08-25-12 9:12 pm pac
Photo Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images WR Juron Criner
Oakland showed off its talented line up against the Lions racking up 31 points to Detroits 20 and ending a 6 game pre season losing streak.
Much more importantly, tonights win showed that new GM Reggie McKenzie and HC Dennis Allen have alot of potential weapons in their arsenal.
We're the only ones talking about analytics and the Raiders but for "Reggieball" to be a success Oakland will need to blend pure mathmatical info dissemination with the intangible of Reggie's "gut" feeling about a players attitude, abiltities and character.
If he can do that, the New Era Raiders may really be on to something big.
QB Carson Palmer wasn't great but he takes chances especially in pre season. He was 17 of 26 for 181 yds and threw 2 INTs.
No need to panic...yet.
RB Darren McFadden is the best back in the League. He split out wide at receiver, showed absolutely amazing hands hauling in a Palmer screen and threw a crushing pass block against a blitzing Lion LB.
Oh yeah, and racked up 50 yds on 5 carries.
The O line should be a work in progress but its not. Our 2nd stringers aren't stepping up and our annointed starters are struggling a bit especially in short yards and goal...exactly as we predicted.
Greg Knapp's lousy play calling didn't help but it is pre season and maybe he was simply being conservative bashing away at the middle with the Leagues best but most injury prone RB.
We pray that changes once the regs start but that was his M.O. last time he ran this system here.
It didn't work then either.
FA RG Mike Bresiel's acquistion from Knapp's team last year, the Texans has been a major bust so far. Bresiel's known for his toughness but his technique is lacking, her drew 2 false starts today and worse, he forced 13 yr ZBS specialist Cooper Carlise to leave the only postion hes ever played and switch to Left Guard instead of Right.
We hope Bresiel settles in but things look tenuous at the Right Guard postion.
WR Darrius Heyward Bey looks like he'll eclipse his nearly 1,000 yds performance last season and finally prove critics of Al Davis' draft selection wrong.
TE Brandon Myers had one of his best games as a pro after sitting out with a shoulder injury suffered in camp.
His performance today blocking and hauling in 5 passes for 41 yds will help to alleviate concerns at his postion.
Oaklands special teams looked horrible again and it is going to be a major, major problem if it doesn't get fixed with a quickness. Returns and coverage stink.
To make matters worse, aging but awesome Kicker Sebastian Janikowsk pulled a groin muscle stupidly chasing down a break away kick returner...in pre season.
Back up kicker Eddie Carmona did boot a 56 yarder after J. Kow was benched but, hes been wildly erratic.
On the D side, Oaklands Defensive line looked strong against a veteran and experienced Lion starting O line. DE Lamarr Houston is leaned down and looks unblockable. His run defense was impecccable.
LB Phillip Wheeler flies all over the field making plays and looks good defending the pass and the run.
FA DE/DT Dave Tolefson had a slow start but once he got going, made plays and began to justify Reggie's trust in him.
The former New York Giants Super Bowl vet figures to play a prominent role in Reggie's plan and DC Jason Tarver's scheme.
Our questionable FAs, CBs Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell looked good against the Lions high powered offense and the Raiders new Attack style Zone Defense looks like a legit threat.
AFC West opponents starting to lose sleep...
Concerns over Oaklands lack of veteran help came up again as WR Jacoby Ford went down, but his foot injury shows no strucural damage. He should be fine.
Fellow WR Denarius Moore should be recovered from a nagging hamstring injury and able to play against San Diego in the season opener but if not, UDFA rookie WR Rod Streater and rookie Juron Criner can help take up the slack.
After several multiple catch games Streater is a known target and threat to opposing Ds but he keeps producing, proving he belongs and Reggieball could actually work.
Streater collected another 5 passes for 56 yds today.
Rookie Juron Criner lit up camp like Denarius Moore did last pre season but critics wondered if he could translate it to the field.
His 2 catches for 2 TDs, including a 76 yarder from QB Terrelle Pryor helped pad his 115 yds for the night.
Like we said, Oakland has WRs for the 1st time since Brown and Rice.
Speaking of Terrelle Pryor, the young QB has faced detractors and death this off season as he tries to find his way with an organization changing regimes and philosophy and that didn't draft him.
Pryor has worked very hard and tonight it showed.
Besides losing both his dad & his mentor in this past month, Pryor's Rottweiler -- "my best friend" -- also just died.
Despite these staggering losses, Pryor stepped up tonight and showed that Al Davis' last pick ever may have been another winner.
Pryor may be the #3 QB but after his play against Detroit you can bet they will work in some special packages tuned to his particular talents.
Against the Silver and Blue the 2nd yr QB rushed 5 times for 90 yds and TD. He also threw 5 times completing 3. 2 of them for TDs including Criner's 76 yd score.
