Raiders thin at WR Wednesday

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Raiders thin at WR Wednesday

ALAMEDA -- The fact that four of Oakland's six receivers were unable to practice Wednesday does not bode well for the Raiders.Jacoby Ford is still wearing a walking boot on the left foot he sprained on Nov. 10.Darrius Heyward-Bey is still feeling the after-affects of his scary-looking head-spine-concussion injury after taking a knee to the back of the helmet on Sunday.Denarius Moore showed up to practice wearing a walking boot on his right foot.And even recently-acquired T.J. Houshmandzadeh did not practice, though his absence was not injury-related. He was with his wife for the birth of their child.Still, Raiders coach Hue Jackson was wearing a happy, hopeful face following practice.
"It's a concern, but I think we have a chance to get some of these guys back toward the end of the week," Jackson said. "Am I concerned about it? Yeah. Anytime you don't practice it's tough. But I think we'll be O.K. Guys will keep working at it and by the end of the week, hopefully we'll have some of these guys back."Still, with the receiving corps so banged up, quarterback Carson Palmer sees it as an opportunity for another receiver, or two, to step up.Especially since Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens were the only healthy wideouts at practice on Wednesday."It makes it difficult," Palmer said. "You don't get the same guys on the field from the week before, that rhythm and timing thing slows down a little bit. So we have our work cut out for us. We're playing against a good groupand we're not going to have all our guys. But we've got guys that have been waiting for their opportunity and looking for a chance to step up and help this team. And guys are going to have to do that this week."Murphy has actually led the Raiders receivers in catches the past two seasons with a combined 75 catches. But his season has been short-circuited by sports hernia surgery he underwent in training camp."Just got to work back to 100 percent," said Murphy, who has only one catch this year, a 23-yard pickup against Denver on Nov. 6. "I've talked to coach Jackson and he knows, we both understand each other, what he's trying to do, what I need to do to get back to 100 percent. I've been getting a lot of snaps. I've just got to make plays when my number's called."When that opportunity comes, I just got to make the play."And Schilens' potential has been harped upon by the Raiders for at least two years. He has 10 catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.While Murphy and Schilens may not have the world-class speed of Ford and Heyward-Bey, the acrobatics of Moore or the resume of Houshmandzadeh, Murphy and Schilens showed Palmer a little something."I see it happen in practice, it happened three or four times today in practice, just running by people," Palmer said. "We've got speed and we've got fast guys that people know about. But there's other guys thatare fast."Chaz is 6-5 and once he opens up his stride he's as fast as any of them. Louis Murphy's a 4.3 guy. There's guys other than Jacoby that can run at the receiver position here, and we practice it. We work on it a lot."And if that doesn't work out, the Raiders have a receiver on the practice squad in Eddie McGee. Then there's the wild card -- Terrelle Pryor. Though that's more fantasy at this point.Ford being out, as well as rookie running back Taiwan Jones with a strained hamstring, have put a crimp in the kickoff return team's plans. Recently-signed Bryan McCann returned two kicks Sunday in Minnesota.And with Moore limping about, McCann and Murphy were fielding punts after practice on Wednesday.Ford, meanwhile, was still slogging around in his boot, though Jackson said that could change. And soon."He's very close to being out," Jackson said. "I think he's still in it for maybe one more day. I think he'll be out of that thing pretty soon. I'm sure he'll be excited about that."Not as excited as the Raiders themselves will be.

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

Raiders sign rookie OT Sharpe, LB Lee, all four seventh-round draft picks

The Raiders signed several members of their 2017 draft class, the team announced on Friday. Later round picks put pen to paper following the first week of OTAs, which began on Monday.

Fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and fifth-round linebacker Marquel Lee highlight this group of signings, as both players inked four-year rookie contracts.

All four seventh-round picks also signed their first professional contract. That group includes running back Elijah Hood, safety Shalom Luani, offensive lineman Jylan Ware and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.

These deals aren’t hard to work out. The NFL and the league’s players union agreed on a rookie wage scale in the last collective bargaining agreement that slots salaries by draft order, which leaves little negotiating room within the set payment structure.

The team’s top picks remain unsigned, though they’ll get done in time. First round cornerback Gareon Conley, second-round safety Obi Melifonwu and third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remain unsigned.

Here’s a list of estimated contract values over a four-year rookie deal for each signed draft pick, per spotrac.com:

OT David Sharpe (No. 129 overall): $2,986,415 total; $586,415 signing bonus
LB Marquel Lee (No. 168 overall): $2,653,693 total; $253,693 signing bonus
S Shalom Luani (No. 221 overall): $2,494,414 total; $94,414 signing bonus
OT Jylan Ware (No. 231 overall): $2,484,295 total; $84,295 signing bonus
RB Elijah Hood (No. 242 overall): $2,469,750 total; $69,750 signing bonus
DT Treyvon Hester (No. 244 overall): $2,468,601 total; $69,750 signing bonus

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

Marquel Lee gets to play for his father's favorite team: 'He started bawling'

ALAMEDA -- Marquel Lee’s NFL draft weekend wasn’t always fun, a byproduct of high hopes unrealized. The former Wake Forest linebacker wanted to go early, but slid into Saturday and waited well into the fifth round before his phone lifted spirits.

