Is Wheeler a playmaker at SAM linebacker?


Is Wheeler a playmaker at SAM linebacker?

NAPA -- Philip Wheeler is far from your prototypical strongside NFL linebacker.He's been told throughout his career that he is not big enough for the position. Not quick enough to elude blockers. Not shifty enough to cover tight ends in coverage."I don't think I'm prototypical anything," Wheeller said following Monday's practice. "I just feel like I can listen to what the coaches are telling me and play the proper technique. They know what theyre doing. Theyre putting me and other players in the best positions for us to make plays."And in this new multiple-look defensive scheme, that's all the Raiders are looking for from their new SAM linebacker.Yes, the guy he's replacing wracked up a combined 16 sacks the past two seasons, but Kamerion Wimbley signed with Tennessee as a defensive end after being cut by the Raiders in what amounted to a salary dump when the two sides could not come to an agreement on a more palatable -- to the Raiders anyway -- contract.And Wheeler is by no means a pass-rushing specialist -- he has two sacks in his career. But such was his existence in Indianapolis' Cover-2 defense. This new Raiders' scheme?"Its way more aggressive, its more fun, more playmaking for a lot of guys, more plays out there to be made for a lot of guys instead of a couple of guys," Wheeler said. "In Indy playmakers were like the defensive ends. I guess this is more linebacker-friendly and everybody-friendly. Everybody makes plays in this defense."In Monday's team session, Wheeler went horizontal to break up a Carson Palmer pass. The day before, he held onto the ball for an interception.GUTIERREZ: Raiders camp summary (86): Live hitting to ground makes appearance
"I think hes done a nice job," coach Dennis Allen said of Wheeler. "He gives us some athleticism at that position. Obviously, weve been able to rush him some and also put him back in coverage, but I think hes a guy that hasnt played a lot on the ball, but hes done a nice job there. And then obviously coming from Indianapolis and the Tampa-2 system, his stack-linebacker-off-the-ball play has been good."The Raiders linebackers last season were a relative soft spot against the run, while the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Wheeler had a career-high 84 tackles and forced a fumble for the Colts."I think hes a good tackler," Allen said. "Well obviously find out when we start really playing preseason games, because we havent done a lot of that, but from what Ive seen so far I would anticipate him being a good tackler."Wheeler concurred."I try to (be a good tackler)," Wheeler said. "I try not to miss tackles, try to wrap up, do the techniques that coaches tell us to do. We practice it every day. I feel like since we are out here in pads and were hitting -- we didnt hit as much where I was before -- so I feel like were getting used to it, and I think well tackle pretty good."Wheeler also has yet to get an interception in his -- Wimbley had one in Oakland.And about those lack of sacks?"Yeah, Im looking forward to getting some sacks, picks, knockout shots, not only from myself but from my other teammates," Wheeler said. "Weve got some amazing athletes out there. We got fast athletes, some of the fastest guys in the league out there. I think were going to be fine."

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

Raiders offensive lineman next in line for extension with Carr's deal done

The Raiders locked up Derek Carr last week, signing their franchise quarterback to a five-year, $125 million contract extension.

He isn’t the only member of the 2014 draft class worthy of a raise. Edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a big one, likely at some point next offseason. The Raiders have some time with Mack after exercising a fifth-year contract option available for first-round picks.

General manager Reggie McKenzie didn’t have that luxury with Carr, and his 2014 second-round pick cashed in before formally entering a contract year.

Right guard Gabe Jackson could do the exact same thing. McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and reward homegrown talent, and the 2014 third-round pick should be next in line to do so.

McKenzie has said back in March that he’d like to extend Jackson’s contract, though there isn’t a deadline to do so.

“There’s no timetable,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “But, I alluded to earlier in the offseason that Gabe is one of the guys I want to get locked up.”

That could happen later this offseason, or further into training camp. Despite paying Carr an NFL-record $25 million in 2017, his contract is structured in such a way that there’s room for another offseason extension. That was important for Carr, that the Raiders can sign other members of this young core.

“We figured out a way to do it,” Carr said, “so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization.”

The Raiders have roughly $18 million in salary cap space after the Carr deal. Some of that is earmarked for the team’s top three draft picks, which remain unsigned to this point. A large sum could go to Jackson as incentive to sign up early, well before he’s eligible to hit the unrestricted free agency.

The offensive guard market is booming, with bigger deals going to a position group generally lower than other spots on the offensive line. The Raiders contributed to that inflation in 2016, signing left guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year, $58.5 deal with $25.4 million in guarantees.

Osemele is one of eight guards with contracts worth $40 million or more, a list that includes two right guards. Jackson played left guard – the more valued position – until Osemele showed up. He moved to the right without complaint.

Jackson thrived there as well. He didn’t allow a sack in 2016, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, with 27 quarterback pressures in 735 pass-blocking snaps. Jackson has been a strong run blocker as a pro, where he has started 44 games in three NFL seasons.

Finding proper value to entice Jackson to sign while remaining on budget is McKenzie’s next task, trying to keep a valuable offensive lineman in place for years to come.

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

Carr plans to spread new wealth after Raiders contract extension

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning won't prompt a spending spree.

Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.

“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”

That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.

“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”

That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.

There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family, especially Heather and sons Dallas and Deker, will be taken care of for life.

After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.

“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”

Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on the star quarterback.

“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”

He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”