PAUL GUTIERREZ'S INSIDE TAKE
DOLPHINS 34, RAIDERS 14
McClain plays: Three days after being arrested in his home town of Decatur, Ala., on a variety of misdemeanor charges, including setting off a firearm in city limits, middle linebacker Rolando McClain played in the Raiders' game. He did not start, however, and came in on Oakland's third defensive play of the day. Many wondered if coach Hue Jackson would suspend McClain for conduct unbecoming. McClain finished with eight tackles.Reggie beats Michael in the Bush Bowl: Dolphins running back Reggie Bush rushed for 100 yards, with a touchdown, while Raiders running back Michael Bush ran for 18 yards. At halftime, Reggie led Michael, 79-5. In the third quarter, after getting blasted by Aaron Curry and dropping the pass, Reggie rolled over and did at least six pushups, to show he was O.K.The penalties return: A week after the Raiders committed just six penalties for 35 yards, they were flagged 10 times for 91 yards against the Dolphins. Not necessarily a game-turner, but it doesn't help.RoMac distraction, or injuries caught up: I'm going with injuries finally catching up with the Raiders. The lack of explosive playmakers with Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore and, the threat of Taiwan Jones, finally took its toll on Oakland. Last week, the Raiders slugged one out against the Bears. This week, not so much.No shutout this week: Threatened with being shut out for the second time this season -- the Raiders fell 28-0 to Kansas City on Oct. 23 -- Carson Palmer hit former Cincinnati Bengals teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a 40-yard TD pass with 7:51 to play. Then, Palmer hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a pretty three-yard TD pass with 3:29 to go.Chris Johnson returns: Cornerback Chris Johnson, who was THISCLOSE to being placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with his groin and hamstring issues last month, made a nice defensive play in the second quarter. He knocked down a deep pass down the sidelines to Brian Hartline and showed his elation.
The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.
They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.
Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.
“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”
While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.
The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.
“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.
"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”