Raiders

Raiders fire Hue Jackson

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Raiders fire Hue Jackson

PROGRAMMINGALERT: Tune into Raiders Press Conference Live on CSN California at 2 p.m..

In his season-ending media conference last week, Hue Jackson said he wanted to have a large role in deciding the direction of the Raiders going forward.

"As the head coach of this football team I would hope that the organization understands that I have a pretty good idea of where we need to go," Jackson said at the time." Because if not, then I shouldn't be where I'm sitting."

Tuesday morning, Reggie McKenzie pulled the chair out from beneath Jackson as the Raiders new general manager fired the first-year coach. The story was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Jackson told CSN Bay Area's Henry Wofford he was "shocked" by the developments after a morning meeting.

"We no longer need your services," Jackson said he was told.

When he asked McKenzie why that was, McKenzie replied, "I'm starting from scratch. I'm going to bring in my own guys."

Green Bay assistant head coachinside linebackers Winston Moss' name has been mentioned prominently. He is also a former Raider, having played for the Raiders from 1991 through 1994. The next head coach will be the Raiders 10th since the team returned from Los Angeles in 1995.

Jackson was hired prior to the 2010 season by late owner Al Davis as Tom Cable's offensive coordinator and, it was assumed, the coach-in-waiting. Davis promoted him upon the firing of Cable following an 8-8 season.

In his first year as a head coach at any level, Jackson endured the passing of Davis on Oct. 8, became the Raiders' de facto general manager in the aftermath and orchestrated trades for linebacker Aaron Curry and quarterback Carson Palmer and signed receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. And despite a spate of injuries, including losing quarterback Jason Campbell and running back Darren McFadden for the season on consecutive weeks after Davis' death, the Raiders were 7-4 and on the brink of returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 Super Bowl season.

But then middle linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., for allegedly firing a gun near a man's head, while purportedly back home for a grandfather's funeral, and Jackson offered no discipline, allowing McClain to play that weekend in Miami.

The Raiders dropped four of their last five games to finish 8-8, just like Cable, and lost the AFC West to Denver on tie-breakers. Particularly galling were late meltdowns by the defense, including 98- and 99 12-yard drives allowed at home to Detroit and San Diego. The 2011 team, under Jackson, set NFL single-season records for penalties (163) and penalty yards (1,358).

And despite Jackson greatly improving the offense, there had been rumors of unrest from many players that they did not trust Jackson in the wake of how he handled the Palmer deal, calling it "the greatest trade in football," despite it being for at least first- and a second-round draft picks.

Many in the building saw Jackson as having gone on a power trip since Davis' death, referring to him as "Hollywood Hue." Especially after he ripped the players following the season finale pratfall to the Chargers, saying he was "pissed" at him team and then explaining it the next day as, "The year is over now; now I can tell you what I really feel, and what's really on my mind."

Those types of comments were big no-no's with Davis alive.

McKenzie, meanwhile, is still scheduled to be introduced in a 2 p.m. PT press conference at the Raiders facility in Alameda.

Texts to owner Mark Davis and email and calls to several players had not been returned within an hour of the news of Jackson's firing breaking.

Raiders to release OL Austin Howard

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Raiders to release OL Austin Howard

The Raiders will release Austin Howard, one of their big free-agent signings from the 2014 offseason. The offensive lineman was informed of his released late Thursday or early Friday, according to a league source.

The player confirmed the separation on social media late Thursday night with this post: 

Howard was scheduled to make $4.9 million in base salary this season, with $2.4 million in dead money against the salary cap. The Raiders can afford the cap hit, but will enjoy the slowing salary cash flow in 2017.

Howard was one of the team’s biggest signings in 2014, inking a five-year, $30 million contract with the Raiders early in the 2014 unrestricted free agent signing period. Howard played right guard in his first season, but moved to tackle in the following two years. He made 39 starts in three seasons in silver and black, most at right tackle.

Howard played 2016 under duress. He worked through an ankle issue that season and had offseason shoulder surgery that impacted him throughout the Raiders offseason program.

He regained health this summer, but the Raiders chose to part ways with the veteran and focus on other options at right tackle. Marshall Newhouse has pole position in the position battle, but Vadal Alexander will challenge him for a starting spot. Rookie forth-round pick David Sharpe also has interest there.

