Raiders-Dolphins: Key matchups

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Raiders-Dolphins: Key matchups

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Amid the backdrop of the Rolando McClain distraction, a cavalcade of injured playmakers and a just as unlikely exciting playoff chase, the first-place Raiders have a game to play.Against a very dangerous opponent whose poor record belies the talent on Miami's roster.Throw in the fact that the Dolphins have owned the Raiders in recent years -- Miami has won eight of the past nine meetings, including five of the last six in South Florida -- and that the Dolphins have not played since Thanksgiving, you get the sense the Raiders could be walking into, as "Revenge of the Jedi" icon Admiral Ackbar would say, a trap.The Raiders (7-4) are aiming to win their fourth straight for the first time since 2002; the Dolphins (3-8) won three in a row after starting 0-7 and dropped that 20-19 heartbreaker at Dallas on Turkey Day.A look, then, at some key on-field matchups to watch Sunday morning from Sun Life Stadium:TALE OF THE TAPE
Raiders LB Aaron Curry: 6-2, 255, Wake Forest, third season
Dolphins RB Reggie Bush: 6-0, 203, USC, sixth seasonOf course, this matchup could get screwy if Curry has to play middle linebacker in place of McClain for extended snaps.Bush does his damage when he turns the corner, and Curry, who is at his best when he's on the weak side chasing the ball with his blazing speed, is that rare linebacker fast enough to actually catch someone with Bush's quickness.Bush has had a renaissance season, of sorts, in his first year with the Dolphins after five seasons in New Orleans, which had made him the No. 2 overall pick out of USC in 2006. With 567 rushing yards on the season, Bush needs 15 yards against the Raiders to set a single-season career high.Sounds modest, right? Still, he maintains game-breaking speed when he gets around the corner and the Raiders run defense has been known to disappear at times, particularly against scatback-type backs like Bush."Yeah it's something we are aware of and something we would like to exploit a little bit," said Bush, who is averaging 4.3 yards per carry and scored four rushing touchdowns."We'll see what happens when game time comes. It's definitely something we're very well aware of and something we want to take full advantage of."Bush, though, has had his share of growing pains in Miami's offense, even as he has also caught 35 passes for 237 yards and a TD."He's done a good job of running the ball hard, making hard yards and has made a lot of big plays for us," said Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. "So Reggie's playing better and better, and a large part of that has to do with us figuring out how to use Reggie. In other words, he's a complete different back than we've had here in the last three or four years. Had to figure out how to use him a little bit, and we're doing a better job of that. Reggie's doing the rest."From the Raiders' perspective, though, the job of containing Bush comes down to Curry, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 draft who was acquired in a trade with Seattle on Oct. 13."He's been outstanding," Oakland coach Hue Jackson said of Curry. "Just his energy, his professionalism, his character. How he comes to practice, how he comes to work everyday as a pro has been outstanding. And not that the other guys didn't. This guy plays the game, in my opinion, the way it's supposed to be played -- with some toughness and some aggression and some enthusiasm."And I love that about him and I love what he's doing. And I think he's truly impacted our defensive football team."But will he make an impact against Bush?Other matchups worth watching:
Raiders C Samson Satele (64) vs. Dolphins NT Paul Soliai (96) -- What Soliai lacks in stats -- he has 21 tackles and no sacks -- the 6-feet-4, 355-pounder more than makes up for in size.Though it might not be bigger than the chip on the 6-3, 300-pound Satele's shoulder.Satele spent the first two years of his career in Miami, which drafted him in the second round in 2007 out of Hawaii, and this will be his first time back to play here since the Raiders acquired him in a March, 2009 trade.And after the Raiders, which had the No. 2-ranked rushing attack in the NFL last season, were held to a mere 16 yards on the ground by the Dolphins in a 33-17 loss to Miami last year, Satele has a lot to prove. Especially if Oakland's ground attack against Miami's 3-4 defense starts with the guy who hikes the ball.Raiders QB Carson Palmer (3) vs. Dolphins LB Jason Taylor (99) -- Yes, I realize Taylor has seen better days -- much better days -- and that he is technically a backup at strongside linebacker to Koa Misi on the depth chart.But these are precisely the games for which Taylor gets up, and Palmer needs to pay attention to where the 15-year veteran is whenever he's on the field.In seven career games against the Raiders, Taylor has nine sacks.And Palmer has had decent success against the Dolphins secondary in his career. In three career games against Miami, Palmer is 2-1, completing 61 of 108 passes (56.5 percent) for 619 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions for a 76.9 passer rating.In his lone game at Miami, back on Dec. 30, 2007, Palmer was 23-32 for 316 yards with three TD's.

Raiders head to NFL owners meetings looking for Las Vegas approval

Raiders head to NFL owners meetings looking for Las Vegas approval

PHOENIX -- All signs point to the Raiders being approved for relocation to Las Vegas. It could happen as early as Monday, when the topic will be discussed at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. It could be Tuesday. Or in May. Or at any point in a conference call.

