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Raiders’ Cooper sees room for improvement

Sat, 27 May 2017 04:44:09 UT

Raiders’ Cooper sees room for improvement Odds are he won’t, considering he doesn’t even crack a smile when wearing a lei and pictured with his Pro Bowl teammates and hula girls. Among NFL receivers before they turned 23, Cooper has the second-most receptions with 155 (Larry Fitzgerald had 161). In his first two seasons, Cooper averaged 48.5 catches and 726 yards in Oakland’s first eight games, and 29 catches and 390.5 yards in the final eight. The Raiders also hope to beef up his touchdown numbers a little bit, as he has caught only 11 scoring throws his first two seasons. “I know he’s just scratching the surface of what he wants to accomplish in this league,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. Cooper had some issues with drops his rookie year and was dealing with a foot injury down the stretch, but he wouldn’t bite when asked if he had a similar nagging injury last season. “There is no excuse there because every player in the last eight games has some sort of injury,” Cooper said. Overall, (I’m) just working hard in the offseason so that you can come back and you can be dominant. Calvin Johnson is tight with new Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing from their days together with the Lions, and spent the week answering questions from the Raiders’ receivers. Thought it would be a great idea for our wide receivers to just pick his brain and have him be around and give us a point here or there and talk about some of the things he did so well in his career and how we might be able to have some of our guys learn from that. Six of the Raiders’ nine draft picks signed their rookie contracts Friday: fourth-round offensive tackle David Sharpe, fifth-round middle linebacker Marquel Lee, and four seventh-round picks (safety Shalom Luani, offensive tackle Jylan Ware, running back Elijah Hood and defensive tackle Treyvon Hester). Raiders receiver Amari Cooper’s ranking among the top 100 players, as picked last week by NFL players.



Raiders expect big things from defensive tackle Mario Edwards Jr.

Wed, 24 May 2017 04:05:27 UT

Raiders expect big things from defensive tackle Mario Edwards Jr. The 280-pound defensive tackle is healthy right now, and the Raiders know they need him to make an impact for their 26th-ranked defense to get better. Edwards, after all, missed the first 14 games last season after a hip injury was slow to heal. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said after Tuesday’s workout, At the end of the day, we didn’t get a whole lot of Mario on the field. The Raiders are looking for a big step and a big push inside from Edwards, who played both tackle and end as a rookie in 2015. Edwards has worked on his explosiveness, doing a lot of squats and lower-body work in the weight room, plus running in sand. Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin often mentioned the lack of push from defensive tackles last season, and the Raiders were last in the league in sacks, despite having Irvin and Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. “Just ready to do what Reggie already said, you know, to show that I’m ready to be a dominant player and pick up where I left off before I got hurt,” Edwards said. Running back Marshawn Lynch didn’t wear a helmet like the rest of his teammates at Tuesday’s workout, and then went to the weight room after running a couple of drills.



Raiders newcomer Marshawn Lynch ready to light up the Black Hole

Tue, 23 May 2017 03:10:34 UT

The Raiders started the helmet-wearing phase of their offseason workouts Monday, with the media allowed access Tuesday, but their newest star still will be easy to spot. Lynch didn’t often report to the Seahawks’ offseason workouts in Seattle, so his presence is itself a great sign for the Raiders. Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio said he is pleased with the 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back’s conditioning level, and general manager Reggie McKenzie said that Lynch has fit in particularly well. McKenzie talked to the team’s flagship station last week to address rumors that quarterback Derek Carr was unhappy with the progress of talks on his contract extension. Carr had said he wanted to get the extension done by the start of training camp, which is two months away, and the Raiders have every intention to send Brinks trucks to his address before then, so there’s no need to sweat that story line. Penn also missed the first-round playoff loss to the Houston Texans and said the team is locked in on making some noise next postseason. [...] he’s going to back up until he can show himself in training camp, so he’ll back up the outside corner, and the nickel-corner positions, so he’s going to learn multiple cornerback positions. Lee, a fifth-round pick from Wake Forest, has an opportunity to make an immediate impact at a wide-open middle-linebacker spot. The rest of our roster is pretty well situated, but we’ll be looking for a linebacker and we’ll continue to look, whether it’s the waiver wire, trades or available guys out there, veterans on the street. The defensive tackle isn’t done with classes at UCLA until June 16, and an NFL rule prohibits a player from getting on the field until his school’s academic year is over.




