Raiders tackle the basics in training camp

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Raiders tackle the basics in training camp

NAPA -- It's at the most basic level of the game and yet, the Raiders spent much of training camp working on perfecting the art of tackling.Yes, it's all about desire, but there's technique involved as well, obviously."As a coach you want to help players get better, so you want to put them in positions, No. 1, where they're not going to hurt themselves, and this is from teaching little kids to NFL players -- you've got to teach them how to tackle," said first-year defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. "You've got to teach them to keep their hips down and their eyes up and their feet moving and the correct leverage and know where their help is. So we drill it...we emphasize it in the team period. We talk about, for example, if you and I are going to make a tackle and I'm on the outside of you, I'd say, Outside, outside, outside."That lets those players know that I'm on his outside. Those little things and knowing where your help is, makes you a better team, makes you a better tackling team. And then, the body position. So knowing where your help is, and the body position on contact are things we've emphasized since Day 1. And you can do that without pads on."Strong safety Mike Mitchell came into the NFL with a reputation as a hard hitter and has taken Tarver's lessons to heart, calling him a "baby genius" earlier in camp."Tackling is a mentality," Mitchell said. "I remember a long time ago, a defensive coordinator I had in college was telling us about Vince Lombardi, and he said, 'Imagine that someone just took everything that you had...and you had to get it back. Thats tackling.'"Its more of a mentality and a desire to want to tackle. We can practice it as much as you want, but theres that moment in the game, and the guys got the ball, you got to have that intent and desire to get him down. Were all professionals, too, Ive been playing since I was six, but you know how to tackle, you know how to tackle."One of the bigger criticisms of middle linebacker Rolando McClain through his first two seasons in the NFL was his tackling, or lack thereof.Against Dallas in each team's exhibition opener on Aug. 13, McClain blasted Cowboys tight end Jason Witten hard enough to lacerate his spleen. But he did not tackle him, per se."As he was coming off the field, I said that was a great job on a bootleg, like we've been working all camp, now wrap him up," Tarver said, recalling his brief conversation with McClain. "That's exactly what I told him."And that's exactly what Tarver preached to his defense all camp.

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

ALAMEDA – Eddie Vanderdoes knows his UCLA game tape is inconsistent. The powerful defensive tackle admits he wasn’t always at his best, especially after tearing his ACL in 2015. Before that, he was difficult to stop. Afterward, he wasn’t the same player. He doesn’t blame the knee.

He struggled with ankle injuries and weight issues in 2016, a lackluster campaign by his own standard. Since that season ended, Vanderdoes has returned to 100 percent. His ankles are fine. His knee is great. And he lost 40 pounds heading into the NFL scouting combine, preparing for a return to his old self.

The Raiders see great potential in the former Bruin and made him their third-round pick on Friday evening. The Auburn native was excited by the prospect, and believes the Raiders will get his absolute best. His voice was passionate, his determination clear even on a conference call with local press.

“I am going to be the player I was earlier in my career,” Vanderdoes said. “I had a bad season. That wasn’t me. That’s not the person that I am. That’s not the character that I hold. I’m definitely going to bring that to the Raiders’ defensive line. I’m going to bring that energy and I’m really happy to be an Oakland Raider.”

The Raiders will be thrilled if that’s true. They liked what he showed at the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine, where he showed traits that should translate to NFL production.

“I am definitely back 100 percent, very confident with the combine, the Senior Bowl,” Vanderdoes said. “I got my explosiveness back. I got my speed back, my athleticism back. I am definitely at the top of shape right now, so I’m ready to get back to work and show them the player that they saw on the film and the player that they wanted to draft and I’m also looking to turn even more heads and do things that some people might expect that I couldn’t do.”

That includes rushing the passer, being a consistent three-down tackle in the Raiders scheme. He might be a rotational player first, filling the void created when Stacy McGee left in free agency.

“He’s a good, active defensive lineman that we think his best football is in front of him,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He had an ACL (injury) a couple of years ago. His weight has been up and down. We expect him to come in here and be a real professional and work hard with (head strength and conditioning coach) Joe Gomes and the strength staff and get himself ready to roll. He needs to come in here and add depth to our defensive line and give us a little interior push.”

Vanderdoes believes he can do more than that if he does things right. If his weight stays down, strength stays up and he learns the system well, he wants to compete for a significant role as a rookie.

“I’m coming in expecting to contribute and play right away,” Vanderdoes said. “That’s the mindset that I’ve always had. I’ve came with that mindset that I need to be the guy to step in and do what I do and dominate. I definitely think people slept on me a little bit this past offseason.

“I love the fact that (the NFL) slept on me, I think that’s what motivated me every morning waking up, knowing that I get to prove people wrong. I think I’ve done a good job so far of that, and I’m going to keep doing as well being an Oakland Raider because I know I’m at the bottom again. I have to work my way back up.”

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been focused on the NFL Draft the last few days, and rightfully so. Friday night, however, was the right time to ask about what happened just before.

The Raiders acquired power running back and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch. If he’s close to top form after a year away from the NFL, the Raiders offense will be tough to stop.

He’s a big physical rusher the Raiders were looking for. The Raiders were the team Lynch wants to finish his career representing. The Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum might be the town’s most popular citizen, someone who consistently gives back to the city he loves.

Lynch was downright giddy after formally signing with the Raiders, greeting everyone in the building with child-like enthusiasm. He got fitted in his Raiders helmet and refused to take it off, wearing it out of the building and the car ride home.

Del Rio loved the energy Lynch brought to the team’s complex, and believes that will carry on while he represents the Silver and Black.

“Authentic passion. That’s what I see,” Del Rio said Friday night. “He’s a homegrown guy. He’s extremely excited about joining this football team and being a part of the Raider Nation. We’re excited to have him.”

Lynch is a bruiser of the highest order, though some may wonder how effective he can be at 31, a year removed from professional football.

“There will be questions about how much is left in his tank, and we’re going to find out,” Del Rio said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else be more excited, more pleased to be joining a team, my team, our team.”

Del Rio understands where Lynch is coming from. The Hayward native longed to be a Raider at some point in his career, but never got the chance.

I told him he was lucky, because I didn’t get a chance to do that as player. I wanted to finish here as a player too. He’s getting that chance and he’s fired up about it.

“He’s a big man, and he plays with the violence that we like and appreciate. I think he’ll look forward to running behind (the Raiders offensive line) and those guys up front.”