AFC West: Oakland Raiders

On Thursday, Oakland Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano said there is a chance cornerback Carlos Rogers could play Sunday at Seattle if he didn’t practice all week. After missing Friday’s practice, though, it seems unlikely that he'll be in uniform.

The Raiders listed Rogers as doubtful to play at Seattle. The final decision will likely come Sunday. If Rogers can’t play, rookie TJ Carrie will likely start, with DJ Hayden and Neiko Thorpe getting more playing time.

Meanwhile, receiver Kenbrell Thompkins returned to pratice Friday. He missed Thursday’s workout for a personal reason. He is expected to play Sunday.

As expected, tight end David Ausberry (foot), wide receiver Vincent Brown (hamstring), cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) and cornerback Keith McGill (groin) have been ruled out for Sunday's game.

Meanwhile, Oakland safety Brandian Ross was fined $22,050 for unnecessary roughness (striking a defenseless receiver in head and neck area) for a hit on Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron in Week 8. Ross makes an average of just over $35,000 a game. Thus, the starter was docked roughly 63 percent of his pay for the week. Ross was penalized on the play.

The Seattle Seahawks return home this Sunday to CenturyLink Field to face a winless team in a game that should be an easy victory for the Seahawks.

The Oakland Raiders are 0-7, just trying to find a way to get on the right track. The Seahawks are 4-3 after a victory in Carolina they hope ends some of the doubts surrounding the team the past two weeks. Raiders reporter Bill Williamson and Seahawks reporter Terry Blount preview the game and take a candid look at where both teams are headed.

Blount: Bill, the Raiders now are the only winless team in the NFL. I’m sure there are many reasons for it, but what would you say is the biggest reason, and is it possible they could go 0-16?

Williamson: The biggest problem is, unless something crazy happens, the Raiders are staring at 0-11. After playing at Seattle, the Raiders host Denver and then go to San Diego. That is tough sledding. The easy part of the schedule is over. If the Raiders get to double-digit defeats without a win, the reality of going 0-16 is going to be facing Oakland. The reason why Oakland is winless is it has not put together a complete game. The Raiders are nearly halfway through the season, and have yet to put together an effort capable of ending with a victory.

Terry, while the Seahawks have been a tad shakier than expected, what is a realistic finish for them in the second half?

Blount: I think they still could go 11-5 or 10-6, and here’s why: The Seahawks have two home games coming up they should win -- the Raiders this Sunday and the New York Giants the following weekend. Winning both games would make Seattle 6-3 heading into the defining six-game stretch of the season, and it’s brutal -- two games against the Cardinals, two against the 49ers, at Kansas City and at Philadelphia. That’s four tough road games, two against NFC West rivals. Realistically, the Seahawks should hope to split those six, or possibly go 4-2, before closing out the regular season at home against the Rams, another game they should win. So 11-5 is probably the best they can do, but whether that will be good enough to win the division is hard to say. They really need to win both games against Arizona.

Bill, talk about Derek Carr’s progress. His stats look pretty good other than his TD-to- interception ratio, but that’s to be expected for a rookie on a struggling team. Are the Raiders happy with what they’ve seen in Carr? And what does he need to work on the most to continue to progress?

Williamson: The Raiders love Carr. They love his poise, his leadership and his ability to grasp the game. I’m not sure he is going to be a superstar, but the game is not too big for him and I expect him to be a fine player for Oakland for years to come. He is a definite bright spot and a reason why the Raiders should be excited. I think the biggest thing Carr needs is a supporting cast. Once the talent around him gets better, he will be in really good shape.

As far as Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, all is good, right? All that stuff is just noise, correct?

Blount: Much ado about nothing. Once the Percy Harvin trade went down, the rumor-mill ran wild. But I can tell you for a fact there is no budding mutiny against Wilson. It’s absolutely preposterous. This man just led these guys to a Super Bowl victory. He never says an unkind word about any teammate. In fact, he even went to bat for Harvin to try to get the Seahawks to give Harvin another chance. He gives everything he has to this team and his teammates. To think there would be a revolt of some sort against him is beyond ridiculous. Could someone have said something negative about him, possibly someone who no longer is here, out of jealousy? Maybe. But truthfully, it saddens me that race could enter this equation, insinuating whether he’s "black enough." As Wilson said, "I don't even know what that means." Shouldn't we be beyond such characterizations by now? If anything, these accusations just made the team stronger and closer.