We told CB DeMarcus Van Dyke not to buy any Bay Area real estate when the new regime came to town because we knew the new powers that be actually will watch his game tape. He may look good at practice but refuses to tackle and has zero ball awareness.
Oakland lacks depth at CB but its hoped 2nd yr Chimdi Chekwa could provide some insurance.
FA Safety Pat Lee is cradling a newborn in his arms lately but needs to improve his hands. He had 2 picks sail through them tonight.
LB Miles Burris has struggled at times but looks more comfortable game after game.
D linemen Jamie Cumbie, Christo Bilukidi, Jack Crawford and Matt Shaughnessy all made plays and show great promise.
The Raiders stepped up at home against a play off caliber Detroit team and let the League have a peak at what we already know.
In Oakland, a sleeping giant is stirring.
08-14-12 7:10 am pac
Photo / AP RB Darren McFadden
With a new GM, HC, DC, a revisted offensive system and a beefed up hybriding of last years dismal D, Oaklands pre season isn't predicated on wins and losses, but on gathering tape on players who may or may not be system fits for where the New Era Raiders are headed.
Having said that, here a quick looks at last nights ups and downs.
Our first team looked decent. Granted, no way is new OC Greg Knapp going to show his hand and run his best plays. Again, certain base packages are going to be run so they can evaluate which players they think can fit and produce.
Darren McFadden looks dangerous but we're afraid we're going to be stressed out everytime he touches the ball and has a defender hanging off of his legs.
QB Matt Leinart looked inconsistent but remember, he hasn't played since breaking his collar bone last year with Houston.
QB prospect Terrelle Pryor has the fans approval but needs a lot of work and polish but those calling for his head should remember he was suspended from Ohio State and hasn't seen a football field in close to 2 years.
He made decent throws and some good decisions showing awareness and ability to make reads. He also made some mistakes, but again long time away...
RB Lonyae Miller filled for Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson, both out with injuries. For all his super natural quickness and speed, the knock on Jones is his inability to stay healthy. Goodson? Hes not well rounded and fumbles.
Lonyae looked boring truth be told and thats just fine. He plodded along and gained positive yards 3-4-5 at a clip but Oakland needs to get and keep its chosen RBs healthy this season.
We suggest going all out hybrid and give the ball to DE Lamarr Houston and no, we're not kidding...hes played RB before.
Our WR corps looked wired to Dallas defenders and because few could get open Raider QBs took pressure and sacks.
Thats an area of concern. The fact new WR Coach Ted Gilmore has never Coached at the NFL level may be a concern as it was for departed WR Coach San Jay Lal. We suggest bringing in Tim Brown hintity hint hint...
Gilmore's got 17 yr experience at the College level but our WRs looked unfocused with bad drops and worse, aligator arms.
WR / KR Jacoby Ford looked horrible. No other way to say it. He looked gun shy and rattled. Hopefully that will pass but he wasn't the only one with problems. Juron Criner dropped one too and poor route running caused timing issues too, but the lone bright spot, UDFA Rod Streater looked legit.
He made tough grabs, got open and held on when taking big hits over the middle. Everything you want your guy to do.
Hes a Reggieballer fo' sho'...
The O line needs work, though RT Khalif Barnes looked good. C Stefen Wisniewski injured his calf early. Worried he may be injury prone. That would suck because hes a great talent and you know what happens when Oakland has All Pro caliber play at Center don't you?
New DC Jason Tarver spent time in the bigs with the 49ers and at the College level with Stanford, all with decent success. With the help of defensive minded HC Dennis Allen they could get the Raider D turned around.
Our DBs looked spotty but thats to be expected. Neither starter at CB, Shawtae Spencer nor Ron Bartell played much if at all last year.
There was going to be rust.
Both showed it but with our new analytical D scheme our DBs are going to be expected to gamble more and that means giving up yds sometimes.
DVD looks the same as he did last season. Close coverage but fails to make plays. Hes also embarrassingly afraid of contact and thats a massive liability.
2nd yr CB Chimdi Chekwa was demoted to 3rd string last week and struggled during the game but he was injured in a strike shortened off season his rookie year. How can he be expected to be on point yet?
We hope he gets a chance to develop. Hes a much better prospect than the lanky, speedy DVD.
We 've mentioned it a time or two, Safety Mike Mitchell's ready to break out.
Our D line was a high point we felt. Shaughnessy looked good, so did Kelly and DT Desmond Bryant. Though he's "undersized" at 290 lbs, the ultra strong DT/DE looks unblockable one on one.
We worried about DE Lamarr Houston dropping weight before camp. Its usually a bad sign. McClain came in leaner last season and Sapp and Sands come to mind when less weight equaled less production but Houston looks quicker, leaner and meaner.
