Knapp sees McFadden as a goal-line running back


Knapp sees McFadden as a goal-line running back

NAPA -- The situation might have called for the prototypical big back -- ball on the Arizona 1-yard line.But twice Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp called for Darren McFadden to pound the ball up the middle. And twice McFadden was stopped for no gain. No matter to Knapp."Ive always had a belief that the No. 1 back can still be the goal-line back, doesnt have to necessarily be a bigger, stronger guy," said Knapp, speaking to reporters for the first time in training camp. "My experience tells me so, last couple years it was Arian Foster (who) had a lot of success. Warrick Dunn was one the best inside-tackle runners Ive ever been around as a coach. Its not just the back that requires the execution of the play. So it didnt bother me to have him in there, we just didnt get it executed across the board."Got it? And yes, Knapp's play-calling against Dallas and Arizona these first two exhibition games should look little like what he'll do come the regular season. And no, the Raiders have not worried about overworking McFadden, who has been felled by injury in each of his first four seasons in the NFL and coming off a season-ending Lisfranc sprain to his right foot."We knew last week wed have limited time to play with him," Knapp said. "Hes only going to play a limited amount of time so I wanted to make sure he got some touches so hes ready for the season. Its a fine line, how much do you play him, how many touches does he get."And when we got down in that (goal-line) situationhe wants to be a football player, too. He wants to score touchdowns and theres a chance to score touchdowns there. So to me it was just the ebb and flow of the game, I never second-guessed who would play in that position. Im fine with that in training camp as we assess the preseason and evaluate our personnel and our scheme, then well make a decision on the regular season to change it up. But right now I have no regrets about doing that."Knapp was the Raiders' offensive coordinator in McFadden's rookie season of 2008. So how different is McFadden five years later?"His ability to see the hole is exciting," Knapp said. "Ive seen the growth in his vision in the run game. Where he identifies, 'OK, heres my chance to do the one-cut down hill, or one-cut bounce move.'"That parts been exciting as well as his blitz pickups. Hes got a better understanding of seeing the safety rotation and identifying blitzes and thats made him a more well-rounded running back so we can play him on all downs."Yes, even on the goal line.

Tom Hanks rants about Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas

Tom Hanks rants about Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas

Tom Hanks went to Skyline High School in Oakland.

He is not happy that the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.

“When the Raiders leave, I am going on an NFL moratorium for two years," Hanks said on Monday night, according to Peter Hartlaub of The San Franicsco Chronicle. "You cannot take the Silver and Black, put them in an air-conditioned dome in the desert, make them play on artificial turf within a stone’s throw of the fountains of Caesar’s Palace, and call them the Raiders.

“Here’s the thing I don’t quite understand. And I’m not trying to -- this isn’t one of the causes I’m fighting for. I’m just thinking as a fan: It’s a billion-dollar industry, they have billion-dollar TV contracts. All the owners are billionaires. And yet when they want to build a stadium they’re going to use for 10 weeks out of the year, they expect the city taxpayers to buy the building.

“The only good thing that is going to come out of the Oakland Raiders leaving -- and there is nothing good that will come out of that, by the way -- is that the Oakland A’s might get their own ballpark.

“I must say I hate that frigging D.H. rule. I always have, ever since that bastard Charlie Finley installed it. We’re not proud of that over on the other side of the East Bay.”

The Raiders' new stadium in Las Vegas is scheduled to open in 2020.

Defense on the menu as Raiders enter 2017 NFL Draft

Defense on the menu as Raiders enter 2017 NFL Draft

The Raiders offense is stacked. It was before this offseason, when tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse entered the mix.

Then Marshawn Lynch signed up on Wednesday and filled the last immediate offensive need.

The Raiders have talent and depth at most every offensive position, contrasting the defensive depth chart.

The Raiders need help there, possibly with a few instant impact players taken in this weekend’s NFL draft. The first round starts Thursday evening, with the next two rounds Friday afternoon and the remainder of this draft starting Saturday morning.

Despite clear needs, Reggie McKenzie says position is secondary to his ranking system.

“We’re going to take the best player,” McKenzie said in his pre-draft press conference. “There are some good defensive players in this draft, but we’re going to follow our board like always.”

The Raiders general manager says that could lead to an unexpected draft haul. At least he tried.

“Don’t be surprised if I draft all offensive players,” McKenzie said, unable to keep a straight face. “How about that?”

McKenzie knows his roster is strong, with clearly identifiable needs on defense. The Raiders need a starting inside linebacker. They need a slot cornerback. They need help rushing on the defensive interior. They need safety help.

McKenzie tried to fix some of those areas in free agency, but could find a match beyond weakside linebacker Jelani Jenkins. The draft offers the best opportunity to upgrade on defense, and volume could help fix that unit.

“Hopefully we can get a couple of defensive players that can help our team,” McKenzie said. “But, like we both said, we just want to help this football team, regardless of who comes at a spot whether it’s first or seventh round. And hopefully we get some good players after the draft. That’s the plan, we just want to keep stocking and let the chips fall.”

This draft is critical as the Raiders enter a new phase. He deconstructed the roster and reconstructed it while getting right with the salary cap. Now they need to extend members of the awesome 2014 draft class, including quarterback Derek Carr, guard Gabe Jackson and edge rusher Khalil Mack. Drafted quality must continue to cycle through to keep the team strong and the team’s competitive window open.

McKenzie must keep an eye on the horizon, though a few more quality players could push his unit into serious contention for a conference title.

“What we want as a team moving forward, we just want more impact players,” McKenzie said. “You can never have enough playmakers on both sides of the ball and depth on both sides. That’s when you come in and try to get you the best player who can do those things. We’re not just going to plug holes if that’s what you’re asking. We’re going to get some good football players regardless of who we have here.”