McClain sounds off on start of new season


McClain sounds off on start of new season

ALAMEDA -- While Rolando McClain has been practicing and preparing for the start of his third NFL season with essentially a clean slate from the Raiders' new regime, he has also been doing so under the veil of a potential suspension by the NFL.Not that McClain has been sweating it. Not even with the league saying McClain's situation -- he was convicted of four counts of third-degree assault, menacing, discharging a handgun in city limits and reckless endangerment in May and it is under appeal awaiting a jury trial -- is still under review."No, I dont think Ive ever had a talk of anything about a suspension," McClain said Monday, when asked if it has been difficult to stay focused. "I havent heard it. I guess thats all speculation."So, it has not been hard to stay focused on the field, then?"Its football," he said. "I get paid to play football."McClain, who does not particularly enjoy speaking to the media and shooed away a camera on Monday, was talking to reporters for the second time since reporting to training camp in July.He also broached several other topicsOn if he senses the new defense suits his game better: "I feel good about the defense. Its not just my game or anybodys game in particular. I think it suits everybody on the defense from linebacker to D-line to secondary. Were all able to make plays on the defense. We just have to make them when your number is called."On if the new defense will give the Raiders an edge by being more active: "I dont know. I think the Raiders have been so accustomed to playing straight 'man' with everybody knowing what were going to be in. Now its just being a little diverse, changing things up will benefit us some. At the same time offenses, they still game plan. Eventually theyll see our pressures and theyll pick up on them. Its just about executing the defense, whatever is called. Is it pressure or straight zone. You just have to execute it and play the rules and what happens, happens."On new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver: "Crazy little guy. Hes a fiery coach. We need somebody on this side of the ball thats active. I like him. He brings energy to the defense."On if having a defensive-minded head coach will help: "I dont know. Its good to have a defensive head coach. At the end of the day the players have to go play. You can have the best coach in the world but the players have to go out and make plays. Thats how I feel about it."On if he's learning or growing as a vocal leader: "I wouldnt say learning. I was a pretty good leader at Alabama in college. Its different here. Its just different. Youre not dealing with guys your own age. Youre dealing with grown men. Being a leader is just not about yelling but understanding guys that youre working with. Different people respond to different things in different ways. Its figuring out your teammates and how they respond to things to get them to work. Its still a process."On his two new starting linebackers, Philip Wheeler and rookie Miles Burris: "So far, so good. The real bullets will start flying this Monday. Thats what matters. We dont get paid for preseason or practice. We get paid for what happens in a game. So, well see."On how the defensive underachieving last year affected him: "I dont know. Im not talking about the past. This is a new year. The past is the past for a reason. Its a new year, and we got a chance to go out and be as good as we want to be."On if camp was run this year like they were at Alabama under Nick Saban, in terms of attention to detail: "We have a great head coach, we have a great general manager, and theyre doing things the right way. I dont know if this is coach Sabans way, so to speak. But theyre doing a great job."On how the stem-cell treatments he received in the spring helped him: "I feel fine. The stem cell stuff was just so I wouldnt have these nagging injuries and they dont prolong into the season. Right now, I feel good going into the season. So, well see."

Jaguars WR confesses to directing racial slur at Raiders

Jaguars WR confesses to directing racial slur at Raiders

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee says he was flagged for using a racial slur in Jacksonville's 33-16 loss to Oakland on Sunday.

Lee acknowledged Monday that it was the reason for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the third quarter, a flag that seemingly started Jacksonville's fourth-quarter meltdown in which defensive tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback Jalen Ramsey were ejected.

"I got flagged for saying the N-word," Lee said. "It was back and forth. In the midst of the game, emotion is going from both teams. It just so happened the ref heard me, so therefore I got the flag. I've just got to fess up to it."

Lee said he and several Raiders were "going back and forth as far as the words and stuff." The fourth-year receiver from USC said he let his emotions get the best of him and said "it went both ways."

The NFL made racial slurs a point of emphasis in 2014, reminding officials that the league already had a rule against abusive language.

Lee jogged off the field after his 15-yard penalty and was clearly frustrated as he explained to coach Gus Bradley what happened and why.

"Throughout the whole game, we had a lot of players saying a lot of different things, but that's just the midst of the game," Lee said. "It's kind of hard when you have refs out there trying to limit what people say when you've got grown men hitting each other.

"You've got a lot of things that's going on that's flaring as far as in your mind. ... It wasn't intentional at all. I know he woke up the next day not worrying about it at all, just like I woke up not worrying about it. I feel like you're going to always have that issue because you're going to always have situations flame up and both teams are going back and forth and things are going to get said regardless if the ref likes it or not."

Lee finished with seven receptions for 107 yards.

The Raiders were flagged 11 times for 117 yards. The Jaguars were penalized 13 times for 112 yards.

