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.
Raiders general Reggie McKenzie plans to extend quarterback Derek Carr’s contract this offseason. That isn’t a new thing, something that has been in the works for some time. He re-affirmed that fact last week, citing his team’s commitment to work out a long-term deal likely the biggest in franchise history.
Carr was reportedly frustrated with the pace of contract talks after the NFL draft – they’re supposed to heat up this spring and summer – but said he believes a deal will get worked out before training camp begins.
That’s his deadline for an offseason deal, the point where he wants focus honed on football.
“I have an agent who is in charge of that and I am confident that he and Mr. (Reggie) McKenzie will work it out,” Carr, a Fresno State alum, told the Fresno Bee. “I am only focused on becoming a better football player and helping my teammates become better players.
“I have complete faith it will get done before training camp. These things take time. The Raiders know I want to be here; this is my family, and I know they want me to be their quarterback.”
The sides have discussed parameters of a long-term deal, with greater specifics to be ironed out in the future. Carr has long said he wants to be a Raider his entire career. The Raiders want him as the public face of their franchise. A new deal is expected by all parties, a sentiment that has never wavered on either side.
Carr is scheduled to make a $977,519 in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.
The Raiders offseason program is five weeks old. Players have lifted weights. They’ve improved cardiovascular shape. They’ve done drills in position groups and discussed schematics. They’ve added rookies to a group now 90 strong.
On Monday, they can finally put on helmets. They still can’t wear pads or have full contact, but the Raiders can play 11-on-11. Receivers will be covered. Quarterback Derek Carr will throw into traffic. Generally speaking, the competition cranks up a bit.
The NFL collective bargaining agreement has strict mandates regarding offseason activity, and a period formally called “Phase III” allows for more realistic on-field football work.
The Raiders will conduct 10 OTA sessions over the next three weeks. The media can watch three of them. Tuesday is the first, with another in each of the next two weeks. These sessions are technically voluntary, though the Raiders generally hover around perfect attendance. Head coach Jack Del Rio prefers his team be unified in the offseason. Players know it and show up.
There is a mandatory minicamp from June 13-15 which wraps the offseason program and starts a quiet period that extends until training camp begins in late July.
These OTAs offer an opportunity for new players to learn the system, for adjustments to be made and for chemistry to be built heading into a 2017 season where expectations are high.