Raiders

Gabe Jackson 'still can't relax' after signing new deal with Raiders

Gabe Jackson 'still can't relax' after signing new deal with Raiders

Gabe Jackson logged just one season's NFL service when Rodney Hudson came to town. The veteran center joined the Raiders offensive line after signing a massive contract worth $44.5 million.

Kelechi Osemele donned silver and black the following year after signing a $58.5 million deal.

Those two deals made one message clear: The Raiders value interior offensive linemen.

The young guard took note. Jackson believed hard work, clean living and steady production could glean a deal like that. 

“I knew both Rodney and KO prior to them signing with us, mostly from watching them on film,” Jackson said Monday. “Those guys worked their butts off and were for being good players, so I figured I had a shot. There were no promises and nothing was guaranteed, but if I kept doing little things right and improving as a player, I believed I could find a long-term home here.”

Jackson has done exactly that. An excellent start to his NFL career was rewarded with a five-year, $56 million contract extension heading into the final season of his rookie deal.

The new pact was expected, part of a long-term plan to keep homegrown talent in house. Quarterback Derek Carr came first, with a five-year $125 million deal structured to allow Jackson’s deal to get done right away.

The Raiders are prepared to pay a few more guys. Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper should get extended in future years and form the backbone of this Raiders era.

All save Cooper were part of a tide-turning 2014 draft class that brought top talents in each of the first three rounds.

“Sometimes during the season we’ll reflect on our rookie year, when we were 0-10 and really struggling,” Jackson said. “There’s a real appreciation for where we are. We know what it’s like to lose, and now we know how good it feels to win. It’s great, and we want to keep this good thing going.”

Jackson has been excellent in three seasons, including a 2016 campaign where he moved from left guard to right for Osemele. His production never waned in a new position, and didn’t allow a sack in 735 pass-blocking snaps.

Jackson remains an efficient run blocker and pulling guard in open space. The Raiders were confident in his ability to sustain production and help lead the offense, easily dispensing a large sum to a still ascending talent.

Jackson said the deal came together in a week and a half, completed exactly one week after Carr’s deal got done. Jackson was in Las Vegas – where he’ll play the second half of this deal -- for Hudson’s bachelor party when an agreement was made. He was surrounded by friends and teammates when life-changing money was given in a moment he considers surreal.

“It was crazy, and I was just like, ‘Wow.’ I never could’ve imagined something like that going down,” the Mississippi State alum said. “I was excited, but at the same time I feel honored and blessed. All the hard work over the years lead to this opportunity. It’s finally here, but I still can’t relax. I don’t have to worry about another deal. I just worry about football and winning a championship.”

Jackson didn’t have grand plans for his big paychecks, though there’s a long-term vision that involves him going back home

“Nothing big,” Jackson said. “I’m just going to find some land in Mississippi and build a house. Eventually.”

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

smith-raiders-injury.jpg

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
Questionable
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report
Questionable

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.”