That left Howard with a too-high salary entering a tight position battle, making him expendable when compared with other players along a stacked offensive line.

The Raiders will have two spots available on their 90-man roster, with Howard and running back Taiwan Jones being released. 

Here is Howard's full Instagram post: 

 

OAKLAND!!! A lifetime of memories have been made these past three years, and I am grateful for every single one of them. Unfortunately my time with the #Raiders has come to an end. To my OL dawgs, love y'all boys. #RaiderNation appreciate all your support, you guys are like none other. I came to Oakland my first year with a start of 0-10... through hard work and dedication we built a team that had more success it had in years, and thus we turned this group of players into a play-off bound and elite team. Starting on this Offensive line for the majority of that time is something that I'll never forget. One thing I can say is that no matter the situation, no matter if it was battling through injury, or political scrutiny that this business demands, I left it all out the for my teammates and always had and will always have their back. I will always be proud of that. Thank you to Mr. Davis and the Raiders organization/coaches that allowed me this opportunity. Thank you to my family, especially my parents, siblings, my friends, my agent Kevin Robinson, and last but DEFINITELY not least my beautiful wife Larissa who has been with me since the beginning, and through the thick and thin and has SELFLESSLY been the REAL reason that I've been able to do my job on the field for the passed seven seasons, for all your love, support, encouragement and prayers! To my baby girl, Daddy loves you and couldn't imagine this life without you! Having an opportunity and blessing to share all of this with you has been the biggest gift of all...As upsetting as it is, that "business" gets in the way of a good thing, I know that this is not the end of my NFL journey. Looking forward to what God has planned for me next... #DoubleSevens #NotDone #SomethingBigComingNext #NFL #DontBlink #Challenge #ImUpForIt #MovingForward #TrainsComin #GodIsGood #WatchThis #Oakland #YearEight #SeeYouSoon #UNI #Panthers

A post shared by Austin Howard (@realaustinhoward77) on Jul 28, 2017 at 12:38am PDT

Ten questions as Raiders open training camp

Ten questions as Raiders open training camp

The Raiders are a good football team. Rosters of this caliber generally don’t carry much uncertainty even into training camp, but questions still remain heading into training camp. There are a few key position battles, some important rookies to watch and, of course, to figure out what’s going on at inside linebacker. Instead of asking and answering my own questions, fans put topics on the table by submitting questions on my Facebook page. I picked the 10 best questions heading into a training camp that should provide answers.

1. Who will be the starting linebackers in Week 1? (Johnny Carrasco)
Head coach Jack Del Rio told NFL Network this offseason that the Raiders didn’t adequately address their interior linebacker position. He was right. They don’t have much depth or experience at middle linebacker or weakside linebacker, positions vital in interior run defense and pass coverage.

Cory James and Tyrell Adams ran the first unit during the offseason, with fifth-round rookie Marquel Lee and free-agent signee Jelani Jenkins on the second unit. The Raiders will continue to evaluate talent currently on the roster, but it remains likely a veteran will be added to the group before summer’s out.

Last year’s starter Perry Riley remains on the open market. So does Ray Maualuga and Connor Orr. More guys will become available after roster cuts. Right now, starting spots at middle linebacker and weakside linebacker are as wide open as it gets.

2. I'm wondering who the last receiver on the active roster will be? I like Mickens and Holton and I know you like (KJ) Brent. Who wins? (Landon Weber)
There were several questions about the No. 3 receiver spot, but Seth Roberts will hold on to his position in the slot. Cordarrelle Patterson is the No. 4 guy, and could be involved more on offense than previous years in Minnesota.

Johnny Holton was the No. 5 guy last year, and his speed and special teams prowess could help keep the job. He’ll be pushed by first-year players Jaydon Mickens and K.J. Brent and some undrafted rookies. I do like Brent’s size and ability, but ultimately think Holton holds on to his roster spot.