Bill, I asked the same question to Rams reporter Nick Wagoner a couple of weeks ago. It’s only a matter of time, probably the near future, until a team moves to Los Angeles. Is this a race between the Rams and the Raiders to see which team can get there first?

Williamson: Raiders owner Mark Davis has made it clear everything is on the table, but he wants to stay in Oakland. But he needs a new stadium. The Raiders’ lease at the Oakland Coliseum runs out after this season. So, Los Angeles is a possibility. But I think the key is that all we hear is talk. He needs to see action regarding Los Angeles before any team can go there. If it gets to that point, yes, I think the Raiders could be in play. But it’s all fluid. Again, the bottom line is the Raiders want to stay in Oakland.

In conclusion, Terry, do you think the Seahawks have any worry about the old letdown game against a winless, hapless road team?

Blount: If Seattle had entered this game on a roll, maybe so, but there’s no way that happens for a team that’s a disappointing 4-3 and already has a home loss. The Seahawks know they can’t afford any slip-ups now against a weaker opponent.

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Oakland Raiders right tackle Menelik Watson and cornerback TJ Carrie both practiced Wednesday.

Both players were injured Sunday in a 23-13 loss at Cleveland. Watson had a stinger and Carrie had a lower-back injury.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa did not practice Wednesday. He left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.

Derek Carr will test Richard Sherman

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29

ESPN Raiders reporter Bill Williamson says rookie quarterback Derek Car isn’t afraid to test the best corners in the game, which means Richard Sherman will be the target this week.

The Film Don’t Lie: Raiders

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
A weekly look at what the Oakland Raiders must fix:

This is just wonderful news for the Raiders, whose offense is floundering: They next play the Seahawks in Seattle.

While the Seahawks have been a bit off this season, playing that defense in Seattle is still probably the toughest task in the NFL.

Oakland has a lot of issues to address offensively in the next few days. The Raiders looked like they were turning the corner in Week 6 when rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw four touchdown passes in a close 31-28 loss. It was by far their best offensive output of the season. However, the Raiders have regressed on offense the past two weeks.

The only time the Raiders were in the red zone in a 23-13 loss at Cleveland on Sunday was during garbage time. The offense had no balance, as the Raiders threw the ball 56 times and ran it just 22 times.

Considering the Browns entered the game with the NFL’s worst-ranked rush defense, those skewed numbers seem both curious and unnecessary.

That lack of balance and overall futility could be exacerbated by the Seahawks. The Raiders will have to play near perfectly on offense to have a chance to win this game. Can they do it?

It would take a season-best effort by a unit that has been marred by mistakes. This is Oakland’s greatest challenge of the season thus far, and it must find a way to figure things out on offense or 0-8 looms.
CLEVELAND -- Darren McFadden took full responsibility for a game-turning fumble on Sunday, while his coach chalked it up to an excellent defensive play.

Threatening to take the lead for the first time, the Oakland Raiders were driving, trailing the Cleveland Browns 9-6 late in the third quarter. McFadden ran to the Browns 20 for a first down, but Cleveland safety Donte Whitner made a tremendous play on the ball and it popped right to cornerback Joe Haden, who returned it 34 yards. It set up the game-deciding touchdown in an eventual 23-13 Cleveland win.

“I got hit and put the ball on the ground,” McFadden said. “That’s what it was."

Oakland interim coach Tony Sparano gave all credit to Whitner.

“The kid made a nice play and put his helmet right on the football,” Sparano said.
CLEVELAND -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Oakland Raiders' 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns:

Carr says Raiders are different now: Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr said the team is different in the past three games under interim coach Tony Sparano than they were under fired coach Dennis Allen, who was let go after Week 4. Carr said he doesn't know why, because the team believed in Allen, but he said he is excited about the immediate future.

