No moves yet, but McClain not at Raiders practice

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No moves yet, but McClain not at Raiders practice

ALAMEDA -- Rolando McClain, who purportedly took to Facebook on Wednesday to announce his dismissal from the Raiders while the team said he was still on the roster, was not at practice Thursday. And yes, the Raiders said he was still on the roster.What's the holdup?Well, with reports surfacing that McClain got into a heated argument with coach Dennis Allen on the practice field Wednesday and thus, getting kicked out of practice, and general manager Reggie McKenzie telling CSNCalifornia.com that McClain had not been cut, perhaps the Raiders are looking into ways to suspend McClain the maximum four games without pay for conduct detrimental.Because if they simply cut him, it would be, in a way, rewarding the middle linebacker, who is still owed a prorated 285,294.12 of his 970,000 base salary for 2012. He would hit the open market, so to speak, and could potentially join a future Raiders opponent and, ahem, share the Raiders playbook with that team.Suspending him and thus, making him inactive for the rest of the season, would keep him in place, so that he could not hit the market. And then, maybe, McKenzie could find a willing trade partner this offseason for a lower round draft pick.Of course, it's all speculation at this point. At least, until Allen speaks to the media just after 1 p.m. PT.McClain, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2010 draft out of Alabama, has struggled mightily in his NFL career, dealing with both injuries and off-the-field issues.He was taken off the field in nickel packages after Week 4, in part, to help his conditioning to play better against the run. But he has had notable misses this season. In his career, McClain has 6 12 sacks, one interception, on forced fumble and no fumble recoveries in 41 games. Not exactly the stats of a cornerstone middle linebacker.And one year ago tomorrow, McClain was arrested for, and later convicted of, charges of third-degree assault, menacing, discharging a handgun in city limits and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to six months in jail and slapped with a 2,000 fine. Since then, the Raiders are 4-12.Earlier this month, after he appealed, the charges were dropped."I'm aware of the bad publicity that I've given the Raiders," McClain said in a statement to reporters back in May. "After talking to Coach (Dennis) Allen, I have the support of the Raiders, my teammates, as well as the coaching staff. I apologize for the bad publicity that's been put out there. But it is a legal process and I can't talk much about it, but I think in due time the Raiders and the Raiders fans that are out there will see it all come to an end. It is what it is; I can't really talk much about it but it will be resolved in the near future."In fact, McClain was given a clean slate by McKenzie."Since we've been here, he's been great," McKenzie told a group of reporters in a roundtable session following the end of mandatory minicamp in June. "I'm not going to hold anything over his head about what he's done in the past. We're only concerned what he does from here on out."Per his rookie contract, McClain is due to make 4.005 million in base salary in 2013 (a salary cap number of 6.675 million), 5.805 million in 2014 (8.475 million cap number) and 2.665 million (5.085 million cap number) in 2015.

McKenzie focuses Raiders' 2017 draft on defense, beefs up secondary

McKenzie focuses Raiders' 2017 draft on defense, beefs up secondary

ALAMEDA – Raiders general manger Reggie McKenzie made nine selections in this weekend’s NFL draft. That was a requirement given the state of his roster, featuring a stacked offense and a Swiss-cheese defense. It has holes.

He spent significant draft capital trying to upgrade the middle of his defense especially, adding three defensive backs, two defensive tackles and a fifth-round pick in Marquel Lee who will compete to start at middle linebacker.

He needs a few immediate impact players on the defensive group headlined by first-round cornerback Gareon Conley and second-round safety Obi Melifonwu.

“How much do I think I can get out of this group? I hope a lot,” McKenzie said Saturday after the NFL draft was complete. “They’re all going to come in and compete. We’re signing guys post-draft also. We’re going to give them all the opportunity to compete with the veterans that we already have on board. We hope that out of it all, the competition part of it, the cream rises and we have a very good 53-man roster.”

McKenzie follows a draft board thoroughly constructed through hundreds of scouting reports and cross checks, and extensive evaluation at combines and pro days. He trusts it. It has certainly treated him well before, which productive hauls in 2014 and 2015 especially.

