Raiders

Raiders open at Titans, featured in five prime-time games for 2017

Raiders open at Titans, featured in five prime-time games for 2017

The Raiders have the fourth-toughest strength of schedule. They travel a bunch, have a tough road stretch and play five contests against 2016 playoff teams.

There are requisite home-and-home slates against the AFC West, a full turn in the AFC and NFC East. They lose a home game to Mexico City against the Super Bowl champion Patriots.

It’s clear the Raiders’ 12-4 record in 2016 excited TV executives, because the Silver and Black will be featured in five primetime matchups. That includes two night games at Oakland Coliseum, against Dallas and Kansas City. They play at Washington and Seattle on Sunday Night Football, and have a Monday Night game at Philadelphia on Christmas.

The full NFL schedule was released on Thursday evening. Let’s take a look at how it all shook out, game by game:

Raiders 2017 regular-season schedule
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Tennessee, 10 a.m. (CBS)
Comment: Raiders will play in Nashville a third-straight season. Might be a good thing, considering they’ve won there the last two years. Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota broke ankles on the same day last season. Seasons will start in the same game.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, vs. New York Jets 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Oakland’s home opener comes against Gang Green…Good defense, but still no quarterback…

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, at Washington (Sunday Night Football) 5:30 p.m., NBC
Comment: The first of five primetime games starts in the nation’s capital.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, at Denver, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: First division game of the regular season. Always a tough test in Denver.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Third straight year the Raiders have played Flacco and friends. Raiders won the last two.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. L.A. Chargers, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Not sure what kind of matchup this might be. Lots of talent, but this team has been injury prone in recent seasons.

Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 19, vs. Kansas City (Thursday Night Football), 5:25 p.m. (NFLN)
Comment: Raiders had to travel two time zones on a short week. Chiefs doing the same this time around.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29, at Buffalo, 10 a.m. (CBS)
Comment: The start of two straight East Coast road trips. The Raiders asked for such a situation, and likely won’t come home in between games.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, at Miami (Sunday Night Football), 5:30 p.m. (NBC)
Comment: The Raiders finished a two-game road trip last season with consecutive wins. Can they do it again?

Week 10: BYE
Comment: Bye week comes in the midst of a three-game road stretch, if you count a home game played in Mexico City.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, vs. New England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Thought this might’ve been a primetime game. Still an excellent matchup. Too bad for Oakland Raiders fans this “home” game is being played abroad.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, vs. Denver at 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Excellent offense vs. excellent defense. Long-standing division rivalry. A good matchup the last few years.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, vs. New York Giants 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Comment: The Raiders have a stacked schedule. This one is sneaky tough.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Kansas City, 10 a.m. (CBS)
Comment: Raiders have struggled at Arrowhead Stadium lately. They’ll need to play well despite an early kickoff. Raiders could contend for the AFC West title again this year.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, vs. Dallas (Sunday Night Football), 5:30 p.m. (NBC)
Comment: Best matchup of the year for fans in Oakland coming in primetime. Excellent matchup between two rising powers. Should be a fun time in the East Bay.

Week 16: Monday, Dec. 25, at Philadelphia (Monday Night Football), 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Comment: Raiders spending Christmas night in Philly. Might be a cold one against Carson Wentz.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at L.A. Chargers, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Comment: Raiders will miss playing at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, their home away from home. They might make Carson’s StubHub Center another one if the Bolts aren’t in it and fans start selling their tickets.

As legal process unfolds, Raiders CB Sean Smith continues to battle for playing time

As legal process unfolds, Raiders CB Sean Smith continues to battle for playing time

OAKLAND – Raiders cornerback Sean Smith had a rough week. He’s losing grip on a starting spot, but that concern pales in comparison to mounting legal issues that put him in a Los Angeles County jail Thursday morning.

He was formally charged with felony assault and battery for beating his sister’s boyfriend on July 4 in his hometown of Pasadena, surrendered to authorities and was released on an $80,000 bond.

He was back in the East Bay to play Saturday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Rams, where he was a third cornerback entering in sub packages. Smith had two tackles and a nice pass defensed in the end zone.

Smith’s legal issues shouldn’t stop him from playing and practicing with the team in the near future. He has an arraignment sent for Sept. 29, where will plead not guilty and fight the charges levied against him.

“We’ll let him battle what issues he has legally,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I don’t have much to add to it. You hear the story of him defending his sister, and things occurred that have been taken issue with, so he's having to defend himself right now.”

An NFL spokesman said the league is looking into the matter, but didn’t have further comment at this time. It’s possible the league could place Smith on the commissioner’s exemption list, an option for players charged with violent offenses. He would essentially go on paid leave if that were the case. Smith will make $9.5 million in guaranteed money this season.

Smith will battle TJ Carrie and first-round cornerback Gareon Conley – he remains on the PUP list with a shin injury – for playing time in the Raiders defense. He practiced better last week, but must show consistency to get back in the team’s good graces.

Instant Analysis: Late TD burns Raiders in preseason loss to Rams

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Late TD burns Raiders in preseason loss to Rams

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – The Raiders sat nine offensive starters in last week’s exhibition opener. That front line assembled for the first time in game Saturday against the Rams and quickly found midseason form.

Quarterback Derek Carr was largely on point in a 21-17 victory to Los Angeles at Oakland Coliseum. Amari Cooper showed great hops. Michael Crabtree juked a cornerback out of his shoes and scored a touchdown. Jared Cook proved a difficult cover in the middle of the field. And Marshawn was predictably Marshawn, running like a battering ram on speed skates.

The defense, by contrast, needs some serious work.

Except for Khalil Mack. That’s dude’s all right. He had a sack, three quarterback pressures, four tackles, with two for a loss, in three series.

The rest of his unit was off kilter against L.A. Communication still needs work on the back end. Questions remain at inside linebacker and cornerback.

Coaches have three weeks to iron things out, and get that unit running right. Here are a few takeaways from Saturday’s exhibition.

Marshawn meets hometown crowd: Oakland native Marshawn Lynch played in his hometown for the first time in silver and black. He didn’t play much, removing his pads after just one series.

His cameo was quick and productive, with two carries for 10 yards. His trademark burst and balance was on display, as it was throughout camp. Lynch won’t need much work this preseason, but should get the lion’s share of carries when games count.

He looks as agile as ever, without the rust expected following a year away from football.

Smith suits up:Raiders cornerback Sean Smith played in sub packages with the starting unit, playing outside in the nickel. He had a relatively solid game despite mounting legal issues. He was charged with felony assault and battery on Thursday, when he turned himself in to Pasadena police and was released after posting an $80,000 bond.

Smith had two tackles and a nice pass defensed covering Sammy Watkins on a deep route.

Jenkins enters the fray: The Raiders are still searching for someone to pair with Cory James on the inside. Marquel Lee has worked with the first unit since training camp began in the base defense. He struggled some early, and gave way to veteran Jelani Jenkins in the second series.
That job remains open. Lee is a favorite, though Jenkins will challenge and prospect of signing someone off the street remains.

Backup quarterbacks still battling

EJ Manuel entered Saturday’s game with a clear lead on the backup quarterback position battle. The veteran received most every second-unit rep in camp, started last week’s game at Arizona and was first off the bench on Saturday.

He wasn’t great against the Rams, completing 3-of-9 passes for 16 yards.

That may have cracked the door for second-year pro Connor Cook. The Michigan State alum has struggled some in practice, but showed well working with the third unit on Saturday. He was with 7-of-10 passing for 70 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown strike to Johnny Holton.