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 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.”