The National Football League’s 32 bosses ruined all our fun speculation about Roger Goodell’s future by extending his future.
By extending his contract to 2025 – and, maybe more importantly, keeping his salary private so that we can’t use it as a club with which to continually brain him – the owners sent the message that, whatever the state of his petty feuds with allegedly powerful owners like Jerry Jones and Bob Kraft, they are unwilling to overturn the car to spite the roadway.
And he in turn takes great care to keep his supply lines covered, by keeping the majority of owners happy and well-insulated with barrels of cash. It’s Game Of Thrones, only less visually violent and more tactically prudent.
We mention this because as the Oakland Raiders slowly but surely transition to the Formerly Oakland Raiders, we remind you that Goodell’s two jobs are to provide the owners with what they want while making sure they provide him with what he wants. The commissioner doesn’t work for you, and he showed that when Mark Davis went looking for votes to leave, Goodell was giving him hints about what to do and not to do because, while the league might not have thought the Raiders were the ideal candidate to pry open access to the worlds of gambling and international high-rollers, they were the best available candidate.
And while you may want to be angry at him for not minding the needs of the Bay Area, he doesn’t work for you – never has, never will. He has his bosses, and you’re not them. It’s why, for all the criticism he takes – and maybe because he’s the one who takes it rather than his 32 bosses – he keeps his real constituency content, if not necessarily happy.
Now if you want to harm him, you can autocorrect “Goodell” for the names of the 32 owners. It’s clunky, and it unfocuses whatever your anger at the moment might be, but it would expose the real powers for whatever irks you at the time.
We’re not confident you’ll do that, too. Goodell makes a grand target – overpaid, slavishly devoted to oligarchs, willing to bend or deny reality to kick the liability can down the road – and that, too, is worth the money to them.
OAKLAND – Raiders second-year pro Cory James seems set to play most every down at weakside linebacker. He doesn’t yet have a running mate on the inside.
Tyrell Adams was his wingman during the offseason program. Marquel Lee was his primary partner during training camp and in the exhibition opener. The fifth-round middle linebacker started Saturday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams but didn’t last long.
He was removed after opening series, which left an opening for veteran Jelani Jenkins to earn more snaps.
Jenkins played two series with the first unit – he was anchored to the second team in camp -- and played 34 defensive snaps in all. He had six tackles, including two for a loss.
“I think Jelani Jenkins went in there and played pretty well in the second or third series and played the rest of the first half,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I thought he was pretty solid.”
Del Rio has used a platoon in the middle, with Lee in the base package and other options playing in sub packages. The Raiders have used several players in a hybrid coverage linebacker role, one originally set for second-round safety Obi Melifonwu. He missed most of training camp with an undisclosed injury, and the Raiders have experimented with Sean Smith, Keith McGill before he got hurt, and now undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow in that spot.
Morrow took a turn with the first unit, and completed his 26 defensive snaps in the second half.
“Nick, those young guys we gave them an opportunity to compete. He finds the ball a little bit,” Del Rio said. “...Nick, at the end of the game, had a nice breakup. Almost got a pick. Would’ve ended it. Would’ve been nice.”
Morrow finished with two tackles, including one for a loss, and a pass defensed. He was targeted three times in coverage and allowed one catch for five yards.
Playing close to the line of scrimmage is relatively new for Morrow, who played farther back at Greenville College.
“It was an adjustment because I’m used to playing outside of the box,” Morrow said. “I started watching film with some of the vets, and I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable in there.”
While Lee had 40 defensive snaps in the exhibition opener, he only had 11 in the second game. He allowed one 24-yard catch on the opening series and made one tackle, but Del Rio focused on positives for the young linebacker learning on the fly.
“I think he’s actually done some pretty solid things,” Del Rio said. “He’s not the first linebacker to ever get exposed in man coverage, which happened last week. So, I think he’s actually been pretty solid. We have a pretty solid run front and he’s part of that.”
