Camp Report (89): Raiders want to hit others

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Camp Report (89): Raiders want to hit others

Aug. 9, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comPractice No. 11Summary: It's obvious the Raiders are weary of hitting each other and gearing up for, well, fresh meat in the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday in each teams' exhibition opener. And as an added bonus, Oakland put out its first "unofficial" depth chart of the season. No real surprises on the defensive side of the ball, other than perhaps Quentin Groves over Travis Goethel at weak-side linebacker. Offensively, though, Darrius Heyward-Bey, who just started practicing in team drills Monday, and Jacoby Ford, who is out with a broken left hand, were the top two receivers, over a healthy Chaz Schilens. Not much in terms of hits, though Kevin Brock extending for Trent Edwards' bullet of a pass in the back of the end zone to beat Michael Huff was a highlight.Injury report: Receiverpunt returner Nick Miller, who was rocking a "Los Angeles" Raiders cap, joined the list of walking wounded on Tuesday as 16 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 Cody Habben, Bruce Campbell(knee), Lou Eliades and Alan Pelc, linebacker Bruce Davis, defensive backs Chimdi Chekwa (shoulder), Mike Mitchell and Joe Porter and defensive lineman Trevor Scott (knee).Offensive play of the day: Now he's down to just one highlight play per day. At least he's spreading them out, though, right? Rookie receiver Denarius Moore, running a fade to the left corner of the end zone from 10 yards out, pulled in an over-the-shoulder lob from Jason Campbell, beating undrafted rookie cornerback Sterling Moore for the touchdown. Some might call that Moore-on-Moore crime.Defensive play of the day: The short-yardage defense was on the field in a short-yardage situation. So when massive defensive tackle John Henderson stuffed Louis Rankin for no gain, he got loud. Real loud. "What you say, two?" Henderson yelled, obviously to the No. 2 offense. "What you say?" And for good measure, Henderson flexed.Personnel report: When the Raiders went into an obvious run defense, they loaded up the line of scrimmage with a heavier hitter, so to speak. Strong safety Tyvon Branch moved to cornerback, replacing Chris Johnson, and Stevie Brown came in for Branch at strong safety. So for those keeping score, the corners were Branch and Stanford Routt and the safeties were Brown and Michael Huff.Coaching moment: With the defensive backs working on a spinning, twisting and turning drill that ended with a ball flying at their facemasks, in hopes of them catching said ball, second-year cornerback Walter McFadden got discombobulated. "I got dizzy; I gotta do it again," he said. "Yes," answered safeties coach Kevin Ross, "yes you do."Notable: The Raiders placed undrafted rookie free agent receiver Derrick Jones on the waivedinjured list Tuesday. The California (PA) product blew out an Achilles' tendon last week and is one of 10 such injuries plaguing NFL camps this summer. Also, the Raiders officially put guard Justin Smiley on the ReserveRetired list.Quotable: "If I tell you, I got to kill you." - Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, when asked why he was simply referred to as a "defensive coach" and not the "defensive coordinator" when he was first hired this time around by Oakland. He was joking. We think.Next practice: Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.