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Vic Tafur’s picks for NFL Week 4

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 03:42:51 UT

Vic Tafur’s picks for NFL Week 4 Raiders at Ravens (-3): First time going against Oakland this season, and it’s not that Baltimore’s 3-0 record is legit (came against teams that are 1-8). Just don’t trust the Raiders’ defense. The London bridges may always fall down on NFL coaches but not on Gus Bradley this week. Because Indy stinks, too. Panthers (-3) at Falcons: Bills at Patriots (-6): No one knows who is playing QB for New England on Sunday. New York’s defensive line has a big edge here. Take the home underdogs as well as rookie running back Jordan Howard for your fantasy team. Titans at Texans (-4.5): Houston was embarrassed last week against losing J.J. Watt to back problems. Broncos (-3) at Buccaneers: Denver won’t be able to run, and Semien’s not throwing four TD passes again. Rams at Cardinals (-8): The number seems high, especially with Carson Palmer struggling this season. Saints at Chargers (-4.5): Drew Brees can’t go 0-4, not in front of his San Diego fans. Not after hitting his favorite spot, the Old Town Mexican Cafe, on Saturday night. Chiefs at Steelers (-4.5): Le’Veon Bell is back for Pittsburgh and Kansas City couldn’t pull away Sunday despite grabbing six interceptions. Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

Raiders say Khalil Mack OK despite absence of sacks

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:28:12 UT

Everyone wants to talk about Khalil Mack’s zero sacks, but Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. had another number in mind: “We had a few turnovers last week,” Norton said Thursday, referring to the Raiders recovering a fumble and intercepting two passes in a 17-10 defeat of the Titans. Mack had 15 sacks last season and was considered one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year honors this season. Mack and the Raiders (2-1) might get a break Sunday, as the Ravens (3-0) probably will be starting a new left side of the offensive line. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (foot) and left guard Alex Lewis (concussion) missed their second straight day of practice Thursday, and there is a good chance head coach John Harbaugh has to plug in James Hurst and Ryan Jensen at those respective spots. Hurst has started 13 games in two seasons for the Ravens but is best known in Baltimore as the man who got pushed back into Joe Flacco last season, resulting in a season-ending knee injury for the quarterback. Though teams have been doubling Mack at times, and chip-blocking him with receivers and running backs, there also were times Sunday in Nashville when he was blocked by one tackle and kept at bay. The Raiders have only three this season, one each from linebacker Bruce Irvin, defensive tackle Stacy McGee and defensive end Denico Autry.

Raiders’ Kelechi Osemele hopes to make big mark on ex-team

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 02:15:41 UT

Raiders’ Kelechi Osemele hopes to make big mark on ex-team The pancakes — made by the Raiders’ Kelechi Osemele repeatedly knocking over defenders and lying on them — had become stale after a few weeks, so he tried something new in Nashville on Sunday. On a fourth-quarter reverse run by receiver Johnny Holton, the 6-foot-5, 330-pound guard got in front and saw two safeties in his path. Osemele flung 216-pound Kevin Byard in the direction of 207-pound Da’Norris Searcy, who not only went down, but also was injured on the play. “They looked like a couple of bowling pins,” right tackle Vadal Alexander said, laughing. For his next trick, Osemele might give a defensive player a noogie after a successful block. Osemele played for the Ravens in his first four years and won a Super Bowl with them in his rookie season. Though the Ravens are 3-0, they are averaging only 82 rushing yards per game. “K.O. is a special player,” Baltimore running back Justin Forsett said in a conference call. Osemele is one of the huge (pun intended) reasons that the Raiders are second in the NFL in rushing at 148 yards per game, a season after they were ranked 29th. When Osemele is not pushing defensive linemen backward and then jumping on them when they hit the ground, he is letting the players who get away hear about it. Osemele was only a two-star recruit coming out of Houston’s Langham Creek High School and was recruited by only a couple of schools before signing with Iowa State. “Never made the playoffs, so it was hard for anyone to get noticed by a big school,” Osemele said. Retired Longham Creek coach Mac Woodfin said Osemele built up that chip — and those shoulders — after not getting through his freshman fitness test. Woodfin said coaches would look in the weight room two hours after school and see Osemele still in there. The Raiders finally added a 53rd player to their active roster, after going the first three games short a man.

