Raiders-Jets matchups to watch


Raiders-Jets matchups to watch

ALAMEDA -- While last week's matchup in Buffalo had all the makings of a classic trap game for the Raiders, this week's offers the same predicament for the New York Jets.Consider: the Jets played their first two at home and the last time they came to Oakland, which, by the way, is playing its home opener before a sold-out crowd, New York handed the Raiders their worst-ever home loss, 38-0, in 2009. Plus, the Jets will be without an integral part of their offensive line and just might be looking ahead to the next two weeks with East Coast holy wars at Baltimore and New England on the horizon.A look, then, at some key matchups to watch Sunday afternoon:Raiders defensive tackles Richard Seymour (92), Tommy Kelly (93) and John Henderson (79) vs. Jets center Colin Baxter (64)TALE OF THE TAPESeymour: 6-6, 310, Georgia, eleventh seasonKelly: 6-6, 300, Mississippi State, eighth seasonHenderson: 6-7, 335, Tennessee, tenth seasonBaxter: 6-3, 310, Arizona, first seasonNick Mangold is seen as the best center in the NFL. He is also out with a high ankle sprain. Enter Baxter, an undrafted rookie who was cut by San Diego in September and will be making his first career start.On the road. In the Black Hole. Against behemoths in Seymour, Kelly and, on occasion, Henderson.Surely, the Raiders interior defensive linemen must be licking their chops, right? Meh..."Nothing really, I don't change too much," Kelly said. "We have to really redeem ourselves from last week. Buffalo put up 200 (rushing yards) on us. We can't let that happen again. The Jets run the ball a lot on first and second down. They try to establish the tempo of the game. We've just got to knock their guys back and get early penetration so we can get them into third and long."Thing is, though, through both necessity (Baxter's inexperience) and film (watching Buffalo carve up the Raiders with quick, short passes), the Jets just might switch up their gameplan, making the matchup between Baxter and the Raiders defensive tackles a non-story.Not that the Raiders are anticipating that, either."They play well as a group," Seymour said of the Jets O-line. "So, it's not like they're depending so much on one guy. It's a group effort on the offensive line. They'll do different things -- I'm not saying, cover him up -- but they'll have different plays orit's not like the quarterback's not there, or something like that, a position like that where you're out in the open."It's in the trenches, so to the average fan, they probably won't even notice it."But the grunts down in the trenches most definitely will.Other matchups worth watching Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt (26) vs. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) -- Should the Raiders stuff the Jets run game, all eyes will shift to New York's signal caller. And for good reason. With visions of Sanchez chowing down on a hot dog the last time he was in Oakland, as a rookie in 2009, he might have to beat the Raiders himself. Which would play into the Oakland's gameplan, even as the Raiders were carved up by Ryan Fitzpatrick a week ago.And with the Jets boasting a three-headed receiving monster of Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason, not even Routt is sure who his assignment will be on Sunday. He'll just line up on the left side. And Sanchez could take a page from Fitzpatrick's book."This is a copycat league, so whatever you don't handle one week, you will see it until you can stop it," Routt said. "So I wouldn't be surprised."Raiders receiver Denarius Moore (17) vs. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) -- Revis Island is usually on one side of the field. But with Moore's breakout performance in Buffalo, catching five balls for 146 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown, wouldn't it be just like the three-time Pro Bowler to shadow Moore to see what the rookie is all about and introduce him to the NFL?"I think he's a solid receiver," Revis said. "They have a lot of weapons on that team and there's been a lot of guys that's been hurt. (Louis) Murphy has been hurt. Jacoby (Ford) has been hurt. So, you know, (Moore) filled right in for those guys, filled some big shoes and he's out there making plays as well."

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.

Source: Raiders release one of their longest-tenured players


Source: Raiders release one of their longest-tenured players

Taiwan Jones was one of the longest tenured Raiders entering 2017, one of the few acquired by late owner Al Davis.

The Raiders released Jones on Thursday morning, a league source said, concluding his six-year run with the club.

The running back turned defensive back turned running back (again) carved a niche on special teams as a gunner and quality cover man.

He wasn’t an offensive asset, pushing him firmly on the roster bubble. It burst just before camp.

The San Francisco native and Antioch Deer Valley High alum was a popular locker room presence during his time in Oakland. His speed was always attractive, but durability and ball security issues dectracted from more positive traits.

Jones had just five offensive touches last season and just eight kickoff returns. Cordarrelle Patterson is an All-Pro returner and an excellent gunner. Johnny Holton also serves as a speedy cover man on special teams.

Releasing Jones now gives him a full preseason to latch on with another team.

Only long snapper Jon Condo and kicker Sebastian Janikowksi remain on the roster from the Al Davis era.

The Raiders now sit one player below the 90-man roster limit, a vacancy that should be filled soon.

ESPN first reported the news.