Raiders key matchup No. 3: Palmer vs. Suggs

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Raiders key matchup No. 3: Palmer vs. Suggs

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Ravens matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at M&T Bank Stadium.Raiders QB Carson Palmer vs.
Ravens OLB Terrell SuggsTale of the tape
Palmer (3): 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, 10th season, USC
Suggs (20): 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, 10th season, Arizona StateALAMEDA -- The rivalry between Carson Palmer and Terrell Suggs goes back to their college days in the old Pac-10, reached a boiling point in the AFC North and rekindles this weekend."Me and him come from the same draft class, 2003," Suggs said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week. "He also played at USC, I was at Arizona State. So, this guy has kind of tortured me through all my college and professional career. Im very aware of the talent. I know he can make every throw. If you ask me, hes very highly underrated. Hes definitely one of the premier quarterbacks in the league."Palmer went No. 1 overall in 2003, Suggs No. 10 overall to Baltimore.With the Cincinnati Bengals, Palmer went 9-4 against the Ravens, the most wins against Baltimore by any quarterback. He has a career 84.4 QB rating against the Ravens, having thrown for 3,202 yards on 61 percent passing with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions."Hes definitely still the same guy," Suggs said. "Im talking about that from a good standpoint. I dont fear any quarterbacks, but he definitely, Im always worried when I play Carson Palmer."I would say his poise, his decision making (stand out). He can make every throw. He has phenomenal talent. That's why he's the Heisman winner. All that into one."Suggs, meanwhile is returning from a torn Achilles' suffered in an offseason workout in April. He was not expected back until November but was playing on Oct. 21. The reigning NFL defensive player of the year had a sack in his first game back, and the mutual admiration society was in full bloom."I mean, its amazing he is playing," Palmer said of Suggs' return from injury. "I remember when it happened, I remember thinking'That sucks for Terrell, but hell be (playing) by the time we get out in Baltimore.' And sure enough, he was playing two or three weeks ago against Houston. Thats the type of guy he is. Hes an extremely hard worker. Hes going to come back early, and just when you doubt him, he proves people wrong."Suggs is a five-time Pro Bowler."I played against him for 15 years now, a phenomenal football player, phenomenal against the pass and phenomenal against the run," Palmer added. "There arent a lot of guys who are good at both, like he is. I dont know if there is another one, as good as he is, at playing them both."And with the Raiders most likely missing their top two running backs in Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson to high ankle sprains, Oakland's gameplan figures to depend heavily on the passing arm of Palmer.Besides, Baltimore's defense is not as fearsome on paper as it has been in recent years with Ray Lewis lost for the year with a torn right triceps and the Ravens having only the No. 26 overall-ranked defense, No. 22 against the pass and No. 28 against the run."As far as playing against Baltimore, its always an uphill battle," Palmer said. "Their numbers are not statistically where they normally are, and theyve had some injuries, but they are still 6-2, and theyre still very good at home. Their crowd is phenomenal. They make it a hostile environment to come in and try to communicate and play."You have to play great, you cant play okay and win. You have to put together four quarters and put together a complete game, if you want to get out of there with a win. Its difficult to do there."

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

Controversial RB Joe Mixon impressed Raiders during pre-draft visit

ALAMEDA – The Raiders visited with former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon at the team’s Alameda facility on March 21.

General manager Reggie McKenzie came away impressed by the controversial figure notorious for punching a female in 2014 while at Oklahoma, who has spent significant portions of the pre-NFL draft process trying to show that violent incident caught on video doesn't define him.

“We thought he was a really good kid. He came off very well and explained each and everything, the questions that we had,” McKenzie said Friday in a pre-draft press conference. “He had an explanation and he was up front about everything. The kid really came across as a good kid.”

Mixon is also a premiere talent going pro, but there’s no telling how far his off-field issues will drop him in next week’s NFL draft. There’s debate where he’ll be taken, though many expect Mixon to go in the first two rounds.

He was not invited to the NFL scouting combine due to an incident where he punched victim Amelia Molitor and fractured several bones in her face. Mixon has made several pre-draft visits and meet with dozens at Oklahoma’s pro day trying to explain his actions and why he’s a safe pick in this year’s NFL draft.

Mixon and Molitor released a joint statement on Friday announcing the settlement of a civil suit, with both parties hoping to move on from an ugly incident after which the victim spoke out about being harassed.

“I am happy we were able to bring the lawsuit to an end,” Molitor said in a statement. “Joe and I were able to meet privately, without any attorneys, and talk about our experiences since that night. I am encouraged that we will both be able to move forward from here with our lives. From our private discussions I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work towards helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances. I greatly appreciate his apology and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.”

The running back is obviously a polarizing public figure, and the team that drafts him could take flak for selecting him.

“When stuff like this happens, whether it’s domestic violence or drunken driving, whatever issue that comes up, we’ll be prepared to answer questions,” McKenzie said. “We’ll do our research and if we make a decision, we’re going to prepare to have answers for each and every decision that we make.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis has taken a hardline stance against players involved in domestic violence incidents – this was technically assault of a man on a woman, as Mixon and Molitor were not in a relationship -- and he would have to okay a Mixon selection. The Raiders put considerable thought and research into select players with character concerns.

“What we do, we research everything. We get all of the information. We will not make a decision until all the information is in front of us,” McKenzie said. “With certain issues, like domestic violence, we consider that and we really look into everything that is surrounding that. Every decision will be well-researched so if it’s one way or the other, we are going to make it where that decision is based on all the facts, all the research and on the kid moving forward. But yes, we hold that very dear to what we do, as far as who we bring in, absolutely. We will not tolerate that at all.”