Palmer had peaks, and valleys

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Palmer had peaks, and valleys

OAKLAND -- Carson Palmer appeared to need some oil in his joints in the beginning.He found a groove in the middle.He looked out of sorts in the end.The new Raiders quarterback had many peaks -- Palmer threw three touchdown passes with a deft touch not seen in these parts in many years -- and just as many valleys -- he was also picked off three times, and could have been intercepted at least twice more.

So Palmer's self-evaluation after the Raiders were kicked in the teeth by the Denver Broncos, 38-24, on Sunday?"There's still some things I'm a little bit off on, Im a little bit rusty on," Palmer admitted. "Still some things I'm not just quite comfortable with. But that's what I expected. I mean, I didn't expect to come in this week and just go 100 percent, ready to rock n roll with everything."It's kind of par for the course with where I am in this offense and in this system. But at the end of the day you either win or you lose, and you play well enough to put your team in position to win or you don't, and I didn't."Palmer had a 79.7 passer rating after throwing for 332 yards in completing 19 of 35 passes.He became only the fourth quarterback in franchise history to throw at least three touchdowns in his first start with the Raiders, joining George Blanda, who threw four TDs in 1968 at Denver, Todd Marinovich, who had three in Los Angeles against Kansas City in 1991, and Jeff George, who did it in 1997 at Tennessee. Only Blanda won his game.Then, the valley. Palmer joined Daryle Lamonica (1967 and 1969), Ken Stabler (1975 and 1978), Dan Pastorini (1980), Marc Wilson (1981), Jay Schroeder (1988) and Kerry Collins (2004) as the only Raiders QBs with at least three interceptions in consecutive games."Carson knows how to throw the ball," said coach Hue Jackson. "But like I said, I'm going to be very hard on him because I know what's in there. I know what kind of player he is. What we have to do is make sure we don't give it to the other team."Palmer seemed oddly comfortable throwing the ball to Denarius Moore, targeting him 12 times but connecting only four times with the rookie.Jacoby Ford, meanwhile, pulled in five passes for 105 yards, including an acrobatic 18-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter that gave the Raiders a seemingly safe 24-14 lead."I think he did good," Ford said of Palmer. "He definitely takes chances and we love that in a quarterback. We'll get better from here. I know it."Perhaps Palmer's most impressive pass of the day, though, was the 40-yard rope he threw to fullback Marcel Reece down the middle of the field for a touchdown. Palmer threaded the needle and put the ball where only Reece, with D.J. Williams draped all over him, could get it."Carson saw my eyes, I saw his eyes and he put the ball up and I went and got it," Reece said."Carson threw a great ball and I went for it."But it was Palmer's second interception that turned momentum in favor of the Broncos.Leading 24-17 and facing a 3rd-and-11 at the Denver 43-yard line, Palmer spied Moore going across the middle, from right to left some 15 yards downfield. But Palmer's pass was high and Moore tipped it into the waiting arms of cornerback Chris Harris, who returned the interception to the Broncos' 40-yard line."I want (that pass) back," Palmer said. "That was a miscue. I was on the wrong page with the receiver. Just something that we need to keep repping, keep working, and get a feel for body language on that route, and timing of that route, because I was off on that."One play later, Willis McGahee burst up the middle for a game-tying 60-yard touchdown run.Two possessions later, and after a pair of three-and-outs by the Raiders, the rout was on when Eddie Royal went 85 yards for a score on a punt return.No one with a clear head will say the loss rests on Palmer's in-need-of-WD-40-shoulders. Not when he put up some solid personal numbers, interceptions aside. Just don't tell that to Palmer."I didn't play well enough to give our team a chance to win," Palmer said. "It doesn't matter, statistics don't matter. At the end of the day, nothing matters but whether we won or lost. It wasn't good enough."

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per spotrac.com:

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have quality options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take an excellent spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick.

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”