Raiders WR Heyward-Bey released from hospital


Raiders WR Heyward-Bey released from hospital

MINNEAPOLIS -- Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was struck in the back of the neck after catching a four-yard pass in the fourth quarter and had to be immobilized and transported from the field on a stretcher.

After the game, Raiders officials told Comcast SportsNet's Kate Longworth that Heyward-Bey wastaken to a local hospital for precautionarymeasures and X-rays. He was later released from Hennepin County Medical Center.

Coach Hue Jackson reported that Heyward-Bey never lost consciousness and said he would join the team on its charter flight home Sunday night.

He was always alert," Jackson said, describing the injury as to the neckspine. "I saw him out there and talked to him. I really truly believe that he is going to be OK, but obviously, we have to take all the precautions to make sure that he is going to be OK.

Nevertheless, it remained a sobering moment in Oakland's 27-21 win.

Heyward-Bey was running a crossing pattern and leaped to make a reception at the Vikings' 31-yard line, with 11 minutes remaining.

Cornerback Cedric Griffin tackled him from behind, spinning around the veteran out of Maryland. As he fell backwards, Heyward-Bey took an E.J. Henderson knee to the back of his head and neck, popping his helmet off with the force of the blow.

Heyward-Bey rolled over with the ball still in his hand, then flopped backward to the turf. Raiders guard Cooper Carlisle was the closest player to him and held out his right hand to help Heward-Bey to his feet but No. 85 remained on his back.

His legs were moving in the immediate aftermath, and he gave a thumbs up as he was transported from the field off on a stretcher with his head and neck strapped down.

Its tough, hopefully I can get his number and try to reach out to him," Henderson said. "But I have been there. I have been in the ambulance before so its definitely hard. I hope he is OK and I am going to try and get in contact with him after the game.

Anytime you see the stretcher out there, you try not to think about it," he added. "Of course it crossed my mind. Its football and things happen, but Im glad he gave us the thumbs up and I hope the Raiders staff can get him everything he needs.

Heyward-Bey had four catches for 43 yards before suffering the injury.

Donald Penn ends holdout, returns to Raiders practice

Donald Penn ends holdout, returns to Raiders practice

ALAMEDA -- Left tackle Donald Penn missed Raiders training camp, two preseason games and a return to the team's practice facility while holding out for a new contract. 

He still doesn't have one. Penn ended a 26-day holdout on Wednesday afternoon, returning in time to practice with his team for the first time since the offseason program. He returned on faith, believing the Raiders would work out a higher pay rate after he re-joined the club. 

General manager Reggie McKenzie made it clear on July 31 that the Raiders wouldn't talk contract with a player who wasn't in camp. That stance never changed. 

Penn still wants a new deal. That hasn't changed, either.

The Pro Bowler, who out-performed the two-year, $11.9 million contract he signed during the 2016 offseason. Penn allowed just one sack and 28 total quarterback pressures last season, totals that ranked No. 6 among all NFL tackles. He wanted salary to reflect performance, with paychecks that put him in the top 10 offensive tackles. He is scheduled to receive a $5.8 million base salary in 2017, which ranks far below highest earners. 

There is a belief the Raiders will re-work Penn's deal, though details beyond that remain unclear. So is his playing status for Saturday's preseason game at Dallas. Penn has remained in excellent shape, working out with top trainers, former players and private offensive line coaches while away from the club. The team will practice Wednesday and Thursday, with a walk-through Friday before the Cowboys game. They also have a preseason finale versus Seattle, though that game's generally reserved for lower-tier players. 

Penn doesn't need to play in either contest to prep for the season. Everything he does can be simulated in practice, though game intensity is tough to match. He should slide back in with the starting offensive line, allowing Mashall from the left side to right tackle and wage a position battle there with Vadal Alexander. 

Donald Penn practicing with the Raiders for the first time this preseason

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Bulked up Amari Cooper 'not going to let anybody push him around'


Bulked up Amari Cooper 'not going to let anybody push him around'

ALAMEDA – Amari Cooper enters this season bigger and stronger, yet still just as fast. The Raiders receiver analyzed how opponents covered him, honing on what worked best.

Defenders tried to be physical at the line of scrimmage to disrupt his timing and divert precise routes. They also shaded safeties to his side, doubling coverage downfield to make Derek Carr throw another direction.

The Raiders quarterback didn’t do that Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams. Cooper ran a go route, with a linebacker trailing, a corner on the outside and a safety crashing from the interior. In that moment, Carr let Cooper go make a play.

It was an excellent catch where Cooper high-pointed the ball and brought it down in heavy traffic. That wasn’t the type of play he was known for in previous seasons. He’s excellent at making explosive plays after the catch.

Cooper didn’t have room to move after hauling in the first-quarter volley. He crashed to the ground, but held on for a 31-yard gain, proving he can produce in different ways.

“He’s becoming that guy that we can throw it up to,” Carr said. “We all know (Michael Crabtree) can do that. In ‘Coop’s’ rookie year, he’d come down with a few of them, but it’s consistent now that he wants to be a guy that has every aspect of the receiver game. He put it on display on the one that I threw up to him. I tell the receivers before every game, ‘If it’s you one-on-one on a go and that’s the play call, I’m always going to give you a chance. I don’t care what it looks like. You go make the play or nobody does.’ I guess ‘Coop’ really took that to heart, because he wants the ball to keep coming to him.”

Cooper has said before gaining 1,000 receiving yards isn’t that hard, and he hasn’t been satisfied with two straight Pro Bowl seasons. That’s why Cooper came into training camp bigger, stronger and ready to push back.

“I think that that’s the (new) aspect this year. He’s just playing so physical,” Carr said. “He’s not going to let anybody push him around, and that’s his personality since I’ve known him. He doesn’t want anyone to push him around. He doesn’t want to take anything from anybody. I think that each year he has gotten so much better at both of those.”

High-pointing a ball is one thing. Avoiding route disruption is another. He turned to Crabtree for help near the line of scrimmage, and has added dimension to the start of his route.

“I usually use my feet to get separation off the line of scrimmage at the top of my route,” Cooper said. “But, one of the things I’ve learned from him is you can also get the same results using your hands. … The defensive back, he wouldn’t know. Are you going to use your feet? Are you going to use your hands? So it’s a good change up.”

The Raiders have seen an improved Cooper this summer in practice and preseason games, someone who isn’t simply stronger. He’s using his strength well to counter how he’s being defended.

“Much has been made about him being bigger and stronger, and you certainly see that,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “It’s harder for defenders to knock him off his route. He maintains proper route depth more consistently, and his play speed is high for someone who didn’t get a lot of practice (in training camp, due to injury). We were pretty pleased with what we saw (Saturday against L.A.).