bennett made a statement for being the third running back. He rushed for 68 yards on 12 carries and took a screen pass 33 yards in the game-winning drive.
- Yes, it's just a preseason game, but it was a win. And it came against the Cowboys. Plus, it means the Raiders' third-teamers are better than the Cowboys' third-teamers. For at least one night.
- And just when you think you've heard the last of JaMarcus Russell, he tells ESPN that he tested positive for codeine after the Raiders drafted him No. 1 overall in 2007.
That might be the first time I can recall him ever showing accountability.
But he also said he's been using it for three years but does not have a drug problem.
I don't know which story elicits bigger yawns - Russell's non-admission admission, or Reggie Bush apologizing to new USC athletic director Pat Haden.