The Raiders may have "lost" last nights game 3-0 to Dallas but the info they gathered will get fed into the computer and Reggie's brain and adjustments will be made accordingly.
The fact is Oakland didn't look like a world beater last night. With construction still under way, how could they?
08-10-12 6:00 pm pac
Photo Garrett Ellwood / Getty Images TE Brandon Myers
The biggest and most recent injury came hours ago to veteran TE Brandon Myers.
Strong Safety Tyvon Branch sat out todays practice with a sore back but when questioned about the two HC Dennis Allen said Myers is the one hes concerned about.
When asked about the severity of Myer's shoulder injury Coach Dennis Allen said: "We'll see..."
We hope hes okay but if hes not, the Raiders may be in the market for a replacement to augment a TE group with limited or unproven players.
Myers has been a consistent contributor on Special Teams but a bit of an under performer. Veteran Tory Henderson was brought in as a blocking specialist. 2nd year TE Richard Gordon has battled dings in camp early, has better hands than people think but is also better at blocking than as a threat down the seam.
Fellow TE David Ausberry is a converted WR. Hes listed at 6-4, 245 lbs but came in to camp rocked up and looks larger than that.
Hes got good hands (was slated as a back up WR during last years rash of injuries and said he could run 80% of the routes. He may be used that way again this year in Oaklands hybrid scheme)
but the former USC Trojan, like his fellow TEs poses more questions than he answers.
Many in the media ran with a Hue Jackson based story in the last few days lamenting Oaklands lack of TE based plays last year basically blaming Hue for neglecting them.
We're not sure thats entirely accurate. Without going into great detail, Boss was constantly injured, Myers no help and the other two were complete rookies in a strike shortened off season. So...
What we're saying is if Myers is out for an extended time and one of our unprovens doesn't step up we may be sniffing around for a trade or any Reggieballl FAs we can get our hands on.
Then a year from now some sports writers will write a story about how Dennis Allen and Greg Knapp neglected our TE position in the passing game.
For the first time since Brown and Rice Oakland has depth and talent at WR. For the first time since Gannon they have a competent veteran QB capable of delivering the ball to said receivers. That means they clear out all kinds of room for our TEs.
If one or two can step up. If not Oakland may be stepping out to find one who they think can.
08-08-12 4:08 pm pac
Photo Tony Gonzales CB Shawntae Spencer
Its looking like the FAs Oakland brought in to shore up and help implement their new D are stepping up.
Oaklands secondary remains a huge question mark as we head into Monday nights pre season opener against Dallas but while some slide others are rising to the occasion.
FA CBs Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are expected to help new DC Jason Tarver implement the first non Al Davis defense in nealry 50 years and whlie that is indeed a tall task, former defensive coordinator and current Raider HC Dennis Allen knows Tarver up to it but he'll need help.
Most of us are familiar with Bartell and Spencer. Injured last year, brought in under the Reggieball banner of low risk-high reward players and expected to contribute right away.
The Chronicles Vittorio Tafur spoke with Spencer, a former 49er who is familiar with DC Tarver's system.
“I think (the defense is) meshing together very well.”
“I have been in this scheme for a long time. There are some different tweaks that Coach Allen brought in but I am very pleased with how the defense is looking. We’re making great strides everyday.”
“I am getting back into the flow of things, recognizing things like I used to. Last year was a tough year for me.”
"I am pleased with my game. It’s coming along and I am excited to be back out there.”
“My coaches tell me I had my best practices the last two days. And I get good feedback from the receivers and the other guys. That’s what I take. Sometimes the media and fans watching practice don’t really understand the schemes. They see you line up over a guy and that guy catches the ball, they say that was your guy. But that’s not our scheme.”
“I have some ups and downs, but that’s training camp.”
After some nicks and dings both seem to be on their way to stepping up for the Raiders and both are taking 1st team reps.
Our 2nd team secondary seems a little more contentious as 2nd yr man Chimdi Chekwa slides down to third string while FA Pat Lee took 2nd team reps today while 2nd yr man DeMarcus Van Dyke is having a good camp and making waves with good coverage.
We'll get a glimpse of that new D on Monday but don't expect a full unveiling of what we've got until week one of the regs.
Monday and the following pre season games will be more about finding system fits and keeping guys healthy.
07-31-12 7:11 pm pac
Photo / AP CB DeMarcus Van Dyke
With veteran FA CB Ron Bartell hobbled by a hammy, 2nd yr player DeMarcus Van Dyke has taken first team reps and looked good doing it.
The lanky 6-0, 180 lb speedster struggled last year when tackling and missed game 10 against the Jets with a hamstring issue of his own but last season and in camp so far, has looked good in coverage.
Tackling is going to be important mind you, but more importantly to "Reggieball" analytics is the big play turn over.
