Originally published on SBReport.net on July 30, 2012
The Oakland Raiders opened up their training camp in Napa, Calif. on Monday morning with nearly everybody healthy.
The lone injuries were to punter Shane Lechler (knee), cornerback Ron Bartell (hamstring), defensive tackle Travis Ivey (conditioning) and linebacker Aaron Curry. With the exception to Curry, everyone is day-to-day according to head coach Dennis Allen. Curry is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but can be activated at anytime.
The PUP list is for any players that cannot practice at the start of training camp. Should he remain on the PUP list when the season starts, he will be forced to sit out of practice and games for the first six weeks of the season.
The players remained out of pads but will put them on for the first time when they practice on Wednesday.
Quarterback Carson Palmer looked solid in practice, with the exception of two throws: a comeback route to wide receiver Denarius Moore that cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke undercut and nearly picked; as well as another throw underneath that Van Dyke also missed by less than inches.
While much has been made about Palmer when in reference to new Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's west coast styled offense, Palmer looked very comfortable throwing while on the run in many rollout situations.
As witnessed during OTAs and minicamp earlier this offseason, backup quarterback Matt Leinart has no problem extending a helping had to the starting quarterback. Leinart, who came from Houston with Knapp, has often been seen offering advice to Palmer should he make a mistake.
Running back Darren McFadden looks to be fully healthy from the foot injury he suffered in week seven last season. He looks just as quick as ever, making speedy cuts through the Raiders defense.
Second-year player Taiwan Jones and veteran running back Mike Goodson shared a lot of second-team snaps once again. Jones had some explosive plays when bouncing outside, while Goodson ran well also and even displayed his own speed when being split out wide before burning backup middle linebacker Travis Goethel.
Many believe that second-year player Joseph Barksdale has a chance of beating out Khalif Barnes for the starting right tackle spot. Although it was just the first day of training camp, Barksdale was seen primarily on the second-team offensive line at the left tackle position with Barnes remaining at his starting right tackle position. It will be interesting to see if Barksdale applies pressure on Barnes for his spot as camp proceeds.
One spot that will be interesting all training camp is the wide receiver position. With so many solid wide receiver prospects, some believe the Raiders may keep six on the 53-man roster. Should they only keep five, the fifth spot is most likely the only one available with Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, and Juron Criner most likely earning roster spots. Criner remained relatively quiet though the first day during team drills, but demonstrated his hands by catching everything thrown his way in position drills.
Both wide receiver Eddie McGee and Rod Streater had good practices today, each getting by double coverage to haul in deep balls along the sidelines. Thomas Mayo also hauled in a deep ball for a touchdown on what appeared to be a mistake in the secondary. It will be a good camp battle throughout their time in Napa for the remaining wide receiver spot(s) but Streater looks to be currently in the lead with his solid play throughout the offseason as a whole.
Third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a poor day, ending the practice with a missed wide-open receiver, following an intercepted screen pass for a touchdown. The missed pass looked like Pryor was trying to aim the ball as opposed to trusting his instincts and just throwing the ball. Pryor has recently had to endure the pain of losing his father and his mentor in the span of just four days, a situation that anybody would struggle with.
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford went down during the first 11-on-11 drill when his footing slipped on an end around. Ford remained on the grass grabbing his left knee for a while before walking to the north endzone with the trainer. Ford put his helmet back on shortly after and joined Denarius Moore receiving punts.
The Raiders will return to the practice field tomorrow at 2:20 p.m. PST, with SBReport.net in attendance.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 29, 2012
The Oakland raiders announced the signing of fifth round draft pick Juron Criner on Sunday, the day before the team starts practice in Napa.
The contract agreement completes the signing of new general Manager Reggie McKenzie's first draft class
Criner, wide receiver out of Arizona, is another sign of a new era in Oakland, lacking the typical raider-esque speed that the late Al Davis coveted. Criner ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, instead Criner uses his size and athleticism to gain position on defenders and haul in the catch.
Criner's play in off season workouts has been sensational, consistently catching everything thrown his way. His play made wide reciever Louis Murphy expendable, as he was traded just last week to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional seventh round draft pick.
With training camp practices starting tomorrow Criner heads into Napa as the backup to Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Criner finished his senior season at the university of Arizona with 75 receptions for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his junior year, Criner earned first team all PAC-12 accolades with 82 receptions, 1,233 yards, and another 11 touchdowns.
