A healthy McClain key to defense


A healthy McClain key to defense

Criticism comes at Rolando McClain in waves, like some mammoth pulling guard or a shifty running back.He has trouble shedding blocks. He takes bad angles. He's not a game-changer at middle linebacker.Some is justified. Some, not so much.But this much is true -- the Raiders defense definitely feels it when McClain is not on the field. There was a drop-off last season in Jacksonville, when a foot injury kept him sidelined. Same as two weeks ago against Denver, when he could have spied his old SEC rival in Tim Tebow.
"I can't put the loss to the Broncos on Darryl Blackstock," Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan aid of McClain's backup, "but to me, you have a starting Mike linebacker, you miss that starting Mike linebacker, you say 'Next man up.' And Darryl did that. But again, to not have Ro out there was huge."My point to Ro is that he has continually gotten better as the year has gone on. When he came into this week, he challenged the team in the locker room, he challenged the defense in the meeting room during the week and he stepped and became the leader of the defense. And that's the type of stuff he has to do, is provide that leadership when he's on the field so it's been huge to get him back."Despite missing one game and being hobbled with a sprained right ankle since the Houston game on Oct. 9, McClain ranks second on the team with 48 tackles, 33 solo, and has a sack (strong safety leads with 69 tackles).Still, he is without the signature blowup play so associated with dominant middle linebackers. But after a stand-out game in San Diego last Thursday, the defense seems to have settled again. With McClain in the middle of it all."We never worry about what everybody says," McClain said the day after the Chargers game. "We have a good sense of each other in this locker room and that's all that matters. We believe in each other. We know we just have to take it a game at a time. If you get caught up in so much like, 'You have to lead the AFC West, you got to do this, you got to do that,' we just try to get back to the basics of one game at a time."Being 1-0 after every game and at the end of the year the record will speak for itself."Against the Chargers, McClain started slow and seemed hindered by the ankle. Then he, and the rest of the defense, solidified and clicked."We pride ourselves on being real physical," McClain said."When we stepped on the field, we already had that mindset. Last year we went down there with the same mindset and took over the game. We went in with that exact same mindset this year and we got the win."Now that McClain is as healthy as he's been since Napa, Bresnahan sees big things from him going forward."If you remember back at the beginning of training camp, we're going through the beginning of preseason, he was doing some things really well and then all of a sudden he got nicked up here and there and that's really been the thing that's set him back a little bit," Bresnahan said. "When he's healthy and he's ready to go, he's a true factor in the middle. We've got to get him doing that every week."He really stepped up as the leader in the room and took it upon himself that, Hey, he's back, he's gotta take control, the reins, and really steer the defense in the direction we want it to go."

Report: Browns have preliminary extension talks with Pryor

Report: Browns have preliminary extension talks with Pryor

Despite the team's overall struggles, fifth-year pro Terrelle Pryor is finding himself in Cleveland.

With his rushing, receiving and even passing contributions, his stock has quickly risen under the Hue Jackson regime. 

The Browns have been impressed enough where they've reportedly had preliminary contract extension talks with Pryor, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

Pryor, 27, is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

The 2016 season, a breakout one for the 6-foot-6 athletic phenom, marks his second in Cleveland. 

Pryor was originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft.  

He started 10 games for the Raiders at quarterback, compiling a 3-7 record, while tossing nine touchdowns to 12 interceptions. 

He was traded away after three largely unsuccessful seasons. 

In Cleveland this year, Pryor is 5-of-9 passing with 44 yards, has 21 rushing yards and a touchdown on eight attempts, and has a 33 receptions on 59 targets for a whopping 477 yards and three touchdowns. 

Injury report: RB Murray questionable, in line to play Sunday

Injury report: RB Murray questionable, in line to play Sunday

ALAMEDA – The Raiders should get Latavius Murray back in time to play the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That’s good news for the running game and the entire Raiders roster, which is surprisingly healthy at this point in the season.

Murray was listed as questionable on Friday’s official injury report but, barring a setback, is expected to play after missing two games with turf toe.

Murray was limited the entire week, but his return to football activity was a productive period.

“I thought he had a good week of practice,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “It was nice to have him back.”

Menelik Watson also returned this week, but was limited in each practice and deemed questionable for the game. He may be healthy enough to be active, but it’s uncertain whether he or Austin Howard will start at right tackle.

There are several examples of the Raiders bringing returners back slowly this season. They could make Watson an emergency option behind Howard in hopes of giving him another week to get back in the swing of things.

While there are key players on injured reserve, there was near-perfect attendance for Friday’s walk-thru practice before the team left for Jacksonville.

Brynden Trawick returned for this light session after missing two heavier days, though offensive tackle Vadal Alexander was considered a non-participant.

Raiders Status Report

OL Vadal Alexander (ankle)
RB Latavius Murray (toe), OL Rodney Hudson (knee), OL Gabe Jackson (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), OT Menelik Watson (calf), OL Jon Feliciano (calf), S Brynden Trawick (shoulder)

Jaguars Status Report

OT Kelvin Beachum (knee), DL Jared Odrick (hip), TE Neal Sterling (foot), TE Julius Thomas (ankle)

NOTE: Jacksonville’s CB Prince Amukamara (hamstring), S Johnathan Cyprien (calf), S Tashaun Gipson (knee), RB Corey Grant (toe), WR Rashad Greene (Achilles), WR Allen Hurns (shoulder), DT Abry Jones (hamstring), G Brandon Linder (foot), DT Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) and OT Jeremy Parnell (hip) did not receive an injury designation, meaning they will play.