Raiders key matchup No. 1: Mitchell vs. Graham


Raiders key matchup No. 1: Mitchell vs. Graham

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Saints matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (Fox), at ColiseumRaiders SS Mike Mitchell vs. Saints TE Jimmy GrahamTale of the tape
Mitchell (3): 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, fourth season, Ohio
Graham (9): 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, third season, Miami (Fla.)ALAMEDA -- Just how good is Jimmy Graham?"I think you know the answer to that," Raiders strong safety Tyvon Branch said with a smirk.The question, then, becomes this -- who defends Graham if Branch's sore neck keeps him from playing against the Saints and his streak of 57 straight starts ends, as expected?Paging Mike Mitchell, who has had some success in the past covering the likes of San Diego's Antonio Gates."If they call my number and Im able to play some, I just want to go do what I do and make plays," Mitchell said. "I think Jimmy Graham is one of the better tight ends in the game, especially now since were kind of transitioning from the tight end position. Hes definitely one of the younger, better tight ends that you can go up against so its definitely something that excites me."I feel like if you can defend those guys well, that says something about you so Im always looking to improve my game and to get some success going against guys with bigger names. Obviously, I know I have a heck of a challenge but I cant wait for it. I can genuinely say that Im preparing to play a very good football game."Graham, meanwhile, has been playing at an elite level the past two-plus seasons.The converted basketball player who played just one year of college football has 23 touchdowns since 2010, the most among NFC tight ends in that time span, and has a TD catch in nine of his last 11 games.Last year, Graham had a franchise-record 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 TDs and was selected to the Pro Bowl."He's got real confidence, and right now he's aggressive," said Raiders backup tight end Richard Gordon, who played with Graham at Miami. "He used to not want to get hit, but now he'll hit you. He changed a lot. He's blocking and everything now. That's the best thing of his game now. He's all-around."This season, Graham has 45 receptions for 533 yards and seven scores after catching seven passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns last week in handing the Atlanta Falcons their first loss of the season.He would also enjoy a six-inch height and 45-pound advantage against Mitchell."We understand the monster that were playing and I cant say it enough, its a very good football team," Mitchell said. "We've just got to do our best to do our jobs and do what were coached to do and make plays when were given the opportunity."With Drew Brees throwing the ball to Graham, Mitchell should have plenty of opportunities.

Notes: Del Rio wants Raiders to reflect inward after ugly loss in Washington

Notes: Del Rio wants Raiders to reflect inward after ugly loss in Washington

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio gives his players Monday off. Tuesday is generally an in-season rest day, but the Silver and Black get the day after a game to be away from the facility.

“There’s some raw emotion on the day after the game, so I think that helps you maybe teach a little better,” Del Rio said in his Monday press conference. Things need to be taught. That’s one of the biggest benefits to the structure.”

Del Rio called this a "miserable Monday," where his team will be widely criticized for a disatrous 27-10 loss to Washington. 

They’ll spend one more day reviewing it during what Del Rio dubs “Tell the Truth Tuesday." It won't be terribly fun, especially after getting outplayed and outcoached.

It’s a day for corrections, development and one last look back before pouring focus forward the Denver Broncos.

The Washington loss only counts as one. It can become two if that game’s hangover lasts all week. Del Rio is good keeping his players locked on the next task.

He’ll also have to keep them from pressing like they did in Washington.

“We were really looking for that spark, probably pressing early in the game,” Del Rio said. “Offensively, we got out of rhythm. We threw, in the first four drives, two picks and two three-and-outs. We weren’t in rhythm, obviously. They executed. It really wasn’t anything overwhelming. They played some solid, basic coverage and we didn’t execute and they did. It’s just one of those days. It’s an opportunity to learn. Recognize what went wrong.”

Explaining what went awry will be key this Tuesday. There was a lot. Quarterback Derek Carr tried to put the team on his back, to no avail. Carr had a rare dud, and took full responsibility for the loss after the game.

“That’s good for all of us,” Del Rio said. “To me, that’s what we need to do. It starts with me, obviously there are a lot of things that each guy can look at and say ‘this is what I can do better.’ That’s what I want. I want us to reflect inward and see how we can do things ourselves better and then pull together as a team. Stick together, pull together and go forward. That’s what you do.”

Keeping an eye on Crabtree:
Receiver Michael Crabtree took a big hit to the chest from Montae Nicholson on Sunday night and did not return to the game. That leaves his availability in some question.

“We’ll take a close look at him and make sure there’s nothing significant going on,” Del Rio said. “I know the doctors cleared for him to travel with us coming back which was good. He took a good shot. It was a clean hit, a good shot. Crab’s a tough guy so I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”

More Marshawn?
Raiders lead running back Marshawn Lynch only touched the ball seven times at Washington. He had six carries for 18 yards and an eight-yard catch. That isn’t enough for this Raiders offense to function well, but Sunday was a unique circumstance. The Raiders fell behind early and couldn’t sustain drives.

“When you have as many three-and-outs and you only take 50 snaps of offense, you can talk about all the things that you left on the drawing board that you would have liked to have gotten to,” Del Rio said. “Certainly, there was a lot of offense that we had designed to get to, including touches for him, but 0-for-11 on third down says all you need to know. When you’re talking about, does your running back get a chance to run it as much as you’d like, when you’re 0-for-11 on third down you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities anywhere with your offense.”

Norman targets Crabtree, Cooper in postgame rant after Raiders loss


Norman targets Crabtree, Cooper in postgame rant after Raiders loss

Josh Norman isn’t afraid to speak his mind, especially about opposing receivers who he feels slight him in some way.

Raiders wideouts Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were his latest targets, subjects of a postgame rant following Washington’s 27-10 victory over the Silver and Black.

Washington’s premier cornerback said the duo talked trash to him during pregame warmups about big numbers they planned to post against Washington’s secondary.

That didn’t happen in an awful day for the Raiders offense. Crabtree had one seven-yard catch on the night and two drops. Cooper was even worse, with a six-yard catch on five targets and a crucial drop.

That gave Norman license to fire at the typically reserved Raiders receiving corps. Norman says he took the pregame exchange personally.

"What was personal, other than them getting their tails whupped?" Norman said, with quotes via "I mean, first and foremost, you don't come up in here and say what you're going to put up on somebody. Two hundred yards? (Crabtree) didn't catch two balls. He only caught one, huh? So please, whatever you do, do not run your mouth if you're a wide receiver and expect to show up on Sundays, because I'm telling you, we are here and we are waiting.

"Don't come out here and tell me what you're going to do. Show me. You're going to have to run through me to get that."

It’s hard to imagine the quiet, often stoic Cooper inciting a rivalry with words. Crabtree has had a previous squabble with Seahawks corner Richard Sherman back when he was with the 49ers, but even he's typically quiet during the course of a game.

"Sherm was right,” Norman said. “(Crabtree) ain't going to say he's sorry, but I don't think he's sorry," Norman said. "He sucked, to be honest with you. You don't come out here and do that extra stuff, man. We don't play that out here."

Norman had several public exchanges with rival receivers, and may find motivation from these beefs.

"Whatever that young cat said, Coop, go and take it back," Norman said. "Crabtree? I have nothing to say to you. Yes, I may be Cover 2, but I'm Cover 1 too. I'm Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3 and Cover 4. All of them. All of the ingredients to make a perfect attack. We do all the extra stuff. When you come out on this field, you going to see about us."