Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch

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Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch

ALAMEDA -- Carson Palmer, or Kyle Boller? Kyle Boller, or Carson Palmer?No, we're not talking about rising senior quarterbacks in the old Pac-10 back in 2002. We're dishing about the main talking point heading into Sunday's Oakland-Kansas City game -- who starts at quarterback for the Raiders.A more prescient question, though, may be, who gets the majority of the snaps?And even then, the most pressing topic of the day might be surrounding the status of injured record-setting placekicker Sebastian Janikowski.A look, then, at some key on-field matchups to watch Sunday afternoon:Raiders cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke (23) vs. Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82)TALE OF THE TAPEVan Dyke: 6-1, 180, Miami, rookieBowe: 6-2, 221, LSU, fifth seasonGenerally, Bowe lines up on the same side of the field as Stanford Routt. But with Routt being given the Nnamdi Asomugha Treatment thus far (teams are tending to shy away from him), we have a sneaky suspicion the Chiefs might move Bowe around to test out the rookie Van Dyke.Especially since Bowe enjoys a 41-pound weight advantage."He's a big guy, man, physical guy," Van Dyke said. "He's from Miami, same place I'm from, so I know he's a great player."I got to step up to the plate. He's a great receiver; I'm a great cornerback."At least Van Dyke, who weighs 180 pounds soaking wet and with rocks in his pockets, is not lacking in confidence. Because when the top receivers in the league are discussed, names like Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson roll off the tongue. Bowe, with his unusual combination of bulk and speed that has resulted in 23 catches for 420 yards and four touchdowns in five games this season?"They'd better talk about him," said Raiders coach Hue Jackson. "The guy can play and he makes plays. He's a big athletic receiver with strong hands who can run with the ball after the catch who's had some very dominant football players in this league, so he is a problem for us."We're going to have to make sure we contain him and know where he is at all times. But he's a really, really good football player."And another potential test for Van Dyke."I was going against Chaz (Schilens) some this week in practice and he's a big, physical guy," Van Dyke said, "so hopefully, I do O.K. on Sunday."Other matchups worth watching:
Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) vs. Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) -- With so much relative uncertainty as to who will be under center for the Raiders, the focus turns again to the league's leading ground-gainer in McFadden, who has rushed for 610 yards on 111 carries.Thing is, if the Raiders quarterback cannot establish a decent passing game, the Chiefs will simply flood the box and dare McFadden to beat them by himself.And with McFadden more dangerous in open space and creating around the edges, that's where he might run into the rookie Houston, literally and figuratively."I have to come in and step up," McFadden said. "I feel like Carson has been doing a great job with the huddle. He has to get the plays down, but for the most part he's been doing good."Then there's the Boller situation, seeing as how he has been in the system for a few years already and developed a chemistry."He knows the offense and he knows the receivers and has the timing down with those guys so that's one of the things that's going to be (important). We have confidence in him so that's not going to be a problem."Might it be one, though, for Houston, a third-round draft pick from Georgia?Chiefs coach Todd Haley vs. memory of Al Davis -- We're joking here, somewhat, but Haley's lone personal encounter with the late Raiders owner is worth discussing again.It was at the Combine early in Haley's coaching career when Davis summoned the young coach over and asked to look at the cap he was wearing."I handed him the hat, of course," Haley recounted this week. "It was nothing special. It was like a New York Jets hat. He looked at it, studied it, looked inside it, outside, said, 'Thank you, coach,' and he handed it back."To this day, Haley has no idea what Davis wanted with his headgear.Might that memory creep back into Haley's noggin just long enough to distract him against the Raiders?Probably not. But it's still a good story.

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per spotrac.com:

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker wanted to go early, but slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have many options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take a solid spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick. Lee could well make an instant impact. 

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”