McClain sounds off on start of new season

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McClain sounds off on start of new season

ALAMEDA -- While Rolando McClain has been practicing and preparing for the start of his third NFL season with essentially a clean slate from the Raiders' new regime, he has also been doing so under the veil of a potential suspension by the NFL.Not that McClain has been sweating it. Not even with the league saying McClain's situation -- he was convicted of four counts of third-degree assault, menacing, discharging a handgun in city limits and reckless endangerment in May and it is under appeal awaiting a jury trial -- is still under review."No, I dont think Ive ever had a talk of anything about a suspension," McClain said Monday, when asked if it has been difficult to stay focused. "I havent heard it. I guess thats all speculation."So, it has not been hard to stay focused on the field, then?"Its football," he said. "I get paid to play football."McClain, who does not particularly enjoy speaking to the media and shooed away a camera on Monday, was talking to reporters for the second time since reporting to training camp in July.He also broached several other topicsOn if he senses the new defense suits his game better: "I feel good about the defense. Its not just my game or anybodys game in particular. I think it suits everybody on the defense from linebacker to D-line to secondary. Were all able to make plays on the defense. We just have to make them when your number is called."On if the new defense will give the Raiders an edge by being more active: "I dont know. I think the Raiders have been so accustomed to playing straight 'man' with everybody knowing what were going to be in. Now its just being a little diverse, changing things up will benefit us some. At the same time offenses, they still game plan. Eventually theyll see our pressures and theyll pick up on them. Its just about executing the defense, whatever is called. Is it pressure or straight zone. You just have to execute it and play the rules and what happens, happens."On new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver: "Crazy little guy. Hes a fiery coach. We need somebody on this side of the ball thats active. I like him. He brings energy to the defense."On if having a defensive-minded head coach will help: "I dont know. Its good to have a defensive head coach. At the end of the day the players have to go play. You can have the best coach in the world but the players have to go out and make plays. Thats how I feel about it."On if he's learning or growing as a vocal leader: "I wouldnt say learning. I was a pretty good leader at Alabama in college. Its different here. Its just different. Youre not dealing with guys your own age. Youre dealing with grown men. Being a leader is just not about yelling but understanding guys that youre working with. Different people respond to different things in different ways. Its figuring out your teammates and how they respond to things to get them to work. Its still a process."On his two new starting linebackers, Philip Wheeler and rookie Miles Burris: "So far, so good. The real bullets will start flying this Monday. Thats what matters. We dont get paid for preseason or practice. We get paid for what happens in a game. So, well see."On how the defensive underachieving last year affected him: "I dont know. Im not talking about the past. This is a new year. The past is the past for a reason. Its a new year, and we got a chance to go out and be as good as we want to be."On if camp was run this year like they were at Alabama under Nick Saban, in terms of attention to detail: "We have a great head coach, we have a great general manager, and theyre doing things the right way. I dont know if this is coach Sabans way, so to speak. But theyre doing a great job."On how the stem-cell treatments he received in the spring helped him: "I feel fine. The stem cell stuff was just so I wouldnt have these nagging injuries and they dont prolong into the season. Right now, I feel good going into the season. So, well see."

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch is a Raider. He announced that fact on Twitter in his own unique way Wednesday, completing a month-long process from initial interest to final signature.

The Raiders gave him a new contract and traded Seattle for his rights, allowing the Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum to come out of retirement and play for his hometown team.

That’s good news for Raiders fans on several fronts. He fills an immediate need at running back created when Latavius Murray left for Minnesota.

It temporarily tempers, though certainly doesn’t extinguish, rage about the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

[RATTO: Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft]

Owner Mark Davis hopes to move his team when a new stadium is complete in 2020. 

Lynch won't be there. Lynch won’t represent Vegas. He’s an Oakland Raider, playing for the city he champions at every turn. Lynch regularly gives back to this community and might be its most popular native son right now.

Lynch missed playing football, but he wanted to represent his hometown. That was clear in his tweet. He explained it this way: “I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe…town bizness breath on me.”

He’ll celebrate joining the Raiders on Thursday with a block party and autograph signing in Oakland.

Lynch will give East Bay fans something to cheer for that won’t be shipping off to Vegas in a few years.

Nothing can cure the pain of an NFL team leaving Oakland a second time. Wins are ibuprofen, giving short-term relief to an ailing fan local base. He can certainly help the Raiders provide that.