Oakland also announced the signing of two additional players Sunday morning: linebacker Chad Kilgore and wide receiver DeAundre Muhammad.
Kilgore, listed at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, comes out of Northwest Missouri state and produced 2.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss last year as a senior.
Muhammad is a smaller wide receiver listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. In three years at Indiana Muhammad played 20 games, including hauling in 26 receptions for 238 yards his senior season.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 28, 2012
The Oakland Raiders announced on Saturday the signing of offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, the team's first draft pick in April.
The signing marks the fifth signing of the first six players drafted by new general manager Reggie McKenzie. Fifth-round draft pick wide receiver Juron Criner is the lone draftee yet to sign his deal for the Raiders.
The signing comes on the day that players are to report to the Raiders training camp in Napa, Calif.
Bergstrom, listed at 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, was selected in the third round (95th overall) after playing 48 career games for Utah, including starting his final 38 games at right tackle. Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has stated that Bergstrom will be kicked inside, primarily at the right guard position.
Bergstrom was largely considered one of the best zone-blocking offensive lineman in the 2012 NFL Draft, hence why the Raiders had him high up on their draft board. The Raiders are re-installing a zone-blocking scheme with the return of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
Criner is now the only non first-round draft pick that is yet to be signed to a deal. With practice starting on Monday, there are just two days for the Raiders front office and Criner to get a deal done in time.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 26, 2012
The Raiders announced on Thursday that Steve Wisniewski has resigned from his position as assistant offensive line coach for personal reasons.
Wisniewski was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection in his 13 years as a career Raider. Wisniewski started all 175 games of his career after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round in the 1989 draft but was immediately traded to the Oakland Raiders.
Wisniewski has decided to continue to assist the Raiders as an ambassador. The Raiders have decided not to fill Wisniewski's position this season.
Wisniewski helped coach a 2011 Raiders offensive line that contributed to a 7th ranked rushing attack in the NFL, as well as giving up just 25 sacks, the 5th fewest in the NFL.
With the hiring of Greg Knapp during the offseason, the Raiders are moving back to a zone-blocking scheme this year, as opposed to the power-blocking scheme Oakland ran last season.
Wisniewski joined the Raiders coaching staff last season when his nephew, Stefen Wisniewski, was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. Stefen is entering training camp as the Raiders starting center this season after being the Raider starting left guard last season.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 26, 2012
Unlike years before, the Oakland Raiders have permitted the Raider Nation to come watch the Raiders team prepare for the upcoming 2012-2013 NFL season.
The Raiders had previously allowed select invitees to come watch training camp practices at Redwood Middle School in Napa, Calif. but now are allowing any fan to pick up a ticket at Raider Image stores to attend one of three practices available to the public: Aug. 3 (Friday), Aug. 4 (Saturday), and Aug. 5 (Sunday).
The open practices give Raider fans the opportunity to see the new Raiders on the squad as well as observe an NFL practice firsthand.
The tickets become available at Raider Image stores on Friday at 10:00 a.m. and are free to the fans and no purchase is necessary at the Raider Image store. Each fan that comes in can get two tickets to one of the practices. Fans must have a ticket to attend practice.
The change in policy is just another sign of a new era with new general manager Reggie McKenzie coming to the Raiders following the death of iconic owner Al Davis.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 24, 2012
The Raiders are entering another new season with a new defensive scheme, a new offense, a new blocking scheme, as well as a once-again overhauled coaching staff with Dennis Allen as the new Raiders head coach.
With so much change on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders hope that quarterback Carson Palmer will be able to improve on his play from a season ago. Although he only played in 10 games in the 2011 season, Palmer showed signs of still having the attributes that enabled him to be drafted with the first-overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Much of the problem Palmer encountered last season was throwing too many interceptions. While he threw 13 touchdowns in his 10 games played, he also had 16 interceptions. Granted six of those interceptions came in the first six quarters he played after being thrown into an offense he hadn't studied much, Palmer will need to make better decisions in 2012.
Palmer's numbers throughout the years indicate that interceptions have always been a problem for the quarterback. In 107 games played, he has thrown 116 interceptions. To put these numbers in perspective, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 38 interceptions in 69 games played; Peyton Manning has thrown 198 in 208 games played, with 28 of those happening in his rookie season; Drew Brees has thrown 146 interceptions in 154 games; and Tom Brady has thrown 115 interceptions in 161 games. The common theme among these five quarterbacks, who are arguably the top five in the game currently, is that they have thrown more less than an average of one interception per game.