Quarterback – Connor Cook 25, Derek Carr 17, EJ Manuel 17
Running back – Elijah Hood 13, George Atkinson III 12, DeAndre Washington 12, John Crockett 10, Jalen Richard 7, Marshawn Lynch 4, Jamize Olawale 1
Wide receiver – Johnny Holton 29, Isaac Whitney 24, Jaydon Mickens 22, K.J. Brent 21, Keon Hatcher 18, Amari Cooper 17, Michael Crabtree 16, Cordarrelle Patterson 13, Ishmael Zamora 6
Tight end – Clive Walford 15, Jared Cook 15, Gabe Holmes 11, Pharaoh Brown 11, Lee Smith 10, Ryan O’Malley 8
Offensive line – David Sharpe 38, Jylan Ware 35, Jordan Simmons 35, Ian Silberman 25, Oni Omoile 41, Vadal Alexander 24, Gabe Jackson 24, Kelechi Osemele 24, Rodney Hudson 24, Kareem Are 22, Marshall Newhouse 15, Oni Omoile 13, Jon Feliciano 10, Chauncey Briggs 6
Defensive line – James Cowser 33, Eddie Vanderdoes 30, Mario Edwards Jr. 30, Treyvon Hester 28, Denico Autry 27, Khalil Mack 20, Darius Latham 19, Branden Jackson 16, Paul Boyette 11, Justin Ellis 11, Jimmy Bean 4, Fadol Brown 3
Linebacker – Cory James 37, Tyrell Adams 36, Jelani Jenkins 34, Nicholas Morrow 26, Shilique Calhoun 23, Bruce Irvin 20, LaTroy Lewis 14, Marquel Lee 11, Rufus Johnson 11, IK Enemkpali 10, Brady Sheldon 6
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 37, David Amerson 37, Antonio Hamilton 26, Kenneth Durden 26, Sean Smith 26, Dexter McDonald 20, Chris Humes 16, Breon Borders 8
Safety – Karl Joseph 37, Reggie Nelson 37, Shalom Luani 20, Marcus McWilson 20, Anthony Cioffi 16, Rickey Jefferson 16
Tyrell Adams 14, Shalom Luani 13, Shilique Calhoun 11, James Cowser 12, Elijah Hood 10, Nicholas Morrow 10, Jamize Olawale 10, Dexter McDonald 9, DeAndre Washington 9, Xavier Woodson-Luster 9, Marquette King 8, K.J. Brent 8, Isaac Whitney 8, Antonio Hamilton 8, Anthony Cioffi 7, Rickey Jefferson 7, Karl Joseph 6, Jelani Jenkins 6, Clive Walford 5, John Crockett 5, Sebastian Janikowski 5, Andrew East 5, Jalen Richard 5, Breon Borders 5, Marcus McWilson 4, Jaydon Mickens 4, Chris Humes 4, Ryan O’Malley 4, TJ Carrie 4, Darius Latham 3, Gabe Holmes 3, George Atkinson III 3, Eddie Vanderdoes 3, Mario Edwards 3, Treyvon Hester 3, Justin Ellis 3 Denico Autry 3, Jon Condo 3, Jon Feliciano 3, Lee Smith 3, Marshall Newhouse 2, Khalil Mack 2, Bruce Irvin 2, Giorgio Tavecchio 2, Cordarrelle Patterson 2, Vadal Alexander 2, Gabe Jackson 2, Kelechi Osemele 2, David Sharpe 2, Jylan Ware 1, Chauncey Briggs 1, Cory James 1, Oni Omoile 1, Kareem Are 1, Jordan Simmons 1, Ian Silberman 1, Branden Jackson 1, Brady Sheldon 1, Paul Boyette 1
DID NOT PLAY
WR Seth Roberts, CB Gareon Conley, S Obi Melifonwu, DB Keith McGill, OL Denver Kirkland, DL Jihad Ward