Four questions facing Raiders: How will Jacoby Ford bounce back?

847207.jpg

Four questions facing Raiders: How will Jacoby Ford bounce back?

Programming note: Chat with Raiders Insider Paul Gutierrez tonight at 6:30 p.m. leading up to tonight's preseason game in Arizona!GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Raiders are still searching for their first points of the new era after being shut out, 3-0, by Dallas on Monday so yeah, you could say there are questions heading into Friday night's second exhibition, against the Arizona Cardinals. Will they be answered in the 7 p.m. game, broadcast live on KTVU Channel 2 and KICU Channel 36?
Possibly, but as the Raiders continue their drive to the season opener, the fun, really, is in process and watching it all unfold. Four questions, then, in the form of downs, facing fans and the Raiders heading into their exhibition game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Each question will be published at staggered times leading up to kickoff...First down
How will Jacoby Ford bounce back?
He's as explosive as he is diminutive and Ford had an exhibition opener to forget on Monday against Dallas. He was absolutely crushed on the opening kickoff, did not fight hard enough on an interception thrown his way, dropped a pair of passes across the middle and muffed a punt. "It's definitely not the way I wanted to come out and put anything on film like that," Ford told reporters this week. "But games like that happen and that's why you've got to have a short-term memory and put it behind you. Good thing is, it's preseason so you kind of just put that behind you now and go into the next game, work on improvements the next time." With Denarius Moore still out with that strained hamstring, Ford figures to start again at a wide receiver position, opposite Darius Heyward-Bey. Much had been made about a better chemistry between Ford and quarterback Carson Palmer, who took full responsibility for the pick, but it was seemingly nowhere to be found in the opener. Might they rekindle it in the Arizona desert?

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”