Allen testy with media, won't reveal details on McClain

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Allen testy with media, won't reveal details on McClain

ALAMEDA -- Rolando McClain's locker at the Raiders compound remained full Thursday, even as rumors swirled that the middle linebacker was about to be cut and coach Dennis Allen confirmed that McClain was asked to stay away.Call it, Rolando Watch '12."Really, nothing more than we asked him not to come to practice today," said coach Dennis Allen. "Theres going to be consequences to his actions and its a team-related issue. I dont really want to get into the details of it. We asked him not to come to practice today."RELATED: McClain asked to stay away from Raiders practice
Wait, consequences to his actions? Well, there was a report that McClain and Allen had a "heated" discussion Wednesday that ended with Allen kicking McClain out of practice. McClain then purportedly went on his Facebook page and, according to several who had access to it, posted the following:"Officially no longer an Oakland Raider!!" he wrote, before adding, "Well technically I am. But I'm mentally done. Just waiting on my papers."Later, this was posted: "It's out of my hands right now." Then, "I'm gonna weigh my options. Looking forward to playing for an actual 'team.'" His final post: "I'd like to be anywhere besides here."Allen would not say what McClain's exact "actions" were, though, only saying the McClain was still on the roster."We have to make a decision and I really dont want to get into the details of what were going to do," Allen said.So, he's not suspended, then?"We have not done anything other than ask him not to come to practice," Allen said.Then is a suspension under consideration?"We havent done anything other than ask him not to come to practice," Allen reiterated.Allen did say he had spoken to him on Thursday, but said McClain was not in the building and did not know if he would be on Friday.Asked if this could be a distraction for the Raiders, Allen shook his head."You know, guys, Ive really said what I need to say about this," Allen said. "We asked Rolando not to come to practice today. Well make any decisions that we need to make when that time comes as an organization. Its a team issue and were going to keep it between the team."Then has Allen had to address it with the players?"Listen, its a team issue were going to keep it within the team," Allen said.And if McClain does not play, recent signee Omar Gaither would play middle linebacker against Cleveland on Sunday.NEWS: Raiders vs. Browns to be blacked out locally
It would seem to be an easy decision to simply cut McClain, who has been a headache for the Raiders both on and off the field since they used the No. 8 overall draft pick on him in 2010. But maybe Oakland is looking at how to suspend McClain the maximum four games without pay for conduct detrimental?Because if they simply cut him, it would be, in a way, rewarding the middle linebacker, who is still owed a prorated 285,294.12 of his 970,000 base salary for 2012. He would hit the open market, so to speak, and could potentially join a future Raiders opponent and, ahem, share the Raiders playbook with that team.Suspending him and thus, making him inactive for the rest of the season would keep him in place, so to speak, so that he could not hit the market. And then, maybe, general manager Reggie McKenzie could find a willing trade partner this offseason for a lower round draft pick.But who would want McClain in a trade with his struggling mightily in his NFL career.He was taken off the field in nickel packages after Week 4 this season, in part, to help his conditioning to play better against the run. But he has had notable misses this season. In his career, McClain has 6 12 sacks, one interception, on forced fumble and no fumble recoveries in 41 games. Not exactly the stats of a cornerstone middle linebacker.And one year ago tomorrow, McClain was arrested for, and later convicted of, charges of third-degree assault, menacing, discharging a handgun in city limits and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to six months in jail and slapped with a 2,000 fine. Since then, the Raiders are 4-12. Karma?Earlier this month, after he appealed, the charges were dropped."I'm aware of the bad publicity that I've given the Raiders," McClain said in a statement to reporters back in May. "After talking to Coach (Dennis) Allen, I have the support of the Raiders, my teammates, as well as the coaching staff. I apologize for the bad publicity that's been put out there. But it is a legal process and I can't talk much about it, but I think in due time the Raiders and the Raiders fans that are out there will see it all come to an end. It is what it is; I can't really talk much about it but it will be resolved in the near future."In fact, McClain was given a clean slate by McKenzie."Since we've been here, he's been great," McKenzie told a group of reporters in a roundtable session following the end of mandatory minicamp in June. "I'm not going to hold anything over his head about what he's done in the past. We're only concerned what he does from here on out."Per his rookie contract, McClain is due to make 4.005 million in base salary in 2013 (a salary cap number of 6.675 million), 5.805 million in 2014 (8.475 million cap number) and 2.665 million (5.085 million cap number) in 2015.

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

The Raiders searched in vain for dynamic receiving production before Amari Cooper came along. Thousand-yard seasons proved elusive even in the golden age of passing stats, with a full decade’s drought after Randy Moss posted a four-digit total in 2005.

Cooper’s made that old hat.

