Chiefs playing with heavy hearts

crennel_romeo_chiefs_funeral.jpg

Chiefs playing with heavy hearts


ALAMEDA -- The Kansas City Chiefs are coming into Oakland for the Raiders' home finale riding a wave of emotion.

It was on Dec. 1 when Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, who was also the mother of their infant child, before driving to the team's practice facility and turning the gun on himself. Belcher killed himself in front of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.

A day after the murder-suicide, the Chiefs played a home game and defeated Carolina, 27-21, for just their second victory of the season, before losing at Cleveland, 30-7, last weekend.

Crennel spoke with Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday and was asked how the team recovers from such an event.

"I think you just have to understand that reality is reality and you cannot undue what's been done and you have to try to move on as best you can," Crennel said. "I think in the business we're in, moving on is our hours on the football field, because we have to focus on football at that time and not focus on all those other problems that life presents. I think that has been good therapy for the team, for the coaches and even for the organization. That's what we've been trying to focus on, moving forward, because we have to."

Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry agreed.

"We’ve just been trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to do," he said, "but I ain’t going to lie, it’s been tough. Everybody’s trying to stay focused on what we’ve got to take care of, but at the end of the day we are human, and we’ve got emotions and feelings and stuff like that.

"Getting away from that situation, playing ball, just trying to stay busy for the most part (helps), but it’s always going to be in the back of your minds. It’s somebody you’re with every day…then he’s gone the next day. It’s something you’ve got to deal with but it’s nothing that won’t be forgotten."

Last weekend, Dallas endured a death when practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident in which the driver, Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent, was charged with intoxicated manslaughter as he was driving in the single-car accident.

It makes one wonder if two deadly incidents in as many weeks can serve as a teaching tool for the NFL or if the players will remain convinced of their invincibility.

"I think the biggest thing about players is they are young," Crennel said. "When you're young you think you're going to be able to last forever and you don't think about what may happen and things like that. So I think it's the youngness that gets these guys, gets young people in general to make some of the choices being made. After they mature and get more responsibilities then they look at things differently.

"I think it's the age and not so much how they look at life. They're young and they think life if going to be great for a long time and they don't understand how the choices they make impact their life."

Raiders OC Todd Downing: New weapons will 'make me look good'

Raiders OC Todd Downing: New weapons will 'make me look good'

STANFORD – Todd Downing has long been responsible for intently analyzing college quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft. He certainly did so during two seasons as Raiders quarterbacks coach, adding input to personnel department evaluations on young signal callers.

This offseason, he’s using a wide-angle lens. Downing is the Raiders offensive coordinator now, promoted to the position after Bill Musgrave was allowed to leave on an expired contract.

Coaches enter the draft evaluation process relatively late – they have a season to coach, after all – but Downing prides himself on working hard in evaluating talent. Working with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s staff, coaches feel like their voice is being heard.

That’s important to a coordinator especially, who must make a scheme work with talent around him.

“Reggie and his staff have always done a tremendous job of listening to our vision for the offense or the defense,” Downing said Thursday at Stanford’s pro day. “It’s been a joy to work with those guys over the past three years.

“(Head coach Jack Del Rio) really expects us to be accountable for our position group. Now that I’m the coordinator, there’s more of a broad scope when looking at offensive talent in the draft. When you work that hard (evaluating players), I think the scouts know that your opinion is well grounded, and that validates it a little bit.”

Downing is always on the lookout for weapons, especially while making tweaks to the Raiders offense. The Silver and Black found a few, adding tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive lineman Marshal Newhouse and quarterback EJ Manuel.

Quarterback Derek Carr helped him get some. The full-time East Bay resident has been active recruiting free agents, trying to improve an already strong Raiders offense.

“You guys know how passionate he is about this game, and about this team and backing up this franchise,” Downing said. “(His involvement in recruiting) didn’t surprise any of us. He’s pretty hands on when it comes to football. He lives in the area, so he hopped in when we needed it and it paid off.”

Cook and Patterson especially could add dimensions to a well-rounded Raiders attack. Cook has made some big plays in the past, and should be a reliable receiving tight end the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons.

“He has a skill set that will be fun to play with (schematically),” Downing said. “We’re excited to see what he can do, and I know Derek is excited to add him. He has a history of making plays in this league, and that’s something we’re excited to have.”

Patterson’s primarily known as a kick returner – he’s a two-time All Pro on special teams – but the Raiders hope he’ll be active on offense.

“With guys like that, you just find a way to get them the rock and let them do the rest of the work,” Downing said. “They make me look good. I can call a simple play and he takes it the distance and it looks like I designed something special.”

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.

The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:

"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."

Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.