Gutierrez's Instant Replay: Cowboys 3, Raiders 0


Gutierrez's Instant Replay: Cowboys 3, Raiders 0


It was an inauspicious debut for the Raiders' new era, as Oakland was shut out at home in the preseason for only the second time in franchise history. Yes, it's only an exhibition game, but you just know coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie wanted to have a better showing. And really, if the starters played longer, the offense probably would have scored. It was moving the ball.

And the Raiders' first-team defense seemed to get the better of the Cowboys' first-team offense. Alas, it was not meant to be in a game decided mostly by guys who will not be on either teams' final 53-man roster.Run DMC alms this way: The last time we saw Darren McFadden on the field, he was limping off with a Lisfranc sprain to his right foot in Week 7 last season. He put to rest any questions about his health now, though, with the power and speed his displayed in his lone series. McFadden carried the ball twice, for 20 yards, and caught a pass for 18 yards. Getting him out of the game after one series was the smart move.About that new-look defense: The Raiders limited the Cowboys to four first downs and 81 net yards in the first half. The first-team defense got the better of the Cowboys' first-stringers. On consecutive plays, Lamarr Houston nearly had Tony Romo, only to have him slip out of his grasp, before Tommy Kelly wrapped up Romo for a 12-yard sack at the Dallas 6-yard line.Mitchell plays center field: Safety Mike Mitchell has been healthy all camp for the first time since his rookie season. And he's been just as intense. This week in practice, he had an interception and took it to the house as he zigged and zagged. Monday, he played center field and Kyle Orton's pass came right at him. No cutting back this time, Mitchell returned the pick 19 yards.How does Hot Rod suit you?: Rod Streater, the undrafted free agent rookie from that college football powerhouse Temple, was Matt Leinart's BFF. Streater was targeted seven times and caught six passes for 66 yards. He has seemingly jumped in front of fellow rookie and fifth-round compensatory draft pick Juron Criner on the receiving depth chart.Ford flops: Too harsh? Yeah, it's only a preseason game, but Jacoby Ford did not acquit himself in his first game sans Jason Campbell and Louis Murphy on the Raiders' roster. Ford was crushed on the opening kickoff, did not sell out at all on Carson Palmer's bomb into double-coverage and jogged back to cover the interception, then saw two Palmer passes slip through his hands. Meh, it was just an exhibition game, right? Right?Hooking and shanking: Sebastian Janikowski's 47-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter was blocked and Eddy Carmona, who hit the left upright four times in practice last week, hooked his 36-yarder wide right in the fourth quarter. Rookie Marquette King, meanwhile, had punts of 52, 34, 36, 60, and, gulp, 19 yards through three quarters.Terrelle Time?: It doesn't have the same ring as Tebow Time, does it? But Terrelle Pryor's scramble for nine yards and a first down in the fourth quarter woke the crowd up, especially with his jukes along the way. His accuracy is a constant work in progress. But finally, fans saw how raw he truly is, and in a game situation. He played the entire second half and finished with 50 yards through the air on eight of 15 passing and an interception, and 21 yards rushing on six attempts.

Looking for better interior pass rush, Del Rio gives vote of confidence


Looking for better interior pass rush, Del Rio gives vote of confidence

ALAMEDA – A large chip rests on Jihad Ward’s shoulder. That’s common for athletes, always on the hunt for motivation. Critics, detractors, those of little faith are easy and obvious targets.

The Raiders defensive lineman had options during a rookie season where he was thrust into full-time duty. Mario Edwards Jr. got hurt and never truly recovered, leaving last year’s second-round pick to play significant snaps. The heavy workload came earlier than the Raiders had planned, before Ward was ready. When Edwards Jr. returned late in the year, Ward was essentially shut down.

The Illinois product took some flak for it. He listened, absorbed and was fueled. He’s comfortable with that process, and the motivation that comes with it.

“They’re just trying to hate (on) people trying to do what they have to do,” Ward said Tuesday. “Keep on pushing. That’s all. …There will be critics everywhere.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio openly criticized Ward’s position group. He said after last season that the Raiders had to upgrade their inside pass rush, that they need more quarterback pressure from guys not named Mack or Irvin. He was right. The Raiders had a league-low 25 sacks despite 18 coming from their star edge rushers.

Edwards Jr. got healthy and Eddie Vanderdoes came in the NFL draft’s third-round, adding power and speed to that group. Ward, Denico Autry, Treyvon Hester, Justin Ellis and Darius Latham all have a part to play inside, and Del Rio believes that unit will be more impactful this season.

“It definitely is a much deeper group than we’ve had. More athletic group than we’ve had,” Del Rio said. “I’m very encouraged by the early signs that I’ve seen in pads, throughout camps against a very good offensive line that we have. Another great test this week to evaluate these guys because we’re playing one of the better lines in the league.”

The Raiders play Dallas on Saturday at AT&T Stadium, where starters will play extensive snaps against the vaunted Cowboys offensive line.

“It’s a great opportunity to evaluate, develop, continue to push, but we feel like we’ve strengthened ourselves there,” Del Rio said. “It’s probably the strength of the defense right now.”

That’s a vote of confidence for a group that should be more effective if healthy. Edwards Jr. and Vanderdoes should front the effort, though Ward could be an impact player if he builds off a strong offseason program. Del Rio says Ward was “more decisive,” this spring, a product of being comfortable playing in this system and this league.

Then Ward suffered a setback. He felt a tweak in his foot during OTAs, one that proved serious and required surgery to repair. He spent training camp on the PUP list, and was finally cleared to practice on Monday. Ward doesn’t think the layoff killed offseason momentum. The comfort and confidence hasn’t left.

“Your first year coming here, you’re thinking too much,” Ward said. “Now it’s like ‘okay, I get it now.’ That’s how it is for all rookies. They just have to learn what’s going on, so I feel it. Everything is easier now, it’s my second years now. It’s regular.”

Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home


Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home

ALAMEDA – Raiders left tackle Donald Penn missed training camp holding out for a new, more lucrative contract. He missed Tuesday’s practice, the first back at the team’s training facility.

His protest began 26 days ago. The regular season is 19 days away.

Penn has worked out with top trainers and private offensive line coaches while away from the team, but still needs time to get back in the flow.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that Penn is expected back this week. He wasn’t there for the first of three sessions when the Raiders will focus on the third preseason game at Dallas. It’s the last meaningful exhibition, with players down on the depth chart expected to populate the preseason finale versus Seattle.

Penn doesn’t necessarily need to play in a preseason game to prep for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Tennessee, but it could help.

Head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t address Penn’s status, or whether there’s a deadline for him to report and be ready for the regular season.

The Raiders have managed with Marshall Newhouse on the left and Vadal Alexander on the right. The pair has fared well, though the line will be significantly stronger with Penn back and a Newhouse/Alexander competition on the right.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie made it clear weeks ago that the Raiders wouldn’t talk contract until a player reports. Penn preferred a contract get done before showing up. Weeks were lost to that impasse.

Quarterback Derek Carr hopes it will end soon, and that Penn will come back to the team.

“It would obviously mean a lot, if that’s what he chooses to do,” Carr said. “He’s our teammate. We want all our teammates here. We want to work hard together. We want to be together and joke together. It’s more than just football. We want to be there in his life, with him.

"It would mean a lot. Obviously, I would love it.”