Concerned about that 0-3 exhibition start, Raiders fans? Never fear. Coach Norv Turner says the glass is half full. Maybe more.

Turner likes the way his starting unit has played in games the Raiders led 6-0, 17-7 and 13-11 at the half before being outscored 39-10 in the second half.

Here's what has pleased the coach after he crunched some numbers:

- Rushing defense by the first team.

Last year, the Raiders ranked 22nd in the league, allowing 3.7 yards a rush. In three games vs. opponents' starters, there has been significant improvement.

"Teams have run for 2.1 (yards) an attempt," Turner said.

With only 24 rushing attempts, statistically that's not quite enough for a meaningful sample.

"That's not enough rushes, but we have played awfully good run defense," Turner said.

- Kerry Collins' passing.

"If you are going to be a goodteam, your quarterback has to play good," Turner said. "Kerry is completing 70 percent of his balls, has thrown three touchdowns and one interception. He has 55 attempts, so there are some (meaningful) numbers there. His rating is 105.

"I just feel encouraged by his accuracy, by the plays he is making. Last night he throws one touchdown in his 40 snaps but he could have thrown four easily."

What could have been touchdowns were dropped by Ronald Curry, Randy Moss and Courtney Anderson.

"He (Collins) is playing at a level that we'd like to see him play," Turner said.

- Third downs on offense and defense.

Last year the Raiders had the worst third-down defense in the NFL. They were also low on the food chain in third-down offense.

In the first halves of three games so far, the Raiders offense has had 22 third-down opportunities and converted 11 for 50 percent. Last year, the Raiders converted 35.5 percent on offense.

The real difference, though, comes on defense. There, opponents have converted just 5 of 18 third downs for 27.8 percent, Last year, Oakland was gouged for 47.4 percent.

How good is 27.8 percent? No team in the NFL compiled a third-down defense of less than 30 percent.

However, there is also the half-empty syndrome to consider. In particular, it involves Collins, who fumbled three times Friday night against Arizona, leading to eight Cardinals points in a one-point loss.

Turner said on two of the three, there wasn't anything Collins did wrong.

"If a blind-side hit is a hit on your arm as you are starting your throwing motion, that's real hard to hang onto the football," he said.

On the other fumble, which the Raiders recovered, Turner said Collins probably should have thrown the pass a little sooner.

"But I think Kerry has worked real hard at protecting the ball this camp," he said. "John Shoop (quarterbacks coach) has done some nice drills that have helped him in his pocket presence."

Also on the negative side was Collins' protection. The pocket was collapsing on him regularly — specifically from the outside from Cardinal ends Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry.

Turner said the problems there were correctable, more mental than physical.

"They were things that happened in the opener against Pittsburgh last year," he said. "Having it happen last night, the red light went off, and I think got all our guys' attention. It will be something we focus on the next two weeks."

Right tackle Robert Gallery had to deal with Okeafor. Turner said he was not worried.

"If we said Robert Gallery can't block that guy (it would be one thing)," Turner said. "Well, he blocked him almost all night. He had a bad set on the play on the safety. I think he will learn from that."

EXTRA POINTS: Rookie guard Pete McMahon may need arthroscopic surgery on a knee he damaged on Wednesday. ... Chris Carr is firmly in control of the punt-return duties, rendering Fabian Washington strictly to defense. Turner said Carr was "one of the best punt catchers I have ever been round." ... The coach said Zeron Flemister and Teyo Johnson were even in the battle for the No.2 tight end spot. ... The Raiders must cut to 65 players by Monday ... Turner said barring a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury, WR Jerry Porter would play against New Orleans in the exhibition finale Thursday.