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Vic Tafur’s NFL picks for Week 8

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 05:33:26 UT

Vic Tafur’s NFL picks for Week 8 Raiders at Bucs (pick ’em): Oakland is 4-0 on the road and 2-0 when I pick against it. The Raiders’ offense is so good, it struggled Sunday and still put up 33. Looks like Josh Norman and Jordan Reed are back for Washington, which is good enough for me ... to take a friendly number and do the Ickey Shuffle along with Jeremy Hill. Lions at Texans (-2.5): My favorite game. Seahawks (-3) at Saints: Russell Wilson has 33 yards rushing this season, which tells you all you want to know about his health and Seattle’s attractiveness as a road favorite. Like playing LeSean McCoy (11 yards on 8 carries) with a hamstring problem last Sunday with the Patriots on deck. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a piece of work, coming off the bench for the win as predicted, then calling out the owner and head coach for not believing in him. K.C. has six pick-sixes since the start of the 2015 season, just in case its running game doesn’t dominate as it should. Cardinals at Panthers (-3): Must-win games usually aren’t. Chargers at Broncos (-4.5): My other favorite game. Denver lost to the Chargers two weeks ago when its head coach was out sick. Packers at Falcons (-3): Give me the points and it has nothing to do with Aaron Rodgers. Eagles at Cowboys (-4): The talk-show gods will make Dak Prescott finally struggle for once just because Tony Romo started throwing at practice this week. Vikings (-5) at Bears: I wasn’t a huge fan of Mike Zimmer questioning his team’s toughness after Minnesota’s first loss.

Raiders’ Aldon Smith applies for reinstatement

Fri, 28 Oct 2016 03:30:09 UT

Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith has applied for reinstatement to the NFL, team general manager Reggie McKenzie told The Chronicle. Smith is out of rehab, league sources said, and McKenzie said that Smith is working hard to return to the team, pending a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Smith, 27, entered a treatment center in July after a video shared on social media raised questions about whether he had violated the NFL’s drug and conduct policies again. Smith had 3.5 sacks and was stout against the run in nine games with the Raiders, teaming with Khalil Mack to give Oakland one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the league. The 2011 first-round pick had 44.5 sacks in 50 games with San Francisco. Oakland is tied for the AFC West lead, but has been dreadful on defense most of this season. Oakland is last in total defense (430.4 yards per game) and passing yards allowed (302.1), is 28th against the run (128.3 yards) and is 25th in points allowed (26.4).

Raiders’ injured Mario Edwards Jr. joins team in Florida

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 23:54:52 UT

The Raiders received a package at their hotel Thursday morning. Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., nearing a return from a hip injury, joined the team in Florida. Edwards is on injured reserve and the Raiders plan to make him the one player that they are allowed to activate off that list. The Raiders play the Texans in Mexico City on Nov. 21, after their bye week, and McKenzie would love to see the second-year player back on the field then. Not only he is that type of athlete, but he is that type of football player.

What's Plan B with Raiders Las Vegas stadium deal on shaky ground?

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 19:40:04 UT

Raiders will look great in Levi’s, crystal ball says Sorry to ruin the suspense, but the Raiders will wind up playing at Levi’s Stadium. Raiders’ owner Mark Davis is getting Las Vegas’d. Initially Adelson wanted a piece of the Raiders in return for his own $650 million stadium kick-in and his work arm-twisting Nevada to cough up $750 million.  

Raiders receiver Johnny Holton stays on the run

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 02:09:05 UT

Raiders receiver Johnny Holton stays on the run When Raiders receiver Johnny Holton comes into the game, the opposing team screams, Reverse! The Jaguars did it twice Sunday, and somehow the rookie speedster still got away for 29 yards on his first attempt. Holton has four carries for 41 yards, but only one catch, for 4 yards. Receptions are tough to come by when you’re behind Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes on the depth chart. Holton is from the Miami area, didn’t play football in high school, and was discovered in a flag-football game by a junior-college scout. Carr has long said he doesn’t care about any stats, but there is one he likes: the Raiders being plus-8 in turnover margin.

Raiders’ Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree make for potent tandem

