ALAMEDA -- Still wondering why the Raiders did not attempt a 58-yard field goal with just over five minutes left in the first quarter of a then-scoreless game Atlanta on Sunday?Surely, it had to have something to do with Sebastian Janikowski's left groin, which has had him on the injury report all season. Then again, Janikowski later did kick a 52-yarder with 24 seconds to play in the quarter and boomed a 64-yarder in the controlled environment of the Georgia Dome during pregame warmups.The situation, according to coach Dennis Allen, did not call for it."Not that early in the game," Allen said Wednesday. "A 58-yarder against that offense, your percentages, even though Sebastian is very capable of kicking a 58-yarder, I've got all the confidence in the world in Sebastian kicking a 58-yarder, but I think in that situation against that team, my decision was it was the right thing to do to try to pin them back and make them go the long way."Since 2009, Janikowski has attempted 14 field goals from at least 54 yards and converted eight. He has attempted six from at least 57 yards, and made three, including the record-tying 63-yarder at Denver in the 2011 season opener.This time, though, Shane Lechler's punt rolled into the end zone. One play later, the Falcons were on the Raiders' 39-yard line and one play after that, Matt Ryan was taking a shot at the end zone, only to be picked off by Michael Huff at the 2-yard line.The Raiders then marched down and Janikowski booted his season-high 52-yarder for the 3-0 lead in the game which would eventually turn into a last-second 23-20 Falcons victory.
STANFORD – Todd Downing has long been responsible for intently analyzing college quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft. He certainly did so during two seasons as Raiders quarterbacks coach, adding input to personnel department evaluations on young signal callers.
This offseason, he’s using a wide-angle lens. Downing is the Raiders offensive coordinator now, promoted to the position after Bill Musgrave was allowed to leave on an expired contract.
Coaches enter the draft evaluation process relatively late – they have a season to coach, after all – but Downing prides himself on working hard in evaluating talent. Working with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s staff, coaches feel like their voice is being heard.
That’s important to a coordinator especially, who must make a scheme work with talent around him.
“Reggie and his staff have always done a tremendous job of listening to our vision for the offense or the defense,” Downing said Thursday at Stanford’s pro day. “It’s been a joy to work with those guys over the past three years.
“(Head coach Jack Del Rio) really expects us to be accountable for our position group. Now that I’m the coordinator, there’s more of a broad scope when looking at offensive talent in the draft. When you work that hard (evaluating players), I think the scouts know that your opinion is well grounded, and that validates it a little bit.”
Downing is always on the lookout for weapons, especially while making tweaks to the Raiders offense. The Silver and Black found a few, adding tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive lineman Marshal Newhouse and quarterback EJ Manuel.
Quarterback Derek Carr helped him get some. The full-time East Bay resident has been active recruiting free agents, trying to improve an already strong Raiders offense.
“You guys know how passionate he is about this game, and about this team and backing up this franchise,” Downing said. “(His involvement in recruiting) didn’t surprise any of us. He’s pretty hands on when it comes to football. He lives in the area, so he hopped in when we needed it and it paid off.”
Cook and Patterson especially could add dimensions to a well-rounded Raiders attack. Cook has made some big plays in the past, and should be a reliable receiving tight end the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons.
“He has a skill set that will be fun to play with (schematically),” Downing said. “We’re excited to see what he can do, and I know Derek is excited to add him. He has a history of making plays in this league, and that’s something we’re excited to have.”
Patterson’s primarily known as a kick returner – he’s a two-time All Pro on special teams – but the Raiders hope he’ll be active on offense.
“With guys like that, you just find a way to get them the rock and let them do the rest of the work,” Downing said. “They make me look good. I can call a simple play and he takes it the distance and it looks like I designed something special.”
A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.
The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:
"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."
Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.