AFC West: Oakland Raiders
The Power Rankings results have the Raiders ranked No 32. Yes, I vote. No, I didn’t place the Raiders 32nd. I think that ranking is a bit low. I have a difficult time thinking there aren't four or five teams in worse shape than the Raiders as we start this season.
I think the Raiders have better depth on both sides of the ball and better overall talent. I can see Oakland getting better as the season continues, especially if rookie quarterback Derek Carr excels early. We will follow the rankings throughout the season, but I’d be surprised if the Raiders stay at the bottom of the rankings for the long haul.
Tuesday, after the Oakland Raiders named rookie Derek Carr their starting quarterback -- he’s the first of this rookie class to be named the starter -- Sando recalled some of his notes from the experience. Here’s what he remembered from Carr’s time with Gruden:
The college and pro athletes who participated in workouts at the Gruden camps raved about Carr's physical gifts as a passer. None of the other QBs created the same on-field buzz at the Gruden camps this year.
A talent evaluator briefed on Carr's performance there said Carr would still struggle in the NFL unless he demonstrated a willingness to hang tough in the pocket. Carr will get that opportunity in Week 1 against the New York Jets' dominating defensive front. That atmosphere will be a far cry from the practice fields in Orlando.
Here are Gruden’s thoughts on his time with Carr.
Week 1: at New York Jets
The Raiders traditionally don't play well on the East Coast. Plus, Rex Ryan's team will be tough to score on. I see a low-scoring defeat. Prediction: Loss
Week 2: Houston Texans
I think the Raiders slug out a win here. Houston has a tough defense, but I think the Raiders defense comes up big and they win a similarly low-scoring game. Houston will be questioned for passing on quarterback Derek Carr. Prediction: Win
Week 3: at New England Patriots
This, on paper, is one of the Raiders' toughest tasks and I think it will play out that way. Tom Brady is just too tough to beat at home. Prediction: Loss
Week 4: Miami Dolphins
I think the Raiders are going to rise up to being the home team in London. The Dolphins have given the Raiders trouble, but I think the Raiders win in England. Prediction: Win
Week 6: San Diego Chargers
The Raiders have had success against the Chargers at home, and while the Chargers are improved, I like this matchup for the Raiders on both lines. Prediction: Win
Week 7: Arizona Cardinals
Raider Nation will want to see Carson Palmer fail in Oakland -- they've seen it plenty of times. But I think the Cardinals are too tough on defense for the Raiders in a critical midseason game. Prediction: Loss
Week 8: at Cleveland Browns
Maybe the Raiders will be facing Johnny Football or maybe not. Either way, I think the Browns will be a mess and the Raiders will win a rare game in the Eastern Time Zone. Prediction: Win
Week 9: at Seattle Seahawks
This is where the season toughens -- in a big way. An Oakland win in Seattle would be one of the upsets of the season. Don't see it. Prediction: Loss
Week 10: Denver Broncos
Here's another tough task. Peyton Manning will be just too much -- as usual. Prediction: Loss
Week 11: at San Diego Chargers
While I like the Oakland matchup against the Chargers, I think San Diego will find its stride and win a pivotal game. Prediction: Loss
Week 12: Kansas City Chiefs
I think the Chiefs will be up and down this season. This will be a down week. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at St. Louis Rams
The Rams are good and they may be playing for something at home. Tough spot for the Raiders. Prediction: Loss
Week 14: San Francisco 49ers
This will be a Super Bowl atmosphere for Raider Nation. But the 49ers will be hitting their stride in December. Prediction: Loss
Week 15: at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were down in Oakland and I think they will be up at home as they try to keep their wild-card hopes alive. Prediction: Loss
Week 16: Buffalo Bills
I'm not sure either team will be playing for much, but I think the Raiders give the home crowd a good showing to say goodbye to the season. Prediction: Win
Week 17: at Denver Broncos
Let's just say the Broncos will need to win this game. I don't like the Raiders' chances in that scenario. Prediction: Loss
Predicted Record: 6-10
Oakland coach Dennis Allen said that Khalif Barnes remains at right tackle and third-round pick Gabe Jackson will replace him at left guard Sunday as Menelik Watson continues to work his way through a hip issue. This is the same lineup the Raiders had in their last preseason game.