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 02:07:29 UT

Raiders’ Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree make for potent tandem SARASOTA, Fla. — Two weeks ago, Kansas City focused on shutting down Michael Crabtree, and Amari Cooper caught 10 passes for 129 yards. [...] on Sunday, Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey shadowed Cooper all over the field, and Crabtree had eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. No, Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter has not exactly been enjoying watching game video, getting ready for the Raiders’ visit Sunday. Koetter said Crabtree and Cooper have been “very impressive.” “Those guys are playing at a very high level right now,” he said. Sort of reminds me of a few years back when I was in Atlanta, with Julio Jones and Roddy White. Crabtree is tied for the NFL lead with six TD receptions. Cooper leads the Raiders with 40 catches and 614 yards. “We complement each other well,” Cooper said. Jones and White combined for 2,548 yards in 2012, and Crabtree and Cooper are on pace for 2,457. The Raiders haven’t had two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season since Jerry Rice and Tim Brown in 2001; Cooper had 1,070 last season, Crabtree 922. Crabtree said the overall receiver depth sets up the Raiders well. “I think we have too much talent,” he said. Quarterback Derek Carr also credited the coaches. “Our staff does a great job of giving me multiple options versus the coverages and even things that they might do,” Carr said. If they’re going to take away Coop this game, we have to get the other guys going. If they’re going to take Crab away, we have to get the other guys going. What’s great about that (meeting) room is they’re all good with it. Koetter said he would like to get some pressure on Carr and make life easier on cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves, who are each a couple of inches shorter than Crabtree and Cooper. [...] that’s another reason the Raiders are 5-2. “The quarterback is doing a really good job of getting the ball out of his hands,” he said. The Raiders’ offensive line has allowed a league-low seven sacks this season. [...] pick your poison. Oakland’s offense has proved to be highly productive, even Sunday, when it was out of sync for a large part of the game and still scored 33 points. Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @VicTafur Oakland’s Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper have the most receptions of any wide-receiver duo in the NFL this season: Players (Team) Rec. Yards TD Green, LaFell (Bengals) Sanders, Thomas (Broncos) Beckham, Shepard (Giants) Fitzgerald, Brown (Cardinals) Landry, Parker (Dolphins) Austin, Britt (Rams)

Raiders enjoy Florida view and IMG stadium

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 01:58:43 UT

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said that after three days here, he just noticed there was water surrounding the team hotel in Sarasota. IMG is the world’s No. 1 boarding school for student-athletes who hope to be star athletes one day. About 1,000 students from 80 countries go to class from 7:30 to noon, then go to team practices, weight-room sessions and study hall. The campus is impressive and vast, centered on a 5,000-seat football stadium that hosts some of the nation’s top teams.

For Raiders, Florida week beats training camp

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 02:56:50 UT

For Raiders, Florida week beats training camp Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio has compared this week in Florida to training camp, but linebacker Malcolm Smith said it’s better. The team is staying and having meetings at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, and practicing at nearby Bradenton’s IMG Academy. There are no formal team outings planned, but the players are free to do what they want — just as if they were back home — and there are a lot of meals being shared, movies being watched and video games being played. “It will be pretty cool to get that opportunity to go back to the stadium that we just played in,” the former Jacksonville head coach said. Being a football dad is tougher than being a football coach, Del Rio added.

Raiders’ Marquette King has great leg, decent legs

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 02:53:30 UT

Raiders fans might have been excited when punter Marquette King picked up the ball and started running late in Sunday’s game at Jacksonville. “After I passed the orange sticks, I got a little lightheaded and realized I’m really running the ball right now,” King said. Oakland was up by only 10 points with 3:42 to play when the snap from Jon Condo came bouncing back to King on 4th-and-24 at its 38-yard line. King scooped up the ball and raced down the right sideline for 27 yards, setting up a 9-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray. Head coach Jack Del Rio is so high on King’s punting that he let him do some ridiculous dances after some big kicks in the Baltimore win. The least the Raiders can do is finally call a fake-punt play for the former college receiver. Carr was walking through the Ritz Carlton lobby Monday when he noticed King playing John Legend songs on the piano. Yes, the same man who wore a Power Rangers mask to the first day of training camp, to both be noticed and be unable to talk to reporters that day. “I just took off running and thought maybe if I run fast enough, my ratings will go up higher on Madden,” King said.

Postcard from Florida: Raiders hit the links

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 23:22:42 UT

Raiders hit the links Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski, punter Marquette King and long snapper Jon Condo hit the links at IMG Academy on the players’ day off Monday, because that’s what people do in Florida. Condo had just got done telling on Monday that Janikowski was always on time for everything, when he noticed that the kicker was actually late to the links. “I’m actually always there five minutes before,” Janikowski said, because I never want to be late.

Corrections, Oct. 25

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 22:35:11 UT

Del Rio a big influence as his young team learns to assert itself, take risks, Oct. 24, Sports, B7 A photo caption with Scott Ostler’s column, which began on Page B1, misstated the first name of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in some editions.

Michael Crabtree’s contribution to Raiders too big for words

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 03:18:56 UT

Crabtree caught eight passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, then declined to discuss it with the media. [...] zone, Crabtree put his right hand to his face mask and instantly drew a 15-yard penalty for what the ref considered a “throat slash.” In reality, Crabtree’s gesture was homage to the Kenny Powers character in HBO’s “Eastbound and Down” comedy series. Lousy mime, off-color celebrator, media-stiffer, but Crabtree catches footballs: 39 this season for 461 yards and six TDs. Amari Cooper, Carr’s other go-to receiver, has 40 catches for 614 yards, and one touchdown. Cooper has more pure speed, Crabtree has hands like crab claws covered with Stick-um. Crabtree actually had a drop Sunday, on a short third-down pass, but just before halftime, he made a circus catch of a 56-yarder from Carr. Carr tells his receivers that when a play breaks down, run like hell and he’ll look for them.