Injury update: Cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) and TJ Carrie (back) and right tackle Menelik Watson (stinger) were hurt during the Raiders' loss Sunday. Sparano didn’t know the severity of any of the injuries.

Sparano stands by fake field goal: Backup quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception on a fake field goal (the snap was botched) on the first drive of the game. The Browns turned it into a field goal. Sparano said he was trying to win on the road.

Woodson says it comes down to execution, not effort: Oakland leader Charles Woodson said effort is not the problem; it's execution. He said that has to be the focus.

Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26
CLEVELAND -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 23-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

What it means: This was a winnable game for Oakland; Cleveland wasn't very good early and the Raiders trailed 9-6 at the half. Winnable games are not going to be plentiful for the Raiders, whose next games are against Seattle, Denver, San Diego and Kansas City. Oakland is 0-7, and, yes, 0-16 is on the table. Things just seem to be getting worse. Oakland, the NFL’s only winless team, has lost 13 straight games dating back to last November and 16 straight in the Eastern time zone.

Stock watch: Third-down defense improves. The Raiders came in allowing third-down conversions more than 50 percent of the time. They improved big time, as Cleveland converted on third down just twice in 12 attempts.

Hayden's rust shows: Cornerback D.J. Hayden got in the game late and gave up a crucial touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was his first game action of the season. He suffered a broken foot in June. The No. 12 overall pick in 2013 wasn't great as a rookie and struggled Sunday.

Game ball: Rookie linebacker Khalil Mack, the No. 5 overall pick in 2014, isn’t flashy, but he is very productive. He is excellent against the run and had some nice pressure on the quarterback even though he is still looking for his first sack. The kid had another nice game.

What's next: The Raiders go to Seattle to face the defending champion Seahawks in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. The Raiders had their fun against Seattle in the final preseason game, during which rookie quarterback Derek Carr won the starting job. It will be a bit more difficult this time.
ALAMEDA, Calif. – It certainly seems like Maurice Jones-Drew is out of the Oakland Raiders’ plan at running back.

Jones-Drew, the Week 1 starter, who missed two games with a hand injury, hasn’t gotten much work. He had three carries for 6 yards last week against Arizona, and he has clearly fallen way behind Darren McFadden in the pecking order. He has 48 yards on 18 carries this season.

Still, Oakland interim coach Tony Sparano, a run-game specialist, says he hopes to get Jones-Drew more involved.

“We need to get Maurice more snaps,” Sparano said. “I think the plan is to try to get him involved a little bit more if we can do that now. One of the things we have to do is in order to get people more snaps, we have to play more snaps. In the ballgame the other day, really the ball was snapped 49 times and one of them was a kneel-down at the end of the half. So the ball was snapped 49 times, you’re not getting an awful lot of plays out there and that hurts you a little bit. But we need to get him involved more and try to do that, and that takes a little bit off of Darren in some of those situations. It keeps both of those guys fresher. We need to be able to do that.”

The team has not gotten Latavius Murray involved, even though it has hoped to. He has 7 yards on four carries this season. Overall, Oakland, which has had one good ground game this season, hopes to get the running game established Sunday at Cleveland. The Browns have the worst run defense in the NFL.

“You certainly would hope so,” Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson said when asked if Oakland looks at this game as a chance to get productive in the run game. “Obviously, you look at those things every time you go in a game as you study your opponents and are looking for an edge or an advantage. That’s one that we look at.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Brice Butler played 11 snaps Sunday and he has seven catches this season.

Yet, he has gotten the attention of the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, who face Butler and the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

"Brice Butler jumps off the tape. I know he doesn't get a ton of touches, but when he does, he's a major threat," Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said Wednesday.

It's a good thing for Pettine he has taken noticed. I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of Butler. While he hasn't played much, Butler has taken advantage of his time. In Week 6, he had a 47-yard touchdown catch. In Week 7, he had a 55-yard catch to setup Oakland's only touchdown. Oakland needs young receivers to emerge and Butler is not hurting his cause.

"I feel good about what I've done when I've played," Butler said. "I just have to keep doing that."

Butler said he isn't one to lobby for playing time. He only hopes his play speaks for itself. Butler had nine catches as a rookie last season. He said he is excited to work with Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr.