Jackson, out of Mississippi State, has been commended for his power in the preseason by the coaching staff. The Raiders, who kept their entire eight-man draft class, are poised to have Derek Carr, Jackson and the No. 5 overall pick, linebacker Khalil Mack, in the starting lineup in Week 1.
“I think that’s a testament to our scouting department and what (general manager) Reggie [McKenzie] has been able to do in the offseason,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said. “Throw ‘Jelly’ [defensive tackle Justin Ellis] in that mix too -- [he] is a guy that we feel like is going to have an opportunity to really contribute, and guys like TJ Carrie. So there are a lot of young guys.”
In other Raiders notes:
- As expected, tight end David Ausberry is back to practice after being out for several weeks. He is the team’s No. 2 tight end. Tight end might be the Raiders’ thinnest spot, so Auberry has a big role.
- Linebacker Sio Moore seemed more active in practice Monday than he was last Tuesday. He suffered a neck strain at Green Bay on Aug. 22.
- Linebacker Nick Roach suffered a concussion in the Packers’ game and is still not practicing. He has to be cleared before playing Sunday.
- Cornerbacks Chimdi Chewka and Taiwan Jones are still not practicing. They have been dealing with lingering issues.
- Former Oakland defensive back Chance Casey signed to the 49ers’ practice squad.
- Kaelin Burnett cleared waivers and was placed on the injured reserve.
- Defensive end LaMarr Woodley has switched his number from 57 to 58.
Draft class is intact: The Raiders kept all eight of their draft picks, including three seventh-rounders: Dowling, TJ Carrie and Shelby Harris. This is how the Raiders are going to build their roster. The draft picks have to hit. On the flip side, defensive end Jack Crawford was cut. He was a fifth-rounder in 2012. Just two members of that six-player class remain on the roster. It was the first draft class of the Reggie McKenzie-Dennis Allen era. If this draft class can contribute, it could help define the tenure of these two men.
What’s next: The Raiders will scan the waiver wire. They have the fifth-highest claiming priority. Expect Oakland to consider adding tight ends, offensive linemen, linebackers or cornerbacks. They can start claiming players Sunday. Oakland can compile its 10-player practice squad Sunday as well. It will likely be filled mostly by the 11 undrafted free agents the Raiders signed and then cut this summer.
Raiders moves: Released DT Ricky Lumpkin, FB Karl Williams, WR Greg Little, WR Brandian Ross, DE Jack Crawford, TE Jake Murphy, RB George Atkinson III, DE Denico Autry, CB Chance Casey, T Jack Cornell, LB Carlos Fields, Bojay Filimoeatu, LB Spencer Hadley, OT Dan Kistler, T Erle Ladson, G Lamar Mady, WR Seth Roberts, DE Ryan Robinson, OL Jarrod Shaw, TE Scott Simonson, RB Jeremy Stewart, K Giorgio Tavecchio, FB Karl Williams.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Start your engines for Derek Carr-mania.
The rookie quarterback was brilliant (if that’s possible in the preseason) Thursday night as the Oakland Raiders blitzed the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Making his first start, the second-round pick led the Raiders to a three-touchdown lead over Seattle a minute into the second quarter of an eventual 41-31 Oakland victory.
Carr completed 11 of 13 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He led the Raiders on two one-play touchdown drives. Several Seattle defensive starters were on the field for the first drive, which ended with a Raiders touchdown. Carr even completed a pass on Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, one of the game’s very best. The Seahawks seemed to be going through the motions, but Carr was dominant.
What was most impressive about Carr is how he handled the offense. He played with such comfort and confidence. He made every throw he needed to make and he was a stunning 4-for-4 for 62 yards on third down. He looked like a five-year starter, playing with about half of the Raiders’ first-string offense.
Carr’s wonderful performance, of course, will put pressure on the Raiders to start him Sept. 7 on the road against the New York Jets. Carr worked with the first team this week because starter Matt Schaub had elbow soreness. Both head coach Dennis Allen and Schaub said the injury is not serious. Allen said Schaub will start against the Jets.
However, we’ve seen this movie before. Last year’s presumed starter, Matt Flynn, also came up with elbow soreness at this point in the preseason. Terrelle Pryor started the last preseason game and then was named the starter for the regular season.
If Allen made that decision last year, with Pryor looking not nearly as strong as Carr did Thursday, why wouldn’t Allen give Carr a chance now?
