Criner back to business of catching passes


Criner back to business of catching passes

NAPA -- It only seemed as though Juron Criner was being frozen out of the Raiders' first few days of training camp practice.After all, Criner was the last of Oakland's draft picks to sign and the fifth-round compensatory pick who went No. 168 overall in the NFL draft was reportedly embroiled in a dispute over 14,000 in signing bonus money that was rectified on Sunday. Not exactly a way to endear yourself to new teammates, right?Neither side has said if or how the 14K disagreement was handled but there was Criner on Friday, making plays and catching balls in traffic. Just as he had done during OTAs and minicamp this summer."You cant really have a best day," Criner said after practice. "You can have a good day and you can always get better."He did exactly that before 1,000 fans in the team's second padded practice.Asked if he took any heat from fans in the time before he signed his contract, Criner shrugged."Thats not something that I concern myself with," he said. "Im a player. I have an agent, we have a good relationship. I let him do his job and I do my job."One fan, though, yelled at Criner after a particularly nice grab: "One dollar at a time, Criner. One dollar at a time."Criner has looked up to fourth-year veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey thus far. "I watch his every move," Criner said. "If he sneezes Im there to say bless you. I take as much as I can from a guy like that."I definitely see the progress hes made. That just goes to let me know even if you have a down year its not about what you did, its about the following year. And theres always a way to get better and bounce back and hes definitely a player who did that."Criner said the trade of Louis Murphy only made the receivers bond together more. Having a fellow rookie in the undrafted Rod Streater has also helped his learning curve thus far.The two are roommates in camp."First and foremost, were here to compete," Criner said. "We just help each other outwe go over things that weve seen from each side of the field, things that we can do better, and we definitely watch each other and give each other pointers."Catch everything that comes to us. I guess we both kind of got the label of a possession receiver, so we've got to be fearless in there. Basically, go over the middle, catch anything around us and have the biggest radius we can."Of course, none of it would have happened had Criner actually held out. Not that that was going to happen, mind you.I asked Criner if there was ever a doubt he'd be in camp on time."No, there was no doubts," he said. "At the end of the day, it is my call."

Relocation approval 'offers more clarity' when Raiders recruit future free agents

Relocation approval 'offers more clarity' when Raiders recruit future free agents

PHOENIX -- The Raiders are entering a limbo period, with just a few seasons in Oakland before relocating to Las Vegas. NFL owners formally approved a move on Monday, though the Raiders don’t want to leave the East Bay until a new stadium is ready in 2020.

While there are contingencies to leave the market early based upon how fans react to the Raiders remaining in Oakland after committing to Las Vegas, that isn’t what the Raiders want. After years of stadium uncertainty, they leave the NFL owners meetings with clarity regarding their long-term future.

General manager Reggie McKenzie believes that should help free agents considering silver and black. The uncertainty prompted questions in recent years that McKenzie can answer when recruiting veteran talent now that relocation has been approved.

“By Mark saying that the plan is for us to be in Oakland for two more years (at least), but we will be in Vegas, I think it offers more clarity,” McKenzie said. “It lets the players know. It’s better than two months ago, when everyone had questions. When you were talking to a free agent, they know we want to move but weren’t sure if it was going to pass. They didn’t know. Now they know a decision has been made by the league to let us move.”

That will help McKenzie more in the future than present. Roster turnover is high these days, meaning most currently employed by the Raiders won’t play for the home team in Las Vegas. Only David Amerson, Kelechi Osemele and Marquette King are would be under contract when the team wants to move.

The Raiders are working on extensions for Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack, with others possibly locked up down the line.

In addition to playing with Carr and Mack and for head coach Jack Del Rio, there’s another attraction to signing with the Raiders. There’s no state income tax in Nevada, meaning a contract there is worth more than the same deal in California. The Golden State generally takes 13.3 percent of significant income earned there.

There will be other issues about playing in Las Vegas, where gambling is legal, a drink can be had 24 hours per day and vices abound in a place called Sin City.

The Raiders will construct a support system to keep players focused, and are ready to handle any questions players and their families may have about an upcoming move.

“Now there are questions from the drafted guys about when they become free agents, because they might be in Vegas. That’s going to be different. There are questions that way, but it’s not going to alter the way we go after players. Some of the guys, parents and agents may have questions, but I don’t think it’s anything out of whack.”


NFL centralizes replay reviews, Del Rio wants more freedom in challenges

NFL centralizes replay reviews, Del Rio wants more freedom in challenges

PHOENIX – Fans won’t see special teams players leaping over the long snapper in an attempt to block a field goal or extra point. Seattle’s Kam Chancellor made some big plays with that technique, but won’t have the chance anymore.

The NFL outlawed that option on Tuesday as one several rule changes enacted at the league meetings.

“There are some safety concerns,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “that are legitimate.”

The NFL also centralized replay reviews, taking that power away from officials on the field. NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino and associates at the NFL’s command center will handle reviews in an effort to add consistency to important calls.

Del Rio hoped replay challenges would be expanded further, but a proposal by Seattle and Buffalo allowing coaches to challenge any play save scoring plays and turnovers, which are automatically reviewed, did not pass.

“I think there are a number of coaches who feel like, if there’s an obvious error, we should have a mechanism to correct it,” Del Rio said. “We catch most of them, so you’re talking about a small percentage. It’s hard to move the needle for such a small percentage. That’s the problem. The fact is, if it’s important enough that we’re willing to use that challenge, we’d like that right and ability. Things happen, and you don’t want to lose a big game, a game that decides whether you advance in the playoffs or make the playoffs and it’s something you could overturn, that you could challenge or change. Why not?”

Here's a list of new rules and bylaws adopted by the league on Tuesday.