Raiders start long road trip

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
The Oakland Raiders are beginning a 10-day adventure.

The Raiders are flying Friday evening in preparation for Sunday’s game at New England. After the game, Oakland will fly to London to prepare for a Sept. 28 “home” game against Miami at Wembley Stadium.

The Raiders are going to keep their regular routine. For example, the Raiders normally start practice at 11:50 a.m. and they will be starting at 11:50 a.m. in London. Oakland coach Dennis Allen, who was part of the New Orleans Saints' staff in 2008 when they played in London, believes the team has a handle on the adjustment of working overseas and still being able to prepare for the first part of the trip – facing the Patriots.

“I did this trip back in 2008, and so we’ve tried to handle everything that we could handle ahead of schedule so that this week we could really focus in on New England,” Allen said. “I think our guys have done a nice job of focusing in on the task at hand, the game at hand, and that’s been our real focus this week.”

In other Raiders notes:
  • The Patriots are planning to wear their home blue jerseys Sunday. That means the Raiders will likely wear their road white jerseys. In Week 1, the Jets wore white at home and the Raiders were wearing their black home jerseys. The weather in New England is supposed to be similar to the weather in New Jersey two weeks ago – about 80 degrees and with some humidity and some possible rain.
  • Defensive lineman Shelby Harris cleared waivers and was signed back to the practice squad. The seventh-round pick was released Thursday.
The struggling Oakland Raiders’ defense might be taking a big hit at the linebacker position. Outside linebacker Sio Moore was ruled out of Sunday’s game at New England on Sunday and middle linebacker Nick Roach hasn’t been cleared from a concussion he suffered four weeks ago.

While the decision to sit Moore was made Friday, it appears the decision on Roach will come Sunday. He has been practicing on a limited basis, but he hasn't cleared for full contact. Roach, who played every defensive snap last season, suffered the concussion at Green Bay on Aug. 22.

“He’s going through the protocol. He’s getting better every day and hopefully he’ll continue to improve,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Friday of Roach.

The Raiders clearly have missed Roach, as they've given up a league-high 400 rushing yards in the first two games. And they will miss Moore, who's been one of Oakland's most active defenders. Miles Burris has been playing for Roach but could move outside for Moore, with Kaluka Maiava playing in the middle in that scenario.

The Raiders (0-2) have further injury concerns. Defensive lineman Antonio Smith was a late add to the injury report with a back injury. He is listed as questionable. He was not on the injury report earlier in the week.

Fellow starters Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee) and receiver Rod Streater (hip) are all questionable. Jones-Drew has practiced on a limited basis for the past two days after being hurt in Week 1. Streater practiced Friday for the first time this week.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots starting linebacker Jamie Collins (thigh) and running back Shane Vereen (shoulder) headline a list of six players who are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.

Collins missed Sunday’s win over the Vikings, has been limited in practice all week, and wasn’t spotted in the locker room during the media-access periods in the last three days. Vereen spoke with reporters after practice Friday.

Meanwhile, UConn alum Sio Moore -- a starting linebacker for the Raiders -- has been ruled out.

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- This one will test the "Any Given Sunday" theory. The Oakland Raiders have looked incapable of winning in the first two games.

They’ve been overmatched in every aspect of the game. If they give up an average of 200 yards on the ground and they turn the ball over four times, there is no chance of Oakland breaking its losing streak no matter the opponent.

Considering this week’s opponent is New England in its home opener and the task is even tougher. Remember, the Raiders have lost 14 straight games in the Eastern time zone dating to 2009 and the chances of an upset appear even more challenging.

The Patriots will likely try to set up the passing of Tom Brady by running the ball down the Raiders’ throats. Defensively, the Patriots will try to blitz rookie quarterback Derek Carr. His Total QBR when blitzed is 4.2.

In the end, the Patriots will probably have too much for Oakland.

My prediction: Patriots 34, Raiders 14

Raiders vs. Patriots preview

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – There is a stunning contrast between the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders in the past 15 seasons.

Consider this statistic, brought to the fore this week by ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates: Since head coach Bill Belichick was hired by New England in 2000, the Raiders have had eight head coaches and 18 starting quarterbacks.

The Patriots, with one head coach and three starting quarterbacks (Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady, Matt Cassel) in that span, represent stability, while the Raiders are at the opposite end of the spectrum.

The story takes on a different twist when considering that the Raiders had interviewed Belichick to be their head coach in 1998, an experience Belichick reflected fondly upon in later years.

The teams square off Sunday in New England’s home opener, and ESPN NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss (Patriots) and Bill Williamson (Raiders) discuss the matchup:

Reiss: Bill, those were strong comments from Charles Woodson after the Raiders’ loss to the Texans last Sunday. I think everyone knows where things stand with the 0-2 Raiders right now, and how this could be a make-or-break time for head coach Dennis Allen. So let’s get a bit deeper into the personnel. When Woodson was a free agent in 2013, some folks in this area were hoping the Patriots would consider signing him. How has he looked with the Raiders?