If I had to guess, I think we will see Carr play against the Jets. Why not? Let’s see what he can do in the bright lights of New York.
Here are some other thoughts on the Raiders’ final preseason game of the year:
- Carr had great chemistry with receiver Denarius Moore. Moore had three catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Moore was once a key part of the offense but has struggled to take the next step, and there has been speculation he might not be in the team’s plans. But if he and Carr can duplicate this performance in the regular season, it would be a huge boost for the Raiders.
- The Oakland defense was so-so. Seattle QB Russell Wilson, playing with some other starters, ripped through a defense that played four starters on the first drive. The Oakland defense did play well in spots afterward, though.
- It was a good night for the Raiders’ special-teams units. They were good in coverage, creating a turnover, and the return game was good. Latavius Murray, who also ran the ball well at running back, had a big kick return and TJ Carrie looked good as a punt returner.
- Third-stringer Matt McGloin didn’t look as good as he did earlier in the preseason. He and Brice Butler did hook up for their fourth touchdown of the preseason. Both players are solid reserves.
- Cornerback Neiko Thorpe had a tough night. Coaches raved about him this week. He is on the 53-man bubble.
- Right tackle Menelik Watson worked with the second-stringers. If that continues next week, that means Khalif Barnes would start at right tackle and rookie Gabe Jackson would slide into Barnes’ spot at left guard.
Three things to watch:
Passing game: Even if starter Matt Schaub doesn’t play, the Raiders will want to see progress made in this area. It’s just not the quarterback position. Oakland’s coaches want to see better routes, better ball handling and better protection in the pass game.
Defensive backs: There is some good competition here, especially at cornerback. Neiko Thorpe and TJ Carrie can solidify their spots with more strong play. If so, the Raiders should be in pretty solid shape here.
Overall depth: The Raiders appears to have better depth this season. It will be needed as this roster will evolve through the season. The Raiders want to see bottom-of-the-roster players excel in this game.
Speaking about the pose to reporters this week, Jones-Drew said he felt like he needed to stand up and make his feelings known.
“My goal is always to create awareness,” Jones-Drew said.
The Ferguson incident hit close to home for Jones-Drew. He was in Florida during the Trayvon Martin shooting and when a teenager was shot at a Jacksonville gas station because he was playing loud music.
“I know what it’s like to get pulled over when you’ve done nothing wrong,” Jones-Drew said. “I’ve been through those things. When you’re raising three young boys, you have to think about those things. When they get older and they go out at night, am I going to have to be the one to get that phone call? Those are things you worry about. That’s what I worry about as a father and what my mother worried about when I was growing up.”
Jones-Drew said he is unsure if he will continue to mark his touchdowns with the "hands up" pose.
Defensive back Charles Woodson, entering his 17th NFL, season, needs two interception returns for a touchdown to set an NFL record. Former Oakland player and coach Rod Woodson is the record-holder at 12. Charles Woodson, 37, hasn’t had an interception return for a score since 2011.
Meanwhile, Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, in his 15th NFL season, has kicked 45 field goals of 50 yards or longer and needs eight to become the all-time NFL leader. Jason Hanson kicked 52 field goals of 50 yards or longer in his career from 1994-2012.
The most 50-yarders Janikowski has kicked in a season was seven in 2011. He had three 50-yarders in 2013.
Rookie, seventh-round pick TJ Carrie and Neiko Thorpe, a 24-year-old who was in the CFL last season after being cut by the Chiefs, have stood out in the preseason. They will compete to be the No. 3 cornerback. The likelihood is the winner of that battle will play outside and veteran pickup Carlos Rogers will play the slot.
“There’ve been some players that step up like TJ Carrie and Neiko [Thorpe], and that battle will still be going on this week, two days from now,” Oakland defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “I’m excited to see these guys play, because they both did some good things last week and they’ve both done good things throughout camp.”
In other Oakland notes:
- The Raiders claimed former Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio off waivers from Detroit and they cut kicker Kevin Goessling. Tavecchio will kick Thursday. Oakalnd kicker Sebastian Janikowski is dealing with a right quad injury. The team is hopeful he will be able to play Week 1 at the Jets.
- Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said new right guard Austin Howard is getting better each week. The free-agent pickup was a tackle with the Jets.
- Several UFC fighters attended Tuesday’s practice.
