Dennis Allen is happy. Not only did the Oakland Raiders win their preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys, but a slew of rookies proved perfectly capable of stepping up as starters, furthering the belief that the plan put in place by Allen and general manager Reggie McKenize is working. Numerous players delivered in the team's game as Allen referred to the Raiders as "firing on all cylinders."
"I thought for the first preseason game I was really pleased with the execution of our team," Allen told Bay Area reporters by conference call. "We played the game physical, I thought we were able to control the clock on offense. A lot of times these preseason games can get sloppy ... for the first preseason game the execution and attention to detail was pretty good."
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Allen understands that the preseason can be pretty sloppy for teams, but the Raiders only had four penalties for 35 yards which is pretty good for such a young team. Allen is confident though that it is the youth that will truly lead this team to success. A handful of draft picks are competing for staring spots and looking ready to earn them.
Sio Moore had a strong debut for the Raiders, but most were expecting that. The linebacker is essentially already penciled in as a starter, but his confidence on the field just enhances that. Moore looked comfortable in his first NFL game and ready to take over the spot left from Rolando McClain. He was the perfect physical matchup to tackle Doug Free despite being outweighed by about 85 pounds.
The Raiders do not lack for wide receivers on the field, currently hosting 12 in the position group but likely only taking six for the season. The Raiders know they have a few slam dunks, but in the game against Dallas, it was a rookie leading the pact. Brice Butler led the group with two receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was an impressive one-handed grab drawing a great reaction from the crowd.
The other rookie already making an impact is tight end Mychal Rivera who is ready to fill the shoes of Brandon Myers. Rivera is competing for a starting spot, but his speed and strong route running make him difficult to defend. Along with his blocking abilities, Allen is liking what he sees.
"I've been really impressed," Allen said of Rivera. "Like I said [last Thursday], one of the question marks you had on Mychal Rivera is his ability to block. We knew he was going to be skilled in the passing game, which he has been, but I've been impressed with the fullness of his game and his ability in the running game as well as in protection."
Allen will likely only continue to be more impressed as training camp moves forward. If the rookies continue on the path they are on, the Raiders are going to be a team to battle with in 2013.