Raiders rookie RB Jones excels in pro debut

Raiders rookie RB Jones excels in pro debut

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comOAKLAND -- And you thought Taiwan Jones had issues just facing the first NFL defense of his nascent professional career Sunday night.The rookie running back from Antioch and Raiders fourth-round draft choice from Eastern Washington had to secure tickets for up to 30 of his closest friends and family to attend his Oakland debut. Besides the ducats, Jones also treated them to a show. He ran for a game-high 81 yards on 13 carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
Jones, who has been timed as fast as 4.27 seconds in the 40, exhibited his speed and his ability to change direction on a dime."The hardest thing was trying to slow myself down," Jones admitted. "I was so anxious and excited that I was able to showcase my talent against another team that I was a little too fast sometimes. I just had to slow things down, take a deep breath and try to be patient."Slowed in camp by what was believed to be a tweaked hamstring, Jones entered the game in the second quarter and took off for a 10-yard gain the first time he touched the ball. Unfortunately for him, left guard Stefen Wisniewski was called for holding, negating the play. Then, on his first "official" carry, Jones was stuffed for no-gain and lost his helmet in the scrum.He soon found his footing, though."We already knew he was fast and quick," said quarterback Jason Campbell. "He just hasn't been able to play because of the injury, but now that he's got an opportunity to go out there and play, I think people are getting a chance to see what kind of speed he brings and it's going to be fun."Jones' TD run, in which he cut back against the grain, found a lane and raced untouched down the right sideline, tied the score at 17-17 with 12 minutes to play in the third quarter.Less than four minutes later, Jones helped get the Raiders in position for Sebastian Janikowski's 57-yard field goal from the baseball infield dirt that gave Oakland a short-lived 20-17 lead. The Raiders would be outscored 23-0 the rest of the way but Jones, along with receiver Derek Hagan, provided highlights and hope for the offense entering the preseason finale Friday at Seattle and the regular season opener Sept. 12 at Denver.Especially with playmakers Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford sitting this one out to continue to heal their fractured left eye orbital and broken left hand injuries, respectively."He did it," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Jones. "That's what I talk bout -- it's about performance. What you do in practice needs to show up on the field and that's what the young man did, and that's what I'm looking forward. When I talk to our team, that's exactly what I need to see. Those things you do in practice, they need to show up in the game. And for that young man tonight, he did it."Jones also caught two passes for 18 yards and returned one kickoff 17 yards.So, did he surprise himself in his pro debut?"I hold a lot of high expectations for myself, but I kind of did today," Jones admitted. "Playing at the next level, you get kind of excited. You don't know what to expect until you're out there."I thought there were a lot of good plays made, but there definitely are a lot of things that I need to correct and get better at."Then he'll most definitely have to buy more than 30 tickets.

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

The Raiders locked up Derek Carr last week, signing their franchise quarterback to a five-year, $125 million contract extension.

He isn’t the only member of the 2014 draft class worthy of a raise. Edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a big one, likely at some point next offseason. The Raiders have some time with Mack after exercising a fifth-year contract option available for first-round picks.

General manager Reggie McKenzie didn’t have that luxury with Carr, and his 2014 second-round pick cashed in before formally entering a contract year.

Right guard Gabe Jackson could do the exact same thing. McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and reward homegrown talent, and the 2014 third-round pick should be next in line to do so.

McKenzie has said back in March that he’d like to extend Jackson’s contract, though there isn’t a deadline to do so.

“There’s no timetable,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “But, I alluded to earlier in the offseason that Gabe is one of the guys I want to get locked up.”

That could happen later this offseason, or further into training camp. Despite paying Carr an NFL-record $25 million in 2017, his contract is structured in such a way that there’s room for another offseason extension. That was important for Carr, that the Raiders can sign other members of this young core.

“We figured out a way to do it,” Carr said, “so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization.”

The Raiders have roughly $18 million in salary cap space after the Carr deal. Some of that is earmarked for the team’s top three draft picks, which remain unsigned to this point. A large sum could go to Jackson as incentive to sign up early, well before he’s eligible to hit the unrestricted free agency.

The offensive guard market is booming, with bigger deals going to a position group generally lower than other spots on the offensive line. The Raiders contributed to that inflation in 2016, signing left guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year, $58.5 deal with $25.4 million in guarantees.

Osemele is one of eight guards with contracts worth $40 million or more, a list that includes two right guards. Jackson played left guard – the more valued position – until Osemele showed up. He moved to the right without complaint.

Jackson thrived there as well. He didn’t allow a sack in 2016, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, with 27 quarterback pressures in 735 pass-blocking snaps. Jackson has been a strong run blocker as a pro, where he has started 44 games in three NFL seasons.

Finding proper value to entice Jackson to sign while remaining on budget is McKenzie’s next task, trying to keep a valuable offensive lineman in place for years to come.

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning won't prompt a spending spree.

Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.

“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”

That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.

“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”

That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.

There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family, especially Heather and sons Dallas and Deker, will be taken care of for life.

After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.

“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on the star quarterback.

“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”

He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”