Raiders

Bartell a physical presence at cornerback

837723.jpg

Bartell a physical presence at cornerback

NAPA -- Ron Bartell arrived at the same time as the ball, popping Darrius Heyward-Bey in the back at the precise time of arrival. The ball popped out. Incompletion.Bartell could have shown up with far worse intentions in Monday's practice but he was in helmet and shorts while everyone else was in full pads and yet, it was exactly the type of work the Raiders' highly-touted cornerback needed. A tweaked hamstring had kept him out of training camp practices.REWIND: Broken neck a distant memory for Ron Bartell
"Yeah, I havent went against anyone since June and these guys have been out there a week," Bartell said. "So I've got to get the timing back, but I thought I moved around pretty well. I was in tune to what we had going on defensively so it was just a matter of getting my technique back and get my feet back underneath me and Im good to go from there."Mind you, Bartell was not able to participate in full team drills -- that comes Wednesday -- but he is still listed at the team's No. 1 cornerback on the left side. Expectations are high for the big -- he's listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds but appears more imposing -- offseason acquisition who played the first seven seasons of his NFL career in St. Louis.RELATED: Ron Bartell stats Splits Game logs
And yet, there are concerns among observers that do not translate to Bartell himself. He is coming off a broken neck, suffered in the Rams' season opener last year."That's behind me," he insisted. "I'm 110 percent and it's not something I even worry about. Like I said before, I think the biggest thing with me when I got injured was that I walked off the field. I never had to go through the scare of paralysis or anything like that. So it felt just like a stinger so I feel fine. No hesitation. I'm actually looking forward to getting pads on so I can get the first hit out of the way and once I do that, I'll be fine."In his career, Bartell has eight interceptions, two sacks and has forced 10 fumbles in 89 games, 65 starts. From 2007 through 2010 he averaged 70 tackles.RELATED: Raiders Camp Battle -- Bartell vs. Chekwa
"If you want to win and be good defensively, the first thing is you've got to stop the run," he said. "Cornerback, we get paid to do more than just cover. I pride myself on being a complete player. I played safety before so I understand all about the running game. Its part of my game that I always want to improve on and part of my game I accept the challenge of."Not a lot of cornerbacks look forward to tackling so I want to separate myself from the rest and just be known as a complete corner. Me coming up tackling and having to fit in the run (defense) is no problem. Ive done (it) my whole career and I understand its a big part of us winning football games."As is getting, and staying, on the field.

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

smith-raiders-injury.jpg

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Raiders are remarkably healthy heading into Sunday night’s game against the Washington football club.

The entire 53-man roster practiced fully on Friday, before heading to the nation’s capital.

That includes veteran cornerback Sean Smith, who missed the previous game with a neck injury. A shoulder ailment cropped up during the week, which prompted the Raiders to label him questionable heading into Week 3. Smith’s the only Raider on the injury report, and even he’s in decent shape.

“I mean we put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You don’t have probable’s anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way.”

That means the Raiders are going to have some healthy scratches a week after Smith was the only injured player sitting out.

Washington has some impact players on the mend. That included tight end Jordan Reed, who is questionable with a rib/sternum injury. He stands 6-foot-2, 246 pounds and is the type of receiving tight end that gives the Raiders fits. He has 1,638 yards 17 touchdowns the last two seasons, using good hands and a large frame to create mismatches in the secondary.

It’ll be key for the Raiders to defend him well if he’s active, with Nicholas Morrow as a primary coverage option.

“We’re prepared to face him,” Del Rio said. “We think he’s a good player. We’ll approach it that way and adjust if he doesn’t go.”

Washington also lists starting inside linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley as questionable.

Raiders Injury Report
Questionable
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report
Questionable

TE Jordan Reed (rib/sternum), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Monate Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder)

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph notched his first career forced fumble in Week 2’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. It came on his first sack, where he bent around a tackle into the pocket and devoured his pray.

Joseph recovered the ball, and the Raiders quickly scored a touchdown. The second-year pro enjoyed that moment, but left the game with regrets.

"I should have definitely had more sacks than I did,” Joseph said. “I feel like I should have had three.”

Joseph had quarterback Josh McCown in the crosshairs three times, and feels like he should’ve finished each one. The game plan provided opportunity. Joseph blitzed six times – fellow safety Reggie Nelson attacked thrice – and pressured the quarterback four times.

It was a relatively new responsibility, considering he blitzed nine times all last year. Joseph will be first to say he was a different player then. He was less explosive, more tentative and a smidge less confident, lingering effects from an ACL tear during his final college season. Joseph was cleared to play as a rookie but wasn’t all the way back, doubly hampered by missing an offseason program where rookies grow quick.

"I wasn’t completely myself,” Joseph said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California. “I feel a lot more like myself this year. I obviously feel better physically, and the year of experience in the system has definitely helped. So has adjusting to the NFL life. That’s been an easier transition for me.”

Joseph is playing more like his highlight reel from West Virginia, where he proved a heavy hitter and a solid cover man worthy of last year’s No. 14 overall draft pick. The Jets game isn’t the only evidence of that.

Joseph had an excellent training camp, flashing an aggressive style and solid timing making plays in practice. That translated to the regular-season opener at Tennessee, when he saved a touchdown on consecutive plays. The first came on an open-field tackle. The second was a leaping pass breakup in the end zone, proof positive that Joseph was ready to make a big impact.

"He’s really good close to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "He’s a really good tackler in the open field. He also plays well on the back end. I think his development is right on time right now.”

The Raiders recognize that, and are using him like a queen on the chessboard. He can move back or forward, as an attacker or the last line of defense. He’s a rover at times, with an ability to create havoc at all levels of the defense.

Joseph is an excellent fit for the defensive scheme, bring a tone-setting physicality to the secondary. He is learning, as part of his development, that the nuclear option isn’t always best. There are times when it is, and Joseph enters those scenarios without fear.

"You can’t play worried about getting hurt. That’s not the way I play,” Joseph said. “It’s about being smart. I had to adjust my game coming into the NFL. Every hit can’t be a big hit. Sometimes you have to be smart and just wrap people up, but you can’t ever play scared.”

He isn’t afraid to take risks or attack when asked, and is already making a major impact on this year’s defense. That isn’t a surprise. It’s expected of first-round picks.

"That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”