ATLANTA -- The syllabus for Coaching 101 demanded it, and Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen followed suit.Ice the kicker.Or, call a timeout just before the opposing kicker attempts a game-winning field goal to make him, you know, think about it.Thing was, Atlanta's Matt Bryant did not flinch. Not even after hooking his first attempt wide left. Not when the kick did not matter, and he know it before swinging his powerful right leg in the controlled environment of the Georgia Dome.Bryant was true when it counted, his 55-yarder splitting the uprights with yards to spare with one second remaining on the clock, giving the Falcons a 23-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday."Yeah, in my opinion there are more good things that can come out of (an opponent) calling a timeout," Bryant said. "I mean, if you make the kick, you just conjure up that feeling of repeating that. If you miss it, then you know how to make the adjustments, and that's good for everybody."Whether it be the snap, the hold or the kick, whatever it may be, it gives everybody a chance to either correct or reproduce the whole thing."Bryant's boot gave Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan his 19th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or later.But it would not have been possible without Bryant taking advantage of the Raiders trying to "ice" the kicker."I've said it many times, he's got ice water in his veins," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said of Bryant. "We have an agreement that if they're going to ice you, we're going to kick the ball to get practice (kick). He did it even though the play was blown dead real early."He got a shot at it and made a great adjustment, and he just knows how to kick those game-winners."
Taiwan Jones was one of the longest tenured Raiders entering 2017, one of the few acquired by late owner Al Davis.
The Raiders released Jones on Thursday morning, a league source said, concluding his six-year run with the club.
The running back turned defensive back turned running back (again) carved a niche on special teams as a gunner and quality cover man.
He wasn’t an offensive asset, pushing him firmly on the roster bubble. It burst just before camp.
The San Francisco native and Antioch Deer Valley High alum was a popular locker room presence during his time in Oakland. His speed was always attractive, but durability and ball security issues dectracted from more positive traits.
Jones had just five offensive touches last season and just eight kickoff returns. Cordarrelle Patterson is an All-Pro returner and an excellent gunner. Johnny Holton also serves as a speedy cover man on special teams.
Releasing Jones now gives him a full preseason to latch on with another team.
Only long snapper Jon Condo and kicker Sebastian Janikowksi remain on the roster from the Al Davis era.
The Raiders now sit one player below the 90-man roster limit, a vacancy that should be filled soon.
ESPN first reported the news.
Obi Melifonwu entered Wednesday as the only second-round draft pick without a signed rookie contract. Later that afternoon, he joined the group.
The safety from UConn put pen to paper on a four-year deal at the Napa Valley Marriott, allowing him to join pre-training camp activities. Veterans report on Friday and camp’s first full-squad practice starts Saturday morning.
The pact took longer than the Raiders or Melifonwu had hoped. There's little room for fiscal movement in the rookie wage scale, but some contract language had to be hashed out before shaking hands.
Melifonwu is slotted to make $4,509,376 over the life of the contract, with a $1,419,544 signing bonus and a $819,886 base salary in 2017, per overthecap.com.
The Raiders have one draft pick left unsigned. First-round cornerback Gareon Conley hasn’t agreed on a deal, though it’s still likely that happens before the first full practice.
The Ohio State alum’s situation could be complicated by an ongoing investigation into a sexual assault allegation stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said in a Tuesday radio interview he expected unsigned rookie contract issues to be resolved soon.