Curry starting for Raiders Sunday

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Curry starting for Raiders Sunday

ALAMEDA -- Newly acquired Aaron Curry will start at weakside linebacker Sunday in place of Quentin Groves, Raiders coach Hue Jackson said Friday.

"Hes the starting Will (weakside linebacker) on this football team," Jackson said. "Right now. I didnt bring him here to look at him, to figure it out, or anything like that. Hes the starting Will on this football team. Period.

When asked about the challenge of acclimating Curry to Oakland's system, Jackson expressed total confidence.

I think its easy. Theres some terminology stuff that we work through. But well work from sunup to sundown to get him ready," he said. "In my mind, Im not making a trade to ease a guy into anything. We made a trade because I feel like this guy can help our football team, and hes going to be the starting Will.

Aside from the new team, Curry will be moving to a new position. He's taking the challenge in stride.

"Not a big deal," Curry said about the move from strong-side linebacker to weak-side. "It would seem like it but as far as the scheme goes, no matter what you name the linebacker its pretty much what I played when I played up north. Its just going out there, similar keys, some different fits but its all going to boil down to getting to the football."

Groves, among others in the team's linebacking corps, has been under the spotlight for Oakland's inability to stop the run. Sunday against the Texans, Groves failed to cover Lawrence Vickers out of the backfield on Houston's second-to-last drive, but the fullback dropped the pass from Matt Schaub despite being wide open for a sure touchdown.

Groves also was guilty of failing to hustle to the sideline on Houston's final drive, resulting in a flag being thrown for 12 men on the field. But the penalty was declined by rule because Texans guard Mike Brisiel was called for a face mask penalty.

Curry fell out of favor in Seattle this season, losing his starting spot to K.J. Wright. The former Butkus Award winner at Wake Forest has just 5 career sacks and only 22 tackles this season.

Friday Jackson emphasized his level of confidence in the 6-2, 225-pounder.

I like him. Im glad hes here. Hes going to play Will linebacker for us," Jackson said. "Im very excited to have him. As I said yesterday, I dont get into what all happened wherever he was. I just know what I know and what I see, and thats how I go about it. Hes on our team. I brought him here for a reason, and hes going to play.

Curry is the seventh former first-rounder on the Raiders' defensive side of the roster, alongside Richard Seymour (No. 6 overall, 2001), John Henderson (No. 9 overall, 2002), Michael Huff (No. 7, 2006), Kamerion Wimbley (No. 13, 2006), Jarvis Moss (No. 17, 2007) and Rolando McClain (No. 8, 2010).

He emphasized Friday that he's ready to play football, regardless of the color of his jersey, or the short time he's been in Oakland.

"When you look at it from the outside in it looks weird but Ive been practicing all week whether I was wearing blue or whether I was wearing black," Curry said. "Ive been working on my linebacking skills for the last four weeks, just honing all my skills and learning everything about football, not just about where I was playing in our defense. So Im prepared to play football. When it comes down to it, who has the ball?"

When asked to pinpoint what Curry does well, Jackson painted with a broad brush.

I think he tackles really well. I think he takes on stuff at the point of attack. I think he rushes the quarterback extremely well," Oakland's head coach said. "I know a lot of people say there are weaknesses here and there, based on what you hear. Thats not what I saw.

"Obviously we want to make sure that we show off his strengths and not his weaknesses, but what Ive seen today in practice and what Ive seen on videotape is exactly what Im getting, and Im looking forward to it.

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
Doubtful

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

Questionable
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.”