Raiders key matchup No. 3: Gaither vs. Richardson

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Raiders key matchup No. 3: Gaither vs. Richardson

Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Browns matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (CBS), at the O.co Coliseum.Raiders LB Omar Gaither vs. Browns RB Trent RichardsonTale of the tape
Gaither (56): 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, seventh season, Tennessee
Richardson (14): 5-foot-9, 230 pounds, rookie season, AlabamaALAMEDA -- This was supposed to be a reunion, of sorts, between old college teammates in Trent Richardson and his "idol" Rolando McClain. But with McClain's future with the Raiders in limbo, the Browns rookie running back is going to have to settle for McClain's backup.As in, a guy who has been with the Raiders for all of two-plus weeks -- veteran Omar Gaither.Because with McClain officially declared out of Sunday's game, Gaither will step in at middle linebacker for the Raiders as they attempt to not only slow Richardson's roll, but also end a brutal four game losing streak in which they have been outscored by a combined 169-79.RELATED: Raiders suspend McClain
"Everything that were doing for this week, game-plan packages are a lot smaller than the things you get in training camp," Gaither said Thursday, when asked what he has been able to absorb since being signed on Nov. 14. "I just need to learn the game plan for the week."Its all similar. Youve just got to learn the lingo. One coach calls it one thing, another coach calls it a different thing. The toughest part is the language, but theres only 11 guys, so theres only so many different things you can do."Gaither, a fifth-round pick of Philadelphia in 2006, signed with the Raiders when the team placed Travis Goethel in season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury and Gaither has appeared in two games since. Gaither spent his first five years with the Eagles before playing in Carolina last season.Gap discipline has been a problem for McClain, who comically last week tackled a Cincinnati offensive lineman when BenJarvus Green-Ellis broke a long run."Weve worked on that this week," Gaither said. "I think weve solved some of those issues we may have had last week. The only way to tell, though, is to go out on Sunday and see what the results are."Richardson, meanwhile, is leading AFC rookie rushers with 755 yards on the ground and is just 188 yards away from surpassing Jim Brown for the Browns' single-season rookie rushing record. Richardson is averaging 22 touches per game. He was the third-overall pick of the draft."Im comfortable with it," he said. "Thats what they brought me here for, why they traded up for me. Thats what I train hard for. Thats one thing I do. I train hard so I can get prepared every week for 22 carries or more. Whatever they have in store for me, Im here for it."And with this weekend's weather forecast of rain, a mud bowl may ensue. All of which excites both players."I dont mind that," Richardson said. "For real, most of our games have been played in the rain this year. Only like three or four werent played in the rain. Im used to it now."Said Gaither: "I think its an advantage for the defense, to be honest with you. Im looking forward to it. I havent started in the middle, in maybe a year, year-and-a-half maybe. Im looking forward to going back, if I do get that opportunity. Who knows, I dont know whats going to happen, but my job is to be ready when it does."I want to be a catalystmy goal is to play well myself, and try to get the entire defense to play better. Especially on first and second downs against a good running back, a good running back weve got coming in, so yes, its an opportunity."

Oakland stadium authority director doesn't want Raiders in 2019

Oakland stadium authority director doesn't want Raiders in 2019

PHOENIX – The Raiders hope to play the next three years in the Bay Area before moving to Las Vegas. They were approved to relocate on Monday at the NFL owners meetings, but can’t leave right away because Las Vegas doesn’t have a suitable temporary NFL venue.

The Raiders have team options on one-year leases to play at Oakland Coliseum during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and are expected to do exactly that. Owner Mark Davis said he’s open to negotiating a lease to play the 2019 season there as well before moving into new Vegas digs in 2020.

The Oakland Coliseum authority may not grant that request.

"I would say to you with the highest level of confidence, my opinion and recommendation and that of my board members, I don’t believe there is any appetite for a third season (in Oakland),” director of the Oakland Coliseum joint powers authority Scott McKibben told USA Today.

McKibben said hosting a Raiders game is a financial loss for the JPA.

If the Raiders can’t reach an agreement to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2019, they have other options in the Bay Area, though none is ideal. They could play at Cal’s Memorial Stadium or use Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara as a last resort in the Bay Area, sources told CSN California reporter Scott Bair.

They could renovate UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium – locker room and security upgrades are mandatory – though the Raiders would prefer to avoid that route.

Raiders HC Jack Del Rio believes he could help Aldon Smith

Raiders HC Jack Del Rio believes he could help Aldon Smith

PHOENIX – Raiders edge rusher Aldon Smith has been banished from the NFL for over 16 months now as a repeat offender of the league’s substance abuse policy.

Commissioner Roger Goodell hasn’t ruled on Smith’s reinstatement application and it’s hard to imagine movement coming soon on that front after a pair of recent run-ins with the law.

He was reportedly involved in a domestic incident and was questioned by San Francisco police last month. Then he was a passenger in a vehicle that hit an unmarked police car on March 10, an incident where the driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Smith seemed out of sorts when interviewed by media after emerging from a San Francisco police station.

Smith’s banishment states he can’t have contact with Raiders personnel outside the director of player engagement, a stipulation head coach Jack Del Rio has criticized in the past.

He did so again Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings, saying it’s unfortunate the organization can’t support Smith during difficult times.

“It’s a little bit frustrating to not be able to be a part of the process,” Del Rio said. “My feel is that I could help him, but the experts know. The experts don’t allow that. We have to follow the rules.

“It does get frustrating to not be able to help a young man and provide support and provide structure. Somebody else has to make those decisions. It’s just out of my hands.”

The Raiders can’t petition for greater involvement, and are therefore in a wait-and-see mode regarding their troubled, yet talented player.

“He has to get himself together,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “(Smith’s status) is totally on the league office. They know more than what we know.”