Jackson seeks improvement after Raiders opener

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - From botching the coin toss to allowing a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute to the 10 penalties and numerous blown chances in between, new Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson sees plenty to work on after his exhibition debut.

The Raiders lost their preseason opener 24-18 to the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, with many of the same issues that plagued Oakland a year ago still becoming problems.

"Those things in a first preseason game are things that a lot of people are trying to overcome, and we will," Jackson said Friday. "It was good to see some guys really competing and getting after it. We have something to build on there."

Jackson was pleased with the play of the first-team defense, the passing game and many of his offensive linemen, including rookies Stefen Wisniewski and Joe Barksdale.

The key in the upcoming weeks is to build on those and fix the lingering issues before the season begins Sept. 12 in Denver.

While all teams are hindered this summer by the lockout which canceled minicamps and OTAs, all of Oakland's problems couldn't be attributed to the lack of offseason work.

The issues began even before the opening kickoff. The Raiders won the coin toss and one of the captains apparently told referee Ron Winter the team wanted to kick off before another said defer. Winter went with the first declaration, allowing the Cardinals the chance to receive in the second half as well, when they got an opening drive field goal.

"I think it's unfortunate that it happened," Jackson said. "I'm glad it happened (in preseason)."

Then some of the same problems that plagued the Raiders a year ago reared up once again. Oakland drove inside the Arizona 30 five times but ended up with just one touchdown and four field goals on those trips.

Oakland was 22nd in the league a year ago, scoring touchdowns on 40.9 percent of trips inside the 30, but improved as the year progressed. Jackson expects similar improvement with more practice time spent in the scoring area.

"We've been there for two weeks and we're trying to pack everything in as fast as we can and sometimes you don't get to hit on all the things that you got to hit on right away. You get bits and pieces," Jackson said. "As we move forward, we'll make sure that those things are all tidied up and ready to go."

The Raiders, who were the most penalized team in the NFL a year ago, committed 10 for 84 yards on Thursday in a performance that really riled Jackson because he has stressed reducing those.

Starting right tackle Khalif Barnes committed three false starts in two series, costing Oakland a chance at a field goal on the second drive. Rookie Richard Gordon also committed a false start, giving the Raiders four on the night. They led the NFL with 31 false starts last season

Backup cornerback Walter McFadden committed a pair of pass interference penalties on a touchdown drive late in the second quarter. Oakland had a league-worst 13 pass interference calls last season.

McFadden was one of many backup defensive backs who struggled in the opener but will be needed to contribute when the season starts. The Cardinals had few problems moving the ball through the air after starting cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson sat down following the first series.

Arizona quarterbacks combined to go 17-for-27 for 297 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions at a 137.4 passer rating once the starting cornerbacks sat for the night.

Rookie Demarcus Van Dyke was one of the players who struggled, getting beaten twice in one series by star receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Van Dyke also got beat by Stephen Williams on a touchdown pass in the second quarter.

"It's a pretty good way to go out there and judge yourself on a guy of his caliber and see what I can get better at," Van Dyke said. "I just have to finish on plays, that's about it."

With Chris Johnson moving into the starting lineup following the loss of All Pro Nnamdi Asomugha to free agency, the Raiders are searching for reliable coverage cornerbacks from a group that includes McFadden, fellow second-year pro Jeremy Ware and rookies Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa, who is out with a shoulder injury.

"It's something we'll continue to look at as we continue to move forward," Jackson said. "But those young guys, they'll step up. They got to rise up and play, and I expect that they will."

Oakland also lost backup safety Hiram Eugene to a dislocated hip. Receiver Chaz Schilens and undrafted free agent safety Zac Etheridge had knee injuries. Jackson said he'd know more about the extent of the injuries in the next few days.


Josh Dubow can be reached at http://twitter.com/JoshDubowAP


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