McClain's arrest -- Raiders' depth chart

601474.jpg

McClain's arrest -- Raiders' depth chart

First things first -- it is not clear whether Rolando McClain will face a suspension for his role in a shooting incident that resulted in him being arrested and charged with third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm in city limits.But if precedent serves -- think the New York Giants suspending Plaxico Burress for four games -- and if the disturbing police report is correct that Wednesday McClain fired a shot past the ear of a beaten and prone man in Decatur, Ala., the Raiders will slap their middle linebacker with a suspension. It could be a season-turner for a team which has seemingly turned a corner in sitting in first place in the AFC West at 7-4.RELATED: McClain arrested for firing gun, assault, two other chargesBecause while McClain has been anything but the defensive game-changer the Raiders envisioned when they drafted him with the No. 8 overall pick in 2010, it's painfully obvious when he's not on the field. The performance gap has been evident on several occasions this season as he's battled a badly sprained left ankle that he re-tweaked Sunday against Chicago.McClain, who has 57 tackles, second-most on the team, and two sacks, initially injured himself against Houston on Oct. 9 and, while he was active against Denver on Nov. 6, he did not play. The Broncos gouged the Raiders' invisible run defense for 299 rushing yards, 230 in the second half, as Oakland fell to Tim Tebow and Co.A year ago, the former Alabama star sat out the Raiders' key December game at Jacksonville with a sore foot -- sources said he refused to take a pain-killing shot to play -- and his absence was greatly felt. The Jaguars ran for 182 second-half yards and scored 31 second-half points. The Raiders lost.Technically, the Raiders' backup middle linebacker is Darryl Blackstock, the UFL refugee who was playfully made fun of in the locker room by a teammate earlier this season for having "big eyes" when he had to play in place of the former Butkus Award winner.Realistically, the Raiders might have to move Aaron Curry from the weak side into the middle, which might actually weaken both positions against Miami this weekend, not to mention what Oakland would then have to do sans a suspended McClain.Anyone have Lofa Tatupu's phone number?McClain, though, may have already played his last down as a member of the Raiders, if not for the season, then for his career.Burress was suspended for the rest of the 2008 season by the Giants after he accidentally shot himself in the thigh at a Manhattan night club. New York's stringent gun laws had him serving nearly two years in prison and the NFL suspended him the length of his prison sentence. He never suited up for the Giants again.
Then, there's the case of Aqib Talib, the Tampa Bay cornerback who faced no suspension for his involvement in a Texas shooting this past March.Of course, in a court of law, McClain is innocent until proven guilty. But the NFL has its own set of rules and neither the league nor McClain's agent have responded to inquiries by CSN Bay Area. The Raiders meanwhile, said they would have no comment on Thursday regarding the arrest.Earlier, though, coach Hue Jackson said he had spoken with McClain over the telephone."No question any time any of our players, I mean, I'm going to be concerned," Jackson said. "But again, until I have had an opportunity to really sit down and truly understand it all, obviously there's two sides to every story, and then I think you kind of work from there. I think the organization, myself, we've commented on it, as far as we can at this point, and we're going to leave it at that."I have had communication with the player. I feel comfortable where we are, and we'll just go from there."About an hour later, the 22-year-old was arrested.Perhaps most troubling for the Raiders, though, is that this is the second time since January McClain has been involved in a shooting in his hometown. In January, someone fired at McClain's Chevy Tahoe as he was driving and while no one was injured then, a slug was pulled from the SUV's rear hatch.While there's no link between video games and gun crime, McClain is an avid fan of the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3." In an interview published this week on ESPN.com he said "I've been addicted to "Call of Duty" since the first time I played it. ... I'm always on the move looking for someone to shoot." Whatever the case, Jackson's mantra of "Next Man Up" in case of injury may have to be imparted this weekend. And maybe, for the rest of a potential playoff season that could be turned on its head by McClain's alleged gun play actions.

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

Cooper: 'I can go nowhere but up,' wants improved play down the stretch

The Raiders searched in vain for dynamic receiving production before Amari Cooper came along. Thousand-yard seasons proved elusive even in the golden age of passing stats, with a full decade’s drought after Randy Moss posted a four-digit total in 2005.

Cooper’s made that old hat.

The 2015 first-round pick has two 1,000-yard campaigns in as many seasons. Ditto for Pro Bowl honors. Those feats have become increasingly common, Cooper’s already in rarified air.

Cooper’s career is off to a solid start, but the No. 4 overall pick two years ago believes he can be much better. That especially true later in the season, where production has waned in his first two seasons.