Raiderettes get payouts from $1.25 million settlement

Wed, 10 May 2017 23:46:39 UT

The Raiderettes had reason to cheer Wednesday, as the proceeds from a $1.25 million legal settlement were distributed to nearly 100 women who worked as cheerleaders for the Raiders A lawsuit, the first filed on behalf of cheerleaders in the NFL, claimed the Raiders failed to pay their cheerleading squad minimum wage for the hours they worked, failed to pay overtime, and failed to reimburse them for thousands of dollars of incurred expenses from 2010 to ’14. “Our clients have now been paid the equivalent of minimum wage for all of the hours they worked and have been reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses,” attorney Sharon Vinick said in a statement from Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP, the attorneys for the class members. “I never dreamed that my decision to find a lawyer and file a lawsuit would lead to the kind of sweeping changes we have seen for the women of the NFL,” Lacy T. said in the statement from her lawyers.



As legal review continues, Gareon Conley in Raiders’ rookie camp

Sat, 6 May 2017 03:38:01 UT

While his lawyer said it will take six to eight weeks for prosecutors to review the rape allegations against cornerback Gareon Conley, the Raiders’ rookie said Friday that he isn’t aware of a timeline to clear his name. Conley participated in the start of the team’s three-day rookie camp just four days after the first-round draft pick was in Cleveland to meet with police in what he called “another way to prove my innocence.” Conley gave a statement and provided a DNA sample to police and again denied the accuser’s allegations that he raped her at the Cleveland Westin hotel April 9. No charges have been pressed, and Conley’s lawyer, Kevin Spellacy, told the NFL Network on Monday that Conley and the woman had a “consensual sexual event.” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio deferred any questions about Conley’s case to general manager Reggie McKenzie. Poole’s statement that Conley “never touched her” appears inconsistent with Spellacy’s account of a nonintercourse consensual “event.” A day before the NFL draft last week, Conley issued a statement denying the accusations and said his friends “have given statements that give an accurate account of what took place.” Before practice, the team announced the signing of 17 undrafted free agents, with one sticking out because of his talent and a disturbing red flag, which got him uninvited to the NFL combine. Ishmael Zamora had 63 catches for 809 yards and eight touchdowns for Baylor last year, despite being suspended for three games for being caught on video whipping his dog eight times with a belt.



Vegas sells stadium-site land at discount to Raiders

Wed, 3 May 2017 06:21:02 UT

On Monday, the city agreed to sell the NFL team a 60-acre plot of land for its stadium for $77.5 million — more than $22 million less than the $100 million price tag a public board overseeing the project had expected the land to command. The Associated Press first reported the land purchase, saying the deed became effective Monday. The Raiders reportedly have taken more than 40,000 refundable $100 deposits for personal seat licenses since the NFL approved the team’s move in March.



Many questions remain to be answered about Raiders’ draft haul

Mon, 1 May 2017 01:56:42 UT

Many questions remain to be answered about Raiders’ draft haul Oakland’s first two picks, Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley and Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, are both able to close ground in what has been a generous defense in head coach Jack Del Rio’s first two seasons. Conley, the Raiders hope, comes as advertised: good in press coverage with the ability to jump routes and make plays. All told, the Raiders drafted six defensive players this past weekend, with two coming in the lottery-ticket seventh round. Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and fifth-round middle linebacker Marquel Lee are expected to compete for playing time, and maybe even starting jobs, at two of Oakland’s worst position groups. Vanderdoes, who’s 6-3, was bad at UCLA last year, coming off knee surgery and ballooning to 340 pounds. [...] he has since lost 40 pounds and looks to be the powerful player he was coming out of high school in Auburn (Placer County). “A really interesting selection coming off an ACL two years ago,” NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said. All of a sudden at the Senior Bowl, there’s quickness and explosion. Lee didn’t have a lot of great tape at Wake Forest, but he has the size and potential to be a two-down middle linebacker and will compete with free-agent signee Jelani Jenkins and returnees Ben Heeney and Cory James. Neiron Ball, who flashed potential in 2015, is still on the roster after two knee surgeries, but the Raiders gave away his jersey number, which is not a good sign for him. Riley, 29, started 11 games inside last year and is leaning toward retiring after the Raiders and he weren’t that close on a new contract. Defensive players taken by the Raiders, out of nine total picks. Round 1: 24, Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State; Round 2: 56, Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn; Round 3: 88, Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA; Round 4: 129, David Sharpe, OL, Florida; Round 5: 168, Marquel Lee, LB, Wake Forest; Round 7: 221, Shalom Luani, S, Washington State; 231, Jylan Ware, OT, Alabama State; 242, Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina; 244, Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo.



