ALAMEDA -- The line between resting up and getting away from football while staying focused on the task at hand during a CBA-mandated four days off on a bye is a fine one, indeed.So how did the Raiders do it, so to speak?"Just know your priorities," said fullback Marcel Reece, who, along with Darren McFadden, Taiwan Jones and Jacoby Ford made an appearance at the Raider Image Store at the Universal City Walk outside of Los Angeles this past weekend."Your priorities are faith, family, football, know what I'm saying? And you spend a little time with your family, because they need it and you need it, and in the back of your mind you still got football on your mind because you know what you've got to do. Now it's 16 weeks straight, Lord willing."Reece was talking about the Super Bowl, of course."Yeah. I thought our guys came back, I thought they worked well, I thought they competed," said coach Dennis Allen. "We still worked a lot on ourselves, and we'll spend a lot of time really working on Atlanta, really, starting Wednesday."Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said it felt like the first day of the season for the Raiders, who are 1-3 but picked up half-of-one-game on the rest of the AFC West as San Diego, Denver and Kansas City all lost on Sunday.But from the coaches' perspective, they bye weekend was not merely a chance to exhale."We did our work," Allen said. "We did the things that we had to do. And then all of us had an opportunity to go home and be family men because we've got lives, too, outside of football. So we got a chance to do that, too, which was good."Allen said receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, injured in the Raiders' victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 23, has passed the concussion protocol and been cleared for contact.Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (right foot) is still in a walking boot."Its really about what we expected," Allen said of the injury, which occurred on Sept. 16 at Miami. "Were hoping hes out of the boot soon. Im hopeful that the process speeds up once he gets out of the boot."Allen said Spencer, along with right tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) and tight end Richard Gordon (groin) were "week-to-week."Allen said the Raiders did not work out any free agents over the bye, but acknowledged there was a "potential" they could do so this week.
The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.
They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.
Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.
“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”
While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.
The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.
“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.
"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”