They Don’t Drop Baton for Raiders : Pro football: Young receivers Jordan, Ismail and Hobbs turn the game into a track meet as L.A. beats the Cowboys, 27-19.
Tim Brown is happy to be a Raider.
Thrilled to be a starter.
And thankful he is not a rookie.
Brown played in the Pro Bowl last season, was the AFC leader last season in receiving yards and is the greatest single-season pass-catcher in Raider history. But even he wouldn’t want to be an outsider trying to make this Raider squad as a wide receiver.
“I wouldn’t want to be a rookie, Heisman Trophy or no Heisman Trophy,” Brown said. “This is incredible.”
No argument from the Dallas Cowboys, 27-19 losers to the Raiders on Sunday night in an exhibition before 61,932 at Texas Stadium.
It was supposed to be a football game, but it looked more like a track meet as the Raiders unleashed their relay squad of young receivers.
Quarterback Vince Evans has been throwing passes professionally since 1977. Has he ever had a choice of targets like this?
“No, I haven’t,” Evans said. “We have guys who can turn the six-yard hitch into a 77-yard run or take it all the way downtown. We have guys who can make things happen.”
--Charles Jordan, who caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Billy Joe Hobert, Jordan never breaking stride after beating Tommy Jones.
--Rocket Ismail, who caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from Evans.
--Daryl Hobbs, who caught a team-high four passes for 77 yards and made a spectacular punt return that was called back.
How deep is this receiving corps? Keep in mind that both Jordan and Hobbs are trying to make the team and Ismail has yet to crack the starting lineup.
Of the Raiders’ three top receivers, neither Brown nor James Jett, a former Olympic gold medal winner, caught a pass. And Alexander Wright, two-time winner of the NFL’s Fastest Man competition, was sidelined because of a pulled calf muscle.
And in addition to all of this talent, the Raiders can boast of starting tailback Ty Montgomery, a converted receiver, who still looks more comfortable catching passes.
He caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeff Hostetler after the Cowboys’ Troy Aikman had opened the scoring with a six-yard run.
But after getting even, the Raiders went ahead on Jeff Jaeger’s 42-yard field goal and were never caught. Jaeger later added a 50-yarder as time ran out in the first half.
In improving to 2-0 in the exhibition season, the Raiders dropped the Cowboys to 1-1.
But in all fairness, this was hardly the Dallas unit that has won the last two Super Bowls.
Aikman only played one series. Star running back Emmitt Smith didn’t play at all as Coach Barry Switzer kept him out, preferring to save Smith for later in the preseason.
And such key performers as Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper, both receivers, and Russell Maryland, Leon Lett and Charles Haley, all defensive linemen, sat out because of injuries, as did center Mark Stepnoski.
The other Cowboy scores came on a safety by Tony Tolbert against Evans, a 25-yard field goal by Chris Boniol and an eight-yard touchdown pass from Jason Garrett to running back Judd Garrett.
It’s the time for reserves to make their mark, and Ismail was in that group Sunday night.
A year ago at this time, he was still sitting at home, waiting out the contract negotiations that eventually led to a job with the Raiders. But he sat out training camp altogether and never caught up.
This year, he has been there since the gates to the Raiders’ Oxnard camp swung open and the difference shows.
Ismail showed the Cowboys a few of his moves on a spectacular play late in the second quarter, hooking up with Evans on the 54-yard touchdown.
First, Ismail used his speed to get ahead of defender Dave Thomas, catching the ball at the Dallas 10-yard line.
Ismail fell at the five, but used his quickness and agility to keep moving. Without a Cowboy able to lay a hand on him, Ismail spun to the three-yard line and then, with another quick spin move, made it into the end zone.
Ismail knows that, regardless of how much work he gets at wide receiver, he has a spot on the team as a kick returner.
Not so for Hobbs, who spent two seasons simply trying to make it onto the field for the Raiders, finally succeeding in the first playoff game.
Hobbs would like to start playing a lot earlier this season and he tried to make a case in the second quarter.
Hobbs’ biggest play didn’t even count in the game.
It counted where it mattered most, in the eyes of the coaching staff, who watched Hobbs break six tackles and go 37 yards on a punt return before the play was called back because of a holding call against Napoleon McCallum.
Another player trying to make the Raider squad is defensive lineman Alberto White, who didn’t even make the final cutdown last season. But he is off to a big start in this preseason in his bid to find a spot on the Raiders’ veteran defensive line.
White had a sack and a half last week against the Denver Broncos in the Raiders’ exhibition opener and, in Sunday’s game, he added two more sacks and an interception.