Camp Report (814): Temps rise for Raider fans


Camp Report (814): Temps rise for Raider fans

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comPractice No. 14Summary: Before a large crowd of fans, and during the hottest day of camp thus far, the Raiders worked out in helmets and shorts. Yet it was also one of the more physical, spirited practices of training camp. The Raiders are in search of a new "gunner" on their punt team, what with Hiram Eugene likely lost for the season with his dislocated hip, so receivers Shawn Bayes, Shaun Bodiford and Chad Jackson got lengthy looks. Additional work was put in for the young cornerbacks on interception drills and even rookie Chimdi Chekwa, who had his left shoulder pop out on the first day of padded hitting, is being worked into practice. As is offensive lineman Bruce Campbell, who came to camp with a right knee injury. Speaking of the offensive line, it had several different looks, with left tackle Jared Veldheer and right tackle Khalif Barnes flip-flopping on certain plays. The practice, though, ended with a miscommunication between quarterback Jason Campbell and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey as Campbell's pass to DHB fell to the end zone grass with the receiver still running a go-route.Injury report: Receiver Chaz Schilens, who sprained a knee in Thursday night's exhibition opener, was nowhere to be seen, nor was safety Hiram Eugene, who underwent surgery on his dislocated left hip. Fourteen players sat out practice with various "nicks," including receivers Jacoby Ford (broken left hand), Louis Murphy and Eddie McGee, fullback James McCluskey, tailbacks Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and Darren McFadden (fractured eye socket), offensive linemen Stephon Heyer (strained right triceps), Lou Eliades and Alan Pelc, linebacker Bruce Davis, defensive backs Mike Mitchell and and defensive lineman Trevor Scott (knee).Offensive play of the day: It was a play straight from the Raiders' 28-13 defeat of the Chargers in San Diego, last Dec. 5. Except this time, Jason Campbell's play-action fake bootleg around the left corner came with the Raiders on their own 1-yard line. Now, Campbell was not going to go 99 yards for a score, but the Oakland defense was fooled out of its cleats, for sure.Defensive play of the day: Denarius Moore shook Jeremy Ware, who fell to the ground, and was open for what seemed an eternity down the right sideline toward the end zone. But as Trent Edwards' pass hung in the air, safety Jerome Boyd raced over from center field. He batted the ball down at the last moment and all Moore could do was smile.Under the radar: Coach Hue Jackson has been somewhat secretive about injuries in his first camp, so was it really a surprise to see backup defensive tackle Desmond Bryant practicing with a cast so huge on his left hand it resembled a club? Also, safety Stevie Brown tweaked his right ankle breaking up a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone. Brown had the ankle heavily taped after practice.Rookie report: Third-round pick DeMarcus Van Dyke took reps at first-team cornerback, alongside Stanford Routt, and second-rounder Stefen Wisniewski, who opened camp as the No. 1 center, was at left guard on the first-team offense, what with Samson Satele at center.Notable: Owner Al Davis has yet to make a public appearance at camp. Yet his son, Mark, is practically an everyday spectator, taking in practice from the sidelines as a more-than-interested observer.Quotable: "It happens, man. That was actually self defense. I didn't start that, if you were watching. But it happens. It's unfortunate. We are teammates and at the end of the day we're still cool. It gets hot. Things happen." - rookie tackle Joe Barksdale, on his brawl with defensive end Tommie Hill.Next practice: Monday, 3:30 p.m.

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch is a Raider. He announced that fact on Twitter in his own unique way Wednesday, completing a month-long process from initial interest to final signature.

The Raiders gave him a new contract and traded Seattle for his rights, allowing the Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum to come out of retirement and play for his hometown team.

That’s good news for Raiders fans on several fronts. He fills an immediate need at running back created when Latavius Murray left for Minnesota.

It temporarily tempers, though certainly doesn’t extinguish, rage about the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

[RATTO: Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft]

Owner Mark Davis hopes to move his team when a new stadium is complete in 2020. 

Lynch won't be there. Lynch won’t represent Vegas. He’s an Oakland Raider, playing for the city he champions at every turn. Lynch regularly gives back to this community and might be its most popular native son right now.

Lynch missed playing football, but he wanted to represent his hometown. That was clear in his tweet. He explained it this way: “I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe…town bizness breath on me.”

He’ll celebrate joining the Raiders on Thursday with a block party and autograph signing in Oakland.

Lynch will give East Bay fans something to cheer for that won’t be shipping off to Vegas in a few years.

