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Raiders report: D.J. Turner makes impression with big game

Updated August 14, 2022 - 7:35 pm

Tyron Johnson predicted a big game from fellow Raiders wide receiver D.J. Turner on Sunday.

Turner made his teammate look prophetic by hauling in three passes for 58 yards and a touchdown in a 26-20 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium.

“I was so happy for him,” said Johnson, who celebrated in the end zone with Turner after his touchdown. “As a matter of fact, I called this game because he had a great week of practice, and I said, ‘D.J., you’re going to score in the game.’ He had a great game. He’s been working really hard.”

Johnson’s enthusiasm belied the reality of a battle that could see one or both of them come up short of making the 53-man roster. Johnson has been a training camp standout, but was held to just one catch for seven yards on Sunday. He said the bond all the receivers have formed keeps them from seeing each other as competition.

“That’s what we try not to do because we’re all brothers,” Johnson said. “We’re in the locker room together every day and the film room every day, so we’re just trying to uplift each other. It might be a competition to the media, but in the locker room we’re embracing each other. We’re really tight and we really help each other. I don’t see it as competition. I just see it as doing our job and wherever the pieces fall, they fall.”

Turner’s biggest play came when he grabbed a pass from Nick Mullens over the middle and turned upfield on the sideline, getting a block from tight end Jesper Horsted and racing 34 yards for the score.

“It felt great just to get out there and play the game I love with my teammates and then get an opportunity to make the play and make the most of it,” he said. “Got my first touchdown and came out with the win, so a great experience overall.”

Turner spent last season on the practice squad after joining the Raiders as an undrafted free agent. He made an impression on coach Josh McDaniels with his performance on Sunday.

“He did a good job in the kicking game with a good return and then certainly made plays when the ball found him on offense,” McDaniels said. “D.J. is very consistent. He knows what his job is and he plays fast. He’s physical for a smaller guy. You saw the burst on the touchdown catch. So he makes the most of his opportunities, which is what we ask everyone to do.”

Grass is greener

The playing surface at Allegiant Stadium was widely panned on social media by viewers tuned into the national broadcast, but it didn’t cause any major problems.

“I know it didn’t necessarily look the best, but at the end of the day we’re tasked with going out there and handling whatever circumstances there are. I don’t feel like I saw anybody slipping or anything,” running back Kenyan Drake said. “I feel like it held up pretty well.”

Though there is a roof on the stadium, the surface is a natural grass that is grown and maintained outside and then wheeled in for games.

Several recent soccer games took a toll on the surface.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Johnson said. “We probably need some better grass out there, but for me, I was ready to go. I can play anywhere. Even the parking lot.”

That won’t be necessary.

Raiders officials indicated new sod would be in place in time for the regular season.

Almost perfect

Kicker Daniel Carlson, a second-team All-Pro who has led the league in scoring each of the last two seasons, made both field goal attempts but missed an extra point on Sunday against his former team.

He missed two of his 17 extra point-attempts at Allegiant Stadium last season despite going 19 of 19 on field goals and making all eight tries of more than 40 yards.

Carlson actually made a better percentage on his total field goals (93 percent) than he did on extra points last season (90.9 percent).

The Vikings drafted Carlson in 2018 only to release him after missing three field goals in his second game. He immediately signed with the Raiders and has been one of the league’s best kickers ever since.

Carr makes list

NFL Network promoted this week’s unveiling of the top 100 players of 2022 by revealing both the Raiders and Vikings starting quarterbacks had made the list during halftime of the broadcast.

Derek Carr, who has not made the list in the last three years, placed No. 65 for this season. Kirk Cousins checked in at No. 99, but didn’t make the trip to Las Vegas after testing positive for Covid.

Homecoming

Keenan McCardell didn’t get to play at Allegiant Stadium when he was at UNLV, but did make it to the new home of the Rebels on Sunday as wide receivers coach of the Vikings.

McCardell, the only Vikings coach retained by the new staff, is the only former UNLV player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2004.

He left the program as the school’s all-time leading receiver and now ranks 11th on the list with 2,189 yards in three seasons.

One of the players he coaches is Bishop Gorman alum Jalen Nailor, a sixth-round pick of the Vikings out of Michigan State.

Nailor had two catches for 22 yards in the loss Sunday, while also misplaying a kickoff early in the fourth quarter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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