Raiders key matchup No. 2: Miles Burris vs. Andy Dalton

948327.jpg

Raiders key matchup No. 2: Miles Burris vs. Andy Dalton

Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Bengals matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at Paul Brown StadiumRaiders LB Miles Burris vs. Bengals QB Andy DaltonTale of the tape
Burris (56): 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, rookie season, San Diego State
Dalton (14): 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, second season, TCUCINCINNATI -- Miles Burris and Andy Dalton used to match wits in the Mountain West Conference so it's not like the Raiders rookie linebacker and Bengals second-year quarterback need any feeling-out time.Not that Dalton, runner-up to Carolina's Cam Newton a year ago for NFL offensive rookie of the year, would even want a meet-and-greet with the active Burris, who sacked Dalton in 2010. Dalton has already seen enough film of the Raiders' porous defense of late to know what to expect."Teams have hit some big plays on them," Dalton told Cincinnati reporters this week. "They have given up a lot of points. Our big thing is, we've just got to come out and play our game. We can't stress too much about that stuff, we've just got to come out and play. So for us, just like these teams, when we get our chances, we've got to hit them. That's going to be the emphasis."But when we get those chances, we've got to hit them.Dalton, who has passed for 2,559 yards and 20 touchdowns and has a passer rating of 92.7, is onto something here.In Oakland's three-game losing streak, in which the Raiders have been outscored by a combined 135-69, they have surrendered 31 "explosive" plays that have yielded eights touchdowns -- 19 passes (four TDs) and 12 runs (four TDs).The Raiders have had 23 explosive plays of their own in the three-game skid with just two TDs -- 20 passes (two TDs) and three runs.The Raiders define an explosive play as a pass that gains at least 16 yards andor a run that gains at least 12 yards.In the three-game stretch before the losing streak -- against Atlanta, Kansas City and Jacksonville -- Oakland gave up a relatively-mere 14 such plays -- nine passes, five runs -- with no TDs on those plays.It would not be fair to pin this on Burris, the Raiders' fourth-round draft pick who assumed the starting weakside linebacker job when Aaron Curry's knees betrayed him in training camp. After all, Burris' 51 tackles rank fourth on the team, and fourth among all rookie outside linebackers in the NFL, and he has a sack with a forced fumble and a pass defensed.Then again, per Pro Football Focus, Burris allowed eight catches for 63 yards with a touchdown the eight times he was targeted in last weekend's 38-17 loss to New Orleans and he also missed two tackles.And with Curry waived on Tuesday, Burris is operating without a net. But he's far from alone.NEWS: Curry out in Oakland
Consider: the Raiders have allowed an NFL-worst 322 points thus far and if the Bengals drop 40 on them Sunday, Oakland will equal the 1973 squad's season total of 175 points allowed ... just in this month of November.There are also multiple senses of irony at work here in that the man Dalton replaced, Carson Palmer, is making his return to the Queen City, while a former Raiders fan favorite is Dalton's backup in Bruce Gradkowski."Coming in, all I knew was that (Palmer) wasn't here and I had to come in and learn a new offense and meet new guys, learn teammates, get used to everything," Dalton said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. "Everything with Carson, I wasn't really worried about. I was just kind of focused on me and what I could control."Such as his relationship with Gradkowski, who relieved Dalton earlier this season against Baltimore and led the Bengals to a comeback victory over Cleveland in 2011."It's been great," said Dalton, who played in the Pro Bowl as a rookie. "I'm glad we've had Bruce here since I've been here. He's been a lot of help for me coming in. Just having his experience out there. He's been around awhile. He's a great teammate, a great guy. I'm glad he's in our quarterback room."

Raiders OC Todd Downing: New weapons will 'make me look good'

Raiders OC Todd Downing: New weapons will 'make me look good'

STANFORD – Todd Downing has long been responsible for intently analyzing college quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft. He certainly did so during two seasons as Raiders quarterbacks coach, adding input to personnel department evaluations on young signal callers.

This offseason, he’s using a wide-angle lens. Downing is the Raiders offensive coordinator now, promoted to the position after Bill Musgrave was allowed to leave on an expired contract.

Coaches enter the draft evaluation process relatively late – they have a season to coach, after all – but Downing prides himself on working hard in evaluating talent. Working with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s staff, coaches feel like their voice is being heard.

That’s important to a coordinator especially, who must make a scheme work with talent around him.

“Reggie and his staff have always done a tremendous job of listening to our vision for the offense or the defense,” Downing said Thursday at Stanford’s pro day. “It’s been a joy to work with those guys over the past three years.

“(Head coach Jack Del Rio) really expects us to be accountable for our position group. Now that I’m the coordinator, there’s more of a broad scope when looking at offensive talent in the draft. When you work that hard (evaluating players), I think the scouts know that your opinion is well grounded, and that validates it a little bit.”

Downing is always on the lookout for weapons, especially while making tweaks to the Raiders offense. The Silver and Black found a few, adding tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive lineman Marshal Newhouse and quarterback EJ Manuel.

Quarterback Derek Carr helped him get some. The full-time East Bay resident has been active recruiting free agents, trying to improve an already strong Raiders offense.

“You guys know how passionate he is about this game, and about this team and backing up this franchise,” Downing said. “(His involvement in recruiting) didn’t surprise any of us. He’s pretty hands on when it comes to football. He lives in the area, so he hopped in when we needed it and it paid off.”

Cook and Patterson especially could add dimensions to a well-rounded Raiders attack. Cook has made some big plays in the past, and should be a reliable receiving tight end the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons.

“He has a skill set that will be fun to play with (schematically),” Downing said. “We’re excited to see what he can do, and I know Derek is excited to add him. He has a history of making plays in this league, and that’s something we’re excited to have.”

Patterson’s primarily known as a kick returner – he’s a two-time All Pro on special teams – but the Raiders hope he’ll be active on offense.

“With guys like that, you just find a way to get them the rock and let them do the rest of the work,” Downing said. “They make me look good. I can call a simple play and he takes it the distance and it looks like I designed something special.”

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.

The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:

"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."

Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.