Huff: I'm learning CB on the fly


Huff: I'm learning CB on the fly

ATLANTA -- For his debut as an NFL starting cornerback, Michael Huff faced Ben Roethlisberger.A week later, Huff's baptism by fire was performed by Peyton Manning.Now? Here comes Matt Ryan, fresh off throwing the ball 52 times for Atlanta."I didnt get to ease into it," Huff said this week with a laugh. "I didnt get any mediocre, just normal QBs. I get all the great Hall of Famers. But I wouldnt have it any other way. To be the best, youve got to play against the best so (I'm) kind of learning on the fly."Which should be making Huff, whose position switch was necessitated by injuries to starting cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, all the better, right?"Of course, I have no choice," Huff said. "Obviously if I didnt, Id go in the tank mentally and all that stuff, so (I) try to hang in there, make plays when I can."Huff famously said this offseason he was looking forward to playing in a "real" defense, rather then the man-to-man scheme favored by late owner Al Davis. Thing is, with the injuries and so many quick-passing opponents, the Raiders might be best served by dipping into their recent past.REWIND: So this is a real defense?
"Just really tighter coverage," Huff said. "Thats kind of when youve got to play 'man,' like the old days. (Facing) quick passes, got to play more man coverage, get tighter to the receivers, because obviously theres holes in every zone, so I think games like that youve got to play more man. So well see."Yes, the irony was dripping from Huff's goatee.

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.”