The fact is that every interception thrown is an offensive possession lost. In order for the Raiders to have success in the upcoming season, Palmer, and the rest of the offense, need to limit the amount of turnovers.
Palmer did provide glimpses of his capabilities last season, throwing for an average of 275.3 yards per game, good for seventh best in the NFL. The average also includes his first game he played as a Raider, when he only played for one half against the Kansas City Chiefs and threw for 116 yards.
In an attempt to improve his chemistry with his receivers, Palmer reportedly hosted practices in the offseason with his receivers in attendance to help improve his timing and chemistry with his receivers. The added chemistry is necessary as the team attempts to learn new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's West Coast Offense.
With the exception of recently traded wide receiver Louis Murphy, Palmer's receiver corps has remained the same for the most part. Starters Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore are returning, as well as a healthy Jacoby Ford.
One weapon that Palmer will have this year that he didn't have last year is Oakland's star running back Darren McFadden. McFadden injured his foot in the first quarter of a game against the Chiefs on Oct. 23, the same game that Palmer entered the game in the second half. This means that McFadden and Palmer have yet to play a snap together, other than in practice.
Having McFadden on the field will give Palmer yet another home-run threat and will help relieve him and the passing game, but it will remain important for McFadden to stay healthy and on the field, something he has not been able to do in his career.
One thing Palmer will likely do more under Knapp's offense that did not happen much under Hue Jackson's offense is the utilization of the tight end position.
Knapp's offense always seems to use a lot of two tight end sets, which should incorporate the Raiders young trio of tight ends: Brandon Myers and second year players David Ausberry and Richard Gordon. Although they're young and unproven, the Raiders tight ends can be valuable to Palmer.
Ausberry has been running with the first-team offense for the most part during this offseason's workouts and has made many spectacular catches. It is expected that the three tight ends will platoon until someone earns the right for more snaps.
If there is one thing you can't doubt about Palmer is that he is a leader in the locker room. Palmer brings great leadership skills to a young Raiders team and has demonstrated these skills throughout the offseason. Palmer has been seen during OTAs calling his receivers or tight ends over to him after they make a mistake with Palmer either explaining what went wrong, or giving them positive reinforcement.
With a full offseason with his offense, it will be interesting to see if Palmer can return to being one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Regardless, Palmer is confident that the Raiders are not rebuilding, but are actually ready to win right now. Palmer recently told NBC Sports that he believes the Raiders are a "playoff team" this year. If the Raiders are to make the playoffs, they need Palmer to cut back on the turnovers and help lead this offense to a productive year.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 24, 2012
While many fans anticipated a possible departure of Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy, the Raiders front office made it official on Monday announcinga trade that sent Murphy to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for an undisclosed conditional draft pick.
Murphy quickly became a fan favorite when he broke out as a solid target his rookie season after being drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Murphy hauled in a team wide-receiver-high 75 passes his first two seasons for six touchdowns and 1,130 yards.
Murphy struggled with a groin injury that caused him to miss his first five games of last season and only started in one game, while hauling in just 15 receptions for 241 yards.
The trade most likely gives Murphy a better chance at more playing time with a Panthers team who look to add a deep threat for quarterback Cam Newton.
Murphy also descended down the Raiders depth chart with the emergence of Moore's play last season, along with the play of Raiders fifth-round draft pick Juron Criner and undrafted rookie wide receiver Rod Streater.
After having a sensational training camp last season, Moore took advantage of receiving more snaps due to Murphy's injury by appearing in 13 games and hauling in 33 receptions for 618 yards and five touchdowns. With Murphy sidelined due to injury, Moore became the Raiders' deep threat that they needed.
The trade was also most likely made possible due to the emergence of this year's 5th round draft pick for the Raiders, rookie wide receiver Juron Criner out of the University of Arizona.
Criner continued to make plays in this offseason's Organized Team Activities and mini camps in Alameda. Criner has continued to make tough plays this offseason, catching nearly every ball thrown his way. Although he hasn't seen contact yet, Criner has provided performances similar to that of last year's rookie sensation Denarius Moore.
Streater has stepped up as well during the offseason workouts, consistently earning praise from head coach Dennis Allen. Allen has made a point of naming Streater as a player who has practiced well numerous times.
Streater has been running with the second team offense, backing up Moore for much of the season while fellow rookie Criner has backed up Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Streater, like Criner, doesn't have the typical "Raider speed" that late-iconic owner Al Davis appreciated so much. Streater ran a 4.52 forty yard dash, while Criner ran a 4.68.
