The Las Vegas Raiders were unable to end the preseason on a high note as they lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-16.
It was the first loss the Raiders suffered in the summer, though overall the team looked sharp on both ends. Offensively, the star of the preseason was Aidan O’Connell who made a strong case to be the team’s backup quarterback over veteran Brian Hoyer.
Against the Cowboys, O’Connell completed 17 of his 26 pass attempts for 178 yards. The rookie threw a couple of impressive deep balls and displayed the accuracy that he’s come to be known for.
Although O’Connell would’ve surely liked a win to close out his first few games of professional football people like general manager Dave Ziegler believe he’s started his young career off on the right foot via Vic Tafur of The Athletic:
Ziegler on O’Connell’s preseason: “He’s built a good foundation here for the rest of the year.”
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 27, 2023
Suffice it to say that O’Connell has been one of the biggest surprises for Las Vegas so far as the Purdue product was not projected to contribute so quickly. Despite solid showings in his final two years of college, the young signal caller was thought to be more of a developmental prospect that the team could mold into a quality backup down the line.
However, it looks like O’Connell might be ready to play sooner than many expected though he’s still going to have to wait in the wings with Jimmy Garoppolo already named the Raiders’ starting quarterback. Garoppolo looked like himself in his debut against the Los Angeles Rams last week, though his injury history and durability will always be a question mark.
With that in mind, Ziegler and the rest of the organization are probably feeling a little better that they have someone like O’Connell who could come in and play right away. While it might seem overzealous to lean on a rookie like O’Connell, the fact of the matter is he’s earned some benefit of the doubt after a great preseason.
Michael Mayer learning tough lessons from Maxx Crosby
While O’Connell has been turning heads in training camp and preseason, Michael Mayer has been getting his “welcome-to-the-NFL” moment going up against Maxx Crosby in practice. Mayer, who is slated to be the Raiders’ starting tight end for Week 1, has been losing reps to Crosby in pass protection though the rookie is grateful for the lessons he’s been learning.