Raiders key matchup No. 1: Wheeler vs. Martin

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Raiders key matchup No. 1: Wheeler vs. Martin

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three Raiders-Buccaneers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (Fox), at O.co Coliseum.

Raiders key matchup No. 2: Michael Huff vs. Vincent Jackson
Raiders key matchup No.1: Carson Palmer vs. Ronde Barber
Raiders LB Philip Wheeler vs. Buccaneers RB Doug MartinTale of the tape
Wheeler (52): 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, fifth season, Georgia Tech
Martin (22): 5-foot-9, 223 pounds, rookie season, Boise StateALAMEDA -- For the third straight week the Raiders figure to face an explosive, if undersized, running back with Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin following the trail blazed by Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew and Kansas City's Jamaal Charles.And for the third straight week, Philip Wheeler figures to shadow said running back. Especially with Martin such a dual threat and Wheeler flying all over the field in his first season with the Raiders.Martin lists Oakland as his home town, though he went to St. Mary's High School in Stockton and played collegiately at Boise State. The No. 31 overall pick of April's draft just had his coming-out party on national television, rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries with three receptions for 73 yards and another score in the Buccaneers' 36-17 beatdown of Minnesota on Thursday Night Football on Oct. 25."Hes a guy that really can do a lot of different things," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "I think he has great vision. I think hes extremely quick. He also runs with great power. Hes got a lot of different things he can do as far as the running game is concerned."And hes a threat anytime he gets out of the backfield. Theres a reason why he was drafted in the first round. Hes living up to that billing."Wednesday, Martin was named the NFC's offensive rookie of the month after going for 467 yards of total offense in three games in October, and his 155.7 yards-from-scrimmage average leads the NFL."It comes from just getting in that film room," he said this week, "studying the film and the way you practice, full-speed, game-tempo, and just keeping the body healthy."The Raiders, meanwhile, have surrendered a relatively mere 201 yards rushing combined the past three games and, with teams running for an average of 102.1 yards per game on Oakland, the Raiders currently have the No. 11-ranked run defense.The Buccaneers have scored 102 points and 13 touchdowns in their past three games.

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Editor's Note: The above video is from Dec. 24, 2016.

Donald Penn was nothing short of awesome last season. The veteran Raiders left tackle proved impenetrable, allowing just one sack and 27 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps.

He ranked high among the NFL’s best left tackles at 33, engulfed a career renaissance that began after joining the Raiders three years ago. Penn made the Pro Bowl. He was a vital piece of a 12-4 team that helped the Raiders reach the playoffs.

He hasn’t reveled much in that. Penn’s driven by opportunities missed, and one mishap that haunts him still.

Penn locked horns with Indianapolis linebacker Trent Cole off the left edge during a Week 16 contest against the Colts, and slipped as he was tracking his man away from the pocket. Penn’s feet got tangled and the big man fell. Cole remained upright, darted in and sacked quarterback Derek Carr.

It was Penn’s only sack allowed all season. And Carr got hurt. He suffered a broken fibula that ended his season and realistic hopes of a Raiders playoff run.

Nearly five months have passed since that fluke play. Carr is healthy and a full participant in the Raiders offseason program. The Raiders offensive line might be better after allowing a league-low 18 sacks last season.

There’s plenty to be excited about as the Raiders enter OTAs and a mandatory minicamp. Penn can’t help but lament that isolated incident when Carr went down.

“You have to be an athlete. You try not to think about it too much,” Penn said Tuesday. “You wish you could go back and get it back. I’ve taken that same set I don’t know how many times, on the same field and never just slipped out of nowhere. I’m not going to put it on myself. I should have been able to do something better. You know me, I’m never going to blame the slip for happening. I should have blocked him and held on to him and taken him down with me. That play sticks with me.”

That isn’t all bad. It fuels Penn to continue growing as a player, even at 34 coming off an excellent Pro Bowl season.

“I’m going to try to do what I can do better and make sure it never happens again,” Penn said. “I’ve never gotten a quarterback hurt in my life since I’ve been playing. That was a first. That’s something I take pride in. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Penn wants a different ending to this season. Last year the Raiders lost the AFC West crown and a shot to win the team’s first playoff game. Penn suffered a knee injury the following week that kept him from playing in the postseason.

The goal is to realize vast potential now that the Raiders offense is back healthy again.

“I’m all about karma and stuff like that,” Penn said. “Maybe (God is) trying to tell us that this is our year. We have to put in the work to get it. I know D.C. is happy, I’m dang sure happy to get him back. We’re growing and masterminding this offense trying to make it as explosive as possible.”

 

Raiders OTA observations: Conley, rookies must earn their stripes

Raiders OTA observations: Conley, rookies must earn their stripes

ALAMEDA – Rookies have been immersed in the Raiders system most of this month, but still have a lot to learn before training camp begins this summer.

There’s significant work ahead this spring during OTAs and mid-June’s mandatory minicamp, and young players will do so from the second and third teams. Even the highly touted ones.

First-round draft pick Gareon Conley played slot cornerback with the second unit and outside cornerback on the third during Tuesday’s OTA open to the media. It’s a position the slick, speedy cover man will vacate posthaste, but the Raiders prefer rookies earn their stripes.

“All of our young guys are going to earn their way,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We have a good football team. We’re going to let them earn their way. We’ll let them compete. We’re early in the competition, so we’ll just go through the offseason and continue to get (Conley) involved and get him reps. These guys will ascend and take their positions as they earn it. We’re really happy with the way he’s started.”

The Raiders didn’t feature a single rookie on their first units Tuesday. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu, fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and middle linebacker Marquel Lee were featured on the second unit.

Here are some other observations from Tuesday’s OTA sessions.

-- Del Rio said Marshall Newhouse had the inside track to be the team’s starting right tackle. The versatile veteran worked there with the first team, joining a front five otherwise intact from a season ago.

-- Second-year pro Connor Cook, who switched from No. 8 to No. 18 this offseason, ran the second offensive unit. E.J. Manuel worked with the third team.

-- Inside linebacker Ben Heeney worked on a side field with a trainer during Tuesday’s practice, as he continues to rehab from surgery to repair an ankle broken early last season. Jelani Jenkins also did side work after practicing on Monday.

Cory James and Tyrell Adams worked with the first unit at inside linebacker.

-- Veteran running back Marshawn Lynch was limited to individual drills for a second straight day as the Raiders ease him back into football activity.

-- Offensive lineman Austin Howard is working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, and only practice during individual drills.

-- Cornerback Sean Smith had offseason surgery, but was a full participant in Tuesday’s session.

-- Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remains away from the Raiders complex due to an NFL rule preventing players from schools still in session to work with their teams. He won’t re-join the squad until training camp. Undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow is in a similar spot, but will return next week.

-- Edge rusher Shilique Calhoun played last season at 250 pounds, but looks decidedly bigger now. He told the team website he’s up to 270 pounds.