Williamson: He’s been one of the Raiders’ best defensive players at the age of 37. He had 100-plus tackles last season and has been a playmaker this season. He made a leaping interception in Week 1 against the Jets and he came back and had eight tackles in Week 2 against the Texans. Woodson will have to be accounted for by the Patriots. Also, he is a terrific leader. As you said, he was very blunt in his assessment of his team after the Raiders fell to 0-2 on Sunday. He doesn’t pull punches. Woodson is a true leader.

Mike, is there someone like this on the Patriots’ defense?

Reiss: They have a lot of them, Bill, and that was a topic of conversation after the team’s 30-7 victory over the Vikings on Sunday. It was a tough week in New England after a season-opening loss at Miami, and Bill Belichick and other players noted the role that some of the team’s leaders played in keeping the team on course. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo and safety Devin McCourty are the three defensive captains, but they have quite a few others who could be as well -- Rob Ninkovich and Darrelle Revis among them.

On paper, the Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden combination at running back looks solid. How is that coming to life on the field?

Williamson: The running game was supposed to be a strength for the Raiders, but we haven’t seen it. A big reason why is the Raiders have been playing from behind and can’t establish the ground game. Coach Dennis Allen and players have noted the importance of that changing this week. Jones-Drew has a hand issue and didn’t play against Houston. McFadden didn’t have much of an impact with 37 yards on 12 carries.

Mike, do you think the Patriots’ run defense will control Oakland?

Reiss: It depends which run defense shows up --– the unit that gave up 191 rushing yards to the Dolphins in the season opener or the unit that effectively limited the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings in Week 2. I thought they got back to playing fundamentally sound football last week, making the correct decision to return Chandler Jones to an end-of-the-line role, and I would expect that to continue this week. They’ve been hurt in the past by the Wildcat, so the Raiders might try to get that going.

Bill, there are some players with New England ties on the team: UConn’s Sio Moore and Tyvon Branch. How do they fit into what the Raiders are doing?

Williamson: They are a big part of the defense. Moore is a starting linebacker and Branch starts at safety. Neither player is perfect, but they are both very active players. In his second season, Moore has a chance of being an upper-level player. Moore sat out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury.

Both of these players, however, are also part of the Raiders’ biggest problem: The defense has allowed a total of 400 yards on the ground in two games. That is the beginning of Oakland’s woes.

Mike, do you think the Patriots can take advantage of Oakland’s run defense woes?

Reiss: Yes, especially after seeing the commitment they made to the run against the Vikings, playing 28 snaps with 320-pound rookie offensive tackle Cameron Fleming as an eligible receiver at tight end. They obviously didn’t have Fleming in the game to catch passes. He was there to block and they restored order at the line of scrimmage after struggling in that area in the opener. It wouldn’t be surprising if there is a similar approach this week.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Khalil Mack prides himself on stopping the run.

While the No. 5 overall draft pick is known for his ability as a pass-rusher, Mack loves getting dirty and stopping the run. It kills him that the 0-2 Oakland Raiders have struggled with their run defense. The Raiders have allowed an NFL-high 400 yards on the ground in two games.

Backing up what coach Dennis Allen has said, Mack said halting the problems against the run has been a major emphasis this week as the Raiders prepare to play the New England Patriots on the road on Sunday.

“We have to get better, I have to get better,” Mack said. “It’s just a mentality. You have to dig and stop the run. Just have to get better at it. Once we fix that, everything will get better.”

In other Raiders’ notes:

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson is thrilled with the play of third-round pick Gabe Jackson at left guard. Jackson has been mauling defenders in the early season.

“I think he’s doing fantastic,” Olson said. “He’s got great practice habits, really works his craft and works his technique.”

The Raiders are working to get newly signed receiver Vincent Brown up to speed. He could be in the rotation as soon as this week. Brown was a surprise cut in San Diego this summer.

“We’ve only had a chance to see him two days, but he looks like he’s got some quickness at the line of scrimmage and obviously, he’s played and he’s been productive when he has played,” Olson said. “So we’ll continue to kind of get him up to speed as quickly as we can. I’ve seen some good things here in the last two days.”
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marcel Reece said all he cares about is victories, not touches. Right now, he isn’t getting either. It's becoming a topic surrounding the Oakland Raiders.

Reece has four touches in the Raiders’ 0-2 start. Sunday, against the Houston Texans, he played about a third of the snaps. A training camp storyline was that the Raiders were going to try to get him more involved. Yet, his touches have only been on the decline over the past few seasons. He had 78 touches in 2013 -- down from 111 in the 2012 season.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised Reece this week in preparation for Sunday’s game. Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Reece has not become a lost part of the offense.