Ronnie Lott optimistic about Oakland stadium plan for Raiders

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 02:51:23 UT

Ronnie Lott said he is “optimistic” that his investment group can get something done with the political leaders of the city of Oakland and Alameda County to build a stadium for the Raiders in Oakland. The former 49ers and Raiders Hall of Fame defensive back said he has been meeting regularly with the city and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, which jointly own the property that is home to the Coliseum and Oracle Arena. Lott and partner Rodney Peete — a former Raiders quarterback and, like Lott, a USC alum — have an agreement with the city and county that gives them 90 days to work out a deal for the Coliseum. Lott said his attorneys wouldn’t let him discuss the financing plan for the billion-dollar football stadium that the Raiders require to stay. Unlike Las Vegas, Schaaf is unwilling to spend taxpayer money on another stadium, offering instead $90 million in public funding for infrastructure improvements to the Coliseum area. The Giants’ new ballpark created a demographic change to that area that was for the better. Lott and Peete were not involved, contrary to earlier reports, in an offer that a group of investors made to Schaaf last week. Atlanta-based Stadium Real Estate Partners LLC offered to pay the city and county $167 million for 120 acres. Schaaf said she declined the offer because she is “committed to a team-centered development that requires the city to deal directly with the Raiders and the National Football League.” Two weeks ago, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee voted to recommend that $750 million in public money — raised through an increased tax on Las Vegas hotel rooms — be allocated for a new football stadium in the city. The Nevada state Legislature still needs to approve the financing plan, and 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners would need to give it the go-ahead in a vote.

Suspension is up for Marcel Reece, but Raiders release him

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 05:54:19 UT

Raiders fullback Marcel Reece, whose four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs ended Monday, paid an even stiffer penalty the same day when the club released him. Reece, 31, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, played in seven seasons with the team and spent parts of two seasons on the practice squad. Because of the suspension, he sat out the final game of 2015 and the first three games this season. In training camp, Reece also worked out at tight end, but the Raiders appear set there with Lee Smith, Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera. Quarterback Derek Carr tweeted: My brother. @CelReece45 thank you for showing us what it looks like to be Raiders. In his career, Reece had 205 receptions for 2,015 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for another 844 yards and three TDs. A wide receiver at the University of Washington, Reece joined the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Strong safety Karl Joseph and middle linebacker Cory James, both rookies, played well in their first NFL starts, Del Rio said. Defensive end Khalil Mack, off to a slow start, had two tackles but no sacks.

Raiders’ Seth Roberts again plays a sweet song in Nashville

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 02:21:02 UT

Raiders’ Seth Roberts again plays a sweet song in Nashville NASHVILLE — Seth Roberts wishes the Raiders could play in Tennessee every week. Roberts dropped a sure-thing pass on the Raiders’ opening drive, which didn’t ultimately hurt, because Latavius Murray ran for a 22-yard touchdown. On the Raiders’ final drive of the half, Derek Carr saw him open but didn’t go to him. Roberts caught the ball, got Brice McCain all turned around and ran 19 yards for a touchdown. In 2015, on a rainy late-November day, Roberts caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner with 1:21 to play. Roberts — who had two catches for 27 yards Sunday — locked up a spot again as the No. 3 receiver this summer in training camp.

Raiders beat heat, Titans to move to 2-1

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 02:19:16 UT

Raiders beat heat, Titans to move to 2-1 NASHVILLE — The Raiders’ defense had surprisingly held up for most of the day, but faster than you walk to another honky-tonk here, the Titans came to life. The Raiders, who led 17-3 at halftime, held off the Titans — despite five dropped passes — in staggering 91-degree heat for a 17-10 win at Nissan Stadium on Sunday. Last season, the Raiders were given an extra play after a bogus defensive-holding call, and Seth Roberts caught a game-winning touchdown pass with 1:21 left in a 24-21 win. In the final minute Sunday, there were two calls against the Titans and one that booing fans thought should have been called against the Raiders. Tackle Taylor Lewan was called for a late block after a 19-yard Tajae Sharpe catch that would have put the Titans at the Raiders’ 3-yard line. Two plays later, Andre Johnson was called for offensive pass interference when he pushed off cornerback TJ Carrie. [...] on fourth down, Carrie made a lot of contact with receiver Harry Douglas in the left side of the end zone but no flags flew as the ball did, harmlessly past them both. On the other end of the depth chart, the Raiders’ big free-agent signings made contributions. Linebacker Bruce Irvin had a forced fumble, safety Reggie Nelson recovered that loose ball in the second quarter (leading to a field goal) and had an interception, and cornerback Sean Smith had an interception in the fourth quarter. After Nelson’s fumble recovery, Carr hit tight end Clive Walford for a 24-yard touchdown strike down the middle, but Donald Penn was called for holding. Replays showed that linebacker Brian Orakpo had hooked his arm under Penn’s armpit and Penn was trying to separate from him. [...] a minute into the fourth quarter, Amari Cooper broke open deep but Carr missed him as his pass carried to the back of the end zone. Slowly bouncing back from his benching in the season opener, the cornerback had an interception. Set the NFL record with his 53rd field goal of 50 yards or more.