"That's a reflection of me as a head coach," Bradley said Monday. "It's a reflection of our discipline. It's a reflection of how our culture is and how we talk and how we handle things. Yeah, that part of it, that hits home with me because obviously it's my responsibility, the demeanor of this team and how we approach things and how we play with poise.

"I take personal responsibility for that."

Jackson was penalized twice on the same play in the fourth, first for roughing the passer on a third-and-10 play, and then for using abusive language toward an official. He was ejected four plays later following another exchange with an official. Jackson ran to the locker room, seemingly eager to get off the field early.

"It's an emotional game and we have to go out here and balance playing emotions from when to say things, not when to say things and not when to do things," Jackson said. "It's just hard to balance. Sometimes you lose control, and I think that's what happened. We lost control, but I don't see this being a tendency. I don't see this being an issue, and we're going to move forward."

Ramsey and Raiders receiver Johnny Holton were ejected for fighting in the final minutes of the lopsided matchup.

"They probably don't want me to say this, but I'm going to just keep it real with y'all," Ramey said. "If I was out there nine more times, I would do the same thing. I don't think I should have been thrown out of the game for it. Neither do I think he should have been thrown out of the game for it, to be real with you. But I'm not going to be disrespectful."

Notes: Raiders 'getting close' to being a stout run defense

Notes: Raiders 'getting close' to being a stout run defense

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t run much on Sunday, but were certainly effective when they did.

They churned out 105 yards on just 16 attempts, a 6.6 yards per carry average that would make any defensive mind cringe. Had the Jaguars run more before the Raiders took control late in the first half, a 33-16 result might’ve been closer at the end.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio’s glass was half full Monday afternoon despite that showing, and he focused on the positives gleaned from analyzing game tape.

His biggest takeaway: The Raiders are oh, so close to being stout against the run.

“I think it’s really coming together and getting close to being really, really good,” Del Rio said during his press conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where the Raiders will prep for next week’s game at Tampa Bay. “I don’t like to see any runs go through us. We’ll continue to work where we need to. The attention to detail, the physicality of the guys in the trenches, we have the right people to be really good up front.”

The Raiders are near the bottom in run defense, allowing 128.3 yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns through seven contests. They were gashed for 180-plus yards by Kansas City and Tennessee thus far, and have given up triple digits five times thus far.

Del Rio sees improvement stopping the run, which will be aided by players maintaining gaps and operating as 11 players working together as one unit.

Several players were encourage by greater cohesion against Jacksonville, something that hurt the Raiders in previous games.

“What I keep saying is the work is there, is being put in,” Del Rio said. “The care is there. I mean, our guys care. We’re staying together, I really see it. Throughout the staff, with the players, everybody is hanging onto the rope. Everybody is pulling the rope in the same direction. We’re going to make improvements with that approach. We’ve got good people that care. If you have good people that care to stick together, then good things are going to happen.”

Good things are starting to happen for the Raiders pass rush. They flustered Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles most of the day and, while the only had one sack, Bortles was hit seven times and pressured on 11 other occasions.

The pass rush is starting to crank up, but Del Rio still wants more in the middle.

“We feel like we’ve got a couple guys that can really get there,” Del Rio said. “We’re still looking for a little more interior push and I think as we get that, I think it’ll make the entire rush look at a lot better. But, we’re getting good energy, good effort from those guys.”

Edwards Jr. headed for Sunshine State: Raiders defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. has spent the season on injured reserve, but was eligible to start practicing last week for a Week 9 return. That hasn’t happened yet, though Edwards Jr. will join the team in Florida this week and is expected to start side work that would be a precursor of a return to practice.

The delayed start might mean he won’t be ready to face Denver when eligible and that he might return later in the season, though that remains undetermined.

Riley-Smith combo works well inside: The Raiders inserted veteran linebacker Perry Riley into the starting lineup over rookie Cory James, a move that paid immediate dividends. He worked well with Malcolm Smith on the inside, and formed a solid duo against the run and pass the Raiders will stick with in the immediate future.

“Those guys have a lot of skins on the wall, so to speak,” Del Rio said. “They’ve been through a lot of battles. So the experience is there. We really like Cory. Cory is a good, young player, but to have those two guys and the experience that they have and the number of battles that they’ve been in, they communicated well together. The idea going into the game was we’re going to play all three, but the way we started, we started well and those two guys played well. We just basically left them (out there), let them go.

This ‘n’ that: Stacy McGee suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s game, and Del Rio didn’t provide an update on his status. Kelechi Osemele tweaked his knee against Jacksonville, but was able to return to the game and should be fine. ...Michael Crabtree was flagged for a throat slash after his Sunday touchdown despite the fact he’s paying homage to the HBO character Kenny Powers with his fingers. Del Rio said Crabtree and the Raiders must be smarter about avoiding unnecessary penalties. The Raiders were flagged 11 times for 117 yards on Sunday.