NAPA -- It only seemed as though Juron Criner was being frozen out of the Raiders' first few days of training camp practice.After all, Criner was the last of Oakland's draft picks to sign and the fifth-round compensatory pick who went No. 168 overall in the NFL draft was reportedly embroiled in a dispute over 14,000 in signing bonus money that was rectified on Sunday. Not exactly a way to endear yourself to new teammates, right?Neither side has said if or how the 14K disagreement was handled but there was Criner on Friday, making plays and catching balls in traffic. Just as he had done during OTAs and minicamp this summer."You cant really have a best day," Criner said after practice. "You can have a good day and you can always get better."He did exactly that before 1,000 fans in the team's second padded practice.Asked if he took any heat from fans in the time before he signed his contract, Criner shrugged."Thats not something that I concern myself with," he said. "Im a player. I have an agent, we have a good relationship. I let him do his job and I do my job."One fan, though, yelled at Criner after a particularly nice grab: "One dollar at a time, Criner. One dollar at a time."Criner has looked up to fourth-year veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey thus far. "I watch his every move," Criner said. "If he sneezes Im there to say bless you. I take as much as I can from a guy like that."I definitely see the progress hes made. That just goes to let me know even if you have a down year its not about what you did, its about the following year. And theres always a way to get better and bounce back and hes definitely a player who did that."Criner said the trade of Louis Murphy only made the receivers bond together more. Having a fellow rookie in the undrafted Rod Streater has also helped his learning curve thus far.The two are roommates in camp."First and foremost, were here to compete," Criner said. "We just help each other outwe go over things that weve seen from each side of the field, things that we can do better, and we definitely watch each other and give each other pointers."Catch everything that comes to us. I guess we both kind of got the label of a possession receiver, so we've got to be fearless in there. Basically, go over the middle, catch anything around us and have the biggest radius we can."Of course, none of it would have happened had Criner actually held out. Not that that was going to happen, mind you.I asked Criner if there was ever a doubt he'd be in camp on time."No, there was no doubts," he said. "At the end of the day, it is my call."
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.