EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Steelers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS) at O.co Coliseum.
Matchup No. 3: Michael Huff vs. Mike Wallace
Matchup No. 2: Richard Seymour vs. Ben Roethlisberger
Raiders QB Carson Palmer vs. the Steelers' defense
Tale of the tape
Palmer: 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, 10th season, USC
Steelers defense: No. 1 overall in 2011 -- No. 1 against the pass, No. 8 against the runIt would be a huge understatement to say Palmer is intimately familiar with the Steelers defense. All he did as a quarterback in Cincinnati was prepare to face the Steelers twice a year from 2003 through 2010, plus a playoff game.And in 12 career regular season starts against the Steelers, he has a passer rating of 76.7, having completed 57.1 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.So yeah, he has an inkling as to what to expect from the Steelers, even if strong safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison are sitting this one out due to injury."There's some different pieces to the puzzle, but it's really the same scheme," Palmer said. "But as far as preparing for a fist fight in the trenches, battles on the outside and getting rid of the ball on time and finding ways to run the ball, thats the way you prepare for them every time you play against them. Its the No. 1 defense in the league, it seems like, every year, every couple of years."So, you just know going into the game that its going to be a fist fight for four quarters."With the Raiders struggling so mightily to run the ball through three games as they implement their new zone-blocking scheme and West Coast Offense, they don't figure to get their running game up and, well, running against the Steelers this week either.Which would put even more of the onus on Palmer, whose 670 passing yards lead the AFC.And Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sees Palmer cutting a familiar figure."You know, he looks like Carson," said Tomlin, who is 4-2 against Palmer. "Hes highly accurate, hes very good in play-pass. He can turn his back to the defense and come up throwing, he has better mobility than people give him credit for. Hes a competitor. Got a great deal of respect for Carson Palmer."Still, there were questions about the 32-year-old Palmer's arm strength coming into this season. Fears that Palmer squashed this week."My arm feels great," said Palmer, who has thrown 94 passes in two games and completed 56 of them. "My arm feels great and hopefully, I pray that I continue to stay healthy. But my arm feels great."It will feel even better with a defeat of the Steelers.
Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.
Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.
That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.
“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.
“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”
The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.
Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.
The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.
On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.
The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.
The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.
There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.
These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.