McKenzie says new coach could be hired 'soon'


McKenzie says new coach could be hired 'soon'

MOBILE, Ala. -- Reggie McKenzie has been a relative man of mystery since his introductory media conference as the Raiders' new general manager on Jan. 10."That's just the way I like it," he said with a huge grin after getting off his connecting flight here Monday morning.
Indeed, McKenzie has made no public comments since that day, when he relieved Hue Jackson of his coaching duties and embarked upon a coaching search that has been linked to the likes of former Miami interim coach Todd Bowles, Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, Green Bay assistant head coachinside linebackers Winston Moss, Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg and Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Tice.But McKenzie was easy to spot on the plane, sporting Raiders gear from head to toe, from his Raiders cap to his Raiders polo shirt to his sweat pants emblazoned with the Raiders logo.The first true Raiders G.M. hired since Al Davis in 1963 has his plate full and he will be joined by eight scouts, he said, here during Senior Bowl week to go through the paces. In fact, McKenzie turned his nose up at a report that said his interview with Moss last week did not go well."That's far from the truth," McKenzie said.Following then, a brief Q&A with McKenzie at the Mobile airport at the dawn of Senior Bowl weekPaul Gutierrez: How would you describe the past two weeks and everything you've been doing since you've become G.M.?
Reggie McKenzie: Lot of work, lot of fun, you know? New job. It's a dream job, so lots of things to do to get started.PG: Have you spent much time in Alameda, or have you been on the road non-stop?
RM: Everything (laughs). I work in the in the office and been away a lot.PG: Thoughts on these playoffs so far, had to tug at your heart at least a little to see the Packers lose right away?
RM: Yeah, yeah, that was disappointing but that's usually what happens -- the hot team usually keeps rolling. That's what happened with the Giants. They're rolling. Same with New England, really.PG: What are your plans as the Raiders General Manager here at the Senior Bowl this week, what do you hope to get accomplished, what are some of the things on your checklist while you're here?
RM: Well, you know, the normal. Meet and greet with the players, see what they look like, kind of get an idea who's what. Coach meetings. It's kind of different, being the G.M. (smiles broadly). And trying to finalize a coach, you know?PG: And that's the next question, obviously: where is that process right now? A lot of names out there and I know you said you wanted your "guy" and that you had a short list but didn't want to say who was on it until you had to
RM: And I'm going to keep it like that (laughs). You'll know soon enough. Soon enough.RELATED: Philbin hire puts pressure on Raiders
PG: Is this something that could happen this week?
RM: Yeah. Yeah. It could happen. It could happen by Saturday.PG: A lot of names out there so far -- Bowles, Moss, Allen, Mornhingweg. But let me throw another name out at youJon Gruden?
RM: (Smiles and pauses for seven seconds) I'm going to just laugh. You can put 'giggle.' (Laughs again).RELATED: Moss interview would not have broken NFL rules
PG: Have you made any hires yet, staff, coaches, scouts?
RM: No. Our purpose first is to evaluate what we have, and I'm not in a hurry to hire and fire, at all.PG: What about the assistant coaches that are currently under contract?
RM: That's going to be up to the new coach.PG: So then the guys that are still under contract technically are still working until the new coach comes in?
RM: Yeah.PG: So then they're kind of in, I don't know if limbo is the right word?
RM: Yeah, well, you know, but they're in kind of an interview mode, I would say.PG: And the coaches no longer under contract?
RM: They're free to interview. The (new) coach could interview those guys, too. We're keeping all the doors open for the new coach.

As legal process unfolds, Raiders CB Sean Smith continues to battle for playing time

As legal process unfolds, Raiders CB Sean Smith continues to battle for playing time

OAKLAND – Raiders cornerback Sean Smith had a rough week. He’s losing grip on a starting spot, but that concern pales in comparison to mounting legal issues that put him in a Los Angeles County jail Thursday morning.

He was formally charged with felony assault and battery for beating his sister’s boyfriend on July 4 in his hometown of Pasadena, surrendered to authorities and was released on an $80,000 bond.

He was back in the East Bay to play Saturday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Rams, where he was a third cornerback entering in sub packages. Smith had two tackles and a nice pass defensed in the end zone.

Smith’s legal issues shouldn’t stop him from playing and practicing with the team in the near future. He has an arraignment sent for Sept. 29, where will plead not guilty and fight the charges levied against him.

“We’ll let him battle what issues he has legally,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I don’t have much to add to it. You hear the story of him defending his sister, and things occurred that have been taken issue with, so he's having to defend himself right now.”

An NFL spokesman said the league is looking into the matter, but didn’t have further comment at this time. It’s possible the league could place Smith on the commissioner’s exemption list, an option for players charged with violent offenses. He would essentially go on paid leave if that were the case. Smith will make $9.5 million in guaranteed money this season.

Smith will battle TJ Carrie and first-round cornerback Gareon Conley – he remains on the PUP list with a shin injury – for playing time in the Raiders defense. He practiced better last week, but must show consistency to get back in the team’s good graces.

Instant Analysis: Late TD burns Raiders in preseason loss to Rams


Instant Analysis: Late TD burns Raiders in preseason loss to Rams


OAKLAND – The Raiders sat nine offensive starters in last week’s exhibition opener. That front line assembled for the first time in game Saturday against the Rams and quickly found midseason form.

Quarterback Derek Carr was largely on point in a 21-17 victory to Los Angeles at Oakland Coliseum. Amari Cooper showed great hops. Michael Crabtree juked a cornerback out of his shoes and scored a touchdown. Jared Cook proved a difficult cover in the middle of the field. And Marshawn was predictably Marshawn, running like a battering ram on speed skates.

The defense, by contrast, needs some serious work.

Except for Khalil Mack. That’s dude’s all right. He had a sack, three quarterback pressures, four tackles, with two for a loss, in three series.

The rest of his unit was off kilter against L.A. Communication still needs work on the back end. Questions remain at inside linebacker and cornerback.

Coaches have three weeks to iron things out, and get that unit running right. Here are a few takeaways from Saturday’s exhibition.

Marshawn meets hometown crowd: Oakland native Marshawn Lynch played in his hometown for the first time in silver and black. He didn’t play much, removing his pads after just one series.

His cameo was quick and productive, with two carries for 10 yards. His trademark burst and balance was on display, as it was throughout camp. Lynch won’t need much work this preseason, but should get the lion’s share of carries when games count.

He looks as agile as ever, without the rust expected following a year away from football.

Smith suits up:Raiders cornerback Sean Smith played in sub packages with the starting unit, playing outside in the nickel. He had a relatively solid game despite mounting legal issues. He was charged with felony assault and battery on Thursday, when he turned himself in to Pasadena police and was released after posting an $80,000 bond.

Smith had two tackles and a nice pass defensed covering Sammy Watkins on a deep route.

Jenkins enters the fray: The Raiders are still searching for someone to pair with Cory James on the inside. Marquel Lee has worked with the first unit since training camp began in the base defense. He struggled some early, and gave way to veteran Jelani Jenkins in the second series.
That job remains open. Lee is a favorite, though Jenkins will challenge and prospect of signing someone off the street remains.

Backup quarterbacks still battling

EJ Manuel entered Saturday’s game with a clear lead on the backup quarterback position battle. The veteran received most every second-unit rep in camp, started last week’s game at Arizona and was first off the bench on Saturday.

He wasn’t great against the Rams, completing 3-of-9 passes for 16 yards.

That may have cracked the door for second-year pro Connor Cook. The Michigan State alum has struggled some in practice, but showed well working with the third unit on Saturday. He was with 7-of-10 passing for 70 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown strike to Johnny Holton.