Raiders

Report: Palmer expected to start Sunday

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Report: Palmer expected to start Sunday

Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer, acquired Tuesday from the Bengals, is expected to start Sunday vs. the Chiefs, according to a national media outlet. It will be Palmer's first start since Jan. 2, 2011, when he was with Cincinnati.

ESPN reported on the air Wednesday morning that Palmer was in line to start, and ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter published the following message on his Twitter account:

"No big surprise, but Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer is expected to start Sunday versus the Chiefs."

Offensive coordinator Al Saunders strongly suggested that Palmer will be the man for the Raiders on Sunday when he was asked Wednesday on Kansas City's Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio what Palmer needs to do to be the Raiders starter.

Saunders answered, As long as hes breathing.

"He walked out on the field (Tuesday) and everybody kind of looked at everybody and said, You know what? This is a real quarterback,'" Saunders said. "That was the comment made by a couple people as they watched him throw. It just depends on how quickly he feels comfortable in what were doing and that shouldnt take too long."

If so, it will mark the second straight week that a new player has stepped into the starting lineup. Last week linebacker Aaron Curry arrived via trade from Seattle and was installed as Oakland's starting weakside linebacker.

Coach Hue Jackson was asked about the prospect of Palmer starting days after donning his No. 3 jersey and deflected the question.

"You think Im going to tell you that right now? You know me a little bit better than that," Jackson said Tuesday. "OK, all you guys try, Im not going to let that out of the bag just yet. But youve got to be ready for anything from me. I think you know that. Well see as we continue to move through the week exactly where we are."

Palmer was also noncommittal at his introductory press conference.

Its going to take some time. I think the only way you can get in football shape is by playing football. You can run wind sprints and lift weights and all those things, but calling a play in the huddle when youre tired, after you just ran, you get the wind knocked out of you, getting up off the ground, ready to talk in the huddle, catching your breath, thats football shape," Palmer said.

"And they only way to do that is in practice and in games. So obviously Im not there yet but Ill lift until Im 75 years old or a doctor tells me not to. Ill stay in shape my whole life. I enjoy working out so although my mindset was This might be it, I might be retired I still was working out and doing a lot of the things Ive been doing my whole career."

The Raiders acquired Palmer for a first-round draft pick in next April's draft, as well as a future conditional pick.

Palmer's career record as a starting quarterback is 46-51, bottoming out with last year's 4-12 mark that hastened his request for a trade, despite his signing a six-year contract extension with the Bengals that took his initial deal through 2014 and made him, at the time, the highest paid player in the NFL on Dec. 29, 2005.

Looking for better interior pass rush, Del Rio gives vote of confidence

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AP

Looking for better interior pass rush, Del Rio gives vote of confidence

ALAMEDA – A large chip rests on Jihad Ward’s shoulder. That’s common for athletes, always on the hunt for motivation. Critics, detractors, those of little faith are easy and obvious targets.

The Raiders defensive lineman had options during a rookie season where he was thrust into full-time duty. Mario Edwards Jr. got hurt and never truly recovered, leaving last year’s second-round pick to play significant snaps. The heavy workload came earlier than the Raiders had planned, before Ward was ready. When Edwards Jr. returned late in the year, Ward was essentially shut down.

The Illinois product took some flak for it. He listened, absorbed and was fueled. He’s comfortable with that process, and the motivation that comes with it.

“They’re just trying to hate (on) people trying to do what they have to do,” Ward said Tuesday. “Keep on pushing. That’s all. …There will be critics everywhere.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio openly criticized Ward’s position group. He said after last season that the Raiders had to upgrade their inside pass rush, that they need more quarterback pressure from guys not named Mack or Irvin. He was right. The Raiders had a league-low 25 sacks despite 18 coming from their star edge rushers.

Edwards Jr. got healthy and Eddie Vanderdoes came in the NFL draft’s third-round, adding power and speed to that group. Ward, Denico Autry, Treyvon Hester, Justin Ellis and Darius Latham all have a part to play inside, and Del Rio believes that unit will be more impactful this season.

“It definitely is a much deeper group than we’ve had. More athletic group than we’ve had,” Del Rio said. “I’m very encouraged by the early signs that I’ve seen in pads, throughout camps against a very good offensive line that we have. Another great test this week to evaluate these guys because we’re playing one of the better lines in the league.”

The Raiders play Dallas on Saturday at AT&T Stadium, where starters will play extensive snaps against the vaunted Cowboys offensive line.

“It’s a great opportunity to evaluate, develop, continue to push, but we feel like we’ve strengthened ourselves there,” Del Rio said. “It’s probably the strength of the defense right now.”

That’s a vote of confidence for a group that should be more effective if healthy. Edwards Jr. and Vanderdoes should front the effort, though Ward could be an impact player if he builds off a strong offseason program. Del Rio says Ward was “more decisive,” this spring, a product of being comfortable playing in this system and this league.

Then Ward suffered a setback. He felt a tweak in his foot during OTAs, one that proved serious and required surgery to repair. He spent training camp on the PUP list, and was finally cleared to practice on Monday. Ward doesn’t think the layoff killed offseason momentum. The comfort and confidence hasn’t left.

“Your first year coming here, you’re thinking too much,” Ward said. “Now it’s like ‘okay, I get it now.’ That’s how it is for all rookies. They just have to learn what’s going on, so I feel it. Everything is easier now, it’s my second years now. It’s regular.”

Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home

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AP

Donald Penn yet to report as Raiders return home

ALAMEDA – Raiders left tackle Donald Penn missed training camp holding out for a new, more lucrative contract. He missed Tuesday’s practice, the first back at the team’s training facility.

His protest began 26 days ago. The regular season is 19 days away.

Penn has worked out with top trainers and private offensive line coaches while away from the team, but still needs time to get back in the flow.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that Penn is expected back this week. He wasn’t there for the first of three sessions when the Raiders will focus on the third preseason game at Dallas. It’s the last meaningful exhibition, with players down on the depth chart expected to populate the preseason finale versus Seattle.

Penn doesn’t necessarily need to play in a preseason game to prep for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Tennessee, but it could help.

Head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t address Penn’s status, or whether there’s a deadline for him to report and be ready for the regular season.

The Raiders have managed with Marshall Newhouse on the left and Vadal Alexander on the right. The pair has fared well, though the line will be significantly stronger with Penn back and a Newhouse/Alexander competition on the right.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie made it clear weeks ago that the Raiders wouldn’t talk contract until a player reports. Penn preferred a contract get done before showing up. Weeks were lost to that impasse.

Quarterback Derek Carr hopes it will end soon, and that Penn will come back to the team.

“It would obviously mean a lot, if that’s what he chooses to do,” Carr said. “He’s our teammate. We want all our teammates here. We want to work hard together. We want to be together and joke together. It’s more than just football. We want to be there in his life, with him.

"It would mean a lot. Obviously, I would love it.”