The 2015 first-round pick has two 1,000-yard campaigns in as many seasons. Ditto for Pro Bowl honors. Those feats have become increasingly common, Cooper’s already in rarified air.

Cooper’s career is off to a solid start, but the No. 4 overall pick two years ago believes he can be much better. That especially true later in the season, where production has waned in his first two seasons.

He has nine 100-yard performances in two seasons, with just two coming after week 8. He noticeably struggled with injury at the end of 2015, but wouldn’t make excuses for a production drop last season.

Cooper wants to finish as strong as he starts, and has full confidence that will happen this season.

“Of course it’s been on my mind, but it’s a good thing to me because I feel like I can go nowhere but up,” Cooper said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “I know that I can have a lot more production than I’ve had in the past two seasons, so we’ll just see.”

Cooper has sought counsel from other NFL greats – Calvin Johnson has been in Alamenda this week, offering sage advice – and Raiders coaches have identified ways where he can be even more dynamic working with quarterback Derek Carr.

“Certainly there are things that we think we can do to help,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Also, for him, I think he has a much greater understanding. I thought last year was a step forward. I know he wants to continue to push. It’s great when you have a young, talented player that’s really eager to be special, wants to make a mark in this league. The way he’s working at it right now is outstanding. That’s all we want of our guys.

Cooper is a versatile presence, able to do most everything well. His route running was luaded out of college, though he can be a good deep-ball receiver and can create big plays after the catch. Cooper knows his hands much be more consistent, but the Raiders want to exract more from his natural talents.

“There are a lot of different facets to him,” Del Rio said. “Where his speed is really one of his greatest strengths, obviously, his route running ability was pretty doggone polished when he got here, but even that can continue to improve and the timing with Derek. We think he’ll continue to ascend.”

That’s the goal heading into his third NFL season now armed with greater knowledge of how he’s being covered and muscle memory of what went wrong at times later in the year.

Cooper believes detail work will help him this fall and winter, and that starts in earnest during the offseason program.

“It’s easy to forget the small things like high-pointing the ball, looking the ball all the way through and not trying to run before you actually catch the ball,” Cooper said. “Overall, I’m just working hard in the offseason so that you can come back and you can be dominant.

“I want to be the best Amari Cooper that I could possibly be. I want to be better than every other year that I’ve played football, so that’s how I am looking at this year.”

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Editor's Note: The above video is from Dec. 24, 2016.

Donald Penn was nothing short of awesome last season. The veteran Raiders left tackle proved impenetrable, allowing just one sack and 27 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps.

He ranked high among the NFL’s best left tackles at 33, engulfed a career renaissance that began after joining the Raiders three years ago. Penn made the Pro Bowl. He was a vital piece of a 12-4 team that helped the Raiders reach the playoffs.

He hasn’t reveled much in that. Penn’s driven by opportunities missed, and one mishap that haunts him still.

Penn locked horns with Indianapolis linebacker Trent Cole off the left edge during a Week 16 contest against the Colts, and slipped as he was tracking his man away from the pocket. Penn’s feet got tangled and the big man fell. Cole remained upright, darted in and sacked quarterback Derek Carr.

It was Penn’s only sack allowed all season. And Carr got hurt. He suffered a broken fibula that ended his season and realistic hopes of a Raiders playoff run.

Nearly five months have passed since that fluke play. Carr is healthy and a full participant in the Raiders offseason program. The Raiders offensive line might be better after allowing a league-low 18 sacks last season.

There’s plenty to be excited about as the Raiders enter OTAs and a mandatory minicamp. Penn can’t help but lament that isolated incident when Carr went down.

“You have to be an athlete. You try not to think about it too much,” Penn said Tuesday. “You wish you could go back and get it back. I’ve taken that same set I don’t know how many times, on the same field and never just slipped out of nowhere. I’m not going to put it on myself. I should have been able to do something better. You know me, I’m never going to blame the slip for happening. I should have blocked him and held on to him and taken him down with me. That play sticks with me.”

That isn’t all bad. It fuels Penn to continue growing as a player, even at 34 coming off an excellent Pro Bowl season.

“I’m going to try to do what I can do better and make sure it never happens again,” Penn said. “I’ve never gotten a quarterback hurt in my life since I’ve been playing. That was a first. That’s something I take pride in. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Penn wants a different ending to this season. Last year the Raiders lost the AFC West crown and a shot to win the team’s first playoff game. Penn suffered a knee injury the following week that kept him from playing in the postseason.

The goal is to realize vast potential now that the Raiders offense is back healthy again.

“I’m all about karma and stuff like that,” Penn said. “Maybe (God is) trying to tell us that this is our year. We have to put in the work to get it. I know D.C. is happy, I’m dang sure happy to get him back. We’re growing and masterminding this offense trying to make it as explosive as possible.”