Raiders brush aside Jaguars, improve to 5-2

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 03:18:04 UT

Oakland’s offense was pedestrian, settling for four field goals in the snoozefest, but pedestrian beats the heck out of comatose. The Raiders, meanwhile, are memorable and will awaken Monday with a 5-2 record and their first 4-0 road record since 2000, when they went to the AFC Championship Game. Michael Crabtree hauled in a 56-yard pass from Derek Carr over his shoulder and three plays later, had a 2-yard touchdown reception on a slant. “Offensively, we want touchdowns,” said running back Latavius Murray, who had two in his return after missing two games with a toe injury. After the game, Carr gave the game ball to head coach Jack Del Rio, who was fired by the Jaguars in 2011 in his ninth season as the head coach. “Jack told us (Saturday) night, don’t worry about him, just be a great teammate,” cornerback David Amerson said. “It was a great place to spend nine years raising the family and being blessed with the opportunity to lead the Jaguar franchise,” Del Rio said. Murray had a nice game in his return, gaining 59 yards and scoring in the second and fourth quarters. [...] the Raiders’ defense did not let the Jaguars back in the game, though with Blake Bortles making Jacksonville fans long for the days of Blaine Gabbert, that would have been impossible. There was a garbage-time touchdown pass to Julius Thomas with 4:12 left, but by that time, the Raiders’ coaches might as well have been scouting the Bucs, next Sunday’s opponent, on the sideline. Sebastian Janikowski hit field goals of 26 and 32 yards in the first half, and Bortles probably swallowed hard. Janikowski, with the Raiders’ offense lulled to sleep, hit two more field goals, a 44-yarder in the third quarter and a 52-yarder in the fourth. Either that or the Raiders felt sorry for all the Jacksonville fans wearing Bortles jerseys, because the Jaguars drafted him over Carr in 2014. The Del Rio family members will raise their glasses to toast an emotional win, and the defense will feel good about itself, after coming into the Jacksonville game as the worst-rated unit in the league. Head coach Jack Del Rio loved his first-quarter third-down catch more than the deep one in the second quarter.

Raiders’ Khalil Mack happy with defense’s play

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 03:15:41 UT

Raiders’ Khalil Mack happy with defense’s play The Raiders’ defensive end was too busy enjoying the “urgency” that he and his defensive teammates played with in the 33-16 win over the Jaguars. Oakland had three takeaways, on a muffed punt and interceptions by David Amerson and Reggie Nelson. Latavius Murray gave the running game a spark with two touchdowns in his first game after missing two games with a toe injury. [...] our offensive line did a great job creating a new line of scrimmage. “It was great to see him back,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey said he has been looking forward to playing against Raiders receiver Amari Cooper since Ramsey was a sophomore at Florida State. The Raiders’ punter took off and ran 27 yards to convert a 4th-and-24. Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley Jr. got the start at inside linebacker, as rookie Cory James returned to the bench after being in the lineup for four games. …

Del Rio downplays Jacksonville homecoming

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 02:33:57 UT

The Raiders’ head coach has a swagger about him, so surely reporters can do better than ask him about his feelings on returning to Jacksonville for the first time since getting fired in 2011 after nine years coaching the Jaguars. The Raiders (4-2) have appeared to turn a corner in Del Rio’s second year, similar to the one the Jaguars turned when they went 9-7 in 2004. Jacksonville made playoff appearances in 2005 and 2007 under Del Rio, getting its first postseason win in eight years by beating Pittsburgh in the 2007 wild-card game. Being a former NFL linebacker has helped Del Rio deal with players, but his focus is mentioned by his supporters. Like Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, whom Del Rio once fired in Jacksonville. Like Linda Del Rio, who has made more than 40 moves in her husband’s 32-year NFL career. When he was on the Ravens staff that won the Super Bowl, he was super calm, met with the family that weekend, asked to be left alone so he could get a two-hour nap and won the game like it was something he was supposed to do. [...] for his family. Besides Luke, the Del Rios have three successful daughters — Lauren, Hope and Aubrey — who will all be on hand to cheer on the Raiders. The defensive coordinator job in Denver from 2012-2014 was an ideal transition job, and one that came up because of Luke. [...] we found a great one where he played with Christian McCaffrey and became an Elite 11 quarterback. The Broncos’ defensive coordinator job became open because the Raiders hired away Dennis Allen to be their head coach. The team has the coach’s confidence and, hopefully for him, the focus that his wife mentioned, as the Raiders try to shore up the league’s worst defense. A win Sunday would mean that the Raiders are 4-0 on the road for the first time since 2000, when they reached the AFC Championship Game. Raiders DL Jihad Ward and LB Shilique Calhoun. The Jaguars can’t run (ranked 31st) and Blake Bortles gets sacked a lot, so this seems to be a good spot for the second- and third-round picks. Raiders — T Vadal Alexander (ankle) is doubtful; RB Latavius Murray (toe), C Rodney Hudson (knee) and G Gabe Jackson (knee) are listed as questionable but are expected to play. Raiders WR Amari Cooper has 16 catches for 267 yards the past two games and is tied for first in the NFL with seven receptions of at least 25 yards. Pro Bowl WR Allen Robinson looks to break out against the Raiders.