Palmer, Jackson reunited

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Palmer, Jackson reunited

ALAMEDA -- New Raiders QB Carson Palmer and coach Hue Jackson sat together at Raiders headquarters Tuesday afternoon and spoke about the time they've spent together at USC, with the Bengals and outlined their future together in Oakland.

Hue Jackson opening statement
We were able to put together what I think is probably the greatest trade in football, in my opinion. Obviously I think everybody knows that we needed to go out and address our quarterback situation. I told you guys the other day that I was going to continue to search, look, do everything I could to help this football team to become all it can be. That's my job as the head coach and the leader of this team. So, what I set out to do was find the person that I would feel comfortable with, coming in here, helping me lead this football team as we continue to move forward, and giving us the best opportunity to win. And I was very lucky to kind of reach back in my past and grab somebody that I am very familiar with, (that) being Carson. But in order to do that it took a lot of teamwork, it took a lot of cooperation from the Bengals. It took a lot of teamwork here within this Raiders organization to get it done. And again, I want to thank Mark Davis for all he's done.

Jackson on whether Palmer will start on Sunday
You think I'm going to tell you that right now? You know me a little bit better than that. You do try, all you guys try. Nice try. I'm not going to let that out of the bag just yet. But you gotta be ready for anything from me, I think you know that. We'll see as we continue to move through the week exactly where we're at.

Carson Palmer on whether his heart is still in football and the responsibility he feels toward the Raiders
A tremendous burden. I was telling somebody just a little while ago I went to bed last night at 10:30 a retired football player and got a text message at 4 a.m. and was told to get on a plane to Oakland. So, it's been a whirlwind. I understand what's expected of me. I've played in this league for eight years, I know what playing quarterback in this league is about. It's about winning and I want to come in and contribute and do everything I can, whatever I can to help this team.

Palmer on how he gets his mind back to playing football when he was convinced that he was ready to retire
My mind has been in football. It's been a difficult six weeks. Football is what I know, it's It's what I've been doing since I was probably 5,6,7,8-years-old. I've followed the game, I've worked out. I've continued to stay focus on football and keep my mind in football, so I haven't been away from the game. I haven't been playing it for six weeks comparatively speaking to guys that have been on teams but my mind's been in it.
Jackson on the price tag and whether this is a move he would have made had Jason Campbell not been injured
I think you brought up a good point. Obviously, first of all I'd like to take us back to Jason. Obviously Jason was the starting quarterback on this football team and did a fantastic job. It was very unfortunate that he got hurt and had surgery yesterday. he's resting comfortably and we're going to miss him because Jason did so many good things here, not just on this football team but in the community. And then you think of Kyle Boller and what he did just this past week in helping this team get a win. And that's what they are, those guys are pros, and I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to work with Jason, watch what Jason did and how he led this team and we're going to miss him. And we wish him a very speedy recovery and hope he gets back in ability soon. and actually Kyle's gotta go to work tomorrow. He's got some work to do. But as far as the draft picks, what we had to give up to get this young man, I never hesitated because I know exactly what I'm getting. When you go back -- I think you guys know my history with Carson -- obviously I recruited and coached Carson in college and was with him in Cincinnati at the Bengals so I have a long-standing history with him. And I know what we're putting on this football team. I went to Mark (Davis) and Amy (Trask) and said, "hey look, this is the person that I think that we need to add in order to get to where I want to take this organization, being that Jason is not here." Obviously you said, "would this have happened if Jason had been here?" Probably not, no question. I mean, we were moving at a pretty good pace. We're a 4-and-2 football team and we're getting better. And like I said, it was unfortunate that happened but then you have to respond. And I go back to the commitment from the organization, the commitment from Mark, the commitment to our players that my job is to do everything I can to make sure I'm putting us in the best situation to win. And that's what I'm always going to do.

Palmer on his readiness and when did Jackson recruit him harder -- coming out of high school or to come to the Raiders?
If you know Hue and you've been recruited by Hue you know you don't get recruited any harder than by this guy. For the past six weeks I thought I was retired. Before the start of the season I was training like it was a normal offseason for myself, going about my business like I normally would in the offseason. And then Week 1 hit and I thought, "I gotta look elsewhere, I gotta start to find what the next phase of my life may be. Like I said, I got a text late last night and then early this morning saying that this might happen and can you get on a plane? I'm ready to go. I'm excited, I'm honored. I don't know a lot about this organization but I know that it's dedicated to winning. I know the history. I know where this organization has been and where it wants to get back to and I'm excited to be a part of that.