If Van Dyke can begin to translate those close calls and tight coverage into picks, Oaklands new defensive strategy would get a tremendous boost.
As an example of how the Silver & Black's new attack style, zone blitz defense is supposed to work, Reggie McKenzie's former team Green Bay had a play off caliber defense ranked near dead last in stats...except for turn overs.
The Packers led all other teams by a country mile with 31 INTs.
Oakland will need create turnovers of its own from now on and with his reads and breaks on the ball, Van Dyke has shown he may be able to help ease Oaklands defensive conversion.
He has gaps in his game but is working hard to improve but its the intangibles that make Reggieball work and if Van Dyke can make big plays he'll see more and more time.
He missed out on a few close ones last year and Van Dyke himself knows he needs make the most of his interception opportunities.
How does he know?
His Mama told him.
Van Dyke said today: “I went home and my Mama told me, ‘DeMarcus, I’m your No. 1 fan, but you dropped too many interceptions last year. "
DVD's Mom speaketh the truth as only a loved one can.
If early indications are right, the talented former Miami star will have plenty of opportunitites this year to make his Mama proud.
07-27-12 7:44 am pac
Photo Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images RB Darren McFadden
Not alot being said about Oakland this off season by mass media markets and thats due in part to about 10 yrs of sub par play, rotating coaches and lets face it, a losing record but, the King is dead, a new system has arisen and a slumbering giant is quietly waking right under the noses of the entire NFL.
You shall be witnesses.
Helming the Raiders transformation from the 5 decade long dominance of Legend Al Davis is 18 yr Green Bay veteran Reggie McKenzie.
Big Mac worked his way up the ladder in Green Bay and knows whats what, brings a state of the art analytics system and has nose for hidden talent and blatant bullshit. That may be because hes part bulldog.
We're looking into that...
Thats a good thing because sniffing out bullshitters was a glaring weakness in the former Boss' later years. (Jamarcus, "Lance" Kiffin, MeAngelo ect)
Far too many "check collectors" roamed the halls of 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway far too many years.
Those days are over.
PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE FOOTBALL
Reggie has stated recently he believes you can have 5 studs on D and if they aren't cohesive you've got 5 duds.
Al Davis was exactly the opposite. He never believed in team chemistry. Reggie does. And he also believes in Jesus Christ Almighty.
That runs a little parallel to Davis' traditional Raider bad boy philosophy and theres no doubt its going to color the Silver & Black but is that really a bad thing?
Look how many off field incidents and arrests have been made the last few years of roughly 2,000 NFL players. Willing to bet they get arrested more than the general populace on average.
Have no illusions, Oaklands not immune. We all can't get MLB Rolando McClain's Joker grin out of minds and WR Darrius Heyward Bey just plead no contest to DUI charges but McKenzie inherited the McClain debacle and Bey's infraction is infuriating, its fairly tame compared to the 7 arrests of Detroit Lions (so far...) this off season, nor the crime squad Cinncinati has field in the last decade.
Davis didn't think character counted, in fact, we all remember the 70s Raiders and the outlaw image but that faded when big money came into play and athletes scored $10s of millions without even having touched an NFL field.
This team, the New Era Raiders are completely opposite in some ways but in many other ways they are a fitting representation of the man, the Legend himself.
Like Davis, the new GM is dogged, determined and focused on 3 words.
Not "Praise the Lord" but "Just Win Baby."
SHAKE THE GROUND
McFadden struggled early in his career with the ZBS Oaklands re-installing this season but we're thinking it was due more to injury and inexperience than a poor fit.
Of course adding former Bengal runner and back to back 1,000 yd rusher Cedric Benson would be a nice insurance policy, especially with the loss in free agency of stud RB Michael Bush to the Bears but, theres a reason the gifted Benson is still unsigned.
Off field trouble came with both of his recent 1,000 yd seasons and thats the opposite direction this Reggie led team is heading.
RBs Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodsen may shoulder the load but both are incomplete backs who struggle with protection. Jones has an injury history longer than McFadden's and Goodsen, aside from being more one dimensional has a history of putting the ball on the ground.
Still, if things go right and DMC stays healthy all season he'll eclipse 2,000 yds total production and Oakland will be a League leading rushing team. That would be good news indeed considering a good running game is the best way to control the clock and keep top notch QBs like Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning off the field.
Carson Palmer is the best QB since Gannon, hands down and its not even close.
Pair that with a spectacular corps of promising, talented young WRs with speed to burn and you've got something Oakland hasn't had since its Super Bowl run.
A vertical game.
WR Denarius Moore is the truth and it looks like rookie Juron Criner may be too. Criner's not as fast as Moore but has incredible hands, is a tough blocker and a has penchant for circus catches in traffic.