The Silver and Black needed a big, physical primary rusher to pair with elusive, yet smaller backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Lynch is that guy. There’s no question he’s a football fit.

Lynch is a strong interior rusher from several different formations. He could run well behind fullback Jamize Olawale, as a lone shotgun runner or in jumbo packages with quarterback Derek Carr under center and behind a hulking Raiders offensive line.

While new offensive coordinator Todd Downing will add some wrinkles to an existing scheme, the Raiders employ a versatile system that could suit Lynch’s many strengths.

Lynch ranks among the toughest, most aggressive backs of his generation and one of the best resisting tackles.

He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 2.8 yards after contact per rushing attempt in his career, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus.

Lynch led the NFL with 245 broken tackles between 2013 and 2016 – 56 more than the next guy -- and he didn’t even play last season, per PFF.

He led the league with an unreal 3.1 yards after per contact in 2014, his last year fully healthy. He played just eight times in 2015 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery.

Lynch is completely healthy after his year travelling the world, doing charity work and expanding his clothing line, but effectiveness is always questioned of running backs over 30. Lynch turned 31 last week. He heads into his 10th season without having been hit in a while, and many believe he can produce like few others his age have in the NFL.

He’ll take the lion’s share of carries in a three-man rotation with Richard and Washington. He reportedly gets an extra $2 million if he's just the second Raider since 2010 to reach 1,000 yards. There’s motivation to push for that and other incentives in the deal. If Lynch is in vintage Beast Mode and fans are happy, the Raiders will gladly pay the extra freight.

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

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AP

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

Marshawn Lynch is going to upstage the NFL Draft for a few moments by announcing his signing with the Oakland Raiders Thursday.

The problem with this is obvious. He can’t upstage it all day long.

The NFL Draft is one of those events that demeans all who come in contact with it, because it basically extols the three virtues the owners find most inspiring – dishonesty, bullying and treachery. Between everyone lying about everything they do, making players submit to the most revolting reputational indignities, and just good old-fashioned broken promises like, “If you’re there at 119, we’re taking you, oh wait, we suddenly hate you and your skill set,” the draft is largely a festival of misery.

Not universally, mind you. Some players love it, especially the ones who hit the lottery, get picked higher than they thought they would and go to the perfect team for their talents and temperaments. That’s not the usual road, but there you go.

But mostly, nah. And we’re not even getting into the cavalcade of media self-anointeds who think they know what they’re talking about but only serve to remind us that not everybody is a fun companion in a bar.

Now the disclaimer: If you like the NFL Draft, fine. Wallow in every minute of it with our blessing. It'll keep you from all level of other mischief, and it is relatively harmless fun if you can deal with the aesthetic unpleasantries to which we just referred. Just understand that you are spending 356 minutes of party prep for three days of partying and six days of cleanup. It's a hamster wheel of fun, but it is a hamster wheel.

But then there's Marshawn Lynch, who overcame being one of those draft casualties (because Buffalo didn’t work for him, and he didn’t work all that well for Buffalo, either), is coming out of retirement to be traded and then rendered a Raider in the time still allotted for them to reside in Oakland. As a distraction, this will play well enough. It sure beats DeMarcus Cousins being traded by Sacramento during the NBA All-Star Game.

I suppose this is a heart-rending tale of one man’s loyalty to his city (the right place at the right price), although there is the naggingly worrisome component that going back to football won’t be good for his overall health. It is the risk he runs, to be sure, and one can only assume that he has made a clearheaded choice, but this is not a spot that treats its recidivists well.

That’s recidivists, as in “folks who walked away happily, then found out they needed it too much for their own good.”

Frankly, there is no good reason not to want this to turn out well for Lynch (the Raiders can take of themselves with or without him, and within two years will do exactly that), but it is a case of bucking some daunting odds in what is too often a zero-sum game. That’s a level of risk that should make anyone queasy.

But it is what Marshawn Lynch wants, risks and all, and as a grown adult he should get the opportunity few are afforded – to chase and catch his dream until it stops being a dream and becomes a chore.

If it works out for the Raiders as well, fine. Lynch isn’t the one who will put them over the top in a conference dominated by three teams – New England, the Patriots and Bill Belichick – but if he finds the athletic closure he seeks, it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.

Especially if it even momentarily minimizes the rest of the hot rhetorical/gasbaggy mess that is Draft Night. If nothing else, here’s hoping Marshawn Lynch is the star of the night. That’s not the way to bet, of course, but a person can hope.