BALTIMORE -- The juiciest subplot coming into the Raiders' game at Baltimore?The purported unveiling of the quick enigma that is running back Taiwan Jones.The dare-I-ask question emerging from the morass after Jones was no factor at all in Oakland's embarrassing 55-20 loss to the Ravens?Why is Jones even on the roster?Oh sure, Jones said the right things after carrying the ball only two times for six yards, and catching one pass for seven yards, but you could not have blamed him had he felt disillusioned at becoming such an afterthought.
Because while there is no shame in taking a backseat to the multi-talented fullback that is Marcel Reece, who started at tailback and had a game-high 48 yards rushing on 13 carries, Jones was also eclipsed by an undrafted rookie who was just signed up from the practice squad on Saturday.No disrespect to the hard-working Jeremy Stewart, but he had seven carries for 22 yards while Jones was reduced to the role of an observer on the sidelines, while both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson rehabbed their respective high ankle sprains."I had my hopes up as far as getting more carries," Jones said, "but the coaches had a gameplan."One that, at times, involved five wideouts, and an empty backfield."A lot of people, including myself, thought I'd get more carries," he said.And Jones said it without a sense of resentment. More like, regret. Even quarterback Carson Palmer spoke this past week about how excited he was to see Jones get some run against the Ravens. Alas...And without coming straight out and saying it, coach Dennis Allen basically said the Raiders do not trust Jonesstill."Taiwan has had a lot of injuries this year and had some ball security issues," Allen said. "We have to know when he goes in the game, he's going to know what to do and he's going to protect the football and he's got to be able to stay healthy."So those are things that we are looking at and as he proves that he can do those things, then he'll get more playing time."And there it is.Told of Allen's comments, Jones seemed genuinely surprised and maybe, a little hurt. But he did not lash out. Jones grew introspective."If that's the issue," he said, "then my job is to earn their trust."
PHOENIX – The Raiders hope to play the next three years in the Bay Area before moving to Las Vegas. They were approved to relocate on Monday at the NFL owners meetings, but can’t leave right away because Las Vegas doesn’t have a suitable temporary NFL venue.
The Raiders have team options on one-year leases to play at Oakland Coliseum during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and are expected to do exactly that. Owner Mark Davis said he’s open to negotiating a lease to play the 2019 season there as well before moving into new Vegas digs in 2020.
The Oakland Coliseum authority may not grant that request.
"I would say to you with the highest level of confidence, my opinion and recommendation and that of my board members, I don’t believe there is any appetite for a third season (in Oakland),” director of the Oakland Coliseum joint powers authority Scott McKibben told USA Today.
McKibben said hosting a Raiders game is a financial loss for the JPA.
If the Raiders can’t reach an agreement to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2019, they have other options in the Bay Area, though none is ideal. They could play at Cal’s Memorial Stadium or use Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara as a last resort in the Bay Area, sources told CSN California reporter Scott Bair.
They could renovate UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium – locker room and security upgrades are mandatory – though the Raiders would prefer to avoid that route.
PHOENIX – Raiders edge rusher Aldon Smith has been banished from the NFL for over 16 months now as a repeat offender of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t ruled on Smith’s reinstatement application and it’s hard to imagine movement coming soon on that front after a pair of recent run-ins with the law.
He was reportedly involved in a domestic incident and was questioned by San Francisco police last month. Then he was a passenger in a vehicle that hit an unmarked police car on March 10, an incident where the driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Smith seemed out of sorts when interviewed by media after emerging from a San Francisco police station.
Smith’s banishment states he can’t have contact with Raiders personnel outside the director of player engagement, a stipulation head coach Jack Del Rio has criticized in the past.
He did so again Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings, saying it’s unfortunate the organization can’t support Smith during difficult times.
“It’s a little bit frustrating to not be able to be a part of the process,” Del Rio said. “My feel is that I could help him, but the experts know. The experts don’t allow that. We have to follow the rules.
“It does get frustrating to not be able to help a young man and provide support and provide structure. Somebody else has to make those decisions. It’s just out of my hands.”
The Raiders can’t petition for greater involvement, and are therefore in a wait-and-see mode regarding their troubled, yet talented player.
“He has to get himself together,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “(Smith’s status) is totally on the league office. They know more than what we know.”