Raiders

Instant Replay: Panthers 17, Raiders 6

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Instant Replay: Panthers 17, Raiders 6

BOX SCORE

CHARLOTTE -- The Raiders defense, for all intents and purposes showed up for the second game in a row.

The offense? Not so much. And really, it was playing down a man when quarterback Carson Palmer was knocked out of the game at about the 2-minute mark of the first quarter on a spear by Greg Hardy. Matt Leinart replaced Palmer, who was diagnosed with a rib injury, and the offense sputtered, with random signs of life.

But Oakland's red-zone issues continued.

Carolina 17, Raiders 6.

The Raiders last scored a touchdown on Dec. 6, with 5:36 to play against Denver.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton passed for 170 yards, on 18-of-29 passing, with a touchdown and an interception (Raiders rookie linebacker Miles Burris' first of his career), while rushing for 60 yards on 12 carries.

East Coast woes continue: The Raiders' losing streak in games played in the Eastern Time Zone moved to 10 straight. In the skid, the Raiders have been outscored by a combined 332-16, losing by an average score of 33-16. And since Dec. 15, 2002, when Oakland lost in Miami, 23-17, the Raiders are now just 5-27 in games played in the Eastern Time Zone.

Third-and-one mishaps: It would seem to be the easiest of play calls, but for the Raiders, it spelled disaster. The first three times the Raiders faced a third-and-one, Darren McFadden lost five yards on a pitch, Carson Palmer was obliterated by Greg Hardy and a pass from Leinart to Marcel Reece lost two yards.

Missed calls: A blatant hold on Lamarr Houston allowed Cam Netwon to throw a 23-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to Steve Smith. Then Newton kicking Tommy Kelly before Kelly retaliated and was thusly flagged was missed. And a personal foul on Miles Burris for a helmet-to-helmet hit on that same drive kept things alive for the Panthers.

"Icon" and "Entertainer" updates: Newton's kick of Kelly was at least the third time he took exception to a defensive player taking him down. Earlier, he had thrown quick jab-like punches at Miles Burris and MIke MItchell on separate plays. Later, in the fourth quarter, Newton was flagged when he ran into the referee as he attempted to taunt Mitchell.

Injuries…again: Besides Palmer, two other Raiders were knocked out of the game due to injury. Strong safety Tyvon Branch, who is dealing with an ankle injury, came out with a foot issue. And cornerback Phillip Adams, who has been concussed in two of the past three games, suffered a groin injury in the first half.

TP Time: Terrelle Pryor came on the field for three plays -- throwing a pass to Palmer and then taking the ensuing pass from Palmer for a 22-yard gain; running for a two-yard pickup inside the Panthers' 10-yard line; and hitting Marcel Reece for a five-yard pickup in the red zone.

Up next: The Raiders (4-11) end the season against the same team against whom they opened -- the San Diego Chargers (5-9). In the season opener, the Chargers beat the Raiders, 22-14, at the Coliseum, in a game in which the Raiders infamously lost their long-snapper Jon Condo to a concussion.

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 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.”