While he lost out on some likable players taken before his slot, McKenzie believes the Raiders added quality and depth in previously lacking position groups. He stuck with size and athleticism at times over college production and, as always, beefed up both the offensive and defensive lines.

“I think the way it fell, we got a lot of players, at the end of the day, it looks like we needed,” he said. “We felt like we got a lot of good players with high talent levels from top to bottom. Some are going to be more raw than others. We’re going to have to see down the line, more so. I think talking to the board, you said, ‘Job well done.’”

McKenzie also focused on fixing a lackluster pass defense with speed. Conley can be a shutdown cornerback outside or in the slot. Melifonwu is a heavy hitter who can play both safety spots and is expected to contribute as a rookie. The secondary must improve to prevent big plays and help Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin get after the quarterback.

“You have to have speed to play the game the way it’s going now,” McKenzie said. “You have to be able to play in space. You have to be able to match up. We took all of that into consideration when we brought these players in. To the players that you mentioned, Obi and Conley, both of those guys have great range, speed, very athletic. So, they make tackles in space. That’s one of the things that we looked at. Make sure short to medium plays don’t turn into big plays. I think they will help in that scenario.”

Here’s a full list of Raiders draft picks:

Round 1 (No. 24 overall): CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
Round 2 (No. 56 overall): S Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Round 3 (No. 88 overall): DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
Round 4 (No. 129 overall): OT David Sharpe, Florida
Round 5 (No. 168 overall): LB Marquel Lee, Wake Forest
Round 7 (No. 221 overall): S Shalom Luani, Washington State
Round 7 (No. 231 overall): OT Jylan Ware, Alabama State
Round 7 (No. 242 overall): RB Elijah Hood, North Carolina
Round 7 (No. 244 overall): DT Treyvon Hester, Toledo

 

Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have had great success mining gold from undrafted free agency. Jalen Richard and Darius Latham were kings of last year’s crop, which was six strong by season’s end. with Seth Roberts and Denico Autry other examples of undrafted free agents done good in recent years.

Can Raiders scouts find more helpful pieces from those left out of the NFL draft? Time will tell on that one, but finding the right undrafted players is something the team takes seriously. Scouts revel in undrafted players who make it in the league.

“It’s very rewarding,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “If we sign him as a free agent, we may have had him on the board as draftable, but getting guys post draft, that helps you down the road. To maintain a consistent winner, you have to hit on some of those guys. You have to. The way that the contracts are these days, you have to have some of those type players to help you win football games year in and year out.”

The Raiders will search for those players into Saturday evening to fill the 90-man roster. McKenzie secured some of his top targets with four seventh-round picks, though several more have signed with the club. Here’s a list of those who have signed with the team thus far:

-- OL Jordan Simmons, USC: The hulking offensive lineman signed with the Raiders, he announced on social media. Simmons stands 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, and will turn pro after being denied a sixth year of college eligibility. The talented guard had an injury-riddled career.

-- WR Isaac Whitney, USC: Whitney is yet another undrafted Trojan to join the Raiders roster. He announced the signing on social media. He didn’t have many college stats, but is fast with the size the Raiders prefer in outside receivers.

-- WR Keon Hatcher, Arkansas: Hatcher will reportedly join the offseason receiver group in hopes of taking a roster spot. He had 44 catches for 743 yards and eight touchdowns in his final college season. (Houston Chronicle)

-- WR Ishmael Zamora, Baylor: The Bears official website reported that Zamora will sign with the Silver and Black. He had63 catches for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. He was suspended three games for abusing a dog in an incident that was caught on video. 

-- S Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma: The Raiders need safety depth, so it was smart of Thomas to sign in Oakland. He was a three-year starter and a team captain. (Houston Chronicle)

-- S Anthony Cioffi, Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights’ official Twitter account reported a four-year starter in college will give the pros a try in Oakland.

-- DT Jordan Wade, Oklahoma: The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle will join the Raiders. (SoonerScoop.com)

-- TE Pharaoh Brown, Oregon: The Ducks didn’t have a single player drafted, but Brown will join the Silver and Black. The tight end announced a signing on Twitter. He had 33 catches for 426 yards and five touchdown.

Check back for further updates...