Campbell to start for Raiders against Chargers

Campbell to start for Raiders against Chargers


ALAMEDA -And now, for the latest Semantics Dance emanating from Silver andBlackdom.Recently re-installed starting quarterback JasonCampbell, who has won the job backbecause of BruceGradkowski's re-injured right shoulder, insists he hasnot been benched this season. Well, at least not benched threetimes.
The way he sees it, it's only been once - at halftime of theRaiders' home opener against St. Louis.
"ThePittsburgh game, I was notbenched," Campbellclaimed. "I was taken out for reasons of being hit a lot and differentthings."OK, then, what about this past weekend, when Gradkowski started againstMiamidespite coach Tom Cable saying after the Steelers loss you would remainundercenter?"I expected to come back the next week weekend and start, but like Isay,the situation came up where they felt like Bruce was healthy," Campbellsaid. "Andcoach said he's a man of his word and that's what he's goingto stick by. I wasn't benched not playing the Miami game, but justbecause (Cable) wassticking by what he had said."Got it? Good. Then that makes at least one of us.
GUTIERREZ: Confusing QB Carousel Because even while Cable said after the Dolphins loss and then againMondaythat Gradkowski's re-injured shoulder would probably keep him out thisweek, and then rumors surfaced he could be lost for the season,Gradkowski wason the field Wednesday.Granted, he was not practicing, but he was not prepping forseason-endingsurgery, either.In fact, Gradkowski had acknowledged earlier in the day the MRI takenMondayrevealed the same Grade-3 shoulder separation he suffered on Oct.10.
"I'm just trying to get right," he said.
RELATED: Gradkowski: 'Don't count the season out' And Campbell istrying to get comfortable - again."You don't like to see anyone get hurt in this game," Campbell said. "Itgoes beyond the game. But here I am again, up here, another opportunityto goout here and play. Another opportunity to go fight and win a game.That'swhat you have to keep your focus on.The bonus for Campbell, of course, is that hedoes not feel as though he has to look over his shoulder after everybad playSunday in San Diego."It's just a situation you have to deal with," he said. "Any quarterback doesn't want to be in a situation like that, butat the same time, you can't mope or complain about anything like that.You have to go out there and execute the offense and do it to the bestof yourability."Cable was asked, point blank, mind you, if Campbell was the starterthis weekend in SanDiego (no doubt he will be asked again Thursday and Friday)."He is," Cable said.Then is Gradkowski healthy enough to be the No. 3 quarterback, behindCampbelland KyleBoller?"We'll see about that," Cable said. "He is sore, noworse for wear in terms of damage from before. But if he took anothershot - we'll have to see how this goes.In other words, get your semantics dancing shoeson.What's your take? EmailPaul and let him know. He may use it in hisMailbag.

Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list


Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list

Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward injured his foot during the team's offseason program and hasn't seen the field since. Last year's second-round pick had it surgically repaired, and missed training camp rehabiltating. 

He's finally ready to go. He passed a physical on Monday and was removed from the physically unable to perform list. The team had a walk-through on Monday. Ward should be active for Tuesday afternoon's practice, the first back at their Alameda practice facility. 

The Illinois product had 30 tackles in 13 starts last season, playing significant snaps with Mario Edwards Jr. out due to a hip injury. He'll have to compete for a spot in the rotation, even after working with the first unit during the offseason program. Rookie third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes has played well in his absence and could be a three-down player inside. 

Ward was a raw, yet athletic talent capable of playing several techniques across the line. The teams sees great potential, though Ward must continue to develop as a player. 

In addition, the Raiders activated tight end Cooper Helfet off the non-football injury list.

Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not


Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not

OAKLAND – The Los Angeles Rams assigned two blockers to Khalil Mack, a common practice against the reigning defensive player of the year. Sometimes it works. This time it didn’t.

The Raiders edge rusher split the double team, found his target and pounced. Jared Goff stood zero chance. There was no evading this one. Mack brought last year’s No. 1 overall pick down with authority, claiming a sack that ultimately won’t count in his 2017 total.

The sacks highlighted a dominant performance that also included three quarterback pressures, four total tackles and two for a loss. All that in three series.

Mack’s clearly ready for the regular season. As a whole, the Raiders defense is not.

Saturday’s 24-21 loss to the Rams at Oakland Coliseum proved that point. A below average offense had no trouble scoring on a starting unit that looks a bit lost.

“I thought our defense was poor, in particular early when we started the game,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a postgame press conference. “We’re going to have to get a whole lot better there.”

It has to happen quickly, with the regular season bearing down and the Raiders still trying to correct the same old thing. Making proper reads and improved communication has been an emphasis this offseason as coaches work to get this defense playing better together. It’s still preseason and there’s time to teach and coach and fix problems, but the defense isn't quite right.

“I think we’ll go a long way when we clean some of those things up,” Del Rio said. “The things that we’ve talked about for too long in terms of communication errors, eye violations and things like that that just keep you from ever being really good on defense. Those just have to get cleaned up.”

Issues are present in the front seven but more obvious in the back, where explosive pass plays continue to plague the starting unit. The Raiders allowed two plays over 20 yards on the first series and six plays of 10 or more yards in three series on Saturday, when the full starting unit was active. The Rams scored 14 points – Mack’s sack squashed the lone non-scoring drive – in three series.

Del Rio was bothered by misreads and “eye violations,” in coverage, which make things easier for an opposing offense.

“When you see them, it’s not a good thing,” Del Rio said. “Yeah, I mean it’s really simple. You don’t have your eyes where they belong and you’re playing man? You’re playing man or even in zone. If you’re not seeing what you need to see, it makes it hard.”

Fixing these problems could improve execution and make life harder on opponents. It needs to happen this summer or the Raiders will have to win a lot of shootouts.

“Obviously, I identify what the problem is,” Del Rio said. “Getting it fixed is the challenge.”