Is RB Cedric Benson a good fit with Raiders?


Is RB Cedric Benson a good fit with Raiders?

In what amounted to two parts intervention, two parts interview, free-agent running back Cedric Benson told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that the Raiders were one of two teams, along with Green Bay, to have shown interest in him thus far this offseason.He also said he had talked to some players in Oakland about the new regime and culture shift. Alas, Benson, who has rushed for a combined 3,429 yards and 19 touchdowns the past three seasons, remains unemployed some two weeks before training camps open."I think I can make any situation work.," Benson told Adam Schein and former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon. "I'm not against anything. I just want to play ball. I just want to be on a team that wants to win football gamesand if either one of those teams (the Raiders and Packers), if that's their main goal and their main focus, it will work. Those situations can work."For it to work in Oakland, though, Benson would most likely have to take what he sees as a below-market salary.Because while the Raiders did find some relief by signing the franchised Tyvon Branch to a more cap-friendly longer-term contract this weekend, it is not known exactly yet how much more space they cleared. It is thought, though, to have given them up to 3.5 million in space at the moment, and they still have two unsigned draft picks in offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom and receiver Juron Criner.But while new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has shown a willingness to dole out incentive-laden one-year deals as he reboots the team, Benson balked at the notion of accepting a one-year contract for the veterans minimum, which is 825,000 for seven- to nine-year vets for 2012."I think it's only fair and only right on my behalf and on my team's behalf," he said, "tobe paid according to what I've achieved and what I'm capable of doing."So money is a factor?"Why shouldn't it be?" Benson said.And there you have it."I'm 29 years old now," he said. "I'm in my prime now. I'm a man nowI'm a guy who performs in the fourth quarter. I was raised on being able to do everything."Benson referred to himself as an "old-school" running back in the mold of Emmitt Smith, Thurman Thomas, Ricky Watters and Barry Sanders."Those guys played from the start of the game to the end of the game, they made it through the season," Benson said. "They stayed healthy. That's what I grew up watching. That's kind of my mentality."Later in the interview, which lasted nearly 33 minutes, Benson got choked up when talking about his past, which has included legal and attitude problems in Chicago and Cincinnati, and if that might be what is keeping teams away from him."Granted, I've had some run-ins off the field, but they're behind me now," he said"There's going to come a point where I'm going to take what I get; I'm going to make the best of it, regardless of the situation."So should the Raiders kick the tires on Benson again, or are they set at running back with Darren McFadden, Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones?

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain


Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Raiders are remarkably healthy heading into Sunday night’s game against the Washington football club.

The entire 53-man roster practiced fully on Friday, before heading to the nation’s capital.

That includes veteran cornerback Sean Smith, who missed the previous game with a neck injury. A shoulder ailment cropped up during the week, which prompted the Raiders to label him questionable heading into Week 3. Smith’s the only Raider on the injury report, and even he’s in decent shape.

“I mean we put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You don’t have probable’s anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way.”

That means the Raiders are going to have some healthy scratches a week after Smith was the only injured player sitting out.

Washington has some impact players on the mend. That included tight end Jordan Reed, who is questionable with a rib/sternum injury. He stands 6-foot-2, 246 pounds and is the type of receiving tight end that gives the Raiders fits. He has 1,638 yards 17 touchdowns the last two seasons, using good hands and a large frame to create mismatches in the secondary.

It’ll be key for the Raiders to defend him well if he’s active, with Nicholas Morrow as a primary coverage option.

“We’re prepared to face him,” Del Rio said. “We think he’s a good player. We’ll approach it that way and adjust if he doesn’t go.”

Washington also lists starting inside linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley as questionable.

Raiders Injury Report
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report

TE Jordan Reed (rib/sternum), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Monate Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder)

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph notched his first career forced fumble in Week 2’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. It came on his first sack, where he bent around a tackle into the pocket and devoured his pray.

Joseph recovered the ball, and the Raiders quickly scored a touchdown. The second-year pro enjoyed that moment, but left the game with regrets.

"I should have definitely had more sacks than I did,” Joseph said. “I feel like I should have had three.”

Joseph had quarterback Josh McCown in the crosshairs three times, and feels like he should’ve finished each one. The game plan provided opportunity. Joseph blitzed six times – fellow safety Reggie Nelson attacked thrice – and pressured the quarterback four times.

It was a relatively new responsibility, considering he blitzed nine times all last year. Joseph will be first to say he was a different player then. He was less explosive, more tentative and a smidge less confident, lingering effects from an ACL tear during his final college season. Joseph was cleared to play as a rookie but wasn’t all the way back, doubly hampered by missing an offseason program where rookies grow quick.

"I wasn’t completely myself,” Joseph said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California. “I feel a lot more like myself this year. I obviously feel better physically, and the year of experience in the system has definitely helped. So has adjusting to the NFL life. That’s been an easier transition for me.”

Joseph is playing more like his highlight reel from West Virginia, where he proved a heavy hitter and a solid cover man worthy of last year’s No. 14 overall draft pick. The Jets game isn’t the only evidence of that.

Joseph had an excellent training camp, flashing an aggressive style and solid timing making plays in practice. That translated to the regular-season opener at Tennessee, when he saved a touchdown on consecutive plays. The first came on an open-field tackle. The second was a leaping pass breakup in the end zone, proof positive that Joseph was ready to make a big impact.

"He’s really good close to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "He’s a really good tackler in the open field. He also plays well on the back end. I think his development is right on time right now.”

The Raiders recognize that, and are using him like a queen on the chessboard. He can move back or forward, as an attacker or the last line of defense. He’s a rover at times, with an ability to create havoc at all levels of the defense.

Joseph is an excellent fit for the defensive scheme, bring a tone-setting physicality to the secondary. He is learning, as part of his development, that the nuclear option isn’t always best. There are times when it is, and Joseph enters those scenarios without fear.

"You can’t play worried about getting hurt. That’s not the way I play,” Joseph said. “It’s about being smart. I had to adjust my game coming into the NFL. Every hit can’t be a big hit. Sometimes you have to be smart and just wrap people up, but you can’t ever play scared.”

He isn’t afraid to take risks or attack when asked, and is already making a major impact on this year’s defense. That isn’t a surprise. It’s expected of first-round picks.

"That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”