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Ford looks to leave poor exhibition opener behind

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POSTED August 15, 2012 8:31 p.m.

NAPA (AP) — Jacoby Ford is glad he got a clunker of a game out of the way in the preseason.

Ford had a rather forgettable exhibition opener for the Oakland Raiders. He dropped two passes, was unable to break up an interception on a deep ball from Carson Palmer and muffed a punt for Oakland (tied for No. 23 in the AP Pro32) in a 3-0 loss to Dallas on Monday night.

"It's definitely not the way I wanted to come out and put anything on film like that," Ford said Wednesday. "But games like that happen and that's why you've got to have a short-term memory and put it behind you. Good thing is it's preseason so you kind of just put that behind you now and go into the next game, work on improvements the next time."

Ford is being counted on heavily for the Raiders this season as one of the few experienced receivers on the roster. His absence for most of the second half last season with a foot injury played a role in the team missing the playoffs for a ninth straight season.

He had a strong start to training camp, showing good chemistry with Palmer after the two got very little time to work together following Palmer's midseason acquisition.

That's why it was so surprising to the Raiders to see Ford struggle in the first exhibition game.

"It's one football game," coach Dennis Allen said. "It's not the end of the world. He knows, we all know, we all got to get better, every single one of us out there. We got to put that one behind us because there's not anything we can do about the last one. We got to go on to the next one. He's done a good job of putting it behind him. He's ready to go back to work and we got all the confidence in the world in Jacoby Ford."

The rough night started when Palmer took a deep shot for Ford on the opening drive and safety Gerald Sensabaugh came over to make the interception.

While Palmer took full blame for that turnover, saying he did a poor job of looking off the safety, Allen said Ford could have done a better job breaking up the play.

There was no doubt who was at fault the next drive when Ford dropped back-to-back passes from Palmer. Ford said he was a little overanxious after missing six of the final seven games with a sprained left foot last season.

"I was excited to get back out there, and I just want to go out and just perform better for the team," he said. "I didn't perform at all the way that I wanted to, but that's preseason. So whenever it comes to the regular game, we'll be ready."

Palmer pulled Ford aside near the bench after those drops to give him a mental boost. He said he has no concerns about Ford's reliability, saying those are the only two drops he can remember in training camp or offseason practices.

"It's nothing that needs to be talked about," Palmer said. "I have complete faith in him and he'll catch the next one. I told him right after it happened I'm coming right back at you to give you another chance. I know the next ball I throw to him, if it's a bad ball he'll go up and make a play on it and make a play for me."

After a strong rookie season in which he caught 25 passes and scored seven touchdowns in the final eight games, Ford played only sparingly last year because of injuries.

He missed two games early with a hamstring injury and then six games with the foot injury. He caught 19 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown.

Ford is also looking to add punt return duties to his repertoire this season for the first time since his senior season at Clemson. Already one of the NFL's most dangerous kick returners with four touchdowns in two seasons, Ford is adjusting to the more stressful job of catching punts with defenders bearing down.

His first attempt at a return came late in the first quarter against Dallas when he muffed a ball near the sideline and went right out of bounds, costing Oakland a chance at good field position.

NOTES: RB Mike Goodson returned to practice eight days after being taken away by ambulance with a neck injury. "It felt good to get back out there, running and moving around," he said. ... P Shane Lechler said he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee shortly before training camp and started kicking again Tuesday. Allen said he's certain Lechler will be healthy enough to kick in an exhibition game. ... C Steve Wisniewski (calf), OL Ed Wang (shoulder), RB Rashawn Jackson (hip) and DL Jamie Cumbie (foot) sat out with injuries from the game. ... LB Aaron Curry is still in Los Angeles getting treatment on his injured knee and is likely to return to the team next week. There's no word on when he'll be ready to come off the physically unable to perform list.

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