A 510 area code brought Lee out of an emotional rut, one so deep he started wondering whether he’d get drafted at all.

“When I got the call from the Raiders, everything changed,” Lee said in the latest episode of NBC Sports California’s Raiders Insider Podcast. “I was so excited to play for this organization.”

Marquel Lee wasn’t the only one. His father jumped over the moon.

“He might’ve been more excited than I was,” Marquel Lee said. “He started bawling. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that.”

Corey Lee’s tears don’t come easy. He’s a no-nonsense military man who served 11 years in the Navy before entering the private sector. He was a strict but fair father and football coach who instilled the discipline and work ethic required for his son to realize great potential.

Corey Lee is also a lifelong Raiders fan. Seeing his son get drafted by his favorite team created a perfect emotional storm.

“I’m as die-hard as they get,” Corey Lee said. “When they called his name in the fifth round, it was such a great, powerful moment. There was some relief, because he worked so hard and sacrificed to reach this point. When families were on vacation, we were in summer camps and working out hard.

“Everything we did was to prepare him for the next level. I was so proud to see him achieve a goal he had.”

Corey Lee didn’t break down completely when Marquel Lee officially became the Raiders’ fifth-round selection. This proud papa let emotion overcome for a beat, and then darted for his bedroom. He returned to the party with a brand new Raiders hat and a No. 89 Amari Cooper shirt from his vast Raiders collection.

Marquel Lee threw on dad’s gear to honor his new team and the golden opportunity to play for a linebacker-starved Raiders team.

That wasn’t Marquel Lee’s first time in silver and black. He rocked a full Raiders uniform at age 2, complete with a helmet, football pants and a Tim Brown jersey.

He donned one again when rookies reported to the Raiders offseason program earlier this month. The full-circle moment wasn’t lost on Marquel, a man proud of his past and excited about an NFL future.

“There’s a picture of me in a Raiders jersey, pants and a helmet on my second birthday,” he said. “I look at it now and think, ‘Wow. It really happened.’ I’m wearing a Raiders uniform for real. My dream is becoming a reality.”

Corey Lee grew up a Raiders fan in Southern California, going to games with his family at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Pardon Marquel for not following in those footsteps. He grew up on the East Coast when Donovan McNabb was a superstar and gravitated toward the Eagles. Ray Lewis performed in Lee’s Maryland backyard and became an athletic role model.

Marquel watched tons of NFL football with his dad, complete games where father and son would talk about strategy and scheme. Marquel would watch game tape with his father at an early age and when Corey Lee deployed with the Navy, his mother Katanya – she, too, understood football -- made sure that practice continued.

Marquel Lee was armed with natural athletic gifts and cultivated knowledge of the game, allowing him play quarterback and middle linebacker as a junior at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. His dad was a guiding light as youth instructor, a JV head coach and a varsity linebackers coach, but took steps to separate family and football.

“As a father, I never would allow him to call me dad on a practice field or anywhere,” Corey Lee said. “I was always ‘Coach’ during the season, whether we were at home or at practice, because I wanted to keep him in that mindset.”

Football was a primary focus back then, when the family often traded summer vacations for skills camps. Despite buzz around Marquel’s talents, Corey was against his son doing interviews with recruiting websites or ranking services. Father wanted his son’s head on straight, and it has remained that way. 

Top schools were slow to come around, but gravitated after Marquel fully recovered from a torn patella and stood out early in his senior year. He chose Wake Forest, a commitment his father wanted upheld even with late interest from other programs.

His growth continued as a collegian, and took a real spike during the 2016 season. Wake Forest’s defensive captains graduated, leaving him to assume a leadership role and put team over stats. Lee considered his junior season at Wake Forest subpar, and vowed to do better.

“I was pressing a lot, trying to rush my time and trying to get to the NFL,” Lee said. “I was on a road where I thought I wanted to leave (school) early. I was so hard on myself, especially if I didn’t produce. That’s why I said it was subpar. I don’t think I played like a team player that year.

“(The next season) I made a decision to finish what I started and be the leader I always knew I could be. I wanted to help my team get to a bowl game. I hadn’t played in one. That was a major part of me coming back in 2016. … I grew up a lot. I feel like I gained respect as a team leader, and really understood what it took to own that responsibility.”

Lee might have major responsibilities as an NFL rookie. The Raiders don’t have many options at middle linebacker, and Lee will be allowed to compete for a starting spot. It’ll take a solid spring and summer to earn it and give the Raiders confidence to hand an important starting spot to a rookie. The Silver and Black could add a veteran to that position group, though they have high hopes for their fifth-round pick. Lee could well make an instant impact. 

“We definitely think he has the potential to start,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He’s a long ways away from that. We haven’t even begun to get the pads on, so a lot will be determined in training camp and the preseason. So far, he has looked very good.”

Lee considers himself well prepared for the challenges ahead, and believes he can compete at the professional level.

“I’ve been getting ready for this a long time,” Marquel Lee said. “My dad has been telling me that this experience will be different. It’s not like college anymore. It’s a job, and I have to be mentally prepared for everything I’m about to do. I’m here and I’m learning and I’m trying to do my best.”