Raiders’ pick says he is not blind

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 02:20:20 UT

Raiders’ pick says he is not blind David Sharpe might be best suited for right tackle, but the Raiders are probably looking at their fourth-round pick Saturday as a project to replace left tackle Donald Penn one day. Here’s a good reason: NFL scouts say Sharpe is almost blind in his right eye. Sharpe is huge, though, at 6-foot-6, 343 pounds with an 87-inch wingspan, and Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio had some inside information on the Florida project. Del Rio’s son, Luke, was the Gators’ starting quarterback part of last season. Sharpe, on a conference call, said the reports about his vision are not true. Sharpe said that he had a cataract removed as a kid and that his vision on his right side is “a little blurrier.” “We’ve had all that researched,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. Once an outstanding basketball player from Jacksonville, Fla., Sharpe surprised NFL executives when he decided to come out a year early after a so-so junior season. Later, the Raiders added a linebacker in the fifth round. Wake Forest’s Marquel Lee projects as a two-down inside linebacker, as scouts say he is a liability in pass coverage. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Lee had 7.5 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles last season. Lee joins Ben Heeney, Cory James and Neiron Ball as the only inside linebackers on the roster, as negotiations with Perry Riley Jr. to come back have hit an impasse. Lee played in a 4-2-5 defense at Wake Forest, with two linebackers, and that’s something the Raiders used at times last season. “I shed blocks really well, so I feel I can go sideline to sideline,” Lee said. “He plays with strength, he has a feel for the game,” McKenzie said. Oakland traded its sixth-round pick to Arizona for two seventh-round picks, for a total of four picks in the last round. The Raiders added Washington State safety Shalom Luani (pick No. 221), Alabama State offensive tackle Jylan Ware (No. 231), North Carolina running back Elijah Hood (No. 242) and Toledo defensive tackle Treyvon Hester (No. 244). The Raiders made their fourth- and fifth-round picks from Las Vegas, to celebrate the team moving there in 2020. The NFL Network went to the live shot for the fourth-round pick but decided not to after that, with host Rich Eisen saying he thought it was a “harsh” move by the team toward its Oakland fans. Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Started all 13 games at left tackle for the Gators last season. ... Wake Forest Scouts think he can ultimately carry another 10 pounds on his frame. … Zero career interceptions in 37 starts. 19 career interceptions. … Tore labrum, missed the Rockets’ bowl game last season.



Raiders draft another DB: UConn’s Melifonwu

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 06:42:28 UT

The Raiders addressed their 26th-ranked defense again Friday night, selecting Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu in the second round of the NFL draft with the 56th overall pick. Melifonwu has size (6-foot-3, 224 pounds) and speed (4.40-second 40-yard dash) and can also play a little linebacker on passing downs. “He can do a lot of different things,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. Oakland then plugged up its middle a little bit, drafting 302-pound UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes in the third round with the 88th pick. Melifonwu teams with first-round pick (and cornerback) Gareon Conley to give the Raiders’ secondary another jolt of youth, as safety Karl Joseph was the team’s first-round pick last year. Del Rio is excited about the defensive haul at this year’s draft. “We’re looking for vastly improved play out of our defense and all three of these guys are going to get an opportunity to compete and create their role,” Del Rio said. [...] yes, the addition of Melifonwu may even mean the Raiders can cover tight ends this season. “It’s no secret we’ve struggled for the last couple of years covering the opponent’s tight ends,” Del Rio said. “I am faster than most tight ends that I go against, and I feel I will be able to cover them” in the NFL, Melifonwu said. Melifonwu, who had a combine-best 44-inch vertical jump, had a team-high 128 tackles and four interceptions last season. Vanderdoes had 29 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 12 starts for the Bruins, as some scouts thought he wasn’t fully recovered from 2015 knee surgery. “I got my explosiveness back” at the Senior Bowl, Vanderdoes said. The Raiders may try to address their big hole at middle linebacker Saturday in rounds four through seven. Del Rio, meanwhile, was asked about Wednesday’s addition of running back Marshawn Lynch, the Oakland native and former Seahawk who is coming out of retirement. Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Did well for himself when he took some reps at cornerback at Senior Bowl practices. … Defensive tackle



Raiders believe Conley will be cleared

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 06:40:30 UT

Gareon Conley flew to the Raiders’ facility Friday, a day after he was the team’s first pick in the NFL draft and three days before he goes to Cleveland to talk to police about rape allegations against him. The sun shone through the clouds for Conley on Thursday night as the Raiders picked him to cap an unusual night that saw him drive two hours to take a polygraph test for another team. “It’s been a really, really emotional week,” said Conley, who said he has video evidence and witnesses that prove his innocence. Conley missed the first half hour of the draft as he drove from Columbus, Ohio, to Akron, Ohio, to take a lie-detector test. Besides talking to the police Monday, Conley plans to give a DNA sample. According to the police report, the 23-year-old woman claims she met Conley in an elevator at the Westin hotel in Cleveland on April 9. A surveillance video obtained by TMZ shows the woman earlier that night following him inside and outside the hotel bar, reaching out to touch him at one point.