Some forget WR Jacoby Ford but despite his diminutive stature, he too has great hands, blazing speed and the best ability to track down and attack a ball in flight since Tim Brown.
Throw in the fact former #1 draft pick Darrius Heyward Bey nearly broke 1,000 yds last season and you can see why we think Oaklands going to strike fear into opponents and shock the hell out of alot of people.
But not us.
And not you... ;)
06-14-12 2:10 pm pac
Photo Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP LBs Condo, McClain, Stupar
Denarius Moore sat out with his hammy injury as expected, C Stefen Wisniewski, LB Aaron Curry, LB/DE Dave Tollefson, WR Louis Murphy, TE Brandon Myers, S Mike Mitchell and FB Manase Tonga all sat out today.
Our choice for Offensive break out of the year is and has been RB Taiwan Jones. (waiting on that story Kevin...;)
If you're a Raider fan and you don't know him, you're in for a treat.
Jones is known for one thing. Jaw dropping break away speed. But he also has excellent field vision, patience as blocks develop and short field burst like Tony Dorsett.
Yeah, Tony Dorsett.
Mm hmm. Hes that good.
Jaws did drop along the sideline as Jones juked a defender and rocketed down the left hash as IBAs Steve Corkran put it "breath takingly fast". These dropped jaws mind you, are connected to some journalists, players and coaches who've seen Raider speed over the years and decades.
When people like that are impressed by your speed...
Speaking of Raider speed, RB Darren McFadden is the far more complete back and as usual, he looks like dynamite in the pre season.
For years DMC has had the best hands on the team and THIS regime promises to finally exploit that immense talent.
DMC got singled up on MLB Rolando McClain and naturally scorched him for a nice completion down the side line.
Don't count McClain out though, a bum knee and twice twisted ankle has slowed him his first two seasons. If hes finally healthy, hes much better in coverage than hes shown so far in his career.
He blanketed McFadden out of the back field on another play that forced QB Carson Palmer to ditch the ball out of bounds.
Speaking of LB coverage rookie Nathan Stupar snagged a pick off QB Matt Leinart, who has looked good so far.
Not the first time Stupar's made plays this week either.
Deliberately NOT saying anything about CBs Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell until after Mandatories. Both FAs joined the team after serious injury sidelined their 2011 seasons.
Lets just say this, they stay healthy, Oakland be fine at CB.
Not gonna lie, past elements of RNS have clashed with CB DeMarcus Van Dyke. Those peeps are no longer with us but still agree, DVD will need to step up and make tackles this year if he's going to be on the the field. Hes fast, rangy and keeps tight coverage but needs to figure out how to tell when the ball is coming because hes in position to make plays.
He and fellow 2nd yr man Chimdi Cheklwa will be expected to step up this year.
New FA FB Owen Schmitt has been blocking for the 1st team which probably isn't an indictment of FB/WR hybrid Marcel Reece. Reece missed all of Oaklands prior 2012 OTAs. Schimitt joined Oakland late too but this round of practices has been more to install Oaklands basic "base" packages it seems.
More to come...
06-13-12 11:40 am pac
Photo Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Rookie stand out WR Juron Criner
WR Denarius Moore made a brief appearance but retreated into the facility for more treatment on a hammy he tweaked yesterday. He returned to the field to watch which we guess is an encouraging sign. Later, after practice, HC Dennis Allen said
Moore would be "back by training camp." which means hes done for this set of sessions.
WR long shot Rod Streater has been turning heads and had those not paying attention wondering what the hell was going on when he joined Heyward Bey and Jacoby Ford for 1st team reps(!) fellow WR and rookie stand out Juron Criner has been the one making spectacular catch after catch but the 24 yr old Streater may have an advantage over the talented 22 yr old Criner who worked with the 2nd team today.
Criner, a fifth rnd (168th overall) draft pick by the Raiders, has been a stand out this off season. He made another great catch late in practice in heavy traffic on a laser from QB Terrelle Pryor.
All of our TEs made catches today and looked good doing it. 2nd yr man Richard Gordon with the advantage as a blocker. He played H back and FB at times last yr too.
Some feel Oakland is setting their base 4-3 before exploring their 3-4 option but the fact massive NT Travis Ivey is not participating again today may have something to do with it.
IBA's excellent journalist Steve Corkran reported Ivey suffered a concussion when struck by a weight bar in a work out accident.
He joins S Mike Mitchell and Manase Tonga as those injured and MIA.
FA hybrid defender Dave Tollefson was dinged yesterday too. He joined LB Aaron Curry on the sideline. Curry was dinged for Oaklands last camp, participated yesterday and although in uniform seemed relegated to the sidelines.
At the presser after practice it was revealed Curry has a "sore knee".
Rookie LB Miles Burris filled for Curry.
