Trade rumors swirl, Raiders stand pat Thursday

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Trade rumors swirl, Raiders stand pat Thursday

April 28, 2011RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEONFL DRAFT-TRACKER: RAIDERS
NFL PAGEPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

ALAMEDA - The morning began with rumors of the Raiders trading up into the first round to draft UNR's Colin Kaepernick as their quarterback of the future.The afternoon started with stories of the Raiders instead trading up into the first round to select Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith to replace Nnamdi Asomugha.Instead, Oakland stood pat.Without a first-round draft pick for the first time since 1989 - Oakland traded this year's first-rounder to New England for defensive lineman Richard Seymour on the eve of the 2009 season - the Raiders are scheduled to pick 16th on Friday, No. 48 overall. They should go on the clock at about 5 p.m. PT.That's not to say the Raiders did not entertain thoughts, or offers, of moving up."There was so much phone-calling going on in that room like you wouldn't believe," said first-year coach Hue Jackson. "There were a lot of opportunities but nothing that really fit for us, for exactly what we wanted to accomplish. Obviously, the player has to be there when you want to trade with somebody.
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"I think a lot of people wanted to get out of the first round. It's a different type of draft, obviously, because of what's been going on (with the work stoppage), so I think a lot of teams wanted to make sure that (the) value of a player was very important."The Raiders, coming off an 8-8 season, their best finish since the 2002 Super Bowl campaign, are in a situation where they can draft for need, rather than simply take the best player available.As such, the Raiders have immediate needs at offensive line and in the secondary. And they are still rumored to be interested in Kaepernick. Smith, meanwhile, was selected No. 26 overall by Baltimore.The player many draft observers have long seen the Raiders taking with their first pick is Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, nephew of former Raiders offensive guard standout and new Raiders offensive line assistant Steve Wisniewski.
GUTIERREZ: Five players the Raiders might be targeting
Coincidentally, the elder Wisniewski was drafted No. 29 overall, the first pick of the second round, by Dallas in 1989. Yes, the last time Oakland did not have a first-rounder before the Raiders immediately acquired his rights.Jackson said he was confident the player, or players, the Raiders have on their radar would be available when they pick."There's still a lot of good players on that board, a lot of guys that we evaluated and are sitting there for us," he said. "This is a process. It can change. You can wake up in the morning and after our first pick, the whole board can go upside down or it can stay consistent and just keep on flowing."Tomorrow, I have a very good idea of how this is going to unfoldhopefully, there'll be five or six guys hat are there, we'll wrassle with them and figure out who the best guy is to wear Silver and Black."

Mack makes more clutch plays vs Bills: 'Those are moments you live for'

Mack makes more clutch plays vs Bills: 'Those are moments you live for'

OAKLAND – Khalil Mack had a strip sack and recovered his own forced fumble that virtually secured a Raiders victory.

The star edge rusher did that last week against Carolina, and again on Sunday to beat Buffalo. The box score displays them the same, but this clincher was different. Mack slow-played Jordan Mills, jogging toward him before a strong blow knocked the right tackle back.

He cut inside the space he created, chased Tyrod Taylor down and swung down on the quarterback’s throwing hand. The ball came free and lay on the ground before him, waiting for him to pick up.

Then the Oakland Coliseum showed its appreciation with this: “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”

Mack heard it, and wasn’t sure it was for him.

“Was Steph Curry in the crowd? I didn’t know he showed up today,” Mack said with a smile after Sunday's 38-24 victory over Buffalo. “It is what it is. I’m just ballin’ and trying to make plays.”

Mack is making tons of them. In addition to his strip sack and fumble recovery, he tipped a pass Nate Allen intercepted with ease. He finished with seven tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Mack now has 58 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception on the season.

Many of those plays came in the clutch. Mack isn’t just a stat collector. He shows up in important moments, when his team needs them.

“Those are times you live for, making plays in those moments,” Mack said. “You want to step up and stamp the win. That’s what it’s all about for me.”

That makes him extremely valuable to the Raiders. Even so, the MVP is typically reserved for offensive players. Defensive Player of the Year? Mack has to be a frontrunner in that race.

“Khalil Mack is really making his mark on these ball games,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He just keeps showing up huge, and that’s what great players do. Khalil’s a great player."

Raiders go from beaten to not, as true champions often do

Raiders go from beaten to not, as true champions often do

The word “momentum” is largely dependent upon the word “moment,” and yet it is difficult to get players or coaches to acknowledge a particular moment when bad turns to good, or the other way around.
 
