OAKLAND, Calif. — P.J. Hall was the first Raiders defender to burst off the line of scrimmage on third-and-5, extending his arms to push and drive a Detroit Lions guard into the backfield. Quarterback Matt Cassel, feeling an edge rush from two defensive ends not named Khalil Mack, stepped forward.
Hall shed his blocker.
On the next series, Maurice Hurst slipped past a Lions guard. Cassel couldn’t afford to wait. He had to throw now. Hall raised his left hand, batting down a pass intended for a tight end.
This is what the Raiders envisioned from their rookie defensive tackles.
Hall, a second-round pick, and Hurst, a fifth-round choice, were disruptive Friday evening in the team’s exhibition opener. “Exhibition,” of course, is the operative term. However early, it was a promising start for some of the roster’s youth, particularly given how in short supply the group was during a 16-10 win in coach Jon Gruden’s return to the sideline.
The Raiders have made seven Day 1 and Day 2 selections the past two drafts.
Only two played Friday.
From the 2017 draft, first-round cornerback Gareon Conley (hip), second-round safety Obi Melifonwu (lower body, unspecified) and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (knee) were sidelined with injuries. Vanderdoes has yet to practice in training camp, as he recovers from a Dec. 31 ACL tear.
From 2018, Hall and first-round offensive tackle Kolton Miller saw work. Miller played the first two offensive series, his evening marred by a holding that negated a 60-yard Marshawn Lynch touchdown run. Both third-round choices, offensive tackle Brandon Parker and defensive end Arden Key, were absent with ankle injuries.
Key, a camp standout, is believed to have suffered the ailment in practice this week in Napa, California.
It’s not considered major, a person familiar with the situation said Friday. Key stood and watched from the sideline.
Mack has yet to report to training camp amid a holdout for a contract extension. The Raiders are unsure when he will join them, but it’s considered likely to be before their Sept. 10 season opener versus the Los Angeles Rams.
If the exhibition opener was an indicator, more pass-rush help will greet him upon his arrival.