Raiders

Raiders in full swing at first training camp practice

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Raiders in full swing at first training camp practice

July 28, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comPractice No. 1Summary: On a day when the Raiders could have had as many as 90 players on the field for the first practice of training camp, Oakland had 65 players practicing. Such is the norm around the league with free agents not able to sign until Friday and veterans who sign their contracts after the lockout not permitted to practice until Aug. 4. Still, the physicality of the practice, even if the Raiders were in helmets and shorts, no pads, was a far cry from the previous two years' four straight days of two-a-day "teaching sessions." This looked like a midseason, mid-week practice, not the first practice of a training camp. The passing game seemed to click, with Jason Campbell connecting with Jacoby Ford on a couple of downfield passes that beat Stanford Routt. The defensive line seemed downright ferocious and penetrated the backfield with aplomb. Again, for a first practice.

Injury report: Defensive tackle John Henderson, who suffered a stress fracture to his right foot last year, limped off the field with what appeared to be an injured left foot. "Oh, man, it's locking up a little bit," he said as he walked off the field following practice. Also, defensive end Trevor Scott (knee) is still recuperating from last season's knee surgery and guard Bruce Campbell and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey were out with undisclosed injuries. Coach Hue Jackson said Scott and Campbell were on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but that Heyward-Bey should practice soon.Eye on reps: No real surprises. Everything was as a depth chart could be expected. Was interesting to see Travis Goethel, though, filling in as the second-team middle linebacker, when he is expected to be the team's starting weak-side linebacker. Stock rising: Jackson pointed out rookie running back Taiwan Jones as someone who "flashed" during the nearly two-hour practice. He also praised the efforts of rookie center Stefen Wisniewski and rookie cornerback DeMarcus Van Dykes hips.Stock falling: With so many rumblings that the Raiders wanted Bruce Campbell to compete for the starting right guard position in this, his second season, an injury is a huge setback. Especially when you consider all of the missed OTA's, mini-camp and classroom time due to the lockout.Notable: Running back Michael Bennett looks as though he's put on many pounds of muscle -- an audition to be the team's fullback? -- but it did not help him when Richard Seymour crashed through the line and bounced him with ease. It was about as hard as you could hit someone without pads on.Quotable:Nervous? Me? I dont know about that. I dont get nervous about much. What I was probably most nervous about is just making sure I was out here on time. Theres so much stuff going on across the league. I was checking this, checking that. Thats about it. No, this was fun. This was the day I always dreamed of. So, there wasnt any nerves or anything like that. It was just exciting. It was fun. But now we go on to Day 2 and as this thing goes, we got to continue to push and keep getting better. - First-year coach Hue JacksonOn the sideline: Interesting to watch Heyward-Bey coaching up the young receivers during scrimmages. Also, rookie offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale showed up late but did not suit up for practice after becoming the eighth and final Raiders draftee to sign his contract, earlier in the day.To clarify: The earliest long-snapper Jon Condo and defensive end Jarvis Moss, both of whom have reportedly re-signed with Oakland, can practice is Aug. 4. Same goes for any of the Raiders' free agents, including restricted free agent running back Michael Bush, and their three "exclusive rights free agents," fullback Marcel Reece, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant and linebacker Bruce Davis. Bryant and Davis are both in Napa. Free agents can begin officially signing contracts with teams at 3 p.m. Pacific Time Friday.Next practice: Friday, 3:30 p.m.

With options at RT, Raiders to release veteran Austin Howard

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With options at RT, Raiders to release veteran 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 release just before training camp, according to a league source.

Howard confirmed the separation on social media with an early Friday morning 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 inked a five-year, $30 million contract with the Raiders early in the 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, mostly at right tackle.

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

He regained health recently after missing the offseason program, 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 competition, but Vadal Alexander will challenge him for a starting spot. Rookie forth-round pick David Sharpe will also compete.

The crop of talent left Howard with too-high a salary entering a tight position battle, and expendable.

The Raiders will have two spots available on their 90-man roster following the release of Howard and running back Taiwan Jones. 

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

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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.