Both Criner and Streater found success at the college level though, despite not having the quickest 40 times in the draft.
Over Criner's final two seasons with the Arizona Wildcats he hauled in 157 passes for 2,189 yards and 22 touchdowns. In Streater's two years at Temple University, Streater hauled in 49 receptions 882 yards and seven touchdowns. Streater was running with the first-team offense in a June minicamp when Moore went down with a hamstring injury.
With Heyward-Bey, Moore, Jacoby Ford, Criner and Streater most likely making the team as the wide receivers, that leaves most likely just one roster spot that would have been possible for Murphy to take over, which possibly would contain limited playing time.
With Murphy's departure, the spot is now made available for Eddie McGee, Duke Calhoun and numerous rookies looking for an opportunity to prove themselves.
Murphy's departure gives the Raiders an opportunity to play their young wide receiver corps.
The trade also gives the Raiders more salary cap space, something the Raiders haven't had much of recently. Murphy, who was entering his last season under his rookie contract, was set to make $1.1 million.
After signing safety Tyvon Branch to a long-term deal just a week ago, the Raiders were said to have about $5 million in cap space and now have increased the room with the trade of Murphy.
This leaves extra money should the Raiders want to sign another veteran player or two, including running back Cedric Benson who has been continuously linked with the Raiders throughout the offseason but desires to be paid more than the veteran minimum.
Either way, the trade frees up a roster spot and some money for the Raiders, as well as gives Murphy a chance to provide more of an impact on a team.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 20, 2012
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy will be the keynote speaker at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl youth football skills clinic.
The clinic, which takes place this Saturday at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, gives kids an opportunity to receive specialized instruction from football coaches from the University of California, Stanford, San Jose State, and City College of San Francisco.
The clinic is sponsored by the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl along with NCAA Youth Football and is free to all campers that attend.
Kids ranging from 5 to 14 are encouraged to register for the clinic at the NCAA Youth Football Clinic website: https://2012ncaafyc.theregistrationsystem.com/en/1298
Murphy is entering his fourth season with the Raiders after being drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida. Murphy hauled in 15 catches for 241 yards last season.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 18, 2012
Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch spoke with the media following receiving a new four-year/$28 million deal last Saturday. Branch talked about getting the deal done before the upcoming training camp, the new defense, as well as his (lack of) personal goals for the upcoming season.
Originally published on SBReport.net on July 16, 2012
The Oakland Raiders and safety Tyvon Branch were able to come to terms on a four-year deal on Saturday, just two days prior to the July 16 deadline for franchised players to sign a new contract.
The deal is reportedly worth a total of $26.6 million, plus another $1.4 million should he trigger the included incentive clauses, making it worth a maximum value deal of $28 million. The deal contains $17.1 million guaranteed, according to CBSSports.com. Branch was set to earn $6.2 million for the upcoming season if he had played under the franchise tag he signed back in May.
Branch, who is entering his fifth year now in the NFL and with the Raiders, started all 16 games in each of the last three seasons. Branch has been the team's leading tackler in each of the last two seasons, including 2011 when he tallied 109 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and one interception during the campaign.
In just four years of work following being drafted in the third round out of the University of Connecticut, Branch has accumulated 347 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble returns, and three interceptions.
Branch has proven to be a key piece to the Raiders defense, tackling rushers while also slowing down talented pass-receiving tight ends when in coverage.
The signing provides the Raiders with some much-needed stability at the safety position, keeping Branch teamed up with free safety Michael Huff in the secondary. Huff signed a four-year, $32 million contract extension just last offseason.
The stability at the safety position is key in what is expected to be a revamped defense in Oakland. With the passing of iconic owner Al Davis, the Raiders are seeing a transition to a new style of defense under head coach Dennis Allen and his defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver. Davis supported a man-to-man scheme much of the time, whereas the Raiders are expected to blitz and use more zone coverage under Allen and Tarver.
Branch and Huff already have new teammates in the secondary after Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie released starting cornerbacks Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt, then signed their replacements, Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell.
The signing of Branch also gives the Raiders a little bit more wiggle room when it comes to their salary cap numbers. The added cap space may now indeed be used to add another free agent signing, perhaps running back Cedric Benson, who worked out for the Raiders back in June.
Finding a way to sign Branch to a long-term deal was a must for the Raiders, and McKenzie was able to get it done.