The timing is less important than the ultimate outcome. The when is uncertain. The what seems likely, though not guaranteed, at this stage.

The Raiders need 24 of 32 approval votes to relocate and start construction on new digs.

The Raiders have presented a solid application to the NFL, centered on a stadium proposal in Las Vegas that includes $750 million in public funds for stadium construction. Bank of America, who is financing the project, is expected to loan the Raiders money to complete a financing plan that includes the public contribution and $500 million from the team and the NFL.

The Sports Business Journal reported on Sunday that the estimated stadium cost has dropped to $1.7 billion, and will receive $200 million in infrastructure improvements not included in their construction contribution.

League sources continue to say approval is expected. There is great confidence within the Raiders organization a vote will go their way.

Some issues remain, though none are significant roadblocks. A stadium lease hasn’t been finalized and a site hasn’t been formally announced – it’s reportedly set for a spot just off the Las Vegas Strip near Russell Road – so approval would likely come with conditions that could be met in time.

The Raiders worked a sweetheart deal that mines significant money from the public. They don’t have investors with direct ties to gambling. And, as important as anything else, the NFL doesn’t believe Oakland has a viable plan to keep the Raiders in an otherwise attractive, booming market.

That includes the latest proposal from the Oakland and financial partner Fortress Investments announced on Friday that makes certain concessions aimed at getting the Raiders back to the table.

The Silver and Black haven’t worked with East Bay officials in more than as year, as they’ve shifted complete focus to their Las Vegas quest.

The revised Oakland plan didn’t move the needle, a league executive said. That point was made crystal clear in a letter NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent to Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf.

“The material that we reviewed earlier today confirms certain information that had previously been communicated orally, such as a willingness to bring bank financing to a stadium project, and a proposed valuation of the land at the Coliseum site,” Goodell wrote in a letter obtained by Bay Area News Group. “It also confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in a reasonable time. In that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable timeframe, and free of major contingencies.”

That virtually eliminates the prospect of Oakland planting doubt in NFL owners’ minds heading into a pivotal discussion on the topic Monday at the Arizona Biltmore hotel.

It’s possible the stadium and finance committee will make a formal recommendation on the Raiders application to relocate. That could precede a vote, and generally holds significant weight among undecided owners.

A league source said the new Oakland plan will be a talking point, though it may not be viewed in a flattering light. That’s especially true in light of Goodell’s letter.

“At this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed, or the specific and contractually-defined nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties,” Goodell wrote. “In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A’s remains a significant complication and the resolution of that issue remains unknown. Other significant uncertainties, which we have previously identified, remain unaddressed. We had hoped that the past two years would have allowed both of us to develop a viable project.”

Peterson blasts report over salary demands, outlines main objectives

Peterson blasts report over salary demands, outlines main objectives

Adrian Peterson played defense on Friday night.

Hours after a report suggesting that the four-time All-Pro running back was still a free agent due to salary demands, the former Viking posted a lengthy statement on Instagram along with a video of his running an agility drill.

"YOU CANT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ OR HEAR PEOPLE. The last thing I'm worried about is playing ball this coming season ... that WILL HAPPEN! It's not all about the money as EVERYONE is speculating here lately. You'd THINK these analysts spoke to me directly. When you don't know what's going on people will say anything to create or make a story! How prideful is it for me to put out ... I won't play for anything less than 8 million! But see, when you don't know a person or what they stand for it's easy to paint YOUR OWN PICTURE. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in! Here is something Straight from the horse's mouth ... finding the best fit & helping a team in a major way win a championship is my main objective! I'm in no rush. Let me eliminate questions or speculation as to why... I believe whole heartedly my God will land me right where I need to be to accomplish what I've asked from him PERIOD"

Early in the free agency period, the Raiders were linked to Peterson, but nothing came of those rumors.

The Raiders, in need of a feature back after Latavius Murray signed with the Vikings, are reportedly pursuing the possibility of luring Oakland-native Marshawn Lynch out of retirement.

Peterson was scheduled to make $18 million in 2017, but the Vikings declined to exercise his contract, making him a free agent. The 2012 NFL MVP turned 32 on March 21 and played in just three games in 2016 due to a major knee injury.

According to the ESPN report, Peterson was looking for a contract that paid him over $8 million in the first year of the deal.

YOU CANT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ OR HEAR PEOPLE. The last thing I'm worried about is playing ball this coming season ... that WILL HAPPEN! It's not all about the money as EVERYONE is speculating here lately. You'd THINK these analysts spoke to me directly. When you don't know what's going on people will say anything to create or make a story! How prideful is it for me to put out ... I won't play for anything less than 8 million! But see, when you don't know a person or what they stand for it's easy to paint YOUR OWN PICTURE. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in! Here is something Straight from the horse's mouth ... finding the best fit & helping a team in a major way win a championship is my main objective! I'm in no rush. Let me eliminate questions or speculation as to why... I believe whole heartedly my God will land me right where I need to be to accomplish what I've asked from him PERIOD

A post shared by Adrian L Peterson (@adrianpeterson) on