He has nine 100-yard performances in two seasons, with just two coming after week 8. He noticeably struggled with injury at the end of 2015, but wouldn’t make excuses for a production drop last season.

Cooper wants to finish as strong as he starts, and has full confidence that will happen this season.

“Of course it’s been on my mind, but it’s a good thing to me because I feel like I can go nowhere but up,” Cooper said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “I know that I can have a lot more production than I’ve had in the past two seasons, so we’ll just see.”

Cooper has sought counsel from other NFL greats – Calvin Johnson has been in Alamenda this week, offering sage advice – and Raiders coaches have identified ways where he can be even more dynamic working with quarterback Derek Carr.

“Certainly there are things that we think we can do to help,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Also, for him, I think he has a much greater understanding. I thought last year was a step forward. I know he wants to continue to push. It’s great when you have a young, talented player that’s really eager to be special, wants to make a mark in this league. The way he’s working at it right now is outstanding. That’s all we want of our guys.

Cooper is a versatile presence, able to do most everything well. His route running was luaded out of college, though he can be a good deep-ball receiver and can create big plays after the catch. Cooper knows his hands much be more consistent, but the Raiders want to exract more from his natural talents.

“There are a lot of different facets to him,” Del Rio said. “Where his speed is really one of his greatest strengths, obviously, his route running ability was pretty doggone polished when he got here, but even that can continue to improve and the timing with Derek. We think he’ll continue to ascend.”

That’s the goal heading into his third NFL season now armed with greater knowledge of how he’s being covered and muscle memory of what went wrong at times later in the year.

Cooper believes detail work will help him this fall and winter, and that starts in earnest during the offseason program.

“It’s easy to forget the small things like high-pointing the ball, looking the ball all the way through and not trying to run before you actually catch the ball,” Cooper said. “Overall, I’m just working hard in the offseason so that you can come back and you can be dominant.

“I want to be the best Amari Cooper that I could possibly be. I want to be better than every other year that I’ve played football, so that’s how I am looking at this year.”

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Editor's Note: The above video is from Dec. 24, 2016.

Donald Penn was nothing short of awesome last season. The veteran Raiders left tackle proved impenetrable, allowing just one sack and 27 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps.

He ranked high among the NFL’s best left tackles at 33, engulfed a career renaissance that began after joining the Raiders three years ago. Penn made the Pro Bowl. He was a vital piece of a 12-4 team that helped the Raiders reach the playoffs.

He hasn’t reveled much in that. Penn’s driven by opportunities missed, and one mishap that haunts him still.

Penn locked horns with Indianapolis linebacker Trent Cole off the left edge during a Week 16 contest against the Colts, and slipped as he was tracking his man away from the pocket. Penn’s feet got tangled and the big man fell. Cole remained upright, darted in and sacked quarterback Derek Carr.

It was Penn’s only sack allowed all season. And Carr got hurt. He suffered a broken fibula that ended his season and realistic hopes of a Raiders playoff run.

Nearly five months have passed since that fluke play. Carr is healthy and a full participant in the Raiders offseason program. The Raiders offensive line might be better after allowing a league-low 18 sacks last season.

There’s plenty to be excited about as the Raiders enter OTAs and a mandatory minicamp. Penn can’t help but lament that isolated incident when Carr went down.

“You have to be an athlete. You try not to think about it too much,” Penn said Tuesday. “You wish you could go back and get it back. I’ve taken that same set I don’t know how many times, on the same field and never just slipped out of nowhere. I’m not going to put it on myself. I should have been able to do something better. You know me, I’m never going to blame the slip for happening. I should have blocked him and held on to him and taken him down with me. That play sticks with me.”

That isn’t all bad. It fuels Penn to continue growing as a player, even at 34 coming off an excellent Pro Bowl season.

“I’m going to try to do what I can do better and make sure it never happens again,” Penn said. “I’ve never gotten a quarterback hurt in my life since I’ve been playing. That was a first. That’s something I take pride in. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Penn wants a different ending to this season. Last year the Raiders lost the AFC West crown and a shot to win the team’s first playoff game. Penn suffered a knee injury the following week that kept him from playing in the postseason.

The goal is to realize vast potential now that the Raiders offense is back healthy again.

“I’m all about karma and stuff like that,” Penn said. “Maybe (God is) trying to tell us that this is our year. We have to put in the work to get it. I know D.C. is happy, I’m dang sure happy to get him back. We’re growing and masterminding this offense trying to make it as explosive as possible.”