McClain on limited role: 'I feel good about it'

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McClain on limited role: 'I feel good about it'

ALAMEDA -- Having played in a season-low 17 snaps against Atlanta last week, Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain played the part of good soldier Thursday and insisted he was fine with the development.Even as it might be seen as a demotion, of sorts."I just didnt play in nickel (defense)," McClain told four reporters at his locker. "They played a lot more nickel. I feel good about it."It was 17 plays and I had, I dont know, a ratio of every one-and-a-half plays I made some type of impact-type play. I think thats pretty danged good. It is what it is. They wanted Miles (Burris) to go in. Thats perfectly fine with me. The situation is what it is."Still, it was obvious McClain was not all that thrilled with the development. He averaged 67.8 snaps in the Raiders' first four games and he no longer wears the mic in his helmet that allows one player to communicate with the sideline. That "honor" now goes to Philip Wheeler.RELATED: McClain thrives in limited role
So was it a tough adjustment to not play as much?"I dont know," McClain said. "It makes my job easy, just focus on base (defense) whenever that is and go from there. You understand the situation, you understand the transition whatever that may be. Youre not naive to the fact of whats going on. But at the same time youre still a team player. If coach thinks thats the best thing for the defense then by all means, do it. I can focus on the base downs and thats what I put my energy toward."In fact, coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, as well as Wheeler, insisted McClain adjusted well. Both mentally and physically. Besides, McClain said he knew the change was coming as it was installed in the bye week."He stepped up and he came and played when he was called to play and he made a couple of great plays in base (4-3 defense)," Wheeler said. "I think he played well and I think hes stepping it up."Many have suggested that McClain had better energy, having played fewer snaps."You cant really tell," McClain said. "You make the plays that are there to make. Every ball doesnt come into your area. Every run doesnt come your way. Youre not able to make every tackle. I dont know how you can answer that question."McClain, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2010 draft as the Butkus Award winner out of Alabama, is making a a base salary of 970,000 this season, though it is scheduled to go up to 4.005 million in 2013, 5.805 million in 2014 and down to 2.665 million in 2015.He has yet to force or recover a fumble in his NFL career.And as such, he has become a target of CSN California Raiders analyst and former Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski, who has called McClain a "puppy hunter" before saying this week he did not deserve to be called by his first name.RELATED: Romo goes after 'Ro' on CSN California
Asked if he knew of Romanowski, McClain said he did not, and said he had not heard of the four-time Super Bowl winner's, ahem, critiques."I dont keep up with what people say outside here," McClain said. "Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Im sure if I knew him, I could say things about him. I dont. I dont righteously care."Care about this, then: with the run-first Jacksonville Jaguars coming to Oakland this weekend, the Raiders figure to employ more base defense, meaning more snaps for McClain.

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

ALAMEDA – The Raiders visited with former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon at the team’s Alameda facility on March 21.

General manager Reggie McKenzie came away impressed by the controversial figure notorious for punching a female in 2014 while at Oklahoma, who has spent significant portions of the pre-NFL draft process trying to show that violent incident caught on video doesn't define him.

“We thought he was a really good kid. He came off very well and explained each and everything, the questions that we had,” McKenzie said Friday in a pre-draft press conference. “He had an explanation and he was up front about everything. The kid really came across as a good kid.”

Mixon is also a premiere talent going pro, but there’s no telling how far his off-field issues will drop him in next week’s NFL draft. There’s debate where he’ll be taken, though many expect Mixon to go in the first two rounds.

He was not invited to the NFL scouting combine due to an incident where he punched victim Amelia Molitor and fractured several bones in her face. Mixon has made several pre-draft visits and meet with dozens at Oklahoma’s pro day trying to explain his actions and why he’s a safe pick in this year’s NFL draft.

Mixon and Molitor released a joint statement on Friday announcing the settlement of a civil suit, with both parties hoping to move on from an ugly incident after which the victim spoke out about being harassed.

“I am happy we were able to bring the lawsuit to an end,” Molitor said in a statement. “Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experiences since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives. From our private discussions I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work towards helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances. I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.”

The running back is obviously a polarizing public figure, and the team that drafts him could take flak for selecting him.

“When stuff like this happens, whether it’s domestic violence or drunken driving, whatever issue that comes up, we’ll be prepared to answer questions,” McKenzie said. “We’ll do our research and if we make a decision, we’re going to prepare to have answers for each and every decision that we make.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis has taken a hardline stance against players involved in domestic violence incidents – this was technically assault of a man on a woman, as Mixon and Molitor were not in a relationship -- and he would have to okay a Mixon selection. The Raiders put considerable thought and research into select players with character concerns.

“What we do, we research everything. We get all of the information. We will not make a decision until all the information is in front of us,” McKenzie said. “With certain issues, like domestic violence, we consider that and we really look into everything that is surrounding that. Every decision will be well-researched so if it’s one way or the other, we are going to make it where that decision is based on all the facts, all the research and on the kid moving forward. But yes, we hold that very dear to what we do, as far as who we bring in, absolutely. We will not tolerate that at all.”