ALAMEDA -- This is old hat for Richard Seymour, what with his three Super Bowl championships in four trips to the title game.It's also a new feeling for the third-year Raiders defensive tackle.Seymour, who entered the NFL in 2001 and came to Oakland in a 2009 trade, is in his first playoff race as a member of the Raiders.So how fine is that line between reinforcing just how important this weekend's game is against San Diego to the younglings in Oakland's locker room and not spooking them to the point of paralysis by analysis?
"Obviously, it is a big game, so you can't deny that fact," Seymour, who was named to his seventh Pro Bowl this week, said with a knowing grin. "But I think as a competitor, as a player, you have to embrace these moments because they don't come around often. And I think that's something that I've always done throughout my career."You want to play your best football in the biggest games."Of course, the Raiders need to do more than win Sunday against San Diego to get into the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 Super Bowl season; they also need Denver to lose at home to Kansas City to win the AFC West and play host to a wild card-round game against either Pittsburgh or Baltimore. Or, they need Cincinnati to lose at home to Baltimore and either Tennessee to lose at Houston or the New York Jets to win at Miami to win the Wild Card and travel to the Texans for a wild card-round game.
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.