LAS VEGAS — One of the biggest questions facing Las Vegas Raiders rookie Josh McDaniels was where he would find the right pieces for his offensive line.
McDaniels may not have all the answers after Sunday’s 26-20 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings, but he’s pleased with what he’s seen in two preseason games.
“I think we have some depth at tackle and some competition,” McDaniels said. “We told them from the first day they got here that it was going to be a situation where guys would earn their opportunities and they would define their role.”
Using multiple rotations on nearly every offensive series, the Raiders (2-0) were able to sustain second-half drives of 10 and 15 plays, both resulting in touchdowns, to seize control of the game and keep Minnesota (0-1) at arm’s length .
“We talked a lot about first down performance,” said defensive end Nick Mullens, who completed 7 of 9 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown. “And I think if you just look at the general stats in the NFL, if you’re productive on the first down, it helps you stick to the schedule to create good drives. Everyone came together, our O-line did a really good job, we ran the ball and played productively as a unit.”
After gaining just 23 yards on 12 plays in the first half, the Raiders gained 64 yards on 15 first plays in the second half.
On their first 12 plays, the Raiders gained more than four yards just once in the first two quarters. Las Vegas gained five or more yards on seven of its first 15 plays in the second half.
“There’s so many different guys on the O-line right now that are rotating each other, so you’ve got to get used to each one because not everyone is the same for rotations and double teams,” center Andre James said. “It’s nice to get it right now and see how everyone fits in.”
The Raiders finished with 300 yards of offense and averaged 4.3 yards per game, with starter Jarrett Stidham completing 10 of 15 passes for 68 yards. He also ran for 16 yards on four carries, including a touchdown. Chase Harbers finished the game under center for the Raiders and was 2 for 3 through the air for 19 yards. Britten Brown rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries, including one touchdown.
Kellen Mond threw for 119 yards nine times, including two touchdowns, for the Vikings in their preseason opener. Sean Mannion finished 8 of 12 for 79 yards.
Veteran wideout Albert Wilson caught two Minnesota passes, both for touchdowns.
“There were a lot of really, really positive things that I took out of it across the board,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said. – I thought our running game and some of our physicality that I saw going forward was really positive. Obviously, we let those backs compete, so sometimes we can use a little more in the passing game to see how those guys handle certain normal situations.”
The Raiders were 8-of-16 (50%) on third down, 2-for-2 (100%) on fourth-down and 2-for-3 (66.7%) in the red zone.
The Vikings were 1-for-7 (14.2%) on third down, 1-for-1 (100%) on fourth down and 2-for-4 (50%) in the red zone.
The Vikings were penalized eight times for 71 yards, including seven for 66 yards in the first half.
Raiders owner Mark Davis and tight end Darren Waller, who hasn’t practiced since July 30, attended Sunday’s WNBA game between the Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm across Interstate 15 from Allegiant Stadium in Mandalay- Bay. The Aces’ 109-100 win sealed the No. 1 seed for the upcoming playoffs. The WNBA game ended shortly before halftime in the Raiders game, so both Davis and Waller likely made it to the second half.
“I think he was there before our game started, I understand that. He wasn’t going to play today, so I don’t want to make it any worse than it was,” McDaniels said of Waller’s absence for the Allegiant for the entire game.
Vikings: QB Kirk Cousins tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week and did not travel with the team. The Vikings’ next practice is Tuesday, allowing Cousins to return to the field then.
Raiders: DE Malcolm Kuhns was concussed in the first quarter but later returned to the game.
Vikings: Host the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.
Raiders: Visit the Miami Dolphins on Saturday.