McCann ready for double-duty against the Bears

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McCann ready for double-duty against the Bears

ALAMEDA -- He was signed off his couch last Thursday, then was not only active on Sunday, but took on the kickoff return role when Taiwan Jones strained a hamstring.This week, with Denarius Moore's ailing right foot most likely keeping him out of the game and his punt-return duties?Bryan McCann is ready for double-duty against Chicago on Sunday at the O.co Coliseum."Really, your mindset in the NFL is you've got to be ready to go regardless," McCann said. "So even if you're preparing for a week and everybody's healthy, all it takes is one play and somebody could go down in a game. So my mentality really hasn't changed. I'm preparing the same way that I would if the people who normally play those positions were still healthy."McCann played in nine games with Dallas in 2010 and had an interception return (101 yards) and a punt return (97 yards) for scores in consecutive weeks, against the New York Giants and Detroit, respectively."That was my second and third games I ever played in," McCann said. "It was a pretty nice introduction to the NFL."But he picked up a reputation as a butterfingers, of sorts, for the Cowboys in that he fumbled six times, losing two of them."I wouldn't necessarily say it was an issue," McCann said. "Some of them were kind of -- I mean one of them, I was hit as I was catching one and just different things like that. Butif the numbers show it, the numbers don't lie. It's definitely something if people say it's an issue. I've moved on from it and gotten better from it. Haven't had any fumbles this year."McCann appeared in two games with Dallas this season before he was released on Sept. 20. He then signed with Baltimore before the Ravens waived him on Nov. 5.Then came the call from the Raiders.Three days later against the Vikings, McCann returned two kickoffs for 58 yards, with a long of 36 yards."This team is fascinating to me that way," said Raiders coach Hue Jackson. "We get a guy off the street, bring him in, run him around for a couple days and, 'Get in the game, return the kick.'

"When he was returning a kick I saw the ball being loose, 'Hey, buddy, do me a favor. Make sure you take care of that ball for me.' 'Gotcha, coach.' He was switching the ball in the game, but that's the dialogue we have.

"Who knew last week that this was going to happen, that this young man was going to be in the game returning kicks? I looked back there and seen him, which I knew we were putting him back there, I almost lost my breath for a second because I had never seen him do it out here. So here we go. It's a credit to our coaches, it's a credit to our personnel department, then it's a credit to the player that they get themselves ready because he's carrying the whole organization under his arm and his teammates and everybody. He did a great job. I look forward to him doing a great job this week."

Yes, McCann has the requisite speed to be a Raiders return man. He said he was timed as fast as 4.28 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day at SMU in 2010. It came in handy against the Vikings.

"It was pretty cool," he said. "I didn't even really expect to play, and then we got in the game and they were just kind of asking, 'We got people going down, have you played this before? Can you step in? Can you do this?'"It's just part of the business. You've got to be ready to go at any moment."Against the Bears, he might not have any choice.

Battle between Raiders, Chiefs for AFC West isn't over yet

Battle between Raiders, Chiefs for AFC West isn't over yet

The Raiders were clearly frustrated by Thursday night’s proceedings. A pivotal game against Kansas City didn’t go as planned, moving the Chiefs ahead in the AFC West with three games to play.

Few thought the Raiders would be able to win a game played two time zones away, in the bitter cold, on a short week. Players and coaches certainly did. They left Kansas City believing they could’ve and should’ve won.

Tackle Donald Penn wasn’t thrilled following this missed opportunity, and articulated how the entire team felt.

“My mindset is that I’m pissed right now,” Penn said. “I’m pissed. We had control and we gave it to somebody else.”

Records are now even at 10-3, but Kansas City has a tiebreaker in hand following a season sweep. The Raiders dropped into the wild-card pool and are currently the AFC’s No. 5 seed.

Those facts would only matter if the season ended today. It, you know, doesn’t. That makes the where-are-they-now exercise purely academic, with time for things to change.

“We will continue working,” running back Latavius Murray said. “Like Coach (Del Rio), ‘What we want in our goals and what we’re after, those things are still out there for us.’ We won’t let this determine who we are and what we want to accomplish."

Kansas City can win the division by winning out. They have home games against Tennessee and Denver before wrapping the season at San Diego, teams with a combined 19-17 record and two pushing for the playoffs.

The Raiders have a tough slate ahead, with a game at San Diego, home against Indianapolis and at Denver to end the year. That trio has an identical record to K.C.’s slate, with two common opponents.

So, with that in mind, the Raiders-Chiefs competition will continue through season’s end. How each team fares will determine the AFC West, although Denver shouldn’t be counted out quite yet.

That should make for a fantastic finish in a talented division that should qualify at least two teams for the postseason.

