MINNEAPOLIS -- Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey suffered what appeared to be a neck injury after catching a four-yard pass across the middle early in the fourth quarter.Heyward-Bey took a knee to the back of his head, popping his helmet off. He was immobilized on the ground and strapped to a stretcher.His legs were moving in the immediate aftermath and he was taken to the hospital for reactionary X-rays.A.P. all day? Not on this day: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson has been a study in durability in his NFL career after being banged up in college. Sunday, late in the first quarter, Peterson had his left ankle rolled up on by Raiders free safety Michael Huff. Peterson was helped off the field before being carted into the locker room. He walked back out in uniform at the start of the second half but did not play again after going for 26 yards on six carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run that gave the Vikings a 7-0 lead.Li'l Wiz back at center: Samson Satele did not play at San Diego with a balky left knee and suffered a concussion late in the second quarter against Minnesota, again forcing rookie Stephen Wisniewski to move from left guard to center. While Stephon Heyer again came in at left guard, Wisniewski should be getting all-rookie team recognition.Penalties, again: Everyone knows the Raiders are the most penalized team in the NFL. But even the most jaded of observers would have had trouble with the three personal foul penalties assessed on Oakland on Minnesota's first scoring drive, giving the Vikings 42 free yards -- a roughing-the-passer call on Tommy Kelly, unnecessary roughness on Aaron Curry and a face mask on Tyvon Branch.Bush Push II: Remember when Reggie Bush pushed his USC teammate Matt Leinart into the end zone at Notre Dame? Michael Bush (no relation) took a page from his namesake's book when he gave Carson Palmer a shove from one yard out, eight seconds left in the first half and no timeouts remaining.Turnover battle: Before Michael Bush lost his fumble with less than six minutes to play, the Raiders had been winning the turnover battle, 4-0.A game of firsts: Not only did Tommy Kelly get his first career interception, off a Lito Sheppard deflection, but Sebastian Janikowski had his first field-goal attempt blocked since the 2007 season opener. Janikowksi was attempting a 49-yarder a play after Heyward-Bey was injured.Fourth-quarter woes continue: The Raiders had to sweat out another win after being held scoreless again the fourth quarter. They have not scored in the final quarter since a Janikowski field goal with 10 minutes to play at Houstonon Oct. 9five games ago.Jared Bowl: : Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer bested the NFL's leading sack artist, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, holding him sackless and being called for only one penalty.
The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.
They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.
Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.
“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”
While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.
The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.
“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.
"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”