Raiders’ Jack Del Rio throws in rookies against Titans’ offense

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:53:06 UT

After his defense was torched by the Saints and the Falcons in the first two games, he knew the 15-points-a-game Titans were a good opponent against which to throw rookies Karl Joseph and Cory James into the fire. Joseph, a safety, and James, an inside linebacker, got their first starts, and they responded, sharing the team lead with six solo tackles. Joseph, the team’s first-round pick, was playing on defense for the first time, after being on the field only for special teams the first two weeks. Joseph cramped up at halftime and missed the Titans’ one touchdown drive before returning. Sebastian Janikowski made a 52-yard field goal in the second quarter to become the NFL’s all-time leader in field goals of 50 yards or more (53). Janikowski has 500 career field-goal attempts in the regular season and postseason combined. Watson on ‘hiatus’: Right tackle Menelik Watson left the game in the second quarter with a lower leg injury, then tweeted that he was “on hiatus” for a while. Left tackle Donald Penn moved to the right side to close out that game, and then Austin Howard returned from an ankle injury to play every snap at right tackle in Week 2. The Raiders dealt with the heat — Derek Carr called it “a cold Fresno day” — with a little help from their security unit, which held up white material on the sideline to provide some shade.

Raiders’ explosive offense hopes to pick up struggling defense

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 03:04:42 UT

Raiders’ explosive offense hopes to pick up struggling defense Even if the receiver can’t bring the ball down, there is always a chance at a pass interference call. Funny thing, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr — who takes the league’s No. 1 offense into Nissan Stadium on Sunday — once did a study on this. “You find out that there’s a lot of pass interference calls,” he said, smiling. [...] the rest of its defensive players. The Raiders rank last in the league in yards per game, yards per play (8!), passing yards per game and first downs allowed and yet are 1-1, thanks to their offense. “I don’t think we started as fast as we wanted to these first couple of games,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. Carr has been sharp, completing 70 percent of his passes for 618 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Guys are taking time before they get here to spend their time in the playbook and game plan and those things, and that’s good to see. The (Falcons last week) played a soft zone most of the day and stayed on top of the deep opportunities. Spotlight on: S Karl Joseph — The first-round pick makes his defensive debut, after having played only on special teams the first two games. Coach Jack Del Rio said he’s “excited” to see Joseph play, as are fans. Joseph was coming off knee surgery when the Raiders drafted him, and the safety has also been working on his eye skills, as far as looking at the right things pre-snap and making adjustments after. Raiders — Tackles Austin Howard (ankle) and Matt McCants (knee) are out. RT Menelik Watson (groin), C Rodney Hudson (knee), G Gabe Jackson (knee), CB David Amerson (concussion), DL Jihad Ward (hip) and RB Taiwan Jones (concussion) are listed as questionable but practiced Friday and are expected to play. Titans — TE Delanie Walker (hamstring), WR Kendall Wright (hamstring) and LB Derrick Morgan (hamstring) are questionable.

Raiders cornerback Amerson cleared to play

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 02:28:08 UT

Raiders cornerback Amerson cleared to play The Raiders could have used the smell of fresh biscuits instead of smelling salts on Amerson, because a return to Nashville this weekend is just what the doctor ordered for him and the rest of the shell-shocked defense. Amerson, 24, said he has had three concussions and is ready to match wits with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota again. The Raiders could use another big game from Amerson to help get them past shoddy performances the first two weeks, allowing a league-worst 808 passing yards. Injury update: Besides Amerson, starting right tackle Menelik Watson (groin), center Rodney Hudson (knee), guard Gabe Jackson (knee) and defensive end Jihad Ward (hip) all practiced Friday, after being limited Thursday. … Tackle Austin Howard, who played every snap in place of Watson last Sunday, was out again with his sprained ankle. The players’ and coaches’ wives collected the shoes, in conjunction with the Order of Malta Clinic’s free exams by podiatrists. ... Punter Marquette King was fined $18,231 for a horse-collar tackle on Falcons punt returner Eric Weems last Sunday.

Ken Norton Jr. can’t explain Raiders’ struggling defense

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 05:53:12 UT

Ken Norton Jr. can’t explain Raiders’ struggling defense Ken Norton Jr. took the stand, er podium, Thursday and pleaded guilty to the Raiders’ defense being terrible the first two games. [...] the defensive coordinator plans on himself, the players and even head coach Jack Del Rio being exonerated as the season progresses. Norton expects to call plays Sunday in Nashville, a week after Del Rio took over the duties late in the fourth quarter of a 35-28 loss to Atlanta. The whole staff, we sit in there and we go over the game plan, over the plays. Norton didn’t have a lot of answers as to why the Raiders (1-1) have allowed 1,035 yards, an NFL record for the first two games. Two newcomers — safety Karl Joseph and inside linebacker Cory James, both rookies — will see some action. Joseph, the team’s first-round pick, had offseason knee surgery but played in the preseason before sitting out on defense the first two games. Opposing receivers — especially tight ends — are running free, and it’s not because the Raiders are getting outmuscled or outrun. Cornerback David Amerson said the Raiders need to “play chess against chess.”

