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.

Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence


Report: Former Raiders RB arrested for domestic violence

Trent Richardson is reportedly in some trouble.

Richardson was arrested on Thursday night for domestic violence, according to TMZ Sports.

The former running back was taken into custody on a third degree charge, the report states, with bail being set for $1,000.

The arrest was made in Hoover, Alabama.

The Browns selected Richardson with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft.

He was traded to the Colts in 2013 and played for Indianapolis in 2014.

He signed with the Raiders in 2015 and appeared in three exhibition games, but did not make the team.

The 26-year old was cut by the Ravens last August.

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Downing: Carr will have increased influence on Raiders game plan

Derek Carr and Todd Downing are tight. A strong friendship was forged between the Raiders’ franchise quarterback and his position coach these past two seasons, one that should help the Raiders now that Downing will call plays.

The Raiders new offensive coordinator will use his young signal caller as a resource formulating a game plan. Carr has a bright offensive mind – he called his own plays in high school and in college at times – and Downing plans to use it to put his quarterback in positions to succeed.

Carr’s influence in preparation will expand over previous seasons under coordinator Bill Musgrave.

“Where I see him needing a little bit more command is just being able to share his thoughts of game plans,” Downing said Wednesday in a conference call. “Being a student of the game, as he already is, but vocalize what he likes and doesn’t like. I think my relationship with him is something that’s going to give him the opportunity to voice his opinions. I look forward to him really taking charge of expressing his thoughts on the offense.”

Carr has always had freedom to adjust at the line of scrimmage, but that could increase with Downing in charge. Derek Carr’s brother Davis Carr told 95.7 The Game as much a few weeks ago, a topic Downing addressed on Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot made about his command at the line of scrimmage,” Downing said. “There’s certainly going to be opportunities for Derek to do that. That’s not something I feel we’ll even have to get into until we’re much further into this offseason and into training camp.”

Downing had opportunities to interview with other teams this offseason, but head coach Jack Del Rio wanted to pair Downing and Carr together. The young duo have similar personalities and a strong working relationship based on a love of the game.

“My relationship with Derek starts there,” Downing said in Wednesday interview on 95.7-FM. “We both love coming to work each day and respect the heck out of each other. When you have that kind of relationship with any coach, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Derek’s the leader of our franchise. In my opinion, he’s the best young quarterback in football. We’re fortunate to have him. Why wouldn’t I be in a good mood every time I am around him?”

Carr made great progress working with Downing the past two years, and was an MVP candidate in 2016. Downing sees continued room for growth and refinement as next season approaches.

“I think Derek made big strides in 2016, just in terms of his command of the offense, being the field general, being able to get through progressions more efficiently,” Downing said. “His footwork took big strides. I certainly want him to remain focused on all of those attributes. You don’t want to feel like you’ve arrived in a certain area of your game and then have it go backwards when the next season starts. Certainly, I want him focused on all of those.”