Raiders honor Hall of Famers

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Raiders honor Hall of Famers

OAKLAND -- Raiders owner Mark Davis held another reunion, of sorts, both before and during halftime of Oakland's primetime game against Denver Thursday night.

Twelve of the 19 Hall of Famers Oakland recognizes were in attendance, plus three widows. They joined Carol Davis to help her light the flame named in her late husband's honor and were recognized wearing their gold jackets on the field at the half, alongside their busts, as part of the team honoring the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

The roll call, then: Jim Otto, George Blanda's widow Betty, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw's widow Teresa, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks, Mike Haynes, Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, Dave Casper, James Lofton, John Madden, Rod Woodson and Carol Davis.

The Raiders also recognized Bob Brown, Eric Dickerson, Jerry Rice and Marcus Allen, who Tweeted, "Couldn't make the game tonight but I'm there in spirit with all of the great Raiders Hall of Famers. Enjoy!!"

It was a classy ceremony, for sure, though it could have left many fans wanting more, as in more Raiders enshrined in Canton. Names such as Jim Plunkett, Tom Flores, Ray Guy, Cliff Branch, Lester Hayes and Ken Stabler.

Who else?

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.”

Carr, Murray treat Raiders' linemen to Warriors game, witness history

Carr, Murray treat Raiders' linemen to Warriors game, witness history

No NFL regular starting quarterback has been sacked fewer times than Derek Carr. Latavius Murray has 11 touchdowns in as many games, with steady production running between the tackles.

These Raiders aren’t dumb. Carr and Murray know their success comes in large part from the big boys up front.

They acknowledged that with an early holiday gift. Carr and Murray bought five offensive linemen courtside seats to Monday’s game between the Warriors and Indiana Pacers.

Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Menelik Watson, Rodney Hudson and Austin Howard all attended that game and enjoyed watching Klay Thompson put up 60 points in a blowout Warriors win.

Afterward the Raiders had a shootaround on the Oracle Arena floor, without much success. Howard missed a dunk, an effort he says was complicated by wearing slacks and dress shoes. Murray missed a layup. “I was fouled,” he said with a smile. Donald Penn missed a free throw, though “my shoulder hurt.”

Then Carr stepped up and buried a 3-pointer much to the remaining crowd’s delight.

Taking care of offensive linemen is common in these parts. Last year Carr bought his line flatscreen televisions. Amari Cooper gave everyone Beats headphones. Warriors tickets were on the docket this year, in addition to a dinner at Carr’s house last week.

The Raiders were able to have a little fun after Monday’s practice as they prepare for a road game at Kansas City on Thursday night.