Jackson on what makes him think that Palmer is still the player he had in Cincinnati as opposed to the guy who wasn't quite that good the last few years?
What was the last part? What did you just say? I didn't hear that. This is not about numbers, this is about the person because I know his heart, I know his passion. I know his dedication to the game. I think sometimes, as I told you guys before, the quarterbacks get too much blame. And sometimes they get too much credit. I'm not concerned about Carson's past. I never would be, that doesn't even hit my mind because I know with me and him and the rest of this staff and this football team where we're going to go. And that's the most important thing. What's gone on for Carson in Cincinnati and me, is over. The future's now, the time is now, and that's what I'm worried about.

Jackson on what did Mr. Davis share with you about Carson Palmer as a quarterback.
One thing I know about Coach is he loved tall, athletic quarterbacks from USC. That's for sure. And one thing he loves is guys that can throw the ball down the field and this man can. So, I think he'd have been very excited, very happy. The thing I got excited about is because his son is very excited and very happy. So that told me what Coach might have felt, too. Mark is very excited about us adding Carson to this football team.

Palmer on the health of his arm and his ability to throw the deep ball
My job is to prove I can do it, and I'll do it. I had an elbow injury in 2008 and I'm fully recovered, I've been rehabbing for almost a year-and-a-half, almost two years after that. I've been throwing and my arm feels as good as it ever has. I'm very confident in it and it's my job to answer that question and the only way I can do it is on the field, throwing.

Palmer on his physical readiness
It's going to take some time. I think the only way you can get in football shape is by playing football. You can run wind sprints and lift weights and do all those things but calling a play in the huddle, when you're tired after you just ran -- you get the wind knocked out of you, getting up off the ground and being ready to talk in the huddle, things like what, catching your breath, that's football shape. And the only way you do that is practice and in a game. So obviously I'm not there yet. But until I'm 75 years old, or until a doctor tells me not to, I'll stay in shape my whole life. I enjoy working out. So although my mindset was "this might be it I might be retired" I still was working out and doing a lot of the things I've been doing my whole career.

Palmer on what about his situation in Cincinnati said it was time to retire rather than go back.It was time to move on. Simply put, it was time for them to move on, it was time for me to move on. And I'm just happy and thankful that the Bengals organization made that decision also and I ended up getting this trade done.

Jackson on dealing with Mike Brown of the Bengals, and did his prior relationship have anything to do with the deal
Probably so, I'm sure. I have so much respect for Mike, having worked there with him -- been in drafts with him, coached some of his best players, in my opinion, in that organization. And I think he has a respect for this organization and Coach Davis. And I think the respect was mutual and he said so. He said, "Hue, I like you and I want to see you do well and I want to see Carson do well. And I want us to do well, being the Bengals." So I think at the end of the day I think it was a fit for everybody and I think it worked out in everybody's behalf."

McKenzie: Raiders will take 'different approach' drafting No. 24 overall

McKenzie: Raiders will take 'different approach' drafting No. 24 overall

Khalil Mack said atop Reggie McKenzie’s draft board back in 2014. While it probably felt like forever, the Raiders general manager only had to weather four picks before selecting the star edge rusher at No. 5.

McKenzie loved Amari Cooper in 2015, believing his athleticism and demeanor would pair well with quarterback Derek Carr. Cooper only had to survive three selections before McKenzie made him a Raider.

McKenzie shouldn’t hold his breath this year. The Raiders have the 24th pick. He’d pass out.

The Raiders now experience the downside of success, with lower selections than normal throughout the NFL Draft. They earned top 10 draft picks every year from 2004-15, when the Silver and Black became relevant again. McKenzie selected safety Karl Joseph No. 14 overall last year in his original draft slot, but a 12-4 record and a playoff birth pushed them way down in the draft order.

Thursday’s No. 24 pick will be the lowest since 2003, when the Raiders selected Nnamdi Asomugha 31st following a Super Bowl year.

That obviously turned out well. The Raiders need this deep-round pick to follow suit.

McKenzie likes several players in this draft, but there's no telling if they'll be available. NFL teams have a general idea who will make it down the draft board, but an unexpected move could turn the round upside down.

“The one thing that’s been more difficult, you have no idea who’s coming down at 24,” McKenzie said. “When you’re picking No. 4 or No. 5, you can have a clue, a few players that you can pick from. The draft is a funny thing. Players that you don’t think may be at the 24, could be there sitting right in front of your face.”

