Signing with Raiders a homecoming for Tollefson

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Signing with Raiders a homecoming for Tollefson

Raiders defensive lineman Dave Tollefson, who officially signed with Oakland on Saturday after five years with the New York Giants, credited his relationship with new general manager Reggie McKenzie, who drafted him as a seventh-rounder in 2006 for Green Bay, as a main reason for his choosing to return to the East Bay.Tollefson is a Walnut Creek native who played high school ball at Ygnacio Valley High and is a former member of the Raiders practice squad."So there's a level of comfort coming here, knowing that this organization is headed in the right direction with the guys he brought in to run it," Tollefson said of McKenzie in a conference call Tuesday with Bay Area media. "Coach (Dennis) Allen, I got to meet him on my visit here and the energy that he brings, it's exciting."And obviously, I'm from here. I grew up a Raiders fan. My mom is a Raiders fan. Obviously, she's a fan of her son, but if you were to ask her who her favorite team is, she's going to say the Raiders. So, there's something special about playing for the team you grew up watching and where you grew up. It means a lot to me that they believe in me. That's a big part of it. Again, I just go back to the excitement here. Guys are excited to play football, talk football and get ready."Tollefson said the Raiders jumpstarted his NFL career."There's a debt there that I feel like I really got to repay after leaving," he said. "Kind of funny how life works, you know? You get opportunities to come back to someplace like this and kind of show them that you appreciate the opportunity that they gave you."Since leaving Oakland, Tollefson picked up a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Giants. But he never forgot his roots, so to speak."It was great to see the equipment guys," Tollefson said. "I mean, when you're an old practice squad guy you tend to get close to those guys like that and it was good to see them. Some of the front office guys I remember but when I left here it was kind of like it, felt like it was a secret mission; I left in the middle of the night. It was such a quick stop here. There is a mutual amount of respect throughout the league amongst players so there is a bunch of guys that I do know that I've played against that I have a lot of respect for so it comes into play."It's awesome. I mean, I grew up here, I lived here for 22 years, come back home, my mom and my step-dad are out here, my sister, my brother and a lot of my childhood friends. My phone was blowing up as soon as this thing went public. So, it's definitely exciting for me and my family."And in case you doubted his loyalty, this is how he ended the call: "Hey, go Ygnacio Valley Warriors."

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

Injury report: Joseph out, Latham questionable for Raiders vs Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph hurt his toe in Sunday’s victory over Buffalo, and was still in pain early the next week.

That gave him virtually no shot to play Kansas City on Thursday night with a short week to recover. The Raiders made his omission official on Wednesday, and ruled the first-round pick out of the AFC West clash at Arrowhead Stadium on their official injury report.

Veteran Nate Allen will take his place in the starting lineup. He played well in Joseph’s stead against the Bills, and has the versatility to play back or closer to the line of scrimmage as Joseph did.

The Raiders defense is still ailing on the interior, with defensive tackle Stacy McGee (ankle) ruled out of his second straight contest.

There is slightly better news for Darius Latham, who was deemed questionable after missing two light practices but returning in time for limited work on Wednesday. Getting him back would help a thinned rotation that heavily features Denico Autry, Dan Williams and Jihad Ward, who has struggled some of late.

The Chiefs have a healthy team despite the short week. Receiver Jeremy Maclin will return from a groin injury. Edge rusher Tamba Hali will play despite limted practice work, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe is questionable with a back issue.

Raiders Status Report
Doubtful

LB Shilique Calhoun (knee), S Karl Joseph (toe), DT Stacy McGee (ankle) Questionable
DT Darius Latham (ankle), LG Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Cory James (shoulder)

Chiefs Status Report

Questionable
DT Dontari Poe (back), DE Kendall Reyes (knee)

NOTE: Kansas City’s WR Jeremy Maclin, OLB Tamba Hali and CB Phillip Gaines did not receive an injury designation, meaning they will play.

 

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.”