Nothing can cure the pain of an NFL team leaving Oakland a second time. Wins are ibuprofen, giving short-term relief to an ailing fan local base. He can certainly help the Raiders provide that.

The Silver and Black needed a big, physical primary rusher to pair with elusive, yet smaller backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Lynch is that guy. There’s no question he’s a football fit.

Lynch is a strong interior rusher from several different formations. He could run well behind fullback Jamize Olawale, as a lone shotgun runner or in jumbo packages with quarterback Derek Carr under center and behind a hulking Raiders offensive line.

While new offensive coordinator Todd Downing will add some wrinkles to an existing scheme, the Raiders employ a versatile system that could suit Lynch’s many strengths.

Lynch ranks among the toughest, most aggressive backs of his generation and one of the best resisting tackles.

He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 2.8 yards after contact per rushing attempt in his career, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus.

Lynch led the NFL with 245 broken tackles between 2013 and 2016 – 56 more than the next guy -- and he didn’t even play last season, per PFF.

He led the league with an unreal 3.1 yards after per contact in 2014, his last year fully healthy. He played just eight times in 2015 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery.

Lynch is completely healthy after his year travelling the world, doing charity work and expanding his clothing line, but effectiveness is always questioned of running backs over 30. Lynch turned 31 last week. He heads into his 10th season without having been hit in a while, and many believe he can produce like few others his age have in the NFL.

He’ll take the lion’s share of carries in a three-man rotation with Richard and Washington. He reportedly gets an extra $2 million if he's just the second Raider since 2010 to reach 1,000 yards. There’s motivation to push for that and other incentives in the deal. If Lynch is in vintage Beast Mode and fans are happy, the Raiders will gladly pay the extra freight.

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft


Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

Marshawn Lynch is going to upstage the NFL Draft for a few moments by announcing his signing with the Oakland Raiders Thursday.

The problem with this is obvious. He can’t upstage it all day long.

The NFL Draft is one of those events that demeans all who come in contact with it, because it basically extols the three virtues the owners find most inspiring – dishonesty, bullying and treachery. Between everyone lying about everything they do, making players submit to the most revolting reputational indignities, and just good old-fashioned broken promises like, “If you’re there at 119, we’re taking you, oh wait, we suddenly hate you and your skill set,” the draft is largely a festival of misery.

Not universally, mind you. Some players love it, especially the ones who hit the lottery, get picked higher than they thought they would and go to the perfect team for their talents and temperaments. That’s not the usual road, but there you go.

But mostly, nah. And we’re not even getting into the cavalcade of media self-anointeds who think they know what they’re talking about but only serve to remind us that not everybody is a fun companion in a bar.

Now the disclaimer: If you like the NFL Draft, fine. Wallow in every minute of it with our blessing. It'll keep you from all level of other mischief, and it is relatively harmless fun if you can deal with the aesthetic unpleasantries to which we just referred. Just understand that you are spending 356 minutes of party prep for three days of partying and six days of cleanup. It's a hamster wheel of fun, but it is a hamster wheel.

But then there's Marshawn Lynch, who overcame being one of those draft casualties (because Buffalo didn’t work for him, and he didn’t work all that well for Buffalo, either), is coming out of retirement to be traded and then rendered a Raider in the time still allotted for them to reside in Oakland. As a distraction, this will play well enough. It sure beats DeMarcus Cousins being traded by Sacramento during the NBA All-Star Game.

I suppose this is a heart-rending tale of one man’s loyalty to his city (the right place at the right price), although there is the naggingly worrisome component that going back to football won’t be good for his overall health. It is the risk he runs, to be sure, and one can only assume that he has made a clearheaded choice, but this is not a spot that treats its recidivists well.

That’s recidivists, as in “folks who walked away happily, then found out they needed it too much for their own good.”

Frankly, there is no good reason not to want this to turn out well for Lynch (the Raiders can take of themselves with or without him, and within two years will do exactly that), but it is a case of bucking some daunting odds in what is too often a zero-sum game. That’s a level of risk that should make anyone queasy.

But it is what Marshawn Lynch wants, risks and all, and as a grown adult he should get the opportunity few are afforded – to chase and catch his dream until it stops being a dream and becomes a chore.

If it works out for the Raiders as well, fine. Lynch isn’t the one who will put them over the top in a conference dominated by three teams – New England, the Patriots and Bill Belichick – but if he finds the athletic closure he seeks, it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.

Especially if it even momentarily minimizes the rest of the hot rhetorical/gasbaggy mess that is Draft Night. If nothing else, here’s hoping Marshawn Lynch is the star of the night. That’s not the way to bet, of course, but a person can hope.