Raiders' Jimmy Garoppolo knocks 'some of the rust off' in sharp Vegas debut

It was the first time in eight months, two weeks and a day that Jimmy Garoppolo had taken the field in a competitive football environment, some five months since the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback had undergone surgery on his injured left foot.

Yes, it was merely a preseason game, against an opponent he had faced nine times and defeated eight in the Los Angeles Rams. And sure, he played only one series, the opening drive at SoFi Stadium.

But with as sharp and precise as Garoppolo looked in that small sample, it left the Raiders not only feeling comfortable with their new quarterback, but also wanting more.

"It felt good," he said, "just to knock some of the rust off."

Consider: Garoppolo directed a sublime 68-yard touchdown drive in nine plays and five minutes, not only completing all four of his passes for 39 yards -- the Raiders also ran the ball five times in the series -- but also spreading the ball around by connecting with four different players who play three different positions in running back Ameer Abdullah, receivers Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers, and rookie tight end Michael Mayer.

Talk about being efficient and balanced in coach Josh McDaniels' offense.

"I wanted to play, so I'm glad Josh let the starters get out there and get a couple reps in," said Garoppolo, whose NFL career began in 2014 in New England with McDaniels as his offensive coordinator. "I thought the line played great. I thought guys were just operating at a fast, fast pace, which is important in this offense. I thought it was, overall, pretty good."

For a guy who missed the entire on-field portion of the offseason program after suffering the foot injury while playing for the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 4, it was better than pretty good.

It was, well, expected for a guy who signed a three-year, $72.75 million free-agent contract with Las Vegas. McDaniels, though, would not say the quicker pace was a point of emphasis for Garoppolo coming into the game.

"I mean, no, not really, nothing changed," McDaniels said. "But we huddled the whole drive. Look, the reality is when the quarterback knows the playcall, and he gets it out of his mouth quickly to the huddle and gets to the line of scrimmage, it's just advantageous for all of us so we can put more pressure on the defense and try to just make them play at our pace.

"So Jimmy was trying to press that a little bit ... and [I] thought he did a great job of commanding the huddle, controlling the line of scrimmage, getting us in and out of the right stuff. He did a really good job in the short time [on the field]."

With Garoppolo jump-starting an offense he was already familiar with, Las Vegas finished with 440 total yards in the 34-17 defeat of the Rams, the most offensive yards by the Raiders in a preseason game since at least 2017. And Garoppolo became the first Raiders QB in four years to complete all of his passing attempts in a preseason game.

Yes, it was just an exhibition. But the Raiders, and Garoppolo, hope it was also a sign of things to come. A launch point, of sorts.

"We're nowhere near perfect," Garoppolo said. "We're still trying to, you know, reach for that perfection and we've still got things to work on, but [this] was a step in the right direction, for sure.

"You don't want to go out there and lay an egg, obviously, but it was just getting in the rhythm with the guys, just feeling them in the huddle so they can hear me, feel me a little bit, pregame stuff, in the locker room. I mean, it's all those little things that really, they add up throughout the year and it was good to just get in that rhythm."