Carr, a second-round pick, is set to start. Oakland coach Dennis Allen said he expects Carr to get extensive playing time. Carr didn't play last week at Green Bay because he was nursing a rib injury. He was also suffered a concussion in the second preseason game against Detroit, but he was cleared after a couple of days.
The Raiders expect starter Matt Schaub to be ready to start Week 1 at the New York Jets in 11 days, although he has missed the past three days of practice with a sore elbow. If Schaub has a setback, Carr is the No. 2 quarterback and would be in line to start.
"He needs the experience," Oakland coach Dennis Allen said of Carr. "So for him to be able to get out there against a really good defense and get some more game experience will be a big part of his development."
Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson is encouraged by Carr because he looks like he belongs in an NFL offense. The task doesn't appear to be too big for the former Fresno State standout.
"I've said it from Day 1, the guy's comfortable in the huddle," Olson said. "I don't think the game's too fast for him, which a lot of times, that's a big concern with a rookie quarterback."
The Raiders hope they can continue to say that after the preseason closes.
Camp star cut: The Raiders cut receiver Juron Criner. He was a fifth-round pick in 2012. Criner was famous for making circus catches in training camp. However, the light never came on during the season. He made essentially no NFL impact as a Raider.
What’s next: The Raiders have to pare down their roster to 53 players by 1 p.m. PT Saturday.
Raiders' moves: QB Trent Edwards, WR Juron Criner, S Larry Asante, WR Greg Jenkins, RB Kory Sheets (all waived-injured); G Lucas Nix (waived/failed physical); TE Nick Kasa, injured reserve; CB D.J. Hayden, PUP.
However, voters pointed out to Sando that Allen's ranking was more about his situation than his coaching abilities. Allen is considered one of the better young defensive coaches in the league.
Here is some of what one voter told Sando: "If you gave him the Colts, he might have been good, too," one executive said. "It is completely unfair to measure him. He has potential. He could be a guy who reemerges 7-8 years from now and becomes pretty good. ... No other new coach would do better there.”
What do you think of Allen’s ranking? Is it deserved or is it just too difficult to win in Oakland? Fill up the comment section below with your thoughts.
Most importantly for Schaub, coach Dennis Allen said Schaub is still on pace to be the starting quarterback when the Raiders open the season at the New York Jets on Sept. 7.
"I'm not concerned about it," Allen said. "But, we're going to take him day-by-day and try to make sure he's ready to go."
Allen says Schaub is day-to-day, and the QB said he's getting treatment and rest. Schaub said there is no time frame for his recovery, but he's confident he'll be fine.
Schaub, who says he's never had a problem with his elbow before, is dealing with a lingering injury that Allen said the team found out about on Saturday.
Elbow injuries are a familiar one in Oakland. At this time of the preseason last year, then starter Matt Flynn sat out for elbow issues and backup Terrelle Pryor was named the starter for the regular season shortly after. Allen said the situation this season is completely different.
But Allen is holding steadfast that is not the case. Carr said he "has to" be ready if he is called upon to start, but he doesn't foresee it. He said Schaub is "fine."
As I wrote Sunday, we have to take this at face value until further notice. I think this issue could loom for a week when the Raiders start preparing for the Jets in earnest. There is good news and bad news here.
The good news is Carr, who didn't start against the Packers will get valuable practice time with the starters this week and then valuable game time on Thursday. The bad news is Schaub needs more work with the first team and he can't do that while injured.
Sticking to the no-concern theme, Schaub downplayed the time lost on the field. We will go along with this being a minor issue all the way until it isn't.
From afar, I can see why the Raiders would top this list. They haven’t had a winning record in 12 years. They have had turnover on the coaching staff and a lack of overall stability. I remember a conversation I had with former Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha at the Pro Bowl several years ago. He told me he routinely had players from other teams ask him what it was like to play in Oakland. He said many players were surprised when he responded with positive things to say about the experience.
To me, the result of the poll isn’t a problem for the Raiders. Players will be primarily attracted to teams if they offer a good contract. The Raiders had salary-cap room this year and added Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley among others. These are guys with Super Bowl rings. They went to the Raiders because they were paid well. These players are buying into the Oakland way.
If the Raiders can start winning and keep a responsible salary-cap system, they will continue to be able to attract players. If that’s the case, their reputation around the league will change.