Raiders young WRs to work with Palmer over bye week


Raiders young WRs to work with Palmer over bye week

ALAMEDA -- NFL players generally circle the bye week as an opportunity to shut it down for a week. A chance to head home and re-charge the batteries for the coming grind.The Raiders, after being embarrassed 28-0 by the bottom-feeding Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday? Their young and impressionable receiving corps is sticking around Silver and Blackdom to better acclimate themselves with new starting quarterback Carson Palmer."Yeah, I think that's more important than going home," said second-year receiver and kick returner Jacoby Ford. "Everybody wants to go home, but you definitely want to get this thing right with Carson."
It was obvious in the course of Palmer's Oakland debut at the sold-out Coliseum that he had only three practices with his new wideouts. He barely knows their names, let alone their pass-catching tendencies.Which is why, following one-hour practices in shorts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the wideouts are hanging "on the West Side," as Ford put it, rather than catching flights to relative Parts Unknown.It's about developing a familiarity and a certain chemistry."That's what football is, you know, on offense, building a relationship with your quarterback," said Louis Murphy. "That's what training camp's for. That's what off-season workouts are for, to run routes with your quarterback, so in the game they can work out."We just have to go to work, man. We've got to put in the time with him. We've got to, you know, make it work. Put our heads down and just go to work."Derek Hagan agreed."We know we need to be here, and we're going to be here," he said."It's the timing. That's the main thing. We got to get back on the same page. Obviously, Carson wasn't here for training camp. He wasn't here the first six weeks. We're so used to Kyle (Boller) and so used to Jason (Campbell), it's just a different cadence. It's just one of those things where we just got to get back. We know we can get there. We just got to get the confidence in Carson to know that we're going to be in a certain place at the right time for him to get the ball to us. As long as we're doing that, we should be just fine.""We know after (Sunday's) game, K.C. really put it on us. It's obviously one of those games where we just got to learn from those mistakes that we made and, hopefully, not make those same mistakes moving forward. We know we got a big game coming up in two weeks against Denver."Palmer's passer rating of 17.3 against the Chiefs was a career-low for a game in which he attempted at least 20 passes. He completed eight of 21 attempts for 116 yards but was intercepted three times, including a 58-yard return for a touchdown by Brandon Flowers.It was obvious Palmer had little rapport with his receivers. When will he?"There's some real good talented playmakers as you guys have seen," Palmer said following Sunday's game. "There's a handful of guys you can just get the ball into the hands, and it doesn't need to be an 80-yard bomb every time. They can make big things happen; they can make people miss. So two weeks is enough time to be where I need to be, and I'm going to get everything I can out of these guys."Said coach Hue Jackson: "We've got to speed the process up as fast as we can. I think that's pretty obvious, what needs to happen. How comfortable is he going to be? I can't tell you he's going to know them stone-cold by the time we play Denver (after the bye), but he'll have a better grasp of what this guy can do and what that guy can do based on situations because he's going to have more practice time with those young men."The new Collective Bargaining Agreement ensures the players having four consecutive days off during their team's respective bye. So the receivers remaining in the East Bay is totally on them.And according to Jackson, coaches can have no contact with the players in those four days, though they could conceivably work out at the team's facility. Having two practices this week should give Palmer and the receivers a crib sheet on what to work on over the bye."So whatever those things are it would just be a running deal from there," Jackson said. "So he'll take what we do over the next two daysand continue to work through them with the players."Ford, Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey all spent time during the lockout with Jason Campbell at his Virginia home, building up that all-important rapport while Ford and Murphy crashed at Campbell's house.Surely, Palmer taking over must feel like a new beginning after all that trust-building, right?"No, it doesn't feel like starting over," Heyward-Bey said. "I mean, it's football. Ever since you're little, you go out and play backyard football. So whoever's back there, you're just going to have to get some type of chemistry going and then you play football."And the chemistry with Palmer now?"It's building," Heyward-Bey said. "That's my answer."And Jackson likes that his malleable pass catchers are solidifying and taking a stand. As he should."This team was very disappointed about the way they performed (Sunday)," Jackson said. "Especially offensively. I think those guys are wanting to get this thing right, and again, that's the leadership of the team, that's the leadership of Carson talking to these players, and Kyle. And I think the receivers and runners and all the skill guys, I think they want to get this right."And again, when you have that kind of influence as a player, the peers are pushing each other, 'C'mon, guys, let's go, we got a job to do.' I think that's what you look for."

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Penn still haunted by only sack allowed in 2016; 'That play sticks with me'

Editor's Note: The above video is from Dec. 24, 2016.

Donald Penn was nothing short of awesome last season. The veteran Raiders left tackle proved impenetrable, allowing just one sack and 27 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps.

