Raiders

After redshirt rookie year, Young Raiders OL ready to put his stamp on the NFL

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AP

After redshirt rookie year, Young Raiders OL ready to put his stamp on the NFL

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Jylan Ware essentially redshirted his rookie year. The Raiders offensive tackle was inactive in 15 straight games, with limited work in the 2017 regalur-season finale.

Ware obviously wanted to play, but understood some development was required. The seventh-round pick from Alabama State, a small FCS program, has great size and athleticism.

He had to, however put on some weight and hone technique. Ware feels that mission was accomplished in 2017.

“I thought I was physically ready, but there was a mental gap I had to bridge,” Ware said Thursday in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “Once I caught up mentally, I was off and running.

“I’m so much better, more ready to play than when I first came in. I’m so much more confident. I’m bigger, stronger faster and smarter than I was a year ago. I’m ready to come in and put my stamp on this league.”

Ware apprenticed behind Donald Penn and Marshall Newhouse, guys whom bookended one of the league’s best lines. Ware says those two were quality resources, but everyone contributed to his development.

“I’ve learned so much about being a professional,” Ware said. “We have so many veterans willing to pass on the knowledge during my rookie year. … Everybody was a resource and a sounding board, from the starting five to the backups. They’re inviting and always open if I need advice. Oakland was the best possible spot for me to land.”

The Raiders have a veteran-laden line, but drafted Ware and fellow offensive tackle David Sharpe last season. Ware and Sharpe became good friends last season, and hope to prove their solutions on the offensive line.

“That’s the long-term plan,” Ware said. “One of us will play left tackle and the other plays on the right. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Those guys must impress some new coaches. Jon Gruden’s the new Raiders head coach, and he hired Tom Cable to run his offensive line. Player access restrictions don’t allow coaches to start working with players, but Cable and Ware have met.

“I’ve talked to Coach Cable,” Ware said. “He came in and introduced himself, and we chatted for a while and discussed how he wants me to improve and how he expects the season to go. I’m excited to work with him. He brings a fresh perspective to my game.”

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

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USATSI

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

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USATSI

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”