The Raiders had an NFL-best seven players on the initial Pro Bowl roster. The number planning to play in the league’s all-star game continues to dwindle.
That total's down to three after left tackle Donald Penn and receiver Amari Cooper bowed out. Penn won’t be ready after suffering a knee injury in the regular-season finale, an ailment that kept him out of a playoff loss at Houston. Cincinnati’s Andrew Whitworth will take Penn’s place.
Cooper battled a shoulder injury late last season, though it's uncertain exactly what is keeping him from the game.
In addition to Penn and Cooper, Quarterback Derek Carr obviously can't play while recovering from surgery to repair a broken fibula. Edge rusher Khalil Mack also bowed out recently with what is believed to be a minor back injury.
There’s a possibility a fifth Raider will also excuse himself. Center Rodney Hudson suffered an ankle injury in the playoffs. It remains uncertain whether he’ll play in the Pro Bowl.
Safety Reggie Nelson and left guard Kelechi Osemele remain firmly in the fray at this stage.
Mike Tice’s contract expired shortly after this season’s end, but there was strong belief he would retain his post with a new deal.
A league source confirmed Wednesday that a new deal was in place for Tice to remain with the Raiders. The exact length of the contract was not disclosed. Assistant coach contracts are typically set for two years, though they can be three in some cases.
Tice was the first assistant Jack Del Rio hired after being named Raiders head coach. The two are long-time friends, dating back to days playing for the Minnesota Vikings in the 1990s.
Tice was Del Rio’s assistant head coach for three seasons in Jacksonville, which made him a natural fit for a new project in Oakland. It was a smart hire. Tice has been excellent as Raiders offensive line coach, managing and scheming for one of the NFL’s best position groups.
ESPN first reported the Tice agreement.
While offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was allowed to leave on an expired contract and is now Denver quarterbacks coach, the rest of the Raiders offensive staff remains intact.
Quarterbacks coach Todd Downing was promoted to offensive coordinator and his assistant Jake Peetz assumes his old post.
The Raiders still have a vacancy on the defensive side, with Marcus Robertson out and on to the Broncos staff.
Khalil Mack had 15 sacks in 2015. The Raiders edge rusher had four fewer a year later but, still had his best season yet.
As head coach Jack Del Rio likes to say, pass rushers aren’t judged on sacks alone.
That number was still high at 11, but Mack was dominant against the run. He created turnovers and consistently pressured the quarterback despite a steady dose of chip blocks and double teams. A third man was occasionally assigned, as one was late against Carolina.
Mack fought through a triple team and strip sacked Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. He recovered his own fumble and secured a Raiders victory. Then he did something similar the following week against Buffalo.
It was that type of clutch performance, in addition to all the standard metrics, that made Mack the NFL’s most dominant defensive player.
The Pro Football Writers of America agrees. The association named him the NFL’s defensive player of the year for the 2016 season by vote of their membership.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was named the PWFA’s MVP and offensive player of the year.
Mack’s award could be a preview of a big moment early next month. The NFL will honor its best at awards banquet the evening prior to the Super Bowl, and Mack could be named defensive player of the year there.
That would honor a player with excellent numbers this season. Mack had 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, four passes defensed and an interception he returned for a touchdown. He also had 16 tackles for loss (one off the NFL lead) and had 96 total quarterback pressures.