Raiders select accused CB Conley

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 06:30:05 UT

The top linebacker in the NFL draft, Reuben Foster, was available to the linebacker-barren Raiders at the No. 24 pick. Oakland selected Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley in the first round, even though he has been accused of raping a woman April 9 in a Cleveland hotel room. Conley, 21, has not been charged or arrested in connection with the alleged incident, according to the Cleveland Police Department. “We did our due diligence,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said, and we trust our research on Mr. Conley. Listed at 6-foot, 195 pounds, Conley had 26 tackles, eight passes defensed and four interceptions in 2016. Foster, the Butkus Award winner for the top college linebacker, fell because of reports that his shoulder didn’t check out, on top of a diluted urine sample, on top of an argument with a hospital worker that had him sent home from the NFL combine. Head coach Jack Del Rio called Conley “a football junkie and a really good kid,” The Raiders probably will plug him in at slot cornerback — replacing DJ Hayden, the team’s last first-round cornerback pick (2013) — as they already have starters Sean Smith and David Amerson manning the outside spots. ESPN, citing a police report, reported that a 23-year-old woman claims she met Conley in an elevator. The report also includes the claim that Conley had sex with the woman and kicked her out of his hotel room after she declined to have group sex, according to ESPN. Conley told police that there were several witnesses and “video evidence that further discredit and disprove other versions of these events.” Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia on Thursday morning, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked how the league will handle Conley’s situation. Played mostly outside in college but did play some inside at the slot, where he will probably end up with Raiders. ... Allowed 14 catches for 159 yards, and an NFL passer rating of 14.0 last season, according to Pro Football Focus.




Marshawn is reportedly hosting a huge block party in Oakland on Thursday

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:31:59 UT

Marshawn Lynch reportedly plans on celebrating his return to Oakland in true Bay Area style: with a huge block party.




Defense beckons for Raiders in draft

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:21:31 UT

NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock usually has a pretty good handle on where the quarterbacks are headed in the NFL draft. The Raiders have so many defensive needs — remember, they have Khalil Mack and still finished last in the NFL in sacks last season — and they could use an additional player in the first three or four rounds. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes both have issues — and big fans as well — and there is a chance that Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Cal’s Davis Webb could sneak into the first round. Assuming the addition of another offensive player (Marshawn Lynch) Wednesday only further underlined the need for a defensive starter in the first round, here’s a look at positions in need of an upgrade: Alabama’s Reuben Foster will slide because of a diluted drug test, after he was already sent home from the NFL combine for arguing with a hospital worker. NFL Films producer Greg Cosell said he not only sees a lot of former 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis in Foster’s game, but also that Foster is a “more naturally athletic mover than Willis.” Cornerback: USC’s Adoree’ Jackson is small but can cover and would step in immediately as a starting slot cornerback.



Raiders reach deals with Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:17:33 UT

In a nice going-away present for Raiders fans, Marshawn Lynch has agreed to terms on a contract that will bring the running back out of retirement to play for his hometown team. The Raiders, who will move to Las Vegas in 2020, acquired Lynch’s rights by agreeing to trade late-round picks with Seattle in 2018, and Lynch passed a physical at the Raiders’ facility Wednesday morning. Lynch replaces Latavius Murray, who signed with the Vikings, and will join Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington at running back. Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowler, has not played since a Jan. 17, 2016, playoff loss to Carolina in which he gained only 20 yards on six carries. [...] he still has 66 more broken tackles than the next closest running back in the NFL over the past four seasons. Lynch’s new teammates are very excited about the news, with linebacker and former Seattle teammate Bruce Irvin tweeting, “Woke up feeling like it was Christmas.” “Marshawn is one of the best running backs I’ve played against in my short career,” Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack said last week. In nine NFL seasons, Lynch has rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns. [...] in 2015, he was limited to seven regular-season games and 417 yards and the postseason loss to the Panthers, largely because of an abdominal injury that required surgery. Lynch visited the Raiders on April 5, and the only team he wanted to play for again was his mom’s favorite team. The Raiders will give the Seahawks a fifth-round pick in 2018 in exchange for a sixth-round pick. After attending Oakland Technical High School, Lynch played three seasons at Cal and ran for 1,000 yards in both 2005 and 2006, being named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2006.



Marshawn Lynch is peak Bay Area in tweet about return to Oakland

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:13:32 UT

Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch wrote about trade with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday, and it did not disappoint.