GLENDALE, Ariz. — Antonio Brown caught a slant pass during pregame warmups Thursday and kept running, dashing 20 yards into the end zone. He eased into a trot, transferred the ball from right to left hand and spiked it over the crossbar for an emphatic slam dunk.
What followed was a layup.
The Raiders’ starters opened the team’s second exhibition in dominant fashion. Quarterback Derek Carr and rookie running back Josh Jacobs paced a methodical touchdown drive before the first-team defense shut down the Arizona Cardinals’ No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Kyler Murray, in a 33-26 win.
This was just a preseason game, and it was just the lowly Cardinals.
The wisest analysis from a mid-August rout might be the most restrained, not reading much into how the Raiders led 26-0 in the second quarter, owned a yardage differential of 224 to 12 at one point, had two quarterbacks with a perfect passer rating and kept the athletic Murray at bay.
But that made it no less enjoyable.
“A lot of guys suited up for the first time,” coach Jon Gruden said. “It was a neat amosphere in the locker room, guys looking at themselves in their new uniforms. I’m proud of our team, man. Really proud. But a long way to go.”
Carr and the first-team offense played one series.
He threw two passes, the first to wide receiver Tyrell Williams on a back-shoulder, contested 27-yard grab and the second to wide receiver Ryan Grant for a 13-yard catch-and-run score. Along the way, Jacobs ran strong in his NFL debut; the first-round pick logged 20 yards on three carries to open the game.
Arguably the offense’s most encouraging sight came before kickoff.
Brown has missed 12 of 13 camp practices following what he called a summer vacation mishap at a cryotherapy treatment session in France. He spent more than a week away from the Raiders’ headquarters in Napa, California, to receive evaluation and treatment for what’s been termed as “frostbite” and to pursue a helmet grievance against the NFL.
Both appear to be largely past him now.
Brown accompanied teammates on Wednesday’s flight to Arizona. On Thursday, in a helmet, he ran routes without any visible sign of discomfort. The seven-time Pro Bowler did not participate in the game, spending much of it standing on the sideline in a black No. 84 jersey beside rookie cornerback Trayvon Mullen.
Brown is considered close to resuming practice. Gruden said he should participate before camp breaks Monday. The Raiders’ next practice will be Saturday.
“In pregame, we were able to throw a couple balls to each other,” Carr said. “In pre, pregame, when no one is out there, we were able to get another session in and hit some routes, hit a deep ball. It was right where we kind of left off. He’s such a good player, and we’ve spent so much time together that I knew when he came back, it’d be just like he’d never left.
“He came in. You see him chatting it up with everybody on the sideline. He’s our teammate. We love him. That’s our brother, and we’re just happy that he’s here, so we can put our arms around him and head forward.”
Like Carr, backup Mike Glennon had a perfect quarterback rating.
He went 11-of-14 for 175 yards. He threw two second-quarter touchdowns, first hitting wide receiver Rico Gafford deep on a 53-yard shot and then exhibiting touch to tight end Derek Carrier on a 2-yard fade.
Nickel cornerback Lamarcus Joyner complemented the fast start with a safety on the ensuing drive. Murray, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, completed three of eight passes for 12 yards. Joyner’s sack on Murray was the defense’s second in three plays; linebacker Brandon Marshall recorded the other.
It was a fast start, but Gruden said it.
A long way to go.