The Oakland Raiders finally saw the debut of their first round pick, cornerback Gareon Conley. After a shin injury kept Conley out of the preseason and the first game of the year, the rookie corner made his first start at the perfect time. Starter Sean Smith, who had a strong game one, was out on Sunday with a neck injury and the Raiders corner position is about as thin as it can get. If Conley hadn’t played, the Raiders might have had a problem, but he did and he played very well for that matter.
Jets quarterback Josh McCown decided to test the rookie corner early and it didn’t work out so well.
It was a damn impressive play by Conley, not only to extend and tip the ball in the first place, but then to have the concentration to try and bat the ball to Reggie Nelson for a potential pick. And McCown took notice and didn’t target him again until late in the game when he converted an eight yard pass on Conley who immediately made the tackle.
Now, the Raiders didn’t rush Conley into things, starting David Amerson and T.J. Carrie while Conley was the third corner. But even without a ton of snaps, Conley made an impression. According to Pro Football Focus, Conley was on the field for 29 passing plays with two targets, one catch and eight yards. That breaks down to 0.29 yards per coverage snap.
Not bad for a rookie who missed the entire preseason. Obviously, the Jets aren’t exactly an impressive offense but it’s still Gareon Conley’s first game against NFL competition and he showed up ready to play.
Now, he just needs to show he can do it on a consistent bases and against more talented offenses.
No big deal right? Ok, sort of a big deal. Conley still has a lot to prove but at least after one game, he looks like he is ready to do just that. Conley can’t help the fact that his first game was against a bad offense, so you can’t hold it against him. He was asked to step up and he did. But it also doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee he will play like this all season.
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