Raiders-Broncos: Matchups to watch

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Raiders-Broncos: Matchups to watch

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have a full-fledged new starter at quarterback in Carson Palmer. A new veteran slot receiver in T.J. Houshmandzadeh. And while Sebastian Janikowski's status is in doubt thanks to his strained left hamstring, there is no truth to the rumor that Jim Breech is in line to kick for Oakland against Denver.Yes, the in-season transitional Raiders have been catching heat for picking up so many former Cincinnati Bengals of late -- Chinedum Ndukwe, anyone? -- but their focus is squarely on the Broncos.A look, then, at some key on-field matchups to watch Sunday afternoon:
Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain (55) vs. Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15)TALE OF THE TAPEMcClain: 6-3, 255, Alabama, second season
Tebow: 6-3, 236, Florida, second seasonThe Most Polarizing Figure in the Country and the Most Enigmatic Player in Raider Nation are sure to meet on the field, what with Tebow's proclivity for running up the middle of the field. The question, then, is will McClain's balky right ankle give him the mobility and agility to neutralize Tebow before he gets into the secondary?"There's certain things we'll do with (McClain) and again, he's been doing this for a couple of weeks," said Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. "We get a feel for him during the week, even with the limited number of reps, how much can we give him? He was the first one to tell us in the last game, 'I've got to stop.'"So again, those are things we kind of judge during the week. I don't get into the injuries; I kind of let that be a gameday situation and we go with the feel and how he's ready to go. And our guys are ready to step up. If he can't go, the next guy's ready to go and we don't blink an eye."That McClain practiced Friday for the first time in weeks should be a good sign that he'll be able to play. After all, he has not missed a game since injuring the ankle at Houston on Oct. 9. Even if he's been limited.Besides, McClain's knowledge of Tebow -- they were SEC rivals in college -- should play a part as well as anything he can bring physically."I have a lot of respect for him," Tebow said of McClain. "I think he's a very good player. I really enjoyed playing against him in college. I feel like we had a great rivalry going, but with a lot of respect, and hopefully we'll continue that."Other matchups worth watchingRaiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (85) vs. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey (24): Is there any doubt lingering that Darrius Heyward-Bey is the Raiders' No. 1 receiver? He is on pace to becoming the first wideout to lead the Raiders in receiving since Ronald Curry in 2007.And as such, DHB is starting to garner more respect from opposing defenses. Which is why seeing the Hall of Fame-bound Bailey lining up opposite him should not surprise anyone and, really, be seen as a sign of respect for the maturing third-year pass catcher.And not just on the field. Heyward-Bey is becoming a leader in the receiving corps that is charged with keeping the young and impressionable group on the same page, what with so much roster turnover in the past few weeks."I mean, for me, it's easy," he said. "Because you see guys come and go in this league all the time. I mean, every Tuesday there's people coming in here working out. Everybody's job is on the line. They bring guys in all the time so, it's normal in this world for us."Seeing a guy whose bust will soon be in Canton defending you? Yeah, that's normal now, too.Raiders vs. chemistry issues -- Speaking of all that roster turnover, surely the locker room chemistry is being tested. But just how important is such a non-tangible topic?"Very," admitted Raiders coach Hue Jackson. "I think it has a lot to do with everything, but I think part of that chemistry is communication by the head coach to the players. And I think if you're fair and you're honest, they might not agree with it, but as long as you're honest with them and you tell them why you do things, why it's this way, why we go about conducting our business in a certain way, they will respect that."I think if you're phony and you don't keep it real with them, I think that's how you lose your locker room."Jackson also said he's addressed that in the locker room recently."I tell them every time I make a decision because this is their football team, and I let them know exactly what we're doing and why we're doing it," Jackson said. "And I think thats important so nobody goes over to the laundry room and have a sit-down where nobody knows what's going on. We don't have that here."We put it all out on the table and tell it how it is. Like I say, everybody might not like it, but I think they respect it because it's coming from the right place. It's honest, it's up front and we don't hide anything."

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

The Raiders locked up Derek Carr last week, signing their franchise quarterback to a five-year, $125 million contract extension.

He isn’t the only member of the 2014 draft class worthy of a raise. Edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a big one, likely at some point next offseason. The Raiders have some time with Mack after exercising a fifth-year contract option available for first-round picks.

General manager Reggie McKenzie didn’t have that luxury with Carr, and his 2014 second-round pick cashed in before formally entering a contract year.

Right guard Gabe Jackson could do the exact same thing. McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and reward homegrown talent, and the 2014 third-round pick should be next in line to do so.

McKenzie has said back in March that he’d like to extend Jackson’s contract, though there isn’t a deadline to do so.

“There’s no timetable,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “But, I alluded to earlier in the offseason that Gabe is one of the guys I want to get locked up.”

That could happen later this offseason, or further into training camp. Despite paying Carr an NFL-record $25 million in 2017, his contract is structured in such a way that there’s room for another offseason extension. That was important for Carr, that the Raiders can sign other members of this young core.

“We figured out a way to do it,” Carr said, “so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization.”

The Raiders have roughly $18 million in salary cap space after the Carr deal. Some of that is earmarked for the team’s top three draft picks, which remain unsigned to this point. A large sum could go to Jackson as incentive to sign up early, well before he’s eligible to hit the unrestricted free agency.

The offensive guard market is booming, with bigger deals going to a position group generally lower than other spots on the offensive line. The Raiders contributed to that inflation in 2016, signing left guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year, $58.5 deal with $25.4 million in guarantees.

Osemele is one of eight guards with contracts worth $40 million or more, a list that includes two right guards. Jackson played left guard – the more valued position – until Osemele showed up. He moved to the right without complaint.

Jackson thrived there as well. He didn’t allow a sack in 2016, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, with 27 quarterback pressures in 735 pass-blocking snaps. Jackson has been a strong run blocker as a pro, where he has started 44 games in three NFL seasons.

Finding proper value to entice Jackson to sign while remaining on budget is McKenzie’s next task, trying to keep a valuable offensive lineman in place for years to come.

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning won't prompt a spending spree.

Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.

“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”

That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.

“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”

That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.

There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family, especially Heather and sons Dallas and Deker, will be taken care of for life.

After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.

“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on the star quarterback.

“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”

He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”