Vic Tafur’s Week 3 NFL picks

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:19:00 UT

Vic Tafur’s Week 3 NFL picks 49ers at Seahawks (-9): Russell Wilson is hurting and not moving around well. Raiders at Titans (-2): Oakland’s defense can’t get worse. Broncos at Bengals (-3): Denver lost one of the most underrated players in the league in DeMarcus Ware. Cardinals at Bills (-4): There is no reason to back Buffalo after the way it performed last week. Ravens (-1) at Jaguars: Browns at Dolphins (-10): Cleveland is starting its fifth quarterback in the past five games, dating to 2015 when you include Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis.DOLPHINS Washington at Giants (-5): Dreaded Norman/Beckham matchup. Lions at Packers (-7): We were loving our Packers Super Bowl pick as their underrated defense is even better than we thought. [...] the Bachelorette dude kidnapped his brother and is playing QB for Green Bay.PACKERS Vikings at Panthers (-7): Minnesota keeps losing players and keeps winning. Rams at Bucs (-6): Jeff Fisher is a charming guy. Carson Wentz looked sharp against a beat-up Chicago defense Monday night, and now there are Ben Roethlisberger comparisons being made. Chargers at Colts (-2.5): Andrew Luck will look across the field and see himself in seven years, in Philip Rivers. Bears at Cowboys (-7): I am stubborn and I will keep going against Dallas’ defense and rookie QB until there aren’t any pigs left for Jerry Jones to shoot out of his helicopter.BEARS Falcons at Saints (-3): I have seen these teams live the first two weeks, so I know exactly which way to go, once I flip a coin.

Raiders defense wary of Titans’ Delanie Walker, other tight ends

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 05:29:04 UT

Raiders defense wary of Titans’ Delanie Walker, other tight ends Niners fans aren’t the only ones who miss tight end Delanie Walker. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio wishes Walker were still in Santa Clara and not in Tennessee waiting for his linebackers to arrive Sunday. Del Rio’s defense allowed 180 yards on 10 catches Sunday to three Atlanta tight ends named Jacob Tamme, Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo. [...] covering tight ends has been an issue going back to last season, with the exception of the brief time linebacker Neiron Ball was healthy. [...] they have to deal with Walker, who had 94 catches for 1,088 yards and six touchdowns last season and sometimes lines up in the slot. “He’s fast, he’s physical,” Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota said in a conference call. To have someone like that, whether it’s as a safety blanket or someone that can really get open and cause matchup problems makes my job as quarterback a whole lot easier. Tennessee head coach Mike Mularkey has faced the Raiders twice in the past year, once in preseason last month, and said he is not buying what the game video is telling him.

Raiders’ Latavius Murray could be helped by occasional rest

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:13:06 UT

Derek Carr and Latavius Murray would look at the Raiders’ rookie running backs performing well in training camp, and though it would mean fewer carries for Murray at some point soon, Carr nudged him. Because every ball he gets, he’s going to be 100 percent fresh. Murray made the Pro Bowl last season, but his yards per carry dropped from 4.8 yards the first eight games to 3.3 the last eight. Cornerback David Amerson (concussion) was limited in practice but head coach Jack Del Rio expects him to play in Nashville on Sunday. … Right tackle Menelik Watson (groin) returned to practice in a limited fashion. ...

Raiders rookie Cory James the ‘next man up’

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 03:59:03 UT

Raiders rookie inside linebacker Cory James, the “next man up,” knows that the Titans are going to be running right at him Sunday in Nashville. James will be taking a lot of snaps from Ben Heeney, who struggled covering running backs and tight ends in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons and “left the door open” for James, according to head coach Jack Del Rio. Heeney, who coaches and teammates spoke so highly of in training camp, had the green dot (helmet with a communication device) taken away before the season opener. [...] the Raiders looked so bad Sunday and are giving up a league-worst 8 yards a play. Del Rio said Heeney barely beat out James in training camp, and safety Keith McGill the same with rookie Karl Joseph, and now it’s time to turn things around. Del Rio said the sixth-round pick has been making plays at practice. At Colorado State, the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder moved from defensive end to outside linebacker to inside linebacker. Raiders cornerback David Amerson, who sustained a concussion late in Sunday’s loss, was unavailable to talk to reporters Tuesday as he is still going through the NFL’s protocol. … Trainers put Menelik Watson (groin) through an extensive workout Monday, but Del Rio isn’t sure yet if the right tackle will return to practice this week.