That also means the Raiders and Chiefs might meet again in the rivalry that will define the season for both teams.

“I feel pretty confident that both of our teams will end up in the playoffs,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “There are still three games to be played. We’ll see how it ends up. They have the leg up right now, and did enough to win both games this year. For now, that’s all there is to the story. They’ve earned that. We’ll just have to get back on the right track next week.”

The Raiders may be down, but they definitely aren’t out of the division race. Thursday’s game was heavily hyped and rightfully so, but losing wasn’t a death sentence. A strong response could claim the division title or, at the very least, provide positive momentum heading into the playoffs.

The Raiders and Chiefs could meet again in January, when it truly matters most.

“There is a potential to play again,” quarterback Derek Carr said, “which is awesome.”

Oakland takes stage in latest act of Empty Gesture Theatre

Oakland takes stage in latest act of Empty Gesture Theatre

Editor's Note: The above video is from Nov. 6, 2016.

As we consider with the distance and clarity of the new day the latest developments from the City of Oakland in the attempt to attract the Raiders to stay where they are, we are reminded of one very important thing.

The Raiders STILL aren’t a part of these talks. Haven’t been, don’t want to be, and unless put in a bind won’t consider it.

In other words, what we have here is a deal between a city and a developer to buy land and build something FOR NO INTERESTED TENANT. Why this has escaped most people is an amazement, but there we are.

So I am now willing to predict a third potential outcome for this slow-motion train to nowhere: The league kicks the can down the road, putting off making a decision on the fate of the Raiders until one of these deals gets sweetened to its liking.

Now, back to the hilarious present.

The only intriguing thing about this new term sheet between the City of Oakland (throw-weight, $200 million) and the Ronnie Lott-fronted Fortress group (throw-weight: $175 million for the land as a starter) is that it exists at all.

But it isn’t a deal that seems to be attracting much notice from the NFL, the Raiders, or really anyone else. It is Empty Gesture Theatre, and frankly, it probably shouldn’t be anything more than that. Cities have been screwed into near-bankruptcy pandering to sports teams for decades, and both Oakland and Nevada deserve better -- though people don't often recognize what they deserve.

Now let’s reiterate the problems here:

The Raiders desperately want to leave. Mark Davis believes his best chance at future glory is in Nevada, and nobody has been able to shift him off that position, even though he has apparently been told as recently as two weeks ago that he does not yet have the 24 votes from his fellow owners at present.

Oakland has neither the money nor the political will to make a proposal that will dazzle the Raiders into staying. Mayor Libby Schaaf has committed the city to $200 million in infrastructure costs and no more, and part of the time-honored stadium soak is that a city throws in a lot more money, either through bond issues, tax increases, free land or a deal with the concrete guy. That cities shouldn’t even be in this business has dawned on Schaaf, and she really wants out of this deal is a regular tenant who will see to it that the taxes are paid in regular installments.

The NFL is frustrated that Oakland isn’t playing the city’s traditional role as a sucker. It doesn’t much like the Fortress people, either, which is still slightly more benign than its view of Las Vegas Casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who is still a linchpin of the Vegas deal even though he threatens to leave.

In short, Oakland provided no particular reason to have the owners look more kindly upon it, at a time when they want a reason to reject Vegas on market-size grounds. It is in many ways the Carson-v.-Inglewood fight of 11 months ago, in which the league’s owners had to decide on the site they liked (Inglewood and Rams owner Stan Kroenke) against the guy they liked (San Diego Changers owner Dean Spanos).

They voted the money, as you knew they would. The Rams are building in Inglewood, and apparently will joined, albeit with great reluctance, by the Chargers, who were rejected with great vigor by the voting citizens of San Diego last month.

Now in this scenario, the Vegas deal is the one with the short-term money but the long-term danger signs, while the Oakland deal has the market size but not the money or the will. And in the Oakland deal, the league doesn’t have direct leverage over Davis to modify his level of franchise control, which it very much wants to happen sooner rather than later.

So the other 31 owners can either accept one deal they don't like, another deal they don’t like, or give it another year in hopes that some deus ex machina will appear and make the decision for them. Typically the NFL at its most powerful had the outcome cemented ahead of time and just acted, but this is not the NFL of 20 years ago. It has been reactive throughout, letting events come to it, in exchange for which it now has two unappealing options with which to deal.

So I would expect the NFL to consider its options and delay a decision yet again. It wants neither Adelson, Fortress, the Oakland plan or the Vegas market, so it is most likely, barring some radical change in the current equation, to wait for a more clement time to strong-arm its desired conclusion upon everyone.

In the true spirit of NFL Christmas: Ho ho ho, and hands up, suckers.