The grass is always greener


The grass is always greener

At his Friday press briefing, Raiders coach Dennis Allen revealed that he had gotten good news on the playing surface at the Oakland Coliseum for Sundays game against Jacksonville.

Last word that I heard is that itll be grass," he said.

As the last NFL team to play in a football-baseball shared stadium, the Raiders always look forward to the day when crossing midfield doesnt mean crossing over that coarse infield.

Obviously, theres a few things that the dirt makes a difference on, Allen said. You dont get the same traction on the dirt as you do on the grass. So, you have to take that into account when youre calling plays offensively and defensively. And like in the Pittsburgh game, we had to take it into account in the kicking game. So, it does make a difference.


To counter Atlantas more spread out attack, the Raiders played linebacker Rolando McClain a total of only 17 plays last Sunday. That left it to new Raider Philip Wheeler to call out defensive alignments. It was Wheelers first time as the defense-caller since his college days at Georgia Tech. Coach Allen praised Wheelers work.

"That's obviously a role that is critical to the success of the defense, making sure that communication is what it needs to be," Allen said. "He's done a nice job of that. He's a guy who takes his job seriously and he understands that is now something he has to do."


The Raiders turned in a fine defensive performance against the Falcons' potent passing attack last Sunday, holding Matt Ryan to under 250 yards and forcing him to throw three interceptions. The fact the Raiders picked off their first three passes of the season with a safety at cornerback (Michael Huff) and two backups in the starting lineup (Pat Lee and Matt Giordano) makes the effort that much more impressive.

Nickelback Joselio Hanson, who had one of those interceptions, said he and his teammates laid the foundation for their strong performance during the preceding week.

Mentally, we were really focused on communicating during the week during practice," he said. "And we watched a lot of film together, actually more than in the past week. So, it really worked out good for us.

According to Hanson, the players-only film study was the first he and his defensive mates had engaged in all season.

We started something new because whatever we were doing wasnt working," he said.

Injury report: Murray rebounds well after return to Raiders practice

Injury report: Murray rebounds well after return to Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Latavius Murray will spend this practice week testing himself to see if he can play after a debilitating bout of turf toe sidelined him the last two games.

He returned to action on a limited basis for Wednesday’s practice, and needed to respond and rebound well to continue his quest back to the playing field.

Early returns have been positive.

"I think he got a handful of plays out there (on Wednesday)," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said before Thursday’s practice. "I think he’s looking to get better each and every day and hopefully it’s good enough by the time the next game arrives."

Murray practiced a second straight day on Thursday, strengthening his case to play against the Jaguars. That’s extremely likely, barring a setback.

That would certainly strengthen a Raiders running game that has slumped the past few weeks.

“Latavius has his own skill set,” Musgrave said. “Had some explosive runs for us last year. We’ll look forward to getting him back at some point. Hopefully it’s this week.”

Right tackle Menelik Watson practiced for a second straight day and seems in line to re-claim his starting spot against Jacksonville.

Special teams player Brynden Trawick and offensive lineman Vadal Alexander remain out.

It’s possible that Perry Riley will start at middle linebacker over rookie Cory James on Sunday.

Check back for complete participation reports for the Raiders and Jaguars.

Norton: Raiders 'have the right people,' scheme; execution lacking

Norton: Raiders 'have the right people,' scheme; execution lacking

ALAMEDA – Ken Norton Jr.’s defense hasn’t been good all season. It’s only been a hindrance twice in six weeks, allowing the Raiders to brush it under the rug while compiling a 4-2 record.

The Raiders were exposed in Sunday’s 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving many to wonder whether this defense has fatal flaws.

The team’s defensive coordinator believes these problems can be fixed without a radical reconstruction.

Norton trusts his scheme. He believes in his personnel. He has faith there are better times ahead.

“It depends on what you believe in,” Norton said before Thursday’s practice. “If you believe in the players, you believe in the coaches and believe in yourself…

“Obviously you’d like the stats to be better. But we are 4-2, in a good place record-wise. The stats need to be better. We need to continue to understand who we are, what we are and get better at what we’re doing.”

“We have the right people. It’s just a matter of getting it done on game day.”

Coaches have cited eye violations (a.k.a misreads) as communication issues reasons why the Raiders give up chunk yards. Their 6.9 yards per play allowed is the league’s worst.

Edge rusher and team captain Khalil Mack said opponents are challenged the Raiders defensive discipline. Misdirection, bootlegs, wacky formations and the like have given the Raiders fits, and will continue to do so until they repair what’s broken.

“It’s all about discipline,” Norton said. “It’s all about angles. It’s all about leverage and tackling and the fundamentals of the game and getting down to the nitty gritty of playing smart and sharp. It’s the ultimate team game. …Everybody’s connected to a successful play. That play has to be successful consistently over a period of 70 plays. Everybody’s watching every single play, so you need consistency and have guys playing together. It will pick up.”

Communication is the latest buzz word attached to defensive miscues. Norton said it’s been corrected, just not consistently enough.

“It’s been fixed, but it will come up some times, at the worst times,” Norton said. “We are continually practicing. There are 16 games, and you need to be obsessed with improvement, and we are. Guys care a lot. They show up early and stay late. The communication, the playmaking, the coaching, all of it will continue to improve.

“Everybody wants to talk about communication but it’s guys consistently playing well over a duration of a game. You have to be sharp.”

The Raiders have used different coverage schemes at times this season and made two lineup changes – it’s also possible Perry Riley starts at middle linebacker this week – to no avail.

“You see things going wrong with missed tackles or balls going over our head, the little things and details need to get taken care of,” Norton said. “There aren’t a lot of differences between us and the good defenses, but they make a lot of plays they’re supposed to make.

“We have the right people. It’s just a matter of getting it done on game day.”