The Las Vegas Raiders got off to a strong start in the NFL preseason, defeating the Seattle Seahawks 20-7 in Week 1. Exhibition wins and losses mean little in predicting regular-season success, but the way Las Vegas won provides at least some optimism for meaningful games.

Defense was the Raiders’ Achilles’ heel in 2020 and what largely kept the team out of the playoffs. The unit, which ranked 30th in points allowed last season, gave up a single touchdown and no field goals in Las Vegas’ 2021 debut. The Raiders shut out the Seahawks in the first half.

Fifth-round draft pick Nate Hobbs was particularly impressive in his first-ever NFL action. The rookie recorded a sack and two tackles in a start at slot corner, furthering his case to occupy that role full-time in the regular season.

“There’s just certain guys that bring juice,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden in a post-game press conference. “They bring something to the game that others just … you can’t explain it. He’s one of these guys. He’s into it all the time.”

Hobbs is competing with veteran Nevin Lawson for playing time. Lawson made nine starts for the Raiders last year and is set to miss the first two weeks of the 2021 season because of a suspension for violating the league’s rules for performance-enhancing drugs.

With a team-high six tackles in Week 1, linebacker Javin White is making the case to be a contributor on Las Vegas’ defense. White played four games as an undrafted rookie in 2020 while spending much of the year on the practice squad.

Gruden said he is "really proud" of him.

"He played all over the field for the (UNLV) Rebels. He played safety, corner, linebacker — he played every position basically. He’s finding his way as a linebacker in this scheme. His speed, his recognition is improving and he’s off to a good start," Gruden said.

It was the first game under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. The Los Angeles Chargers had a top-10 defense with Bradley as their coordinator in 2020.

The Raiders didn’t exactly face a formidable offense in their first preseason game. Russell Wilson didn’t play for Seattle. Receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were also kept off the field.

Las Vegas is set to visit the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday in Week 2 of the preseason. The Raiders are one of the biggest favorites on the entire schedule, laying 5.5 points in L.A.

Jon Gruden Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden looks on during warm-ups prior to their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 1, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images