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Hester Dealt to Atlanta for Draft Choice : Shanahan Makes It Official by Naming Beuerlein to Start Raiders’ Opener

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<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Beset by an 0-3 exhibition record and a rising tide of problems--try quarterback and defensive line--that has pretty much washed out what remained of preseason optimism, the Raiders made some little moves Sunday.

They traded their drop-prone speedster, Jessie Hester, to the Atlanta Falcons for an undisclosed 1989 draft choice, thought to be a No. 4 or 5. Since Hester was a No. 1 in 1984, this was something less than a coup.

They named Steve Beuerlein to open the season at quarterback.

Beuerlein threw two interceptions Saturday night, giving him four in his last two halves, and Vince Evans tossed three more. There are finally indications that Raider brass, which until now was upbeat about a quarterback situation so many others are publicly sneering at, is beginning to be concerned, too.

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“Any time you put your quarterbacks in a situation where they have to throw as much as we did against a fine football team, usually you’re going to experience some setbacks,” Coach Mike Shanahan said.

“We’ve just got to grow. We’ve got to grow as a football team. We’ve got to grow at that position.”

Beuerlein came into Saturday’s game off a 3 for 11 half against Dallas, but the word went out, he didn’t make a bad on-field decision in either of his two appearances. That ended Saturday, too.

“The way things went out there, not a whole lot of good things happened,” Beuerlein said.

“I’m not happy with the way I performed or the way the team performed.

“You’re getting me at a bad time. I’m kind of upset at the way I played. For the first time in the preseason, I made some bad decisions. I tried to force some balls in there. The way I’m looking at it, I got them out of my system.

“I made two or three mental mistakes. I checked off into some bad plays. I thought I was doing the right thing. It turned out, I saw something different than what was out there.”

Is he feeling pressure?

“You can’t help but feel a little bit of pressure but I don’t think it’s affecting me on the field. I feel very comfortable on the field. I’m not dropping back to pass, wondering what they’re saying about me or what somebody is writing about me. That stuff doesn’t get to me.”

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It was a night of bad decisions. Said Evans, about his own problems:

“I would like to have played a little better. I know I can. It just didn’t happen.

“It took me a little while to settle down. I threw that first pick (interception) . . . I just wish I could have gotten some of those throws back.”

On this team, attention focuses on the unresolved quarterback situation, but now there are also problems looming among the “blackshirts,” the defensive unit which has for so long been the franchise’s last bastion.

The once-feared pass rush has been minimal. Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers completed 12 of 14 passes in the exhibition opener. Herschel Walker ran for 65 yards in 10 carries in one half in the second outing. Doug Williams completed 7 of 9 Saturday.

Of course, Howie Long has missed two games, Bill Pickel one and Greg Townsend, who is suspended for drug use, all three. Also, the unit misses holdouts Matt Millen and Stacey Toran--perhaps more than the brass wants to say--and is still auditioning candidates to replace Sean Jones, who was traded to the Houston Oilers.

“I think any time you miss a player like Stacey Toran who’s an excellent football player, you’re obviously going to miss a person like him, or a guy like Matt Millen and the leadership he brings to the football team,” Shanahan said.

“But at the same time, I don’t believe in giving any football team an excuse, for someone being injured or someone not being here. Because those things happen during the season. What an excellent football team is about is overcoming adversity, regardless of who’s injured or who’s not here.”

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However, Raider officials are watching the line, where the impact of two more No. 1 picks has yet to be felt.

Bob Buczkowski, the No. 1 in 1986, has been unimpressive in his attempt to replace Jones. Scott Davis, the No. 1C last spring, hasn’t done much. Mike Wise, a fourth-round pick in ‘86, has at least been combative, if not overpowering, and may end up the starter.

Put it down as someplace else where they could stand a little growth.

Raider Notes

Jessie Hester, the soft-spoken burner from Florida State, leaves with a 23.7 career yards-per-catch average, but only 56 receptions in three seasons. His teammates marveled at the way he could run routes, and the opposition never could cover him, but what did they have to worry about? He dropped too many passes to live up to his billing. . . . Mike Shanahan: “I think he’ll be a great addition to their football team. He’ll be closer to home. He did some things in the off-season he hasn’t done before and he gained some confidence in his hands. At this point, cutting our squad, the fourth or fifth wide receiver has to be a strong special teams player and Jesse didn’t really fit into that role.” . . . Shanahan did find players to praise in Saturday’s game: Marcus Allen, the offensive line, Terry McDaniel, the wide receivers, Bill Pickel, Dennis Price, Zeph Lee and Reggie McKenzie.

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