Palmer has his Raiders moment, against a familiar foe

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Palmer has his Raiders moment, against a familiar foe

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OAKLAND -- The place was going nuts.Multitudes of yellow Terrible Towels teased the Black Hole. Players were gassed. The clock was ticking as a mere 103 seconds remained in regulation and the Raiders had the ball on their own 25-yard line in a tie game, one in which they had never held a lead.Madness? Insanity? You could say that.In the center of this silver and black and black and yellow churning storm, a cool, calm and collected Carson Palmer. And such was the state of the Raiders' huddle as they embarked upon what would prove to be a game-winning drive.INSTANT REPLAY: Raiders 34, Steelers 31
The rest of the world may have been going 100 mph around them, but Palmer had the Raiders on cruise control."A lot of times you play with young guys that you need to keep their focus, keep their attention because it is chaotic, especially against a team like that with multiple fronts, multiple pressures," Palmer said. "But in our group it was just very calm, just calm. You're just playing."There's no cheesy pump-up talks or bring-the-huddle-up and talk about whatever."There was just, well, Palmer and the huddle. "He was very poised," said running back Darren McFadden."He did a great job in the huddle. He always takes control in the huddle. Thats one thing I like about him. Hes very poised, and thats something he did great today.If this was not the day Raiders fans fully accepted Palmer as their quarterback, I'm not sure when that day will come.Facing an opponent as fierce as it was familiar -- Palmer had faced the Steelers 12 times previously in the regular season and was a pedestrian 4-8 -- the Raiders signal caller did not blink. Not even after misfiring on his first two pass attempts and being a wide receiver short with Darrius Heyward-Bey being knocked out of the game earlier in the fourth quarter on a non-flagged helmet-to-helmet hit by Ryan Mundy.But on third-and-10, Palmer found his security blanket Brandon Myers across the middle for 15 yards (and Myers would be knocked out with a concussion by Mundy on a helmet shot).Then there was Derek Hagan for nine yards down the right sideline before Marcel Reece had a nine-yard catch and run to get the Raiders to midfield.Palmer then found Hagan again, this time for a 17-yard pickup to the Steelers' 26-yard line and well within placekicker Sebastian Janikowski's field-goal range.Forty-eight seconds remained and the Raiders plowed McFadden into the line for a one-yard gain before Palmer scooted to the left hash mark for a one-yard loss and with three seconds remaining, Janikowski was hailed.Janikowski split the uprights, the Raiders had a 34-31 victory after being down by 10 points in the fourth quarter and Palmer had bragging rights over a familiar foe. Palmer, though, would never gloat."I thought he played outstanding," said rookie coach Dennis Allen. "He ran the no-huddle offense, got us into the right plays, and we were productive on offense. I was extremely proud and pleased with the way Carson played."RATTO: Raiders make forward progress in Allen's first win
The thing with Palmer is his cool-under-pressure persona can sometimes be taken, or mistaken, for a California cool detachment. Rarely, if ever, does he show emotion, let alone get in a teammate's face, or jump around on the field.But in running the Raiders' no-huddle offense, his body language suggests he's having fun. More than a 32-year-old with a purported tired arm is supposed to be having.In fact, he audibled into the play that resulted in McFadden's 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. But there was a method to the no-huddle madness with the pure dropback passer that is Palmer."Yeah, it gets us in a rhythm, opens up some of the run game but it also tires out their big guys," said Palmer, who had a quarterback rating of 103.7 by throwing for 209 yards on 24 of 34 passing with three touchdowns and an interception."It slows them down, especially when you've got big Casey Hampton. He doesn't like play after play after play, not getting a chance to huddle up and get in the three-point stance for sometimes, 15-20 seconds. That wears you out. That gets him out of the gamehe's one of their better players."And Palmer showed he's part of the Raiders' fabric to the nonbelievers.

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.”

 

Raiders OTA observations: Conley, rookies must earn their stripes

Raiders OTA observations: Conley, rookies must earn their stripes

ALAMEDA – Rookies have been immersed in the Raiders system most of this month, but still have a lot to learn before training camp begins this summer.

There’s significant work ahead this spring during OTAs and mid-June’s mandatory minicamp, and young players will do so from the second and third teams. Even the highly touted ones.

First-round draft pick Gareon Conley played slot cornerback with the second unit and outside cornerback on the third during Tuesday’s OTA open to the media. It’s a position the slick, speedy cover man will vacate posthaste, but the Raiders prefer rookies earn their stripes.

“All of our young guys are going to earn their way,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We have a good football team. We’re going to let them earn their way. We’ll let them compete. We’re early in the competition, so we’ll just go through the offseason and continue to get (Conley) involved and get him reps. These guys will ascend and take their positions as they earn it. We’re really happy with the way he’s started.”

The Raiders didn’t feature a single rookie on their first units Tuesday. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu, fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and middle linebacker Marquel Lee were featured on the second unit.

Here are some other observations from Tuesday’s OTA sessions.

-- Del Rio said Marshall Newhouse had the inside track to be the team’s starting right tackle. The versatile veteran worked there with the first team, joining a front five otherwise intact from a season ago.

-- Second-year pro Connor Cook, who switched from No. 8 to No. 18 this offseason, ran the second offensive unit. E.J. Manuel worked with the third team.

-- Inside linebacker Ben Heeney worked on a side field with a trainer during Tuesday’s practice, as he continues to rehab from surgery to repair an ankle broken early last season. Jelani Jenkins also did side work after practicing on Monday.

Cory James and Tyrell Adams worked with the first unit at inside linebacker.

-- Veteran running back Marshawn Lynch was limited to individual drills for a second straight day as the Raiders ease him back into football activity.

-- Offensive lineman Austin Howard is working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, and only practice during individual drills.

-- Cornerback Sean Smith had offseason surgery, but was a full participant in Tuesday’s session.

-- Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remains away from the Raiders complex due to an NFL rule preventing players from schools still in session to work with their teams. He won’t re-join the squad until training camp. Undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow is in a similar spot, but will return next week.

-- Edge rusher Shilique Calhoun played last season at 250 pounds, but looks decidedly bigger now. He told the team website he’s up to 270 pounds.