EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Buccaneers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (Fox), at O.co Coliseum.
Matchup No. 3: Carson Palmer vs. Ronde Barber
Raiders CB Michael Huff vs. Buccaneers WR Vincent JacksonTale of the tape
Huff (24): 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, seventh season, Texas
Jackson (83): 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, eighth season, Northern ColoradoALAMEDA -- Michael Huff, whose transition from free safety to cornerback is looking more and more like the right move for the Raiders with every series, has more than an inkling what to expect Sunday against Tampa Bay -- a heavy dose of first-year Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson."If I was their offensive coordinator Im sure theyll see a safety outside and theyll put (Jackson) out there every snap probably," Huff said with a knowing grin on Friday. "They'll just try to test me and throw (at me) so obviously they see me out there, theyre going to put their best receiver outside."Jackson has long been a pain for the Raiders, having spent the first seven years of his career in San Diego before signing with the Buccaneers this offseason as a free agent."Vincent's been great," said Buccaneers rookie coach Greg Schiano. "Not only on-the-field results, but he gives us veteran leadership in the receivers room. Because other than Vincent, we're a very young crew."Consider: Jackson has a touchdown catch in four of his past five games against Oakland and his 21.6-yards per catch average is the most in the NFL by any player with at least 20 receptions. And since 2008, Jackson's average of 18.5 yards per catch is tops in the league among players with at least 100 catches in that time.So yeah, the Buccaneers might want to test a guy still feeling the effects of jumping from the frying pan (free safety) into the fire (cornerback) in Week 3. Because, as Huff said, even if he's played against him before, it was deeper in the secondary, and not playing him face up."Vincent Jackson is just a different animal," Huff said. "Even when hes covered, like I said, they just throw it up to him and he finds a way to make plays. Hes been doing it his whole career and hes still doing it at Tampa Bay. He finds a way to make plays so even when hes covered, like I said, be ready, because the balls probably still coming."Hes big and he plays the ball in the airthe more times they test me, the more times I have chances to make plays so thats how I look at it. The more balls I get, the more chances for interceptions so I always welcome the challenge."
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.