Rookie defensive tackle P.J. Hall was one of them as he sacked Matt Cassell on the Lions’ opening drive of a 16-10 Raiders’ victory at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Friday night.
Gruden was excited for Hall, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and the other 2018 Raiders draft picks. He was even thinking about star defensive end Khalil Mack, who’s holding out for a contract extension.
“We’re really hopeful one of these days we’ll get Khalil back to fortify everything,” Gruden said. “But a good start for our two young guys.”
Hall was drafted in the second round out of Sam Houston State. The 6-foot-1, 308-pounder missed the early part of training camp because of a pectoral strain but was sharp Friday with the sack plus a tackle and a pass deflection.
“P.J. Hall comes in on the very first play gets a sack,” Gruden said. “I think he bats a pass down. I think he batted down and blocked a lot of kicks in college. He’s just a very good inside rusher and that’s good for him.”
Even third-year safety Karl Joseph was thinking about Mack. The former West Virginia star recorded one of four Raiders’ sack. After the sack, he celebrated the way Mack does.
Hurst finished with one quarterback hit, while fellow rookie cornerback Nick Nelson had five tackles, one tackle for loss and a pass deflection.
Rookie edge rusher Arden Key didn’t play because of an injury, but Gruden is hopeful he’ll play against the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 18.