Raiders begin four-day mini-camp in Georgia

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Raiders begin four-day mini-camp in Georgia

May 24, 2011
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BUFORD, Ga. (AP) Richard Seymour led 33 of his Oakland teammates through workouts Tuesday in suburban Atlanta - nearly 2,500 miles from the Raiders' headquarters in Alameda, Calif.The six-time Pro Bowl selection isn't looking to relocate. He just felt Georgia was a good place to hold a mini-camp.Seymour lives in the metropolitan area, is paying some of the training costs and likes the easy access to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.Quarterback Jason Campbell, running back Darren McFadden and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey were on hand, but free agents like Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha aren't expected to attend the four-day session."You have to build that foundation in the offseason," said Seymour, who won three Super Bowls with New England before spending the last two years in Oakland. "I think it's going to benefit us with when the season starts."Campbell and Seymour designed the structure of the workouts together with Competitive Edge Sports founder Chip Smith, who oversaw the outdoor session at Buford High School and the indoor session at his training complex in nearby Duluth.The Raiders worked out on the high school field before the Atlanta Falcons' late-morning session.Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan thought the Raiders' turnout was a testament to NFL players' commitment to training during the lockout.Ryan has been running his teammates through workouts at Buford High for a couple of weeks, but added that the Raiders and Falcons have no plans to face off against each other."It was impressive to see how many guys that they had down here," Ryan said. "Everybody is professional about what we do. Even though we are not able to go to the facility at this point, we know that we need to stay in shape."I think everybody has great faith in that we'll get (an end to the lockout) and we'll be able to play our games."Seymour, the former University of Georgia standout who signed a new two-year contract in February to stay with the Raiders for 22.5 million guaranteed, felt responsible to gather players during the NFL lockout.The Raiders are coming off an 8-8 season in which they avoided an eighth straight losing record and swept AFC West rivals Kansas City, San Diego and Denver. Oakland became the first team since the 1970 merger to win all its division games and miss the playoffs."I think we made huge strides last season, but not making the playoffs was a disappointment," Seymour said. "But there is only one happy team at the end of the year, and that was the Green Bay Packers."Seymour said he and his teammates thought they would be training out West."We knew we were going to get together," Seymour said. "We said it early on. We thought we were going to be able to go out to Oakland when the lockout was lifted, and we had to change our plans. We were able to get out there and it's been a good experience for us."Campbell ran the offense, middle linebacker Rolando McClain the defense."The main thing is building the camaraderie that we were getting toward the end of last season," Campbell said. "The next part of it is hearing a play and running some plays instead of just running a lifting weights, we are actually running plays."Other Raiders on the field were receivers Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy, fullback Rock Cartwright and rookies Stefen Wisniewski, a second-round draft pick, and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, a third-round pick."All of the guys who could be here - (except for) guys that are not restricted or unrestricted - are here," said Campbell, who lives in Northern Virginia. "You can't ask for much more than that."Seymour and Campbell have yet to meet with Hue Jackson since he was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach after Raiders owner Al Davis fired Tom Cable.But both players spoke to Jackson during the brief lifting of the lockout."I had a flight booked the next morning," Campbell said. "I had a chance to talk to him and I've been in the system before, so (being out here) gives me a chance to help the guys."Seymour has no immediate plans to organize other sessions after he and his teammates finish workouts on Friday."We can't control what's going to happen with the lockout," Seymour said. "As players, we are part of it. It's a negotiation. I'm sure at the end of the day when both sides want a fair deal, we'll be able to come to that. Until then we'll keep working."

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.