Raiders

Is Adrian Peterson a good fit for the Raiders?

Is Adrian Peterson a good fit for the Raiders?

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday they would not exercise Adrian Peterson’s contract option for the 2017 season.

He’ll be an unrestricted free agent on March 9, giving several fan bases more than a week to salivate over the prospect of Peterson playing in their teams colors.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported later Tuesday morning that, according to someone close to Peterson, the Raiders could be strong a landing spot for the veteran rusher. The aforementioned newspaper spoke to Peterson’s father, who said it would be fair to throw Oakland into the mix along with several other teams.

That brings up a key question: Are the Raiders and Peterson a good match? The answer is complicated by several factors.

The home team could certainly use Peterson’s talent, but…

Peterson will be 32 years old when the 2017 season starts, an age where rushing production typically wanes. Peterson is also coming off a 2016 season ruined by injury. He played just three games due to a knee injury. He has also been hurt in recent seasons.

Even when healthy, Peterson isn't a good pass protector. That's a vital trait for Raiders running backs in an offense frequently operating from shotgun and clear passing formations, and could be an issue in the system. 

Peterson is also used to premium dollars, and it’s hard to imagine his asking price will drop near the end of a storied career. There should be plenty of suitors for Peterson, and competition could keep the price high.

The Raiders have the salary cap space to pay Peterson’s freight. Is that the best use of significant funds during an offseason where extending quarterback Derek Carr’s contract is a top priority?

There’s certainly a need for Peterson or another physical, productive running back in the Raiders rotation with DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Latavius Murray occupied that spot in recent seasons, but he’s set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. That has always been expected, even with the prospect Murray could return to the club that drafted him in 2013.

Peterson has been incredible at times, combining speed, physicality and football smarts into his rushing style. The future Hall of Fame runner would be attractive addition to a dynamic Raiders air attack, especially running behind a hulking offensive line.

There are, however, a few more issues to consider. The first is his link to a child abuse, which prompted a season-long suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Peterson reached a plea deal on the case that mandated probation. Raiders owner Mark Davis has no tolerance for domestic violence, and has been against the league employing people with those issues. It’s uncertain how Davis would view the Peterson case.

While Peterson is set for unrestricted free agency, he’ll headline an incredibly deep class.

The Kansas City Chiefs released Jamaal Charles also later Tuesday morning, putting another productive, yet aging rusher out there. Eddie Lacy, LeGarrette Blount, Isaiah Crowell – he’s a restricted free agent – and Murray were already set to hit the open market.

They’ll do so just before a deep class of young running backs become available in the NFL Draft. The Raiders have a history of mining talent from lower rounds – Murray was a sixth round pick, Washington was taken in the fifth and Richard was an unrestricted free agent.

The Raiders have cheaper, younger options when it comes to their backfield. Peterson is a big name and an intriguing talent who will be followed closely as he navigates free agency.

Practice report: Conley locking in mentally while rehabbing injury

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AP

Practice report: Conley locking in mentally while rehabbing injury

NAPA – Gareon Conley ran Sunday for the first time in two months. The Raiders first-round cornerback remains on the physically unable to perform list with a shin injury originally suffered during a June minicamp. He wants to get back on the field. He just isn’t ready yet.

Missing training camp certainly sets back a dynamic cover man, but it doesn’t mean Conley can’t make an instant impact. While he hasn’t been seen on the practice field, the Raiders have been encouraged that Conley’s proving a quick learner and an inquisitive mind.

“We’d love to have him out there right now,” Raiders assistant head coach – defense John Pagano said. “When he’s out there, he’ll be out there. Until then, I think he got the reps he needed in OTAs. His mental game has picked up tremendously. He’s always asking questions, even more. It’s hard for a lot of injured players in this league to stand there on the sidelines and be able to just watch and look out there, but he’s always asking. He’s getting those mental reps.

"When he’s able to come back, he’ll be at a fast level. Injuries are part of the game, you deal with it and you just have to make sure, as a rookie, you’re taking those mental reps.”