“It’s still there,” said Olson of the plan to use Reece. “Believe me, I am aware of it. We had some things, again, designed. We have to be a little bit aware early in the game of getting him more involved early. … He’s a team guy all the way, so if we’re winning and he’s not getting the ball, he’s not going to be concerned about it. If we’re losing and he’s not getting the ball, then we have to find ways to get him the ball. We’ll continue to look at ways we can utilize him in our base package.”

Reece admitted that he’d like more touches, but he understands game plans change week to week.

“Every offensive player wants to get the ball as many times as they can, so that goes unsaid, really,” Reece said. “If we’re winning and I don’t touch the ball then I think that sits well with me. We haven’t won yet, so I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win and make plays on the field.”

Jones-Drew getting closer to field

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Maurice Jones-Drew made a strong first step by getting on the practice field Thursday. Still, the Oakland Raiders have not determined whether he will be able to play Sunday at New England.

Jones-Drew suffered a hand injury in Week 1. Thursday was his first football activity since.

"He got out and got some work in and we'll see how he's doing tomorrow," Oakland coach Dennis Allen said. "I think the big thing with him is just making sure that he can function in the role of a running back. If he can do that, without really any limitations, then we want to have him up and playing."

Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Jones-Drew's hand is still swollen, but he's healing. "He's still coming," Olson said. Darren McFadden started for Jones-Drew last week and he would do so again if Jones-Drew is not completely healthy. The Raiders liked the way McFadden ran against the Houston Texans. He had 37 yards on 12 carries.

"I felt he was probably the fastest guy on the field for us offensively a couple times when he had the ball in his hand," Olson said. "I wasn't disappointed with Darren. Hopefully we'll keep him healthy and continue to find ways to get him the ball."
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The chances are growing that the struggling Oakland Raiders' defense could have the daunting task of playing against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday without starting linebackers Sio Moore and Nick Roach.

Moore has an ankle injury he suffered against Houston and Roach has been out with a concussion suffered against Green Bay on Aug. 22. Moore hasn’t practiced this week and Roach has been limited, but not cleared, for full contact, and coach Dennis Allen didn’t sound overly optimistic that would change. There is no clear answer to when Roach -- who played every defensive snap for Oakland last season -- will return.

“That’s something that we continue to look at and see if this is going to get better,” Allen said. “Obviously, number one, any time you have a concussion there’s a concern, and then obviously with the length of time that it’s taken, there’s even a little bit more concern. He seems to continue to get a little bit better every day, and so hopefully he’ll keep getting better.”

The Raiders have clearly missed Roach, as they've given up a league-high 400 rushing yards in the first two games, and would miss Moore, who's been one of Oakland's most active defenders. Miles Burris has been playing for Roach but could move outside for Moore, with Kaluka Maiava playing in the middle in that scenario.

"Well, we’ve got a couple of linebackers that we can use,” Allen said. “So we’ll take the healthy bodies that we have and we’ll have a lineup and put them out there.

Because of the injuries, Oakland is likely to add a linebacker to the active roster Sunday. A likely candidate to be moved up is rookie Bojay Filimoeatu, who was promoted from the practice squad last week, then released, then put back on the practice squad this week.

They made room by cutting rookie defensive lineman Shelby Harris. Harris was a seventh-round pick and is the first draft pick to get cut this season. The Raiders hope to put him back on the practice squad. The Raiders also cut Kaelin Burnett from the injured reserve.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders' injury situation appears to brightening as three of the five starters who missed practice Wednesday returned.

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand), defensive end Justin Tuck (illness) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee) all returned to practice Thursday. However, linebacker Sio Moore (ankle) and receiver Rod Streater (hip) did not practice. Streater said Wednesday he should be able to play Sunday.

It was Jones-Drew’s first practice since injuring his hand in a Week 1 loss at the New York Jets. Barring a setback, he should share carries with Darren McFadden.

Friday will be a pivotal day for Moore. If he doesn’t practice, he could be in danger of missing Sunday’s game at New England. Moore has been one of the few productive defensive players for the 0-2 Raiders. He was hurt Sunday in a loss against Houston.

Meanwhile, new Raiders receiver Vincent Brown received a $25,000 bonus as part of his one-season deal.

Inside Edge: Raiders-Patriots

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18


ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando delivers stats to help you make a pick for Oakland at New England.

Week 3: Can games offer a reprieve?

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18

Commissioner Roger Goodell kept a low profile in what was yet another week of NFL distractions.

The week featured Vikings halfback Adrian Peterson and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy going on the NFL's exempt list. Cardinals halfback Jonathan Dwyer went from possible fill-in starter to the reserve/non-football injury list because of a domestic violence charge.