Burris, McClain and 4 yr vet FA from the Colts, LB Phillip Wheeler comprised the starting LB corps.
Later in practice, McClain made a nice play and snagged a Palmer pass after it was tipped by WR Eddie McGee who later walked off with trainers.
Curry and Tollefson were joined on the sideline by 2nd yr man and newly annointed C Stefen Wisniewski who has yet to participate due to a reported shoulder injury. Wizzer had surgery on the shoulder in the off season and reportedly played the majority of last season with a torn labrum.
We hope he and his fellow Raiders are 100% in time for the regs.
Back up QB Matt Leinart looking good. Some nice completions and hes a favorite of new OC Greg Knapp. Knapp coached QBs when both were with the Texans last season.
IBA's Steve Corkran said of Leinart: "Prettier ball but less accurate than Palmer."
Coach Allen had this to say about 3rd string QB Terrelle Pryor:
"Hes made progress. Hes still got a long way away but hes made significant progress."
Pryor also mentioned today after practice that hes reached out to former Raider QB Rich Gannon and expects to work with him soon.
06-12-12 12:08 pm pac
Photo Tony Gonzales RB Darren McFadden
Mandatories opened today for the Oakland Raiders and 23 other NFL teams.
The Raiders need this camp to go smooth and by the numbers as they evaluate talent and look for sytem fits for their new systems in the wake of 50 years of Al Davis dominance.
We're all extremely excited but tempered with heavy hearts and reverence.
Its a new era and one we hope will make the old man proud...
First of all, the only two players we can't see here today are Safety Mike Mitchell and FB Manase Tonga. Both have knee issues with Tonga's being the worst.
WR turned FB Marcel Reece recently signed his tender and rejoins the team after missing all of Oaklands OTAs. He looked good catching the swing pass.
We think...we're hoping Mitchell's knee isn't the same one he rushed back on after tearing it up day one last year doing a rope excersize.
Tommy Kelly and King Richard Seymour accounted for. Both big men missed voluntary OTAs but were present and in the action.
Kelly was tapped earlier this off season as a possible NT in the 3-4 portion of Oaklands new hybrid D but the 305 lb Kelly, who has been up in the 340 range before says he has no interest in putting back on that kind of weight.
He may not have to since sleeper Travis Ivey is looking like a game changer.
The 6-4, 341 lb project looks dominant as Oaklands only true NT.
Especially against the run.
New DE/LB Dave Tolefson came over from the Giants and its hoped the versatile FA will play a huge roll not only in the Raiders hybrid D but on special teams as well.
Which is why we'll be watching closely to see if hes all right after making his way to the sideline.
Good news, LB Aaron Curry back on the field after being dinged in OTAs.
Thanks to his agent Blake Baratz and Paul Guetirrez of CSN we helped bring you the news Oakland had signed vet back up TE Tory "the Silent Assassin" Humphrey but it was Raider vet Brandon Myer taking first team reps.
Oakland has 5 TEs on the roster and that usually means if you've got alot of players at one position, you dont have any." meaning the Raiders will be looking closely for stand outs.
Its a quesion of what they'e looking for really. We're guessing blockers for their new ZBS and emphasis on the run game under returning OC Greg Knapp.
2nd yr TE David Ausberry is a converted WR with 4.4 speed who bulked up in the off season to help his blocking. He looked good scorching Rolando McClain for a completion down the sideline on one play.
Speaking of having alot, Oakland has 12 players at the WR position but again, they may be looking for hybrids and lets not forget teams are allowed an extra ten players in camp now as opposed to previous years where they were allowed 80.
WR rookie Juron Criner clearly this years stand out making circus catch after catch this off season. Did it again today.
Hes getting extra reps with 2nd yr Wide Out Denarius Moore out. He appeared to be sidelined again, walking off with a dicey hammy.
Louis Murphy and hopeful Eddie McGee have hammy tweaks too. Some speculating a long shot like Rod Streater might step up but remember, we've got Reece and DMC who can line up out wide as well.
We're officially worried about 2nd yr OL Stefen Wisniewski. Not sure if the torn labrum he played through all last year is the problem or if it really is a shoulder injury this time as formerly reported.
He sat OTAs and new HC Dennis Allen said the versatile Lineman would be back for mandatories. Hes a smart heads up player but making the shift back to Center after being miscast last year at Left Guard means Wizzer is rapidly losing valuable reps he desperately needs as Oakland installs its new system and O.
New back up punter Marquette King literally "Wow"-ing
media with his trademark freakishly booming punts.
We'll have much more later but wanted to get you some quick hits to sink your teeth into as we being this historic campaign.
06-06-12 1:17 pm pac
Photo Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP DE Matt Shaughnessy
Today was open media day (for an hour or two anyway) but the limited exposure was enough to bring up questions and start conspiracies.
