Donald Penn has a point: Raiders LT has outplayed current contract

Donald Penn has a point: Raiders LT has outplayed current contract

Donald Penn ranks among the NFL’s best offensive tackles. He wants to get paid like one. That’s why the 34-year old didn’t report to Raiders training camp on Friday and won’t participate in Saturday’s opening practice.

He wants to rework his contract before returning to the field, looking for pay commiserate with recent production.

Penn had an excellent 2016 season, allowing just 28 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps. He gave up just one sack, but it was a big one. Penn slipped in Week 16 against Indianapolis, which set up the hit that ended Derek Carr’s season.

That doesn’t ruin a solid season where Penn ranked No. 6 among all offensive tackles in pass blocking efficiency. He was awesome in the run game as well, with large totals rushing behind him in a Pro Bowl campaign.

It’s hard to argue Penn’s claim that he’s a Top 10 left tackle. His paycheck doesn’t reflect that. Penn signed a two-year deal in the 2016 offseason worth up to $11.9 million. He’s scheduled to earn a $5.8 million base salary in 2017 and $7.1 million in total cash. That ranks 20th among offensive tackles. Buffalo’s Cordy Glenn ranks 10th in total 2017 cash at $11 million.

The Raiders can afford to increase Penn’s rate. They should have $14.825 million in salary cap space after releasing Austin Howard and Taiwan Jones.

Just because they have money doesn’t mean they’ll spend it on Penn. They could play hardball and fine him up to $40,000 per day for missing camp. They can ignore renegotiation requests and demand Penn play out his current contract. There’s no current indication how the front office will react to the fact Penn wants a raise.

Withholding services is his protest. He has a solid case and some leverage, considering the Raiders don’t have another option at left tackle and a $25 million quarterback in Carr.

Penn hasn’t explained his decision publicly, but spoke with NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest about the situation.

“He’s looking at it like, ‘well I don’t make anywhere near some of the top tackles in the league, I’m durable, I’ve only missed one game in 11 years, I’ve played against the best pass rushers, I protect the guy that you just gave $110 million to (QB Derek Carr),’” McGinest said Friday on air. “I can go on and on. He just wants to be appreciated. He feels like the extension he got a couple of years ago, the $11.9 million for two years, was pretty much a bargain. He figured in good faith that they (the Raiders) would come back and redo his deal because they understand what he’s worth to that team and what he does for that team.”

McGinest also said Penn isn’t frustrated with big dollars doled out to other Raiders offensive lineman. Kelechi Osmele ($58.5 million) and Rodney Hudson ($44.5 million) got paid in recent offseason, and Gabe Jackson signed a $56 million extension last month.

Penn is older and unsure how much longer he wants to play, so any bump would come in the short term. An extension might be the last of Penn’s career, the last chance to cash in on a career renaissance.

The Raiders need him happy and productive protecting Carr’s blind side and opening holes for Marshawn Lynch. Giving a little more would make that happen, and might be the best course of action to end the issue quickly.

“He just wants the respect for what he’s done on the field,” McGinest said. “Stop looking at his age, look at his production and what he’s done. If he’s in the Top 10 then he’ll comfortable with that.”

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain


Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Raiders are remarkably healthy heading into Sunday night’s game against the Washington football club.

The entire 53-man roster practiced fully on Friday, before heading to the nation’s capital.

That includes veteran cornerback Sean Smith, who missed the previous game with a neck injury. A shoulder ailment cropped up during the week, which prompted the Raiders to label him questionable heading into Week 3. Smith’s the only Raider on the injury report, and even he’s in decent shape.

“I mean we put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You don’t have probable’s anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way.”

That means the Raiders are going to have some healthy scratches a week after Smith was the only injured player sitting out.

Washington has some impact players on the mend. That included tight end Jordan Reed, who is questionable with a rib/sternum injury. He stands 6-foot-2, 246 pounds and is the type of receiving tight end that gives the Raiders fits. He has 1,638 yards 17 touchdowns the last two seasons, using good hands and a large frame to create mismatches in the secondary.

It’ll be key for the Raiders to defend him well if he’s active, with Nicholas Morrow as a primary coverage option.

“We’re prepared to face him,” Del Rio said. “We think he’s a good player. We’ll approach it that way and adjust if he doesn’t go.”

Washington also lists starting inside linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley as questionable.

Raiders Injury Report
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report

TE Jordan Reed (rib/sternum), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Monate Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder)

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph notched his first career forced fumble in Week 2’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. It came on his first sack, where he bent around a tackle into the pocket and devoured his pray.

Joseph recovered the ball, and the Raiders quickly scored a touchdown. The second-year pro enjoyed that moment, but left the game with regrets.

"I should have definitely had more sacks than I did,” Joseph said. “I feel like I should have had three.”

Joseph had quarterback Josh McCown in the crosshairs three times, and feels like he should’ve finished each one. The game plan provided opportunity. Joseph blitzed six times – fellow safety Reggie Nelson attacked thrice – and pressured the quarterback four times.

It was a relatively new responsibility, considering he blitzed nine times all last year. Joseph will be first to say he was a different player then. He was less explosive, more tentative and a smidge less confident, lingering effects from an ACL tear during his final college season. Joseph was cleared to play as a rookie but wasn’t all the way back, doubly hampered by missing an offseason program where rookies grow quick.

"I wasn’t completely myself,” Joseph said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California. “I feel a lot more like myself this year. I obviously feel better physically, and the year of experience in the system has definitely helped. So has adjusting to the NFL life. That’s been an easier transition for me.”

Joseph is playing more like his highlight reel from West Virginia, where he proved a heavy hitter and a solid cover man worthy of last year’s No. 14 overall draft pick. The Jets game isn’t the only evidence of that.

Joseph had an excellent training camp, flashing an aggressive style and solid timing making plays in practice. That translated to the regular-season opener at Tennessee, when he saved a touchdown on consecutive plays. The first came on an open-field tackle. The second was a leaping pass breakup in the end zone, proof positive that Joseph was ready to make a big impact.

"He’s really good close to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "He’s a really good tackler in the open field. He also plays well on the back end. I think his development is right on time right now.”

The Raiders recognize that, and are using him like a queen on the chessboard. He can move back or forward, as an attacker or the last line of defense. He’s a rover at times, with an ability to create havoc at all levels of the defense.

Joseph is an excellent fit for the defensive scheme, bring a tone-setting physicality to the secondary. He is learning, as part of his development, that the nuclear option isn’t always best. There are times when it is, and Joseph enters those scenarios without fear.

"You can’t play worried about getting hurt. That’s not the way I play,” Joseph said. “It’s about being smart. I had to adjust my game coming into the NFL. Every hit can’t be a big hit. Sometimes you have to be smart and just wrap people up, but you can’t ever play scared.”

He isn’t afraid to take risks or attack when asked, and is already making a major impact on this year’s defense. That isn’t a surprise. It’s expected of first-round picks.

"That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”