Sponsors around the league sounded off about the off-field distractions. Goodell and the NFL need a good weekend of competitive football to pull the sport out of the negative headlines. Some of these matchups might help.

Here are the trends for Week 3.

1. Super Bowl rematch: Only seven times in NFL history have teams squared off during the season after meeting in the Super Bowl. Still, the Broncos and Seahawks are starting to feel as though they are division rivals. Because they met in the preseason, this will be the third time they have played each other in the past eight games.

Aside from playing at home, the Seahawks have an advantage seeing Peyton Manning this often. In most nondivision games dating to his Indianapolis days, Manning has a huge advantage against a defense. Three practices during a week aren't enough to get a feel for what he does with his cadence and throws. Not only did the Seahawks have two weeks to prepare for him at the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks' defense will have a feel for what types of throws he might make in certain parts of the game.

The Seahawks blew out the Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII, something that has been gnawing at the Broncos since February. Expect this one to be more competitive than the Super Bowl.

(Read full post)

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Donald Penn likes what he’s seen from Oakland Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr on the field. But what may have impressed Penn most is what he saw Carr do after the team fell to 0-2 at home after a drubbing at the hands of the Houston Texans.

Carr waited for coach Dennis Allen to finish addressing the team. Then, it was Carr’s turn, Penn said.

“I’m not going to get into what he said, but I really liked what he said,” Penn said. “He’s a rookie and he showed that kind of leadership. I was impressed."

Carr said several veterans have spoken the team as well. Carr wouldn’t disclose exactly what he said, but he did give a glimpse.

“I just wanted to be an encouragement, that as long as we continue to work unselfishly, for each other -- and again, I’m trying to summarize it -- as long as we continue to work unselfishly, for each other, we’re going to start going down the right path,” Carr said. “You can watch me work. You can put it on my shoulders, because whatever anyone says, whatever anyone wants to put on my shoulders, it doesn’t matter. I can handle it. I’ve been through too much in my life to where I can handle it. Now let’s just go work together and fix this thing.”

Carr said he has seen a strong energy at practice this week and thinks players are determined to turn their fortunes around.

“We’re sitting here 0-2. That’s the truth. Now when we come to work, is it going to be, ‘Yeah, we’re 0-2, maybe we’ll turn it around?' No, these guys are working to turn it around. If you just stand back and watch them, you can see it,” Carr said. “Whether it’s just a little detail here or a little detail there, just sitting back and watching those guys, you’re like, ‘I can tell that that guy has’ -- maybe he doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring, maybe he does -- but I can tell he’s a winner and he’s a champion, maybe, if he doesn’t have a ring either. You just watch them work, especially in times like this. This is the hardest time to work. It’s the hardest time to do it.”

If the Raiders end their eight-game losing skid, dating back to last year and end a five-year losing streak in the Eastern Time Zone by knocking off New England on Sunday, be certain that many will be turning back to Carr’s locker-room speech as a rallying cry.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- When the shock of being released by the San Diego Chargers wore off, it didn't take Vincent Brown long to identify the team he wanted to sign with.

"Yeah, this is where I was looking," a smiling Brown said after his first practice with the Raiders on Wednesday. "It worked out well."

Once he became healthy (the Chargers cut the oft-injured Brown, who was dealing with a minor calf injury), the Raiders were the first team he set up a workout. Brown said he had workouts scheduled with Kansas City and the New York Jets. However, the Raiders didn't let him leave the building after a productive workout Monday.

The situation is perfect for Brown. He gets to stay in his native California. He gets to face the Chargers twice this season. And, he gets to please his father -- Vincent Brown Sr. is a die-hard Raiders' fan.

"He had to be a Raiders' fan on the down-low the last three years," his son said laughing. "I don't know how many pictures I have of me as a little kid wearing Raiders gear … I talked to my dad last night. He is ecstatic."

If the Raiders think Brown knows the system, there is a chance he will be in the rotation Sunday at New England.

"He catches the ball really well and he's got some vertical threat down the field," coach Dennis Allen said. "I think probably the biggest thing when you watch the guy is, when the ball goes in his direction, he generally makes the catch."

Injury situation appears manageable

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Practicing without five injured starters Wednesday wasn't ideal for the 0-2 Oakland Raiders. However, there is a chance the injury situation will be much better Sunday when the team visits the New England Patriots.

Receiver Rod Streater (hip flexor), linebacker Sio Moore (ankle), running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand), defensive end Justin Tuck (illness) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee) all did not practice.

It appears all of them have a chance to play Sunday barring setbacks.

Also, middle linebacker Nick Roach is feeling better, but he's yet to be cleared for full contact. He has not played since suffering a concussion Aug. 22 at Green Bay.

"He's steadily getting a little bit better every day," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "It's kind of a wait-and-see deal and see how he responds on a daily basis."