NFL capsule: Raiders 9.5-point underdogs vs. Panthers

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NFL capsule: Raiders 9.5-point underdogs vs. Panthers

OAKLAND (4-10) At CAROLINA (5-9)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

OPENING LINE - Panthers by 9 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Oakland 4-10; Carolina 7-7

SERIES RECORD - Series tied 2-2

AP PRO32 RANKING - Raiders No. 30; Panthers No. 21

LAST MEETING - Panthers beat Raiders 17-6, Nov. 9, 2008

LAST WEEK - Raiders beat Chiefs 15-0; Panthers beat Chargers 31-7

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTESCarson Palmer needs 13 yards passing to join Rich Gannon as only Raiders QBs in team history to reach 4,000 in season. ... Palmer 2-0 as starter vs. Carolina. ... RB Darren McFaddenaveraging 89.6 yards rushing per game in past five games vs. NFC foes. He posted third 100-yard rushing game of season last week against Chiefs. ... RB Mike Goodson, who spent three seasons with Panthers, had season-high 89 yards rushing last week. ... Marcel Reece has 478 yards receiving, most among AFC RBs. ... WR Denarius Moore has career-high six TD catches. ... In past three games, rookie WR Rod Streater averaging 21.5 yards per catch on 12 receptions. ... TE Brandon Myers leads AFC TEs with 72 catches. ... LB Phillip Wheeler has team-best 104 tackles and career-high three sacks. ... In past five games, QB Cam Newton has thrown for 10 TDs and run for three TDs with no turnovers. He has not thrown an INT in 152 straight passes, longest such streak in league. ... RB DeAngelo Williams ran for 140 yards and TD in last meeting with Raiders. ... RB Mike Tolbert coming off first two-TD outing for Panthers, scoring on short runs last week against former team (Chargers). ... Panthers WR Steve Smith has 18 catches for 286 yards (95.3 per game) and two TDs in past three games. He has 1,056 yards in 2012, marking seventh 1,000-yard season. ... TE Greg Olsen has four TDs in past six games. He's also played well recently vs. AFC teams with three TDs in past three games. ... DEGreg Hardy has 11 sacks and DE Charles Johnson has 10 1/2 , giving Panthers first sack tandem with double digit totals since 2002. Hardy particularly hot with nine sacks in past eight games. ... Rookie LB Luke Kuechlyleads NFL with 139 tackles.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders used the No. 24 overall pick on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley. This wasn’t a second-round flier or a late-round gamble.

That’s a first-round pick. Rolling the dice this early is ill advised. The Raiders don't believe they did with a selection accompanied by a $5.78 million signing bonus, $10.5 million in total money and a valuable fifth-year option to keep a player in town.

They wouldn’t risk such an asset on someone in serious legal trouble. The Raiders did significant research on Conley, who was accused of rape earlier this week, before making a selection. Results gave the Raiders confidence in their choice. 

Conley has not been arrested or charged over an allegation that stems from an April 9 interaction in a Cleveland hotel.

Conley said the accusations are “completely false,” in a statement released by his agent. He claims to have witnesses and video evidence that he didn’t do anything illegal during an exchange where group sex was suggested. He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police about the allegation and an investigation into it on Monday.

Conley said he took and passed polygraph test prior to the draft, hoping to avoid a free fall into the draft’s later rounds.

The Raiders clearly believe him. They wouldn’t have used such a high pick on the Ohio State cornerback otherwise. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team thoroughly investigated the matter, and felt comfortable using a high pick on someone who sat alone atop their draft board at No. 24 overall.

“We did our due diligence throughout this whole process,” McKenzie said Thursday night, after making the Conley pick. “We trust our research, reports, everything that we have on Mr. Conley. We feel really good about picking Gareon Conley and having him join the Raiders team and having him be a great teammate for our players.”

McKenzie didn’t detail the Raiders research efforts, but didn’t seem concerned about this off-field issue.

“I don’t want to get into all the details,” McKenzie said, “but the bottom line is that we’ve done miles and miles of research to make sure we were totally comfortable with our decision, which we were.”

McKenzie said he spoke with owner Mark Davis about Conley, as he does most first-round options.

The Raiders were impressed by Conley’s workouts and his game tape. The rape accusation obviously gave the NFL pause regarding his draft status, and he slipped somewhat in the first round.

The Raiders are confident following an internal investigation that his legal troubles will pass without incident.

“The research was done,” McKenzie said. "It wasn’t just a gut (feeling). It was based on research, and we’re very confident in all the information that we got.”