Raiders notes: QB Campbell finds new targets

540037.jpg

Raiders notes: QB Campbell finds new targets

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Depth-chart wise, Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell was without his top three wide receivers Sunday in Buffalo, what with Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee) Jacoby Ford (hamstring) and Louis Murphy (groin) all injured and inactive.But Campbell found a couple of new and reliable targets in the most bittersweet of manners in the Raiders' 38-35 loss to the Bills in rookie Denarius Moore and veteran Derek Hagan.

The ultra-acrobatic Moore, the fifth-round draft choice out of Tennessee who did not have a catch and was targeted only once last week in Denver, caught five passes for 146 yards, including the 50-yard touchdown with 3:41 to play that gave Oakland a 35-31 lead. Hagan had five receptions for 61 yards."It was an O.K. day for me," Moore said. "I came in, made plays when they called upon me. But overall, the thing is, we took an 'L' today."Hagan made his Raiders debut after being a somewhat surprising addition to the inactive list last week in Denver."It felt good to get out there and run around, make some plays and pick up where Jason and I left off in the preseason," Hagan said. "But we lost. If we won, I would be feeling a whole lot better. But this loss hurts."Campbell benefited from the two wideouts as well, throwing for 323 yards (his second-highest total as a Raider, behind the 324 yards he threw for at Jacksonville last season) on 23 of 33 passing with two touchdowns, an interception (on the Hail Mary to end the game) and a 108.5 passer rating.According to Silver and Black Illustrated, Campbell has a passer rating of 129.9 over his last seven games.Miller's struggles continue: Nick Miller had another tough day returning kicks. After struggling in the opener at Denver on punts, Miller replaced Jacoby Ford on kickoff duty. Miller averaged just 15.3 yards on four returns and slipped and fell inside the 5-yard line before scrambling to get to the 12-yard line on his final return.Miller was replaced as the returner by Rock Cartwright for the final kickoff, with 14 seconds to play but downed the ball in the end zone.Offensive explosion: The Bills set a franchise record with 34 first downs, and combined with the Raiders' 26 first downs, the 60 first downs were a Buffalo single-game combined mark.Also, per STATS LLC, the Bills became the first team to score touchdowns on all five of its second-half possessions since 1993.And the 35 points the Raiders allowed in the second half are a franchise record.Plus, the Raiders' 35 points scored is their most in a loss since they fell to Seattle, 43-37, in the 1988 season finale.Penalties surface again: The Raiders committed 15 penalties for 131 yards in their season opening win at Denver on Monday. And in building a 21-3 halftime lead Sunday in Buffalo, they were flagged just twice, for 10 yards. But they finished with eight for 85 costly yards.Passing of the torch?: For the first time in franchise history, Bills owner Ralph Wilson, 92, missed a Buffalo home opener, recovering from hips surgery. And fellow AFL pioneer Al Davis, 82, missed a game for what is believed to be only the third time since he's been with the team, an association that began in 1963.
HueJax interacts with fans: Raiders coach Hue Jackson got into a shouting match with some Bills fans as he walked off the field following the miscommunication that the replay official was again reviewing the final play of the game -- Da'Norris Searcy's interception on the Hail Mary, rather than a touchdown reception by Denarius Moore."That's just part of it," Jackson said. "I get a little emotional too, sometimes. But everything is good."No word, though, on if the fans feel the same.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

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.