Raiders turn to rookie returners?

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Raiders turn to rookie returners?

ALAMEDA -- Not to spill any state secrets here, but it's no mystery that the Raiders' return game has been underwhelming, to say the least.Most of the reason, of course, is because Jacoby Ford is injured and missed the last game with a tweaked hamstring. And Nick Miller, who is averaging 15.3 yards on four kickoff returns with a long of 18 yards, and 19.0 yards on two punt returns with a long of 12 yards, struggled so mightily on return duty in Buffalo he was replaced by Rock Cartwright on the last kickoff.And while coach Hue Jackson has understandably been playing it close to the vest as to who his returners will be for the Raiders' home opener Sunday against the Jets -- "No, you know I'm not going to do that," he said Thursday when asked who his returners would be -- a pair of rookies lined up deep at the start of practice Friday.Denarius Moore was fielding punts, alongside Miller; Taiwan Jones was returning kickoffs.Moore practiced fielding punts in training camp and returned three for 20 yards in the exhibition season while having a 57-yard return nullified by penalty, though there are no stats of him returning punts in college at Tennessee.
Jones, meanwhile, averaged 22.8 yards per kickoff return at Eastern Washington, bringing back one of his 50 returns for a touchdown. He returned one for 17 yards in the preseason.So if Jones were to return kicks, just how comfortable would he be?"Yeah, I'm comfortable with it," Jones said Friday. "I've done it in high school, also in college, like you said. So, if (Coach) wants me back there, I'm just as excited as he is."Asked if he would have a different mentality returning kicks as opposed to running the ball out of the backfield, Jones shook his head."No, I think it's the same way," he said. "The way I think is, once I get the ball, I'm aiming to score. That's my mentality."The ball gets in your hands and if the coach is confident for you take it out no matter how deep it is, then I've got that confidence in myself as well. And if I get it, I'm shooting to score."Green Bay rookie Randall Cobb returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in the NFL season opener against New Orleans on Sept. 8."Yeah, I saw that," Jones said. "It's definitely on my mind. But we'll see."Two games into his rookie season, the speedy Jones has carried the ball once, for four yards. Frustrating? Or learning experience?"Like you said, it's a learning experience and I trust Coach Hue knows what he's doing so it's just, for me to just be patient and my time will come," Jones said. "I'm just going to go to practice and put my work in out there and when it's my time, it's my time."

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.”