Like most conspiracies, some have merit, some do not.
DE Matt Shaughnessy
Shaughnessy's a curious case. Poised last season to become a monster 3 down, edge setting, run stuffing, multi-faceted pass rushing nightmare, the 6-5, 270 lb Defensive End instead suffered an injury requiring shoulder surgery.
He was placed on IR Oct. 19th.
Word was at the end of last season Shaughnessy's shoulder was healed and if new CBA rules were in place last year he would've been allowed back onto the field.
Why is that significant?
HC Dennis Allen now says Shaughnessy's out till mandatories on the 12th...with a shoulder injury.
Thats a 180 from what Allen said on Feb. 24th.
"According to Raiders head coach Dennis Allen Friday, running back Darren McFadden and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy are fully healed from their injuries that kept them out most of the 2011 season and are ready to return to the practice field in time for mini camps."
Silver & Black Pride, Feb. 24 2012
Raider Fans .net reported it too.
In fact we've been mentioning his curious absence since Oaklands 1st OTA's.
Thats bad news for Oakland. Better news for unsigned, tendered DE Desmond Bryant who is in camp right now, having signed not his tender offer but an injury waiver so he can take the field.
Thats a guy who wants to play and senses blood in the water.
*BREAKING: Raiders report Bryant has now signed his one yr tender
C/G Stefen Wisniewski
Taken 48th overall in the 2nd round of the 2011 draft Wisniewki played the season miscast at LG in place of departed bust Robert Gallery but played through a shoulder injury*.
That may have been a mistake.
No one doubts his toughness but the fact his shoulder injury will also officially keep him sidelined at least till madatories as well, may be a cause for concern.
Maybe the new powers that be are simply being cautious.
We don't think so.
*At 3:47 pm pac IBAs Jerry McDonald reported Stefen Wisniewski suffered a torn labrum LAST off season. He played through the pain and had a "procedure" Coach Allen says hes still healing up from.
Wisniewski says hes "Getting alot of mental reps." but is "Bored." He needs to get healthy and hopes to have recovered enough to participate fully at up coming madatories.
RB Darren McFadden
Remember, these are voluntary OTAs. McFadden was at the first set and looked spectacular.
Hes absent from this set of OTAs because hes going back to school. Sort of...
DMC is attending the Darren McFadden Football Pro Camp at Maumelle High School. (it was known as "Oak Grove" when McFadden attended)
By all accounts the injury plagued football phenom is healed from the Lis Franc he suffered last season and is poised to perform.
In his place FA RB Mike Goodson is getting more reps and impressing observers like IBAs Jerry McDonald.
Goodson is a solid runner but he lacks blocking skills, isn't a great reciever and worst of all has a history of putting the ball on the ground.
After 4 injury riddled seasons lets hope this year DMC stays fit for the distance.
FB Marcel Reece
Reece did not attend prior OTAs but recently signed his ERFA contract and joined the team.
Though Reece signed 2 days ago, hes clearly not up to speed and will need time before he can take the field.
LB Aaron Curry
Curry came aboard mid way through last season and even restructured after Mr. Davis passed and the team hired new management and coaches. By all accounts Curry loves Oakland and is looking forward to proving hes not a 1st round bust.
He may or may not attend Oaklands mandatories. Curry is out with an "undisclosed injury".
Things will definitely become clearer as the 12th approaches and hits but for now there will remain more questions than answers concerning some of Oaklands OTA MIAs.
06-04-12 12:54 pm pa
Photo Jeff Gross / Getty Images FB Marcel Reece
Oaklands offense just got better today as FB Marcel Reece joined the team for todays OTAs.
Reece has been persona non grata at the Raider facility this off season. Many assume its because the multi-talented WR turned FB wants a new contract.
The former Huskie is signed through 2013 on his current contract making him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent this season, Reece really had no leverage to hold out for a better deal.
Though the Raiders can, will and may already have restructured contracts to free up money, that cash will go toward signing draft picks and any free agents that turn their heads and likely not toward many long term contracts this off season.
Franchise tagged SS Tyvon Branch is an exception. If they can get a long term done with him, that will free up extra moolah as well.
Some would have you believe Oaklands shortage of money this off season was thanks to former Al Davis' "out of whack" contracts before his death, but remember, Davis ran the Raiders and made cap ever single time for 50 years.
The reason the Raiders are cash strapped this off season is because the new powers that be are up dating and installing a whole new system on the field and in the front office.
They could've come in and coasted one more season under the Davis banner but rightly so new Owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie decided to bite the bullet and make the change sooner rather than later.
That means less money for long term deals this off season.
Reece and his people knew this, so the real reason for the 6-3, 240 lb match up nightmares "hold out" may simply have been not wanting to attend "voluntary" work outs.
