GLENDALE, Ariz. — What’s one sign you’ve made it in the NFL?
When all of your key starters don’t even bother to hit the field in the exhibition opener, which the Raiders lost 20-10 on Saturday night to the Arizona Cardinals.
Derek Carr suited up but never needed his helmet as only three offensive starters ever saw the field. Most of their starting defense was out there, as it should have been considering the work it needs, but Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin didn’t play.
Marshawn Lynch experienced an interesting night as he suited up for the Raiders for the first time. There was never a chance that he was going to play, but he did put on the pads for pre-game warmups.
And then, as shown in pictures posted by the Associated Press and USA Today Sports, Lynch chose to sit on an orange water cooler during the playing of the national anthem. Whether that was his way of joining the protest toward social injustices started by then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season wasn’t immediately clear, but it certainly figures to be a hot topic.
Here’s what we learned from the exhibition opener:
1. Playing it safe: The Raiders could’ve given Carr a token possession with a few handoffs, but they didn’t bother. It was an automatic they’d sit guys who have been dealing with injuries like Amari Cooper, Mack, Irvin, Obi Melifonwu and Gareon Conley, who is still on the physically unable to perform list.
But they played it extra cautious by keeping out Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook, the starting interior offensive line of Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson and fullback Jamize Olawale.
Most of those guys will see action at some point in the exhibition season, but there’s no reason to expose them this early on.
2. Defense not fixed: The Raiders pegged so many of their defensive issues last season on poor communication they expected to have cleaned up this year. That…