Raiders

Goodell's letter to fans

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Goodell's letter to fans

Editor's Note: The following is a copy of the letter distributed by the NFL on behalf of commissioner Roger Goodell, outlining the developments associated with the NFL Legacy Fund.

To NFL Fans:

We hope you are enjoying the NFL season. The playoff race is shaping up and promises to bring even more excitement as we head into the holiday season. My purpose in writing now is to update you on steps we are taking to help our older retired players -- the heroes of the 60s, 70s, and 80s who deserve great credit for their role in building the NFL into what it is today.

These players did something for the game of football. Now its our turn to do something for them.

Its easy to say we appreciate them. But our actions need to tell the same story. Thats why we are proud of the agreement we reached with the union this week on how to distribute the 620 million Legacy Fund set aside in our new collective bargaining agreement. It means we will begin paying higher benefits immediately to all retired players whose pensions vested before 1993.

This new Legacy Fund benefit has three important components:

1. Every player will receive a major pension increase. We have significantly raised the pension floor of minimum monthly payments.
2. Players whose pensions vested before 1975 the players who played for the lowest salaries are getting the biggest increase.
3. The Legacy Fund benefits will continue not only for the lifetime of the retired player, but also for the lifetime of his eligible beneficiary.

The formula for distributing the 620 million fund was designed after we discussed it with leaders of several retired player groups, including Mike Ditka, Carl Eller, Bruce Laird, Willie Lanier, George Martin and Ron Mix. The new benefit applies to more than 4,700 players who were vested in the Bert BellPete Rozelle Player Pension Plan prior to 1993.

Here are two examples of how the Legacy Fund will significantly increase monthly pension payments to many retired players:
- There is a 10-year veteran player who retired in the 1960s who has been receiving a 200 monthly pension.The Legacy Fund benefit will increase his monthly check to 1,840.
- Another 10-year veteran who retired in the 1970s will see his monthly check increase from 165 to 1,810.

Nothing we do or say can ever fully express our appreciation for the dedicated players who built the NFL. But I believe that the Legacy Fund is an important step in the right direction. Paired with our efforts to set a higher standard for player health and safety, it represents the shared commitment and responsibility of the National Football League and its players to improve the lives of the men who played the game yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Roger Goodell

Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list

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AP

Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list

Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward injured his foot during the team's offseason program and hasn't seen the field since. Last year's second-round pick had it surgically repaired, and missed training camp rehabiltating. 

He's finally ready to go. He passed a physical on Monday and was removed from the physically unable to perform list. The team had a walk-through on Monday. Ward should be active for Tuesday afternoon's practice, the first back at their Alameda practice facility. 

The Illinois product had 30 tackles in 13 starts last season, playing significant snaps with Mario Edwards Jr. out due to a hip injury. He'll have to compete for a spot in the rotation, even after working with the first unit during the offseason program. Rookie third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes has played well in his absence and could be a three-down player inside. 

Ward was a raw, yet athletic talent capable of playing several techniques across the line. The teams sees great potential, though Ward must continue to develop as a player. 

In addition, the Raiders activated tight end Cooper Helfet off the non-football injury list.

Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not

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AP

Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not

OAKLAND – The Los Angeles Rams assigned two blockers to Khalil Mack, a common practice against the reigning defensive player of the year. Sometimes it works. This time it didn’t.

The Raiders edge rusher split the double team, found his target and pounced. Jared Goff stood zero chance. There was no evading this one. Mack brought last year’s No. 1 overall pick down with authority, claiming a sack that ultimately won’t count in his 2017 total.

The sacks highlighted a dominant performance that also included three quarterback pressures, four total tackles and two for a loss. All that in three series.

Mack’s clearly ready for the regular season. As a whole, the Raiders defense is not.

Saturday’s 24-21 loss to the Rams at Oakland Coliseum proved that point. A below average offense had no trouble scoring on a starting unit that looks a bit lost.

“I thought our defense was poor, in particular early when we started the game,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a postgame press conference. “We’re going to have to get a whole lot better there.”

It has to happen quickly, with the regular season bearing down and the Raiders still trying to correct the same old thing. Making proper reads and improved communication has been an emphasis this offseason as coaches work to get this defense playing better together. It’s still preseason and there’s time to teach and coach and fix problems, but the defense isn't quite right.

“I think we’ll go a long way when we clean some of those things up,” Del Rio said. “The things that we’ve talked about for too long in terms of communication errors, eye violations and things like that that just keep you from ever being really good on defense. Those just have to get cleaned up.”

Issues are present in the front seven but more obvious in the back, where explosive pass plays continue to plague the starting unit. The Raiders allowed two plays over 20 yards on the first series and six plays of 10 or more yards in three series on Saturday, when the full starting unit was active. The Rams scored 14 points – Mack’s sack squashed the lone non-scoring drive – in those three series.

Del Rio was bothered by misreads and “eye violations,” in coverage, which make things easier for an opposing offense.

“When you see them, it’s not a good thing,” Del Rio said. “Yeah, I mean it’s really simple. You don’t have your eyes where they belong and you’re playing man? You’re playing man or even in zone. If you’re not seeing what you need to see, it makes it hard.”

Fixing these problems could improve execution and make life harder on opponents. It needs to happen this summer or the Raiders will have to win a lot of shootouts.

“Obviously, I identify what the problem is,” Del Rio said. “Getting it fixed is the challenge.”