Carr credits Del Rio's leadership for Raiders' turnaround

Carr credits Del Rio's leadership for Raiders' turnaround

ALAMEDA – The Raiders enter their bye week at 7-2, considered a true contender in the AFC West. No team has more wins through nine weeks, as the Raiders have emerged among the class of their conference.

This is a major step towards the team’s first playoff berth and winning season since 2002. That following season started a long, hard winter. A particularly deep freeze struck in 2014, when the Raiders started 0-10 and finished 3-13.

That was quarterback Derek Carr’s rookie season, and it certainly left a mark. That group wasn’t good but never quit, and eventually dragged itself out of the muck.

“A lot of mental toughness (was required), with a lot of hard days where you still had to come into work as the same person,” Carr said. “I think that when you do those things, there’s a lot of character that goes into where we’re at today. Not just myself, but I’m saying the whole team.

“It was tough to come in 0-10. It was tough to come in 0-8, 0-9 and keep doing it. We kept our heads down, and we knew that there was an end goal in mind.”

There was a vision shared by Carr, edge rusher Khalil Mack and rest of the 2014 draft class. They wanted to be part of a turnaround, and were willing to work to get there. They still needed a leader, and one came in 2015 when head coach Jack Del Rio was hired.

“Coach Del Rio has done a great job of giving us a vision and a format of how that looks, because he’s been there,” Carr said. “He’s done those things. It’s also us making it up in our mind, obviously, as players, but it takes a vision and a plan laid out by our leader. I think it’s just a perfect mesh of both.”

This turnaround has worked with a proper mesh of talent, coaching and character. Things started to swing during a 7-9 campaign in 2015.

“It started happening last year,” said left tackle Donald Penn, who signed with the Raiders during the 2014 offseason. “Our season got cut a little short with a few losses, but we had good momentum heading into the offseason. Then, with a couple moves (general manager) Reggie McKenzie made some smart moves and, when we all got together, it was time to compete. The coaches did a great job of helping us improve through competition.”

The Raiders are thankful for an improved lot, with full knowledge they can be better by season’s end.

“Things are coming together,” Penn said. “I can’t wait to see where it’s going to go next. I’m excited about the future, because we’re building something special here. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, and when we come together, that’s what I’m excited to see.”

Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanted veterans to help turn his defense around. He added a linebacker and defensive backs aplenty. Then, on Friday night, he gave the front some help.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine will sign with the Raiders, the 28-year old announced on his Instagram page. 

The Sacramento Bee first reported the news. 

He visited the Raiders on Thursday and was in Seattle earlier Friday, but will sign with the Silver and Black.

Carradine could help their transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, able to play end in the base defense. He has proven himself as a solid run defender, but believes he can be an effective pass rusher if given the opportunity.

Carradine didn’t get many pass-rushing chances with the 49ers, who generally removed him on passing downs. He has 5.5 sacks in four professional seasons. He played 37.9 percent of 49ers defensive snaps during eight games with the 49ers last season. He missed the same amount on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he has the size to be a 4-3 base end. He’ll likely have to battle Mario Edwards Jr. for snaps opposite Khalil Mack, though Bruce Irvin will take that spot in sub packages.

Carradine will be the 10th free-agent signing expected to make the roster, which means the roster turnover this summer should be significant. 

Here was his Instagram post from Friday night: 

Proud to become an Oakland Raider! Let's go #raiders#nation

A post shared by Cornellius Smith (@tank.carradine) on

Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary


Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary

The Raiders started this offseason looking to revamp their secondary around their last two first-round picks. Gareon Conley would start at one cornerback spot. Karl Joseph was penned at strong safety.

Every other job, however, was wide open and likely filled from the outside.

Safety Marcus Gilchrist came aboard Thursday, but one premium spot remained open opposite Conley. Veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin took it Friday afternoon, agreeing on terms of a one-year $6.5 million contract.

NFL Network broke the news of a bargain compared to other cornerback free-agent deals. They aren’t attached to him long term, and Melvin can sign a bigger deal if he plays well in 2018.

The Raiders declared interest in the former Indianapolis cornerback early this week and worked toward an agreement sealed during a Friday morning visit at the team’s Alameda practice facility.

The 28-year old’s fresh off a career year, allowing just 29 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns on 55 targets in 2017. He had three interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Quarterbacks had a paltry 60.3 passer rating against him.

Melvin stands 6-foot-2, 196 pounds and has the athleticism to excel in Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system.

Melvin bounced around before settling with the Colts, struggling to find footing in Tampa Bay, Baltimore New England and two offseason programs in Miami. He found a home in Indianapolis, and became a regular starter in 2016. His breakout 2017 season was cut short by a hand injury that kept him out the last five games.

Melvin projects to start right away. The Raiders will be thrilled if he stays healthy and retains recent form. Melvin has solid ball skills, regularly forces incompletions and thrived in tough assignments that came with being the Colts’ top cornerback.

Gilchrist’s addition, Melvin’s deal and the Friday addition of Shareece Wright fills a cupboard in the defensive backfield laid bare by design.

The Raiders cut David Amerson and now-jailed Sean Smith this offseason. TJ Carrie took a big deal in Cleveland. Reggie Nelson’s allowed to walk as a free agent.

The Raiders added three free agents to the group thus far, and could well draft another defensive back next month.

They’ll have safety Obi Melifonwu in reserve – he’ll have to earn a role after missing most of 2017 with injury – and cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Dexter McDonald vying for spots.

Melvin will be plenty motivated to have a big year and cash in at age 29, for what might be his last shot at a big payday.