Cartwright honored, plays waiting game


Cartwright honored, plays waiting game

A year ago, the uncertainty surrounding Rock Cartwright as he received his first Commitment to Excellence Award emanated from the NFL lockout.Now? It's about the special teams standout's own future. A free agent when the league's new year commences Tuesday at 1 p.m. PT, Cartwright said he wants to remain in Oakland and does not think being honored at a dinner when his future is in flux is awkward at all."Not really, I lay my heart out there every game I was out there," he said prior to the dinner honoring him at the Oakland Airport Hilton Saturday night. "I really can't worry about stuff I can't control. That's between those guys and my agent. Hopefully we can get something worked out. I love it here. I would like to spend the rest of my career here."I'm going to let the front office and my agent handle that."RELATED: Brown speaks on Saints BountyGate
Cartwright, though, handled enough of his business, both on and off the field this past season, to be feted for the second consecutive year in voting by his teammates "based on their hard work, leadership and excellence." Previous winners include the likes of Jim Otto, Daryle Lamonica, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown."It's voted on by your teammates," Cartwright said, "so you can't ask for anything like that."Despite his unknown contact status, Cartwright continued to speak about the Raiders in the "we" vernacular."I consider myself part of the Raider Nation. Regardless if I'm here or not, I'm always going to be part of the Raider Nation."Cartwright was also asked about other topics.On the new regime with general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen, both of whom were in attendance at the dinner: "I think we're headed in the right direction. Reggie's a great guy and I know Coach Allen is a great guy. He's from Texas, so I know he's a great guy (laughs). You've got somebody that can lead us and show us where we want to go and that's all you can ask for."On what he thinks will happen with fellow free agent running back Michael Bush: "You can't predict anything right now. You never know what's going to happen. I think Tuesday is going to be an interesting day for a lot of people. A lot of people's lives are going to change, including myself probablyyou've always got to prepare yourself for that. We'll see what happens Tuesday."On how Darren McFadden is doing these days: "He's doing fine. He said he's able to do everything that he used to be able to do -- run, run routes and stuff like that. I know Darren and he loves the game and he works extremely hard and that's one of the mosthumble first-round draft picks I've ever seen since I've been in the league. He's working to get back and he's going to get back and we just have to surround him with good people and a good group of guys so he can do the things he's capable of doing."On how McFadden handled the disappointment of being injured: "When you see a guy like him that puts so much in something and then you go out there and you get hurt on a checkdown and kind of costs you your season, you feel for a guy. Every time he has something going, it's always something that wants to set him back. But he keeps coming back year in and year out and producing. I think he's going to get healthy, I think he's going to stay healthy and I think once he does that, he'll be probably the best back in the league, by far." On former coach Hue Jackson: "I spoke to Hue a couple of times. We didn't speak too much about what happened. We just spoke about his future and what he had going on and he just told me he'd stay in contact with me."On if he has a timeframe for settling his immediate future: "I would like to get it settled on Tuesday, but obviously that probably won't happen. All I can do is go out and train and prepare myself the best that I canand if somebody calls and says, 'Rock, we want you to come in and work out,' I'll be preparedI know I'm capable of doing it. It's all about opportunityI'm praying that it's Oakland."On his track record for potential future employers: "I've been captain of the Washington Redskins, I've been captain of the Oakland Raiders. So my resume kind of speaks for itself. I just try to be accountable to everybody and accountable to myself. And as long as I do that, I think I'll continue to be, you know, semi-successful."

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph hurt his toe in Sunday’s victory over Buffalo, and was still in pain early the next week.

That gave him virtually no shot to play Kansas City on Thursday night with a short week to recover. The Raiders made his omission official on Wednesday, and ruled the first-round pick out of the AFC West clash at Arrowhead Stadium on their official injury report.

Veteran Nate Allen will take his place in the starting lineup. He played well in Joseph’s stead against the Bills, and has the versatility to play back or closer to the line of scrimmage as Joseph did.

The Raiders defense is still ailing on the interior, with defensive tackle Stacy McGee (ankle) ruled out of his second straight contest.