McKenzie certainly hopes a highly rated prospect falls in his lap, especially if the best available player fills a position of need. Or the cluster would be empty.

The Raiders must be ready for anything, with a draft cluster of players worthy of that particular pick.

“We’re going to study it continuously until that day,” McKenzie said. “Then you never know how trades go. It’s a different thing. But when you’re down that low in comparison to where we have been the last few years, it’s a different approach.”

Draft trades are always a possibility, especially as the round unfolds. The Raiders are in an interesting spot, a slot above the quarterback-hungry Houston Texans. Teams might want to leapfrog them to secure a coveted passer, giving the Raiders leverage in last-second trade talks to move down.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t moved up in the first three rounds during his Raiders tenure, but this year might be an exception considering his roster is strong save a few important positions. He won’t leap all the way up the draft board, but a small move up is possible.

“I will not hesitate if I have to move up a little bit to get an impact player that we feel is on our board,” McKenzie said. “If we have to move up a little bit, I will not hesitate.”

Will Raiders GM McKenzie break mold and draft inside linebacker early?

Will Raiders GM McKenzie break mold and draft inside linebacker early?

It’s not like the Raiders haven’t been looking for linebacker help. They just haven’t found any entering this week’s NFL draft.

They brought Zach Brown in for a visit, but he didn’t like the team’s offer and left without a contract. They have interest in bringing last year’s starting middle linebacker Perry Riley back, but their valuations don’t match right now and the veteran remains on the open market. They let two-year starter Malcolm Smith join the 49ers in free agency. 

Right now, the position group is a skeleton crew with brittle bones. Free-agent signing Jelani Jenkins is the only interior linebacker with double digit starts, and could man the weak side, or end up a roving backing.

There isn’t much experience or talent or depth there right now, meaning the Raiders might draft an inside linebacker early for the first time in general manager Reggie McKenzie’s tenure.

Sio Moore was a third round pick in 2013, but was a strongside linebacker and edge rusher before switching spots in deference to Khalil Mack. Outside that, McKenzie took Miles Burris (fourth round) in 2012, and choose Ben Heeney and Neiron Ball (fifth round) in 2015. Those picks haven’t worked out well.

Neither have free-agent stopgaps Curtis Lofton or Nick Roach -- a quality player who fell victim to concussion issues – or waiver claim Ray-Ray Armstrong.

It’s been an unexpected black hole considering McKenzie, head coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. all played on the inside.

“We want good linebacker play,” McKenzie said. “Both Jack and I know what a good linebacker is supposed to look like. We’re going to get us a couple, I hope, at some point before we play in September. Whether they’re in this draft or post draft or trade, somebody gets released, we’re going to do everything we can to upgrade our team; every position, including linebacker.”

While there are post-draft avenues to acquire inside linebackers, it might be time to go big at that spot.

There are attractive options likely available at No. 24 overall, where the Raiders can find the immediate impact starter they so desperately need. Let’s take a look at some who could be available when the Raiders pick.

Good fits: Raiders fans may shudder at the thought of selecting an Alabama interior linebacker with question marks. That’s expected after the Rolando McClain experience. Ruben Foster (6 feet, 229 pounds) is a top tier talent who could be slipping in this draft. He had a drug sample come back diluted at the NFL scouting combine, where he was sent home for arguing with a hospital employee. He has had shoulder troubles, though re-checks reportedly went well.

Foster is also an excellent player, the type of athletic thumper the Raiders are looking for. It’s still hard to see him sliding all the way to No. 24.

Florida’s Jarrad Davis (6-1, 238), however, seems like a near-perfect fit. He can cover and tackle, with a killer instinct necessary at that spot. He’s also praised as a high-character player and person focused on football. Analysts say he has good vision, closing speed and has physical gifts to help his continued development shoring areas of weakness. Davis has been well hyped recently, and there’s some thought he too could go higher than No. 24.

Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham should be available there, and could ready right away. Analysts says he’s a playmaker with good instincts, technique and play diagnosis. He’s a quality tackler with a nose for the football. He’s durable and fast enough to handle tight ends and running backs in man coverage. Detractors say he isn’t good getting off blocks and struggles with leverage at times, but Cunningham could be a productive three-down NFL linebacker soon.

LSU’s Duke Riley is a quick linebacker who can chase ball carriers down, and finished with a solid senior season. He might be a strong Day 3 pickup should the Raiders target other positions early in this draft.

Note: Temple's Haason Reddick wasn't mentioned here because he isn't expected to be available at No. 24.