Report: Raiders hire Pollack as OL coach


Report: Raiders hire Pollack as OL coach

New Raiders coach Dennis Allen's staff is taking shape.Hours after the team officially announced Greg Knapp's return to Oakland as offensive coordinator, reported one of Knapp's running mates in Houston would be joining him with the Raiders.Frank Pollack, the Texans' assistant offensive line coach since 2007, will be the Raiders' new offensive line coach, according to the report. He will replace Bob Wylie, who dramatically improved the play of the line in his lone season with the Raiders as they gave up just 25 sacks, which was tied for third-fewest in the NFL.The Raiders have not confirmed the hiring and the Texans were unaware of it.
In Houston, Pollack worked primarily with the tackles. Which may, or may not, give renewed life to the fate of assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski, a former star Raiders guard who is also the uncle of left guard Stephen Wisniewski, who starred as a rookie last season.The arrival of Pollack, meanwhile, probably means a return to a zone-blocking scheme as Pollack has coached nothing but the philosophy in the NFL with Houston. Under Wylie, the Raiders were a power-blocking team.Pollack was a sixth-round draft choice of the 49ers in 1990 out of Northern Arizona and was a member of their 1994 Super Bowl championship team.Meanwhile, running backs coach Kelly Skipper has reportedly been retained, though the Raiders have not confirmed it. He represents some form of offensive continuity in that he has served in that capacity for Oakland the past three seasons after working as the tight ends coach the previous two years.Also, the Raiders are making changes in their strength and conditioning program as Al Miller will serve as strength and conditioning coach, replacing Brad Roll, and John Grieco will be his assistant. Miller, who last worked in the NFL in 2005, has worked with Denver (1985-92), the New York Giants (1993-96) and with Allen in Atlanta (1997-05). Allen interviewed with John Elway last week. Grieco worked the past two years at Louisiana-Monroe and the previous four at UNLV. Roll had been with the Raiders since 2008.And after being denied permission by Denver to interview linebackers coach Richard Smith for the vacant defensive coordinator position, Allen was also denied permission by Dallas to interview special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, according to ESPN, as well as New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

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


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


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 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.”