"I think we're going to have a bright future together," Butler said. "We have a good relationship and I enjoy catching passes from him."

If Butler can keep up his production, Oakland fans will enjoy it as well.
ALAMEDA, Calif. – Starting Oakland Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley is not practicing Wednesday.

Woodley was hurt Sunday in a loss to Arizona. On Monday, interim Oakland coach Tony Sparano wouldn’t disclose the ailment. By NFL rules, the Raiders must identify Woodley’s injury after practice Wednesday.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers watched practice. He has sat out several practices this season.

Three players who missed Sunday’s game did return to practice. Defensive end Justin Tuck (knee), fullback Marcel Reece (quad), right tackle Khalif Barnes (quad) and receiver Vincent Brown (hamstring) are all practicing Wednesday. Barnes and Brown missed the past two games. Even with Barnes back, Menelik Watson could still start. The second-year player performed well in Barnes’ absence.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine, in a conference call with Bay Area media, said the Raiders have taken Sparano’s personality since he took over earlier this month.

“I think a lot of Tony and just kind of his approach to football and the mentality,” said Pettine, who worked with Sparano when both were on the New York Jets staff. “It’s clear to see in the games that he’s been in charge that it’s definitely his stamp.”

Raiders face another rookie QB

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22

ESPN Raiders reporter Bill Williamson compares the road of Derek Carr to Browns rookie Johnny Manziel.

The Film Don’t Lie: Raiders

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
A weekly look at what the Oakland Raiders must fix:

The Raiders are headed to Cleveland next Sunday a broken team. At 0-6, they are the NFL’s only winless squad look incapable of winning a game. The Raiders are getting outplayed and outproduced, and Oakland is contributing to its losing cause, as well.

Among its many mistakes against Arizona was undisciplined play. Oakland was called for eight penalties for 74 yards. Half of those penalties resulted in first downs for Arizona, and Oakland was called for penalties on two of the Cardinals' three touchdown drives.

The problem for Oakland is the penalties are increasing as the season goes on. The Raiders were traditionally one of the most penalized teams, if not the most penalized team, in the league. Under Dennis Allen, who took over in 2012 and was fired after Week 4 this season, the Raiders had cleaned it up.

But they have been penalized a total of 19 times in the past two games under interim coach Tony Sparano. Oakland was penalized just 15 times in the first three games. It was penalized nine times in Allen’s last game.

Sparano often preaches that Oakland has to stop beating Oakland. Lots of those penalties are just mental lapses. Sparano is working hard to stop it in all phases. There have been dividends paid in some areas, but getting his team to play smart, controlled football at the line of scrimmage has to be a focus of Sparano and his staff.

This team has enough problems. Hurting itself with penalties is only multiplying the issues.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Random thoughts after the Oakland Raiders' 24-13 home loss to Arizona that dropped the Raiders to 0-6:
  • The Raiders’ biggest problem (and there’s many) is their third-down defense. It has been dreadful. The Raiders entered their loss to Arizona allowing a league-high 51.4 percent conversion rate on third down. Arizona converted on third down 9 of 15 times, including twice on third-and-8 on a game-sealing drive in the fourth quarter. The Raiders are at a loss over the issues.

    “Killing us. It's killing us,” Oakland safety Charles Woodson said. “We're for the most part able to play good football on the early downs but for whatever reason, man, third downs, I don't know if there's a lack of focus or what it is on third downs but it is definitely our Achilles heel right now.”