Put another way, when he was asked for the single play when the Oakland Raiders went from being owned by the Buffalo Bills to owning them, wide receiver Amari Cooper smiled wanly and said, “I don’t know. My memory’s not that good.”
 
Oh, he remembers when the Bills led, 24-9, in the third quarter, and he remembers when the Raiders took their final lead of 38-24. I mean, it was barely 15 minutes of playing time, maybe twice that in actual time, and he was there for a lot of it. So of course he remembers it.
 
But the singular moment? That’s all filed under “not important enough to spend a lot of time on, especially when another game is 97 hours away."
 
Minutiae like the answers to questions like “When did things change?” or “How did this loss become this win?” doesn’t interest them. It doesn’t have to. They can apply their own stories to why or when or how, but usually they’re just making it up. As guard Kelechi Osemele put it, “It doesn’t really work like that.
 
“You’re in the moment, and you don’t sense things like the moment when momentum shifted. You’re just playing. The next day, maybe you’ll see something on film and then it will hit you that something happened right then that might have changed the game, but not right then.”
 
Fair enough then. You be the judge when Sunday’s looming letdown became the most empirical proof yet that the Raiders are masters of their own fates. It might have been:
 
* The drive after Mike Gillislee plowed into the end zone from two yards out to give Buffalo its 15-point lead, when quarterback Derek Carr threw precision strikes to Clive Walford (18 yards), Seth Roberts (15) and Michael Crabtree (19, sliding to reach a ball thrown slightly behind him) to set up a three-yard touchdown to Crabtree that reduced a potentially lopsided defeat to a single score.
 
* The 22-yard punt return by Jalen Richard that set the Raiders up at the Buffalo 38 after the defense’s first three-and-out of the day, followed by the 21-yard burst by Richard that put the Raiders in position for Latavius Murray’s one-yard push to make it 24-23.
 
* The next Buffalo three-and-out that set the Raiders up at their own 41, from which Carr converted a third-and-10 with a 21-yard throw up the seam to Mychal Rivera, followed two plays later by an elegant 37-yard loft to Cooper, who had gotten behind Kevon Seymour.
 
* The 55-yard punt by Marquette King that buried the Bills at their own four-yard-line.
 
* Or the weekly Khalil Mack-Puts-His-Feet-Up-On-Your-Table moment, tipping Tyrod Taylor’s  pass on the first play after King’s punt into the arms of cornerback Nate Allen to set up the game-settling touchdown.
 
And there might have been more, but why be excessively pedantic? The Raiders used those fifteen minutes and seven seconds to gain 188 yards while holding Buffalo to three, and score 29 points in 28 plays while allowing the Bills 10 plays from scrimmage, not including the three punts. Momentum? Pick a play, any play.
 
The Raiders are now properly positioned as the most logical alternative to the New England Patriots in the AFC, but have a game Thursday night in soon-to-be-snow-encrusted Kansas City that could turn that back on its head. Win and then win out, and they can be masters of their universe, owning for the moment the tiebreakers over the Patriots that would prevent a trip to Foxborough and a nostalgic confrontation with the High Lord Tuck.
 
On their hand, lose Thursday, and they are tied with Kansas City without benefit of the first tiebreaker, having been swept by the perpetually hard-to-figure Chiefs.
 
In other words, momentum in Game 12 is always useful right up to the point where preparation for Game 13 must begin, in the same way that “Is Carr the MVP, or is it Mack?” debates become irrelevant within minutes of their embarkation. As head coach Jack Del Rio explained what he had just supervised, “Is there such a thing as a fast Sunday?”
 
He had already moved on, because dawdlers get crushed by events. Being the master of your fate is not the same as mastering it, and let us not forget that the Raiders do have that maddening gift for needing fourth quarter comebacks. That they can usually get them is not as comforting as never needing them.
 
And there are at least four and as many as eight more games to traverse between now and what the Raiders alone have dared to dream.
 
But Sunday was a day when the Raiders did define themselves as one of the toughest outs in the lineup, and if you want the momentum-shifter to be Buffalo tackle Cordy Glenn’s false start at the end of the third quarter, hey, dance it up. Whether things go according to the Raiders’ grand plan or they don’t, nobody’s going to care either way. All anyone knows today is that they were beaten, and then they were not, and that’s typically how champions are made.