Raiders key matchup No. 1: Palmer vs. Steelers defense


Raiders key matchup No. 1: Palmer vs. Steelers defense

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 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.

Edwards Jr. 'believing in myself again' after rough stretch


Edwards Jr. 'believing in myself again' after rough stretch

ALAMEDA – Mario Edwards Jr. has always been a big kid. He stood 6-foot-1, 215 as a freshman in high school, but could bench 315 and run like a receiver. Freak size and athleticism made him a dominant football player.

Edwards Jr. was a five-star recruit at Billy Ryan High in Denton, Texas, rated the nation’s best defensive tackle and the No. 3 overall recruit. Not in the district or the state. In the country.

Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Alabama, Notre Dame and LSU, among others, were knocking on the door, but Edwards Jr. ultimately followed his father’s footsteps with an early commitment to Florida State.

Have all that going for you and a driver’s license and you can be a prince of Texas.

“It was kind of cool,” Edwards Jr. said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. “At 16 and 17 years old, I was doing magazine cover shoots and things like that. It sped up the process of dealing with where I’m at now. It got me prepped for this in a sense. And having my dad there, giving me the blueprint also helped as well.”

Mario Edwards Sr. blazed a trail from Florida State to the NFL as a defensive back. Junior knew exactly what it would to live his dream in professional football. As a prep and early in college, it didn’t require much work. His father instilled an improved work ethic later in college that got him ready for the pre-draft process and the pros.

“It was like I had all the answers to the test,” Edwards said. “He’s been everywhere that I’ve tried to go. He’s played at the highest level. He has been hurt. He has been to a top college and the pros. Having him there to filter out all the bad thoughts and help me to stay positive and continuing to work was great.”

That sounding board was a luxury during good times. It was a necessity during a recently rough stretch.

Edwards Jr. burst onto the scene in 2015, shortly after the Raiders took him No. 35 overall. Then he suffered a neck injury in Week 15 that year – Mario explains that situation in the podcast -- and didn’t return until June. He was back and rocking again in 2016’s training camp, but suffered a hip injury in the preseason opener and missed 14 weeks.

He wasn’t himself upon return, but another full offseason brought his explosiveness back. That’s clear watching Edwards Jr. play this season. He’s on a tear to start the year with two sacks – a full sack and two half sacks – and four quarterback pressures. He’s an effective part of the line rotation inside and out, with versatility to play multiple techniques.

The Raiders have been waiting to pair Edwards Jr. with edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. They can do that now, with impact rookie Eddie Vanderdoes added to the mix. Edwards Jr. is happy, healthy and playing well, free and clear of questions about his health. His dad helped him get through the down times, and continue improving during this productive period.

“I was talking to him the other day, and saying how much I have prayed and trusted the process and am believing in myself again,” Edwards Jr. said. “I’m finally getting my mojo back, and feeling like myself.”

Raiders QB Derek Carr channels inner pop star in mock music video ad


Raiders QB Derek Carr channels inner pop star in mock music video ad

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr is trying to moonlight as a pop star. That’s what a guerilla marketing campaign by a San Joaquin Valley credit union would have you believe.

They released billboards and short video teasers of the Raiders quarterback prepping to shoot a music video this summer, and the full video/commercial spot was released on Monday.

It’s well, something else. Clearly meant to be self deprecating, Carr is pumping up Educational Employees Credit Union and their great rates in the mock music video, where Carr is given a certain boy-band vibe. Take a look: 

Derek’s brother David shows up later in the ad, clearly upset at being outshined by little bro.

It’s the latest in an annual series of ads with the Carr brothers.

“It literally took us a couple of hours. That’s it,” Derek Carr said. "All of the takes were because I kept laughing. I couldn’t even take myself serious because they had the TV prompter so I could see it, and I couldn’t even take myself serious. But it was good. It was fun because every commercial we do with them, all we want to do is, the end goal is we want people to laugh. And if they laugh at me for it, that’s good, that’s what we want. I laughed at myself, so it’s all good with me.”

That begged a hard-hitting, journalist follow-up question. So, Derek, did you keep the jacket?

“I didn’t keep it, no. Gosh, no,” Carr said. "As soon as I walked in and we had our little dressing rooms, me and my brother looked at that jacket and I was like, ‘I really hope that’s not the one.’ And sure enough it was. But that’s alright. We have a good relationship with them and it was a lot of fun.”