Conley has been on the practice field with his position group most days, with a play sheet in hand to follow along. He has also lifted weights the past two days and worked on the JUGS machine Wednesday.

Nearly a month remains until the regular season starts, leaving Conley time to get back in the mix.

QUICK SLANTS

-- Cornerback Sean Smith took some reps with the first unit on Wednesday, though most of them came as an outside corner in the nickel package. TJ Carrie slid inside in those instances, and generally remained outside in the base defense.

Smith had his second straight quality practice, a sign he might be rebounding after a rough week where he practiced with the second unit and didn’t fare well at Arizona. The Raiders hope he can build on good work and be steadier in coverage.

“I think he’s growing every day,” Pagano said. “There’s always highs and lows in this game. You don’t want to make it, as we term, inconsistent. We’re always looking for the consistency. It’s how you build. It’s how you learn. It’s how you come off those things. There’s always room for improvement in the backend, in the front, all across our defense. There’s guys we’re asking them to go out there and make plays. Has he been improving at practice? Yeah. Then our job is to take that practice stuff and take it to the game field and have that consistency and that carry over to those types of games.”

-- Offensive line coach Mike Tice praised Ian Silberman’s play in a position switch to center. He has seen extensive reps there in camp, including a massive amount in the preseason opener at Arizona. Silberman will play some left guard in coming weeks to establish versatility and give him a shot to make the team.

-- Undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow played with the first unit in sub packages, as the Raiders continue searching for coverage options in those personnel groups.

-- Jon Feliciano worked with the first unit on Wednesday at left guard. He will be a primary backup at every interior line spot. He is working back from a knee injury that kept him out until last week.

Tice finds silver lining on Raiders' offensive line as Penn's holdout drags on

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AP

Tice finds silver lining on Raiders' offensive line as Penn's holdout drags on

NAPA – Donald Penn won’t step foot in the Napa Valley Marriott this year. Unless something truly shocking happens, the Raiders will break training camp Thursday afternoon without seeing the Pro Bowl left tackle on the practice field.

Penn wants a new contract, one worth more than the $5.8 million base salary he was scheduled to make under his current deal. Penn has outperformed that pact, and is willing to wait for a new one.

It’s been 20 days with no movement.

That has forced offensive line coach Mike Tice to make other plans. He has to move on with the players he had in camp, even with the virtual certainty Penn will return before the regular season starts.

Marshall Newhouse is the Raiders left tackle. Vadal Alexander is on the right. That’s who Tice has to work with. He has to prep them for the regular season opener Sept. 10.

“Where I’m at right now is I have to get us ready to go out and beat Tennessee,” Tice said after Wednesday’s practice. “So right now, I have Marshall on the left and I have Vadal on the right and I have David doing a little bit more each day, playing both sides. That’s what we have. I can’t sit here and wonder when DP is going to come back. Right now I’ve moved forward with Marshall is on the left and Vadal is on the right and David is swinging.

"That’s reality right now. I can’t think that there’s going to be something else there until it’s there.”

When Penn eventually shows up to work at the Raiders complex in Alameda, Tice will add him to the mix. The Raiders have now had plenty of time to prepare for an instance in which their Pro Bowl tackle is not physically able to perform. 

“Injuries happen during the season and you have to have a plan to have a player ready to play at each position and sometimes multiple players ready at the same position,” Tice said. “With Donald not here yet, we’re able to have Marshall over there. He’s done a nice job. He’s gotten better. The challenge you have with a veteran guy that comes in, he’s been coached by other coaches to do things a different way and it takes time for a veteran to learn the ways to do things the way that we want to do them as Raiders. That’s probably the biggest challenge.”

Penn isn’t the only offensive lineman to miss time. David Sharpe and Jylan Ware have missed some time with injury. Kelechi Osemele has taken some time off this camp. Jon Feliciano only returned from the physically unable to perform list last week. Tice has mixed and matched just to get through practice.

“We’ve had some days where we’ve had to make it happen with 10 or 11,” Tice said. “When you have that, you get the ability, you have the ability, you have the opportunity to develop your depth. In the long run, it’s actually a good thing.”