Raiders

The grass is always greener

685118.jpg

The grass is always greener

At his Friday press briefing, Raiders coach Dennis Allen revealed that he had gotten good news on the playing surface at the Oakland Coliseum for Sundays game against Jacksonville.

Last word that I heard is that itll be grass," he said.

As the last NFL team to play in a football-baseball shared stadium, the Raiders always look forward to the day when crossing midfield doesnt mean crossing over that coarse infield.

Obviously, theres a few things that the dirt makes a difference on, Allen said. You dont get the same traction on the dirt as you do on the grass. So, you have to take that into account when youre calling plays offensively and defensively. And like in the Pittsburgh game, we had to take it into account in the kicking game. So, it does make a difference.

WHEELERS ROLLINGAS A DEFENSE CALLER

To counter Atlantas more spread out attack, the Raiders played linebacker Rolando McClain a total of only 17 plays last Sunday. That left it to new Raider Philip Wheeler to call out defensive alignments. It was Wheelers first time as the defense-caller since his college days at Georgia Tech. Coach Allen praised Wheelers work.

"That's obviously a role that is critical to the success of the defense, making sure that communication is what it needs to be," Allen said. "He's done a nice job of that. He's a guy who takes his job seriously and he understands that is now something he has to do."

DEFENSE TRIES SOMETHING NEW

The Raiders turned in a fine defensive performance against the Falcons' potent passing attack last Sunday, holding Matt Ryan to under 250 yards and forcing him to throw three interceptions. The fact the Raiders picked off their first three passes of the season with a safety at cornerback (Michael Huff) and two backups in the starting lineup (Pat Lee and Matt Giordano) makes the effort that much more impressive.

Nickelback Joselio Hanson, who had one of those interceptions, said he and his teammates laid the foundation for their strong performance during the preceding week.

Mentally, we were really focused on communicating during the week during practice," he said. "And we watched a lot of film together, actually more than in the past week. So, it really worked out good for us.

According to Hanson, the players-only film study was the first he and his defensive mates had engaged in all season.

We started something new because whatever we were doing wasnt working," he said.

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.”