    Oakland interim coach Tony Sparano said getting better in the area will, once again, be a primary focus of practice this week as the Raiders prepare to play at Cleveland next Sunday. The issue has an affect on the entire team. The Raiders held the ball for just 23:03 on Sunday. They entered the game with a league-low time of possession average of 25:04.
  • Sparano said backup quarterback Matt Schaub will remain the holder. He took over for punter Marquette King against Arizona. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed a 53-yard field goal last week. Sunday, with Schaub, Janikowski had field goals of 29 and 53 yards.
  • The Raiders’ run game floundered again Sunday after having its first success of the season against San Diego last week. The Raiders had 56 yards on the ground in 19 carries in the loss to Arizona. After gaining 80 yards against the Chargers -- his best game in over a calendar year -- Oakland starter Darren McFadden had 48 yards on 14 carries on Sunday. Maurice Jones-Drew, the Week 1 starter, has been unable to do much. He had 6 yards on three carries.
  • Tight end Mychal Rivera again was not a focal point in the offense. He had one catch on his only target. He had 38 catches as a rookie last season. He has 13 catches in six games.
  • Kenbrell Thompkins, in his second game since being claimed off waivers from New England, played some for Oakland. He was targeted once but didn’t have a catch.
  • The Raiders used the Wildcat once and McFadden gained 12 yards. They have used it for four plays this season. The Dolphins used the Wildcat as a focal point when Sparano was their head coach.
  • The Raiders had three three-and-out series Sunday and have 23 such drives in six games.
  • Recent defensive additions, linebackers Ray-Ray Armstrong and Jamar Chaney, both played some on defense Sunday. Armstrong was primarily a special-teamer before being cut by St. Louis.
  • Chimdi Chekwa seemed to fall behind Neiko Thorpe on the cornerback rotation. When D.J. Hayden is activated (perhaps this week), Chekwa could be in danger of being inactivated.
  • Benson Mayowa, claimed off waivers from Seattle in September, played some at defensive end Sunday and was active. I’d expect to see more of him moving forward.
  • Free-agent addition LaMarr Woodley continued to be a non-factor. The defensive end was credited with one tackle.
  • Receiver Brice Butler had a big catch for the second straight game -- a 55-yard reception that set up Oakland’s only touchdown. Butler had a 47-yard touchdown catch last week. Butler will likely continue to get more opportunities.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Injured Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett had a truth-hurts message to Oakland Raiders fans when he scribbled "0-6, worst team in football" on a sideline board at the end of another defeat suffered by the home team.

While Dockett doesn't get sportsmanship points, his crude memo is difficult to combat. The Raiders very much look like the NFL's worst club.

The Raiders made numerous critical miscues in the second half of a game that they took themselves out of, a 24-13 home defeat to Arizona on Sunday. Oakland is the NFL's last winless team -- thanks to Jacksonville's victory over Cleveland -- and has lost 12 straight dating back to last November.

Frankly, victory doesn't appear to be lurking around any corner. After playing at Cleveland next Sunday, the Raiders face Seattle, Denver, San Diego and Kansas City, all playoff teams from 2013.

"This is as bad as you're going to get through the first part of the season," veteran Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. "We haven't won a game. How much worse can it get than that, than not winning a game?"

Sunday's game was the second under interim coach Tony Sparano since the firing of coach Dennis Allen. Yes, the Raiders have given effort and they have shown some spark under Sparano, but the bottom line remains the same --- when it's time to make a play, the Raiders have come up short.

Allen called it failing "at the moment of truth." Sparano's flash phrase is "Oakland beating Oakland." Both doses of coach-speak were applicable Sunday.

Though the Raiders pulled within 14-13 in the third quarter, they never truly looked like they were in position to win. The reason? They kept making mistakes. There was a cascade of blunders in the second half on both sides of the ball.

The third quarter ended with three straight incompletions by rookie quarterback Derek Carr after Oakland had a first down at the 50-yard line and trailing 21-13.

On Arizona's first possession of the fourth quarter, which started at its own 13, the Raiders let them off the hook with 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on linebacker Sio Moore on third down, and then a third-and-9 conversion a few plays later.

On Oakland's next possession, it could only muster five offensive plays. The Cardinals then iced the game on a field goal drive that lasted 6:53 and gave them a 24-13 lead. The Cardinals converted on third-and-8 twice in that series.

Arizona was 9-for-15 on third-down conversions. Oakland came into the game allowing a league-high 51.4 conversion percentage on third down. It was the worst in the NFL. Oakland has a lot of problems, but getting off the field on defense is the biggest. The Raiders held the ball for just 23:03.

"We just have to find a way to win, find a way defensively to get off the field, find a way offensively to keep moving the ball on third down," Oakland cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "When it's crunch time we have to be the ones that make that play and not the other team."