He ranked high among the NFL’s best left tackles at 33, engulfed a career renaissance that began after joining the Raiders three years ago. Penn made the Pro Bowl. He was a vital piece of a 12-4 team that helped the Raiders reach the playoffs.

He hasn’t reveled much in that. Penn’s driven by opportunities missed, and one mishap that haunts him still.

Penn locked horns with Indianapolis linebacker Trent Cole off the left edge during a Week 16 contest against the Colts, and slipped as he was tracking his man away from the pocket. Penn’s feet got tangled and the big man fell. Cole remained upright, darted in and sacked quarterback Derek Carr.

It was Penn’s only sack allowed all season. And Carr got hurt. He suffered a broken fibula that ended his season and realistic hopes of a Raiders playoff run.

Nearly five months have passed since that fluke play. Carr is healthy and a full participant in the Raiders offseason program. The Raiders offensive line might be better after allowing a league-low 18 sacks last season.

There’s plenty to be excited about as the Raiders enter OTAs and a mandatory minicamp. Penn can’t help but lament that isolated incident when Carr went down.

“You have to be an athlete. You try not to think about it too much,” Penn said Tuesday. “You wish you could go back and get it back. I’ve taken that same set I don’t know how many times, on the same field and never just slipped out of nowhere. I’m not going to put it on myself. I should have been able to do something better. You know me, I’m never going to blame the slip for happening. I should have blocked him and held on to him and taken him down with me. That play sticks with me.”

That isn’t all bad. It fuels Penn to continue growing as a player, even at 34 coming off an excellent Pro Bowl season.

“I’m going to try to do what I can do better and make sure it never happens again,” Penn said. “I’ve never gotten a quarterback hurt in my life since I’ve been playing. That was a first. That’s something I take pride in. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Penn wants a different ending to this season. Last year the Raiders lost the AFC West crown and a shot to win the team’s first playoff game. Penn suffered a knee injury the following week that kept him from playing in the postseason.

The goal is to realize vast potential now that the Raiders offense is back healthy again.

“I’m all about karma and stuff like that,” Penn said. “Maybe (God is) trying to tell us that this is our year. We have to put in the work to get it. I know D.C. is happy, I’m dang sure happy to get him back. We’re growing and masterminding this offense trying to make it as explosive as possible.”


Raiders OTA observations: Conley, rookies must earn their stripes

Raiders OTA observations: Conley, rookies must earn their stripes

ALAMEDA – Rookies have been immersed in the Raiders system most of this month, but still have a lot to learn before training camp begins this summer.

There’s significant work ahead this spring during OTAs and mid-June’s mandatory minicamp, and young players will do so from the second and third teams. Even the highly touted ones.

First-round draft pick Gareon Conley played slot cornerback with the second unit and outside cornerback on the third during Tuesday’s OTA open to the media. It’s a position the slick, speedy cover man will vacate posthaste, but the Raiders prefer rookies earn their stripes.

“All of our young guys are going to earn their way,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We have a good football team. We’re going to let them earn their way. We’ll let them compete. We’re early in the competition, so we’ll just go through the offseason and continue to get (Conley) involved and get him reps. These guys will ascend and take their positions as they earn it. We’re really happy with the way he’s started.”

The Raiders didn’t feature a single rookie on their first units Tuesday. Second-round safety Obi Melifonwu, fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe and middle linebacker Marquel Lee were featured on the second unit.

Here are some other observations from Tuesday’s OTA sessions.

-- Del Rio said Marshall Newhouse had the inside track to be the team’s starting right tackle. The versatile veteran worked there with the first team, joining a front five otherwise intact from a season ago.

-- Second-year pro Connor Cook, who switched from No. 8 to No. 18 this offseason, ran the second offensive unit. E.J. Manuel worked with the third team.

-- Inside linebacker Ben Heeney worked on a side field with a trainer during Tuesday’s practice, as he continues to rehab from surgery to repair an ankle broken early last season. Jelani Jenkins also did side work after practicing on Monday.

Cory James and Tyrell Adams worked with the first unit at inside linebacker.

-- Veteran running back Marshawn Lynch was limited to individual drills for a second straight day as the Raiders ease him back into football activity.

-- Offensive lineman Austin Howard is working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, and only practice during individual drills.

-- Cornerback Sean Smith had offseason surgery, but was a full participant in Tuesday’s session.

-- Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes remains away from the Raiders complex due to an NFL rule preventing players from schools still in session to work with their teams. He won’t re-join the squad until training camp. Undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow is in a similar spot, but will return next week.

-- Edge rusher Shilique Calhoun played last season at 250 pounds, but looks decidedly bigger now. He told the team website he’s up to 270 pounds.