Raiders

Raiders' Zach Miller added to Pro Bowl roster

Raiders' Zach Miller added to Pro Bowl roster

Jan. 19, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul GutierrezCSNCalifornia.com

Whathad been a year of pain and frustration for Zach Miller has turned intoone of success and recognition more than two weeks after the seasonfinale.Imagine how much more productive the Raiders tight end would have beenhad he not had to deal with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, orbeen hobbled with an injured leg?Miller was officially added to the AFCs Pro Bowl roster this afternoonafter initially being a first alternate and will join Raiderscornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and punter Shane Lechler in Hawaii (defensive tackle Richard Seymour was also voted in but had to pull out due to his nagging hamstring injury). RELATED: Seymour out for Pro BowlSan Diego tight end Antonio Gates was forced to withdraw from the Jan.30 game due to injury, also plantar fasciitis, opening the door forMiller. Jacksonvilles Marcedes Lewis is the only other tight end on the AFC roster.
I was hoping but there was no official word so when coach (Hue)Jackson called, it was a relief, Miller said in a phone interview fromhis Bay Area home.When I came in the NFL one of my goals right away was to get to thePro Bowl. Its one of those achievements that really mean something.Gates was put on the Chargers season-ending Injured Reserve list on Dec. 30, so Miller sort of saw the honor coming.It would be great, Miller said that day. Its always been a goal ofmine. Im just happy that I was still voted as high as I was, eventhough I was playing through a lot of injury, missing a lot of timewith the torn plantar fascia.With the injuries this year and missing time, I feel like I ended up with a pretty good season.Despite missing one game and being limited most of the seasons secondhalf, Oaklands second-round draft pick in 2007 out of Arizona Stateled the Raiders in receptions (60 for 685 yards and a career-high fivetouchdowns) for the third straight season.
RELATED: Pro Bowl provides silver lining for Raiders starsThe 6-feet-5, 255-pound Miller was a Pro Bowl alternate last year, butcircumstances did not allow him to play in the game, held in SouthFlorida the week before the Super Bowl.The game is back in Hawaii, where its been every year but one since 1980.Miller has been to the Islands once before, when his ASU team played inthe 2006 Hawaii Bowl. It was there that his then-roommate, Sun Deviloffensive lineman Brandon Rodd, took him surfing for the first time.Rodd grew up near Pearl Harbor.Miller will have more time to experience the local flavor this timearound and has already picked the brains of Asomugha and Lechler aboutPro Bowl week.They talk about it and how cool of an experience it is, Miller said.Once you make it, youre established in the NFL and guys recognizethat. You get a lot of recognition.In four seasons, Millers 226 catches are third-most by a tight end infranchise history. The potential free agent whether he is restrictedor unrestricted depends upon the language in a new collectivebargaining agreement and former player rep to the union has 2,712career receiving yards and 12 TDs.The Raiders also have Pro Bowl alternates in placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and running back Darren McFadden.Guys arent going to vote for guys that are on losing teams, Miller said of the Raiders relative breakthrough season at 8-8.So, just having more success, as we did this year, and well have evenmore in the future, well have even more guys that deserve going to thePro Bowl.What's your take? Email Paul and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list

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AP

Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list

Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward injured his foot during the team's offseason program and hasn't seen the field since. Last year's second-round pick had it surgically repaired, and missed training camp rehabiltating. 

He's finally ready to go. He passed a physical on Monday and was removed from the physically unable to perform list. The team had a walk-through on Monday. Ward should be active for Tuesday afternoon's practice, the first back at their Alameda practice facility. 

The Illinois product had 30 tackles in 13 starts last season, playing significant snaps with Mario Edwards Jr. out due to a hip injury. He'll have to compete for a spot in the rotation, even after working with the first unit during the offseason program. Rookie third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes has played well in his absence and could be a three-down player inside. 

Ward was a raw, yet athletic talent capable of playing several techniques across the line. The teams sees great potential, though Ward must continue to develop as a player. 

In addition, the Raiders activated tight end Cooper Helfet off the non-football injury list.

Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not

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AP

Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not

OAKLAND – The Los Angeles Rams assigned two blockers to Khalil Mack, a common practice against the reigning defensive player of the year. Sometimes it works. This time it didn’t.

The Raiders edge rusher split the double team, found his target and pounced. Jared Goff stood zero chance. There was no evading this one. Mack brought last year’s No. 1 overall pick down with authority, claiming a sack that ultimately won’t count in his 2017 total.

The sacks highlighted a dominant performance that also included three quarterback pressures, four total tackles and two for a loss. All that in three series.

Mack’s clearly ready for the regular season. As a whole, the Raiders defense is not.

Saturday’s 24-21 loss to the Rams at Oakland Coliseum proved that point. A below average offense had no trouble scoring on a starting unit that looks a bit lost.

“I thought our defense was poor, in particular early when we started the game,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a postgame press conference. “We’re going to have to get a whole lot better there.”

It has to happen quickly, with the regular season bearing down and the Raiders still trying to correct the same old thing. Making proper reads and improved communication has been an emphasis this offseason as coaches work to get this defense playing better together. It’s still preseason and there’s time to teach and coach and fix problems, but the defense isn't quite right.

“I think we’ll go a long way when we clean some of those things up,” Del Rio said. “The things that we’ve talked about for too long in terms of communication errors, eye violations and things like that that just keep you from ever being really good on defense. Those just have to get cleaned up.”

Issues are present in the front seven but more obvious in the back, where explosive pass plays continue to plague the starting unit. The Raiders allowed two plays over 20 yards on the first series and six plays of 10 or more yards in three series on Saturday, when the full starting unit was active. The Rams scored 14 points – Mack’s sack squashed the lone non-scoring drive – in those three series.

Del Rio was bothered by misreads and “eye violations,” in coverage, which make things easier for an opposing offense.

“When you see them, it’s not a good thing,” Del Rio said. “Yeah, I mean it’s really simple. You don’t have your eyes where they belong and you’re playing man? You’re playing man or even in zone. If you’re not seeing what you need to see, it makes it hard.”

Fixing these problems could improve execution and make life harder on opponents. It needs to happen this summer or the Raiders will have to win a lot of shootouts.

“Obviously, I identify what the problem is,” Del Rio said. “Getting it fixed is the challenge.”