3. Who will be the odd man out at safety (Nelson, Joseph, Obi)?? (Steve Guzman)
Reggie Nelson will play most every snap at free safety. Karl Joseph should do the same at strong safety. I still wouldn’t say there’s an odd man out. Second-round rookie Obi Melifonwu will have plenty to do as a rookie if he continues to develop this summer. The Raiders hope to use him in sub packages to cover tight ends or extra receivers in the slot. He has great size and coverage skills, and could be an asset especially with uncertainty at interior linebacker. All three guys should see significant snaps and play more to their strengths.

4. How many carriers per game are we expecting to see from Lynch? How much platooning should we expect in our backfield? (Joe Ram)
Marshawn Lynch has taken significant carries in seasons past, with at least 280 carries from 2011-14. He is now 31 and a year removed from football, so it’s unrealistic to think his carry county returns to previous levels.

The Raiders ran 434 times last year, with 195 carries given to lead back Latavius Murray. That total might be a target for Lynch, especially if Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington continue producing well. While his action should be limited in camp, the Raiders can adjust Lynch’s workload based upon health and effectiveness, with an eye on keeping him strong down the stretch.

5. I have (Shilique) Calhoun improving and having a bigger role on the D-line. Does anyone else look good in that group? (Alexander Duarte)
Calhoun wasn’t impactful as Bruce Irvin’s understudy, though he didn’t get many defensive snaps to show his stuff. He bulked up this offseason in hopes of fitting in better with this defense.

He’ll join a pass rush that finished last with 25 sacks last season and a supporting cast that must help Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin get to the quarterback. Mario Edwards Jr. will play a huge part in that. He’s an impactful interior pass rusher, and could fare well playing right next to one of the edge rushers. Rookie Eddie Vanderdoes could help right away on the inside, and coaches expect Jihad Ward to be more productive in his second season. The Raiders long to be impactful without blitzing, meaning the front must be consistently get penetration on their own.

6. What’s going on with Aldon Smith? Damn, the dude has served a long enough suspension. (Chris Pehrson)
Aldon Smith has stayed out of the public eye for the past few months, a positive from his perspective after run-ins with the law this spring. That included him being a passenger of a vehicle that hit an unmarked police car. The driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI and Smith didn’t seem right during interviews after the incident.

Bill Williamson of FanRag Sports reported Wednesday that Smith isn’t close to being reinstated to the league. The Raiders aren’t counting on Smith’s return soon. Also, as a note, Smith isn’t suspended. He has been banished from the NFL as a repeat offender of the league’s substance abuse policy, and commissioner Roger Goodell has complete authority on when and whether to review his application for reinstatement. There is no timetable to do so.

7. Do you think we can be a middle of the pack defense this season? (Peyman Bastani)
It’s certainly possible. If that’s the case, the Raiders should win a lot of games. Derek Carr’s offense is potent and should score a ton. Keeping teams down even a little might sap some drama from results and help the Raiders stack wins.

The pass defense must improve in order to do that, and the interior linebackers must provide consistent play against the run and pass. Can they do that? Time will tell.

8. How do you think the defensive backfield will work out, with rookies and depth? (Todd Sheehan)
Sean Smith and David Amerson should start at outside cornerback, with Gareon Conley in the slot. Reggie Nelson will be the free safety and Karl Joseph is the strong safety, with an ability to play both spots. Obi Melifonwu will help as a hybrid safety/linebacker in sub packages as well.

There will be some competition at cornerback. Conley could push for a full-time job, starting over Smith or Amerson in the base defense while moving inside in the nickel package. TJ Carrie is also in the mix, and can play inside and out.

9. Is (Marshall) Newhouse still leading the RT battle? (Cody Knudtson)
He is, even after missing work in the offseason program. The free agent signing has pole position right now, though Vadal Alexander will certainly push him throughout camp. Austin Howard is another factor, and will try to re-claim a starting spot he held most of the last two years. Should he come up short in that effort, he might end up on the chopping block in the interest of saving the Raiders some cash.

10. How much variation do you see from (assistant head coach – defense John Pagano)? Is he greasing the wheels or reinventing the secondary (Parker, via Twitter)
I would definitely choose option A. Pagano isn’t changing the Raiders defensive scheme. He’s working to improve its execution through better communication. He’ll spend significant time with the secondary on working better together and disguising coverage. He’ll also have input on the game plan – head coach Jack Del Rio also has significant say -- and how to use player strengths, but defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. remains the play caller.