Raiders

Practice report: Raiders close camp with some unresolved issues

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AP

Practice report: Raiders close camp with some unresolved issues

NAPA – The Raiders spent 18 days in isolation at the Napa Valley Marriott, pouring complete focus into season prep. Head coach Jack Del Rio considers his team better for the experience.

The Raiders moved back to their Alameda facility after Thursday’s practice, the 14th of this training camp, ready to complete the preseason. The next milestone comes in Saturday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Rams.

“I think we came in with a purposeful mind going after things, accomplishing things,” Del Rio said. “In terms of installation, in terms of situational awareness and those things, we’re coaching and teaching. I think we were able to work and get guys either back or really close to being back and I feel really good about the way camp went. It was a strong camp. It was very purposeful and very productive.”

The Raiders left relatively healthy, despite longer-term injuries to Keith McGill and Denver Kirkland. There were some issues unresolved during this time.

Donald Penn’s contract holdout continues after nearly three weeks. First-round pick Gareon Conley still hasn’t seen the field while dealing with a shin injury originally suffered in a June minicamp.

Jihad Ward, Ben Heeney and Cooper Helfet joined Conley and Penn as players who didn’t participate in a camp practice.

“I know the natural question is going to hit me on a couple of the guys. Obviously, one is not here, his choice. You have a couple of others that haven’t been able to join us at practice yet, and they’re working,” Del Rio said. “They’re doing everything we’re asking. They’ll come back when they can. Until then, we just move on. We’re looking forward to playing at home this week in front of our crowd. I’m excited about that opportunity to kick that off.”

QUICK SLANTS
-- The battle to be quarterback Derek Carr’s backup wages on, though Del Rio said EJ Manuel has a leg up at this stage. That supports what was seen in training camp, when Manuel took most every second-unit snap.

“I think the time we had here and the first game the other night, I think (Manuel) has done a little more, done enough to be in the second slot,” Del Rio said. “I think they’ll continue to alternate reps and both get opportunities to show us. I’m pleased with both of the guys. I thought both guys operated pretty darn well (on Saturday at Arizona).”

-- The Raiders concluded camp with a punt catching contest. Each phase sent a representative to catch a Marquette King punt, with pushups going to the loser. Interior lineman Jon Feliciano caught his volley. So did backup long snapper Andrew East. Defensive tackle Justin Ellis couldn’t corral three angled attempts, meaning the defense had to do pushups.

-- The Raiders held a glorified walk-through practice on Thursday, working in jerseys and shorts. They will hold a formal walh-through on Friday in Alameda before Saturday’s game at Oakland Coliseum.

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

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Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Raiders are remarkably healthy heading into Sunday night’s game against the Washington football club.

The entire 53-man roster practiced fully on Friday, before heading to the nation’s capital.

That includes veteran cornerback Sean Smith, who missed the previous game with a neck injury. A shoulder ailment cropped up during the week, which prompted the Raiders to label him questionable heading into Week 3. Smith’s the only Raider on the injury report, and even he’s in decent shape.

“I mean we put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You don’t have probable’s anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way.”

That means the Raiders are going to have some healthy scratches a week after Smith was the only injured player sitting out.

Washington has some impact players on the mend. That included tight end Jordan Reed, who is questionable with a rib/sternum injury. He stands 6-foot-2, 246 pounds and is the type of receiving tight end that gives the Raiders fits. He has 1,638 yards 17 touchdowns the last two seasons, using good hands and a large frame to create mismatches in the secondary.

It’ll be key for the Raiders to defend him well if he’s active, with Nicholas Morrow as a primary coverage option.

“We’re prepared to face him,” Del Rio said. “We think he’s a good player. We’ll approach it that way and adjust if he doesn’t go.”

Washington also lists starting inside linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley as questionable.

Raiders Injury Report
Questionable
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report
Questionable

TE Jordan Reed (rib/sternum), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Monate Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder)

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph notched his first career forced fumble in Week 2’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. It came on his first sack, where he bent around a tackle into the pocket and devoured his pray.

Joseph recovered the ball, and the Raiders quickly scored a touchdown. The second-year pro enjoyed that moment, but left the game with regrets.

"I should have definitely had more sacks than I did,” Joseph said. “I feel like I should have had three.”

Joseph had quarterback Josh McCown in the crosshairs three times, and feels like he should’ve finished each one. The game plan provided opportunity. Joseph blitzed six times – fellow safety Reggie Nelson attacked thrice – and pressured the quarterback four times.

It was a relatively new responsibility, considering he blitzed nine times all last year. Joseph will be first to say he was a different player then. He was less explosive, more tentative and a smidge less confident, lingering effects from an ACL tear during his final college season. Joseph was cleared to play as a rookie but wasn’t all the way back, doubly hampered by missing an offseason program where rookies grow quick.

"I wasn’t completely myself,” Joseph said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California. “I feel a lot more like myself this year. I obviously feel better physically, and the year of experience in the system has definitely helped. So has adjusting to the NFL life. That’s been an easier transition for me.”

Joseph is playing more like his highlight reel from West Virginia, where he proved a heavy hitter and a solid cover man worthy of last year’s No. 14 overall draft pick. The Jets game isn’t the only evidence of that.

Joseph had an excellent training camp, flashing an aggressive style and solid timing making plays in practice. That translated to the regular-season opener at Tennessee, when he saved a touchdown on consecutive plays. The first came on an open-field tackle. The second was a leaping pass breakup in the end zone, proof positive that Joseph was ready to make a big impact.

"He’s really good close to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "He’s a really good tackler in the open field. He also plays well on the back end. I think his development is right on time right now.”

The Raiders recognize that, and are using him like a queen on the chessboard. He can move back or forward, as an attacker or the last line of defense. He’s a rover at times, with an ability to create havoc at all levels of the defense.

Joseph is an excellent fit for the defensive scheme, bring a tone-setting physicality to the secondary. He is learning, as part of his development, that the nuclear option isn’t always best. There are times when it is, and Joseph enters those scenarios without fear.

"You can’t play worried about getting hurt. That’s not the way I play,” Joseph said. “It’s about being smart. I had to adjust my game coming into the NFL. Every hit can’t be a big hit. Sometimes you have to be smart and just wrap people up, but you can’t ever play scared.”

He isn’t afraid to take risks or attack when asked, and is already making a major impact on this year’s defense. That isn’t a surprise. It’s expected of first-round picks.

"That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”