Sheppard hopes to shepherd young Raiders CBs


Sheppard hopes to shepherd young Raiders CBs

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comNAPA -- Raiders fans pining for Nnamdi Asomugha might do a double-take when they look on the field and see a familiar No. 21 out at cornerback.Except Asomugha now plies his trade in Philadelphia and the Raiders DB sporting that number is 10th-year veteran Lito Sheppard, who was signed by Oakland Friday and practiced with the team on breaking-camp day.Generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 194 pounds, Sheppard gives up four inches and 21 pounds to Asomugha. But Sheppard's 19 career interceptions are eight more than Asomugha's total.For now, though, Sheppard, 30, is looked upon to provide leadership and experience to a dinged up and relatively youthful Raiders secondary."Once I get in shape, a little game shape," Sheppard said, "I'll definitely be a big part of whatever they have planned."RELATED: Camp report (826): Raiders break camp in Napa
Meaning Sheppard is a good addition why, exactly?"Whether I can be a leader in that aspect or (whatever), I'll definitely be out there and try to lead by example, so to say," he said. "It's just, wherever I'm needed, I'm going to give it my all."Sheppard, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2002 out of Florida, was named All-Pro and to his first Pro Bowl in 2004, when he had five interceptions and returned two for touchdowns, including one for 101 yards. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in 2006, with six picks and a 102-yard TD return.Chris Johnson has been out for more than a week with what he equated to an "oil change" and rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke did not practice Friday with a "nick," leaving Oakland's cornerbacks even thinner than usual."In my opinion, we would have brought him in anyway," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Sheppard. "What you're seeing is a guy who was sitting out there. As I keep saying, we're going to continue to improve our football team from top to bottom."The roster is still ongoing. Until we continue to turn over every rock and uncover everything we can, we're going to look for good football players and improve our team. That's all it is. Lito is a tremendous football player, and we're glad to have him."Sheppard is also comfortable playing the Raiders' noted man-to-man brand of base defense."That's what I primarily did the majority of my career," he said. "It's definitely tough on the corners but hey, that's what I do. That's what got me into this league and obviously, that's what's going to keep me around or take me out."Oakland is the former elite cornerback's fourth team in four years. He was last a full-time starter in 2007 and since 2008 Sheppard has played for the Eagles, the New York Jets and Minnesota, starting 14 of the 40 games in which he's appeared.That's why he sees this opportunity as a potential jumpstart for his career."The past couple years, I don't think I've been given a fair opportunity to do that and this is one that, hey, it's pretty open for whoever steps up," said Sheppard, who also worked out for the New York Giants this summer."I'm welcoming the challenge and, hopefully, I can make the most of it."

Mayor Schaaf on Raiders relocation: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

Mayor Schaaf on Raiders relocation: 'Oakland has something no other city ever will'

The Oakland Raiders have officially filed for relocation to Las Vegas. And Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has responded. 

“It’s no surprise that the Raiders have filed for relocation," Schaaf said in a statement. "Oakland welcomes the chance to show them and the NFL’s other owners why Oakland is the only home for the Raiders and always will be.

“Our winning team of the Lott Group, the County and my colleagues on the Oakland City Council has accomplished so much in the last few months. We’ve identified the mechanisms to responsibly finance public infrastructure improvements, we have in the Lott Group a private partner prepared to finance stadium construction, and we have an entitled site for a world-class NFL stadium and new development that enhances fan experience while invigorating East Oakland's economy. 

“But this isn’t all Oakland has to offer. Oakland’s Raiders stadium will be on the most transit-accessible site in the nation, in the sixth largest television market, and in one of the wealthiest and most innovative regions in the world. But above all else, Oakland has something no other city ever will -- a die-hard fan base that is loyal and true to the Raiders and wants to see them stay here in Oakland where they were founded. Only Oakland brings the Raiders and the NFL a competitive stadium proposal, along with legacy and loyalty.

“I look forward to the League giving our team a chance to compete.”

Now that the fate of the Raiders' relocation is in the hands of the NFL owners, a vote could come at the NFL owners meetings in late March. It’s uncertain whether Davis has the votes needed to relocate, but there has been momentum building for such a move over the past several months.

Davis has said that, even if the Raiders are approved for relocation, he plans on playing in Oakland the next few years while a Las Vegas stadium is built. The team has already sent out season ticket pricing to fans for the 2017 season. The Raiders have one-year team options to play Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Las Vegas stadium isn’t expected to be ready until the 2020 season.

The Office of the Mayor Libby Schaaf and Scott Bair contributed to this report.


McKenzie still not over Raiders playoff loss, striving 'to hold up the trophy'

McKenzie still not over Raiders playoff loss, striving 'to hold up the trophy'

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie acknowledged being named the NFL’s executive of the year was a big deal. It’s the highest individual honor bestowed on a personnel man.

Not in McKenzie’s eyes. His name’s on the plaque, but the general manger considers it a team honor. It takes a village to raise a roster, something McKenzie knows after working through the ranks.

“The acknowledgement, to me, is for the organization, from the top down,” McKenzie said. “From the patience and the vision together with me and (owner Mark Davis) on through the work, the daily work of the coaches and players and to play on Sunday. That’s what the acknowledgement is really all about.

“You see the entire organization working together to win. That’s what I see. It’s an accomplishment from the standpoint that we’re winning now. That’s what I feel good about. That’s why this award is special. It’s a team award, but it’s special to me that this thing is resulting into wins.”

The Raiders went 12-4 in 2016 and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season. That postseason experience was not positive. The Raiders got waxed in Houston, completing a brutal two-loss stretch where an AFC West title was lost and the season formally ended.

The downward spiral started in Week 16, after quarterback Derek Carr broke his fibula. Backup Matt McGloin played poorly and then hurt his shoulder the next game, which forced the Raiders to start rookie Connor Cook against Houston.

A loss seemed likely – Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn was also sidelined – but that didn’t make it easier for McKenzie to handle.

“Well, I’m still getting over it, (likely) until I win my next game,” McKenzie said. “It’s tough anytime you lose your last game. It’s going to eat at you and that’s one thing about being a player, being associated in this, it’s the drive for the next game. What can I do to help us win that next game? And that’s the hope we have now, is the opportunity to play again, you know? Albeit, in ’17, but that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to set the course for this ’17 season. So, it’s going to eat at you until then.”

It’s that drive that pushed McKenzie during difficult times, when talent piled up but didn’t translate to wins. Seeing the fruits of that labor is incredibly gratifying for McKenzie and staff. This award is part of that – to the victor go the spoils – though the end goal remains out of reach and will until the Raiders win a Super Bowl.

“Nobody likes losing, so I get that. If you really believe in what you’re doing and you’re supported, the hope is to start to win games, and to get to the playoffs is a step,” McKenzie said. “We feel good about that, but we’re only scratching the surface. We still want to hold up the trophy. That’s what we’re going to continue to strive to do. That’s our next step. We need to win playoff games.”