Is Van Dyke ready to step up?


Is Van Dyke ready to step up?

He had his baptism by fire the first time he stepped on an NFL field."At the start of the preseason," DeMarcus Van Dyke mused during last month's OTA's, "I played against Larry Fitzgerald and I had a bad experience. But after that, I tried to make more plays, and it helped my confidence a lot."And as such, Van Dyke is the most intriguing defensive back on the Raiders roster as the team prepares to report to Napa for training camp on July 28. The second-year cornerback was the quintessential Al Davis draft pick -- speed to burn, somewhat overvalued as a third-round draft pick.But the new regime sees something in the lithe Van Dyke, and Van Dyke, who is starting to fill out physically, sees something in himself. Yes, the guy who blazed to a 4.25-second 40-time at the Combine will push veteran signees Shawntae Spencer and Ronald Bartell for playing time and maybe even for a starting job.Intrigued yet?"Next year, I just need to make more plays on the ball," Van Dyke said. "I had a bunch of chances to make interceptions that I dropped. And sometimes I kept my head on the receiver and didnt look for the ball. Thats why at these OTAs I am trying to find the ball and make plays and hopefully help out next year."Rookie coach Dennis Allen, who cut his teeth coaching up defensive backs, agreed."You've got to practice to get better," Allen said.As a rookie last season, Van Dyke had a Raiders cornerback-best burn rate of 43.8, per Stats Inc., giving up 14 receptions on 32 targets for 167 yards and a touchdown while being credited with four passes defensed. By comparison, the departed Stanford Routt had a burn rate of 47.4 while Matt Giordano's was 42.5 and Mike Mitchell's was 34.6.Both Spencer and Bartell had injury-shorted seasons in 2011 and their burn rates were 44.4 (four of nine) and 66.7 (two of three), respectively.Van Dyke, now listed at 180 pounds, has found guidance from the two thus far."Its the small things, like looking at the splits of the receivers and watching a lot of tendencies on film," he said. "I really appreciate those two guys helping me out as leaders this year.Especially with a new regime and a new scheme."I am loving it," Van Dyke said. "Its vision defense -- you see a lot of stuff and were going to make a lot of plays next year."A year ago, the lockout wiped out any offseason activities, putting Van Dyke and his fellow rookies further behind an eight ball that the likes of Fitzgerald enjoyed shooting at the newbies."Without the OTAs and the minicamps, it really set a lot of the guys back," Van Dyke said. "But this year, its helped and I cant wait to see how I play."He's not the only one.

Four-time Pro Bowl RB Arian Foster announces retirement from NFL

Four-time Pro Bowl RB Arian Foster announces retirement from NFL

MIAMI  -- Four-time Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster has announced his retirement midway through an injury-plagued season with the Miami Dolphins.

Foster, 30, tried to come back from a torn Achilles tendon, but was slowed this season by groin and hamstring injuries. He disclosed his decision Monday on the website Uninterrupted, and the Dolphins confirmed it.

The retirement is effective immediately.

Foster signed a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the Dolphins in July after seven years with the Houston Texans. He holds the Texans' franchise record with 6,472 yards rushing.

This season he rushed for 55 yards in 22 carries. His playing time was curtailed with the emergence of Jay Ajayi, who tied an NFL record by surpassing 200 yards rushing each of the past two weeks.

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."