There is slightly better news for Darius Latham, who was deemed questionable after missing two light practices but returning in time for limited work on Wednesday. Getting him back would help a thinned rotation that heavily features Denico Autry, Dan Williams and Jihad Ward, who has struggled some of late.

The Chiefs have a healthy team despite the short week. Receiver Jeremy Maclin will return from a groin injury. Edge rusher Tamba Hali will play despite limted practice work, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe is questionable with a back issue.

Raiders Status Report

LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), S Karl Joseph (toe), DT Stacy McGee (ankle) Questionable
DT Darius Latham (ankle), LG Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Cory James (shoulder)

Chiefs Status Report

DT Dontari Poe (back), DE Kendall Reyes (knee)

NOTE: Kansas City’s WR Jeremy Maclin, OLB Tamba Hali and CB Phillip Gaines did not receive an injury designation, meaning they will play.


Mack, Irvin feed off each other, form dynamic duo in Raiders pass rush

Mack, Irvin feed off each other, form dynamic duo in Raiders pass rush

The Buffalo Bills were running right through the Oakland Raiders early in Sunday’s contest, a never-ending assault that took its toll on defenders in silver and black.

That was the case for the most optimistic, steadfast member of that unit.

“We were giving up big plays, and I was frustrated,” star edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “Actually, I was pissed off.”

Bruce Irvin sensed a disturbance in the force. The veteran pass rusher knew how to fix it.  A little pep talk would get Mack going again.

“We feed off each other’s energy. … That dude pulls me up. I was feeling a little down towards the middle of the game, and he was like, ‘Come on. We need you. Come on. Let’s go. He pulled me up and kept pushing.”

That wasn’t the turning point in yet another comeback win. It wasn’t the only reason why defense locked Buffalo down during a run of 29 unanswered points.

It showed how strong a friendship Mack and Irvin have formed since the spring, one that helps get the best out of the other. Bonds formed from insatiable work ethic, one evident even in the offseason program.

“We’re both so hungry to be great that it just brought us together,” Irvin said. “When I got here, we talked right away. Khalil and (quarterback Derek Carr) were the first two guys I sat down with, and I told them I was coming over to play with Khalil, to help turn this thing around and become one of the top units in the league. Khalil and I just bonded quickly, and it was like we had been friends forever. It’s like whole thing was meant to be.”

It has turned out to be a productive pairing. There are 15 sacks, 94 other quarterback pressures and eight forced fumbles between Irvin and Mack this season.

Mack has the bulk of those numbers, especially during a second-half run where he has been outright dominant and jumped into the conversation for defensive player of the year. Mack has been involved in four turnovers the last two games, including game-sealing strip sacks while recovering his own fumble in consecutive weeks.

“You all don’t want to talk to Robin,” Irvin quipped. “Batman’s right over there.”

Irvin has used that line after two home victories in a row. The fifth-year pro is more than Mack’s sidekick. He’s on a roll himself, with sacks in three straight games. He uses speed and agility to create pressure off the strongside edge, dealing with left tackles on a consistent basis.

“I’m in a good groove right now,” Irvin said. “Mentality, physically, I’m in a very good place right now. It’s really showing on the field these past couple weeks.”

Irvin has been a productive defender either making plays on his side or driving traffic back towards Mack. It works both ways, with Mack drawing significant attention that often leaves Irvin in more favorable matchups.

The combination has been impactful, especially on a defense that doesn’t’ get pressure from other sources. They’ve been productive in the clutch as well, with six sacks coming in the fourth quarter. Mack has big plays the last two weeks, and Irvin has a big sack late in a victory over Houston in Mexico City.

The Raiders defense is improving, and having Irvin rushing strong recently helps Mack and the entire Raiders defense.

“He’s always been in a good groove, but there are things going well for this defense,” Mack said. “I’m on the other side, and you have coverage going well. (Opponents) try to do all the chipping and those things that play a factor in doing what we do. The fact that he’s rolling right now is not a surprise.”