It may also have been a statement, meaning Reece expects to work a new deal sooner rather than later.
He'll have 1 yr left on his contract next off season and if he has production like he did last year he'll have much more leverage for a bigger, long term deal as a valuable, versatile WR/FB who can line up at either spot or split out of the back field confusing defenses and creating instant mismatches.
Hybrids are nothing new to Oakland or the League, in fact,back in the day many players played multiple postions even playing "iron man" on both sides of the ball but with a renewed hybrid emphasis on a spectrum wide scale the Raiders Marcel Reece is their crown jewel.
For $540,000 this season, that gem is a bargain.
Unfortunately there are players in this situation who might be tempted to fake an injury and miss time but we're pretty sure Reece isn't one of them.
He knows big production this year will mean big offers next off season.
05-22-12 11:01 am pac
Photo / US Presswire Raider practice w/ QB Carson Palmer
Raiders running drills and plays. DMC looks sharp on the ground and out in the pattern. Leinart finds him and a 40 yd long ball that looks pretty...WR Jacoby Ford drops a couple.
Thats why we practice.
RB Taiwan Jones looks super fast. Once he breaks second level it looks like no one can catch him.
WR hopeful Rod Streater drops nothing while making his case for a roster spot. Then, later in practice dropped a couple after the Chronicles Vittorio Tafur mentions him being flawless. Oops...
Rookie Wide Out Juron Criner making a bid for the #4 receiver slot.
2nd yr WR Denarius Moore watched from the sidelines with a minor tissue bruise. He was held out as a precautionary measure.
Back up QB Matt Leinart taking the lions share of 2nd team reps. IBA's Steve Corkran says 1st stringer Carson Palmer looking:
"Very, very sharp. He is confident, poised and whipping the ball around with great zip and accuracy."
NT Travis Ivey in the middle during out 3-4 packages. Seymour and Kelly not here.
Rookie Miles Burris filling in with "starters" for absent veteran LB Aaron Curry. HC Dennis Allen says Burris will remain an outside LB for now.
LB Travis Goethel will get a shot to fill for McClain at MLB but only if he can stay healthy.
Hes been taken out in pre season by significant injury his first two years as a pro. Year 3, fingers crossed.
CBs will be a huge focus this off season with young, untested and veterans returning from injury.
Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are the latter and looking good so far.
No need for Kellen Winslow the 2nd it seems.
He went to Seattle anyway.
Many think TE is a spot Oakland needs to fill but they don't seem to think so at all.
Last years OC, legend and one of the few "Davis men" to survive the transistion to the new regime, Al Saunders seems to be in charge of Oaklands young TE group and with favorable results so far.
Myers, Ausberry, Gordon all playing well with Ausberry turning heads with several catches today and a new, beefed up frame.
05-13-12 3:41 am pac
Photo Thearon Henderson / Getty Images Rookie WR Juron Criner
The quote du jour from Raider mini camp has been "Its like drinking through a fire house" in regard to the volume of information being foisted upon Oaklands new rookies. Thats due in part because they are now in the NFL where things move alot faster and get a whole lot more complicated. (Example: despite the new roster and staff Oakland WILL implement a hybrid scheme on both sides of the ball) and of course thanks in part to the new CBA.
Many haven't realized that the new rules imposed will change the game. For better or worse no one knows but the fact teams now have more players (90) and much less time and full contact, the end result could be the end product on the field will suffer.
Hopefully the early start granted Oakland because of its rookie HC will be helpful.
The fact returning OC Greg Knapp is, well, returning should help expidite a return to the ZBS but remember this is a rag tag, cobbled together group of rookies and first time NFL'ers McKenzie and co. have cooked up.
It more resembles the cast of a wacky 90s feel good sports comedy (think "Major League") than it does a Championship chasing franchise.
Theres a Londoner with limited football experience, 2 basketball players who haven't seen a football field since High School, the first Chinese player in the NFL, and slew of seriously injured and as of yet untested veterans who may or may not be able to play again.
These are gambles that would've gotten former owner GM Al Davis hauled off to the looney bin but with a complex mix of analytics, 17 years of experience, pure gut instinct and a fistful of voo doo powder, new GM Reggie McKenzie and his improbably diverse cast of characters will at least be given the benefit of the doubt...for now.
Rookie WR Juron Criner turning heads already. We told you so...
Reports of RB Darren McFadden making cuts at full speed is the best news possible.
Oaklands only 3-4 NT Travis Ivey should play a big part in new HC Dennis Allen and new DC Jason Tarver's 3-4 section of the Raiders hybrid D scheme and is already drawing praise from Allen.
Rookie LB Kaelin Burnett drawing praise from Allen too. "He can put his hand in the dirt on 3rd down and get after the QB."
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