Raiders key matchup No. 1: Gaither vs. Newton

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Raiders key matchup No. 1: Gaither vs. Newton

Editor's note: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Panthers matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at Bank of America Stadium.

[MATCHUP NO. 1: Raiders vs. easter time zone]

[MATCHUP NO. 2: Mike Goodson vs. Luke Kuechly]

Raiders MLB Omar Gaither vs. Panthers QB Cam Newton

Tale of the tape
Gaither (53): 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, seventh season, Tennessee
Newton (1): 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, second season, Auburn

CHARLOTTE -- So, is Cam Newton more "icon," or "entertainer" for Carolina?

The Raiders figure to get a full dose of both Sunday, as well as Newton's athletic blend of power and speed. It will be a familiar sight for middle linebacker Omar Gaither, who spent last season with the Panthers.

"He's big and fast," Gaither said. "If he were playing a different position it would probably be (defensive) end. And a guy who can run. He has every tool you need in a quarterback, and he can beat you with his feet. So you basically need to keep him in front and contain him on the edges.

"You see the highlights every week of him getting a 60-yard scamper. Those are the kind of things that kill your defense. You just have to contain him."

Indeed, not only is Newton leading the Panthers in passing with 3,461 yards through the air, he is also Carolina's leading rusher, running for 647 yards thus far. Only three other players in league history have led their respective team in both categories in a season, Bobby Douglass, Randall Cunningham (four times) and Donovan McNabb.

"You have to have your antennas up every play, every down," Gaither said. "So it's not like, OK, third down, they have a running quarterback, let's spy him. No. Because he might take off on first down with the read-option.

"That's just the challenge that that team presents for us. Steve Smith is still rolling. Those running backs are good. But you've got to stop Cam."

Newton was so frustrated early in the year that he jokingly said he needed a "suggestion box" from media and fans to help him get out of his slump. Apparently, it worked.

In his last five games, Newton has thrown 10 touchdowns without an interception and has a 109.8 passer rating in that time frame. In his last seven games, he has 17 TDs (13 passing, four rushing) and two turnovers. He has not thrown an interception in his last 152 pass attempts, dating to Nov. 11, the longest such active streak in the NFL.

And having thrown for 7,502 career yards , Newton needs 373 yards to eclipse Peyton Manning for most yards passing in a player's first two NFL seasons. He also has 21 rushing touchdowns, the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 20 rushing TDs in his first two years.

Only running backs Arian Foster (24), Adrian Peters (23) and Marshawn Lynch (22) have rushed for more touchdowns the past two seasons/

"He's a 'wow' player," Gaither said. "Some stuff you can't practice for it. It's like if you're playing against Kobe (Bryant), you know what he can do, but somehow he still hangs 40 (points) on you. You've got to contain him, keep him bottled up and not let him (break one).

"Maybe if he gets a five-, six-, seven- or eight-yard scamper here or there, that's fine. Just don't let him go for 50. And that's kind of what you have to do with him."

Oakland stadium authority director doesn't want Raiders in 2019

Oakland stadium authority director doesn't want Raiders in 2019

PHOENIX – The Raiders hope to play the next three years in the Bay Area before moving to Las Vegas. They were approved to relocate on Monday at the NFL owners meetings, but can’t leave right away because Las Vegas doesn’t have a suitable temporary NFL venue.

The Raiders have team options on one-year leases to play at Oakland Coliseum during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and are expected to do exactly that. Owner Mark Davis said he’s open to negotiating a lease to play the 2019 season there as well before moving into new Vegas digs in 2020.

The Oakland Coliseum authority may not grant that request.

"I would say to you with the highest level of confidence, my opinion and recommendation and that of my board members, I don’t believe there is any appetite for a third season (in Oakland),” director of the Oakland Coliseum joint powers authority Scott McKibben told USA Today.

McKibben said hosting a Raiders game is a financial loss for the JPA.

If the Raiders can’t reach an agreement to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2019, they have other options in the Bay Area, though none is ideal. They could play at Cal’s Memorial Stadium or use Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara as a last resort in the Bay Area, sources told CSN California reporter Scott Bair.

They could renovate UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium – locker room and security upgrades are mandatory – though the Raiders would prefer to avoid that route.

Raiders HC Jack Del Rio believes he could help Aldon Smith

Raiders HC Jack Del Rio believes he could help Aldon Smith

PHOENIX – Raiders edge rusher Aldon Smith has been banished from the NFL for over 16 months now as a repeat offender of the league’s substance abuse policy.

Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t ruled on Smith’s reinstatement application and it’s hard to imagine movement coming soon on that front after a pair of recent run-ins with the law.

He was reportedly involved in a domestic incident and was questioned by San Francisco police last month. Then he was a passenger in a vehicle that hit an unmarked police car on March 10, an incident where the driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Smith seemed out of sorts when interviewed by media after emerging from a San Francisco police station.

Smith’s banishment states he can’t have contact with Raiders personnel outside the director of player engagement, a stipulation head coach Jack Del Rio has criticized in the past.

He did so again Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings, saying it’s unfortunate the organization can’t support Smith during difficult times.

“It’s a little bit frustrating to not be able to be a part of the process,” Del Rio said. “My feel is that I could help him, but the experts know. The experts don’t allow that. We have to follow the rules.

“It does get frustrating to not be able to help a young man and provide support and provide structure. Somebody else has to make those decisions. It’s just out of my hands.”

The Raiders can’t petition for greater involvement, and are therefore in a wait-and-see mode regarding their troubled, yet talented player.

“He has to get himself together,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “(Smith’s status) is totally on the league office. They know more than what we know.”