Carr raves about Cooper's aggression: 'The dog in him is coming out'

Carr raves about Cooper's aggression: 'The dog in him is coming out'

ALAMEDA – Raiders receiver Amari Cooper took off down the left sideline, and quarterback Derek Carr threw before he was wide open. That confidence was rewarded. Cooper created separation without losing full speed.

He soared over Sean Smith and snatched an excellently thrown ball for a big gain during Tuesday’s Raiders minicamp practice.

It wasn’t unique.

Cooper bested David Amerson down the right sideline during a two-minute drill later in the session.

Chemistry with Carr is evident from all distances, but the pair are this offseason working on taking yards in big chunks. Cooper is clearly bigger this offseason, hoping added bulk will sustain his production later in the year regardless of pass distance.

Carr sees a driven, more aggressive competitor on the verge of a breakout season even after two Pro Bowl campaigns. That should help downfield, even in tight coverage.

“That just dog in him is coming out,” Carr said. "That thing that you saw at Alabama where he’ll just take things over, and not to say that he hasn’t because he has, but I just think that’s it’s not just becoming a thing of what game it’s going to be, it’s becoming a thing where that’s who he is. DBs better know that he’s really taking it serious that he’s trying to go attack them this year.

“He’s not going to let them come to him anymore, and I think that just comes with age and seeing him do it out here. The guy has been going off all camp, all offseason. We were kind of just laughing at how impressed we were.”

Cooper had 21 receptions of 20 yards or more last season, though he’s well known for creating after the catch. Cooper can go downfield and get it even at 6-foot-1, as he has in practice several times this offseason.

“It’s something that we want to continue to grow at because you hit on those deep balls," Carr said. “There are a couple of times we hit them early in games and it gets in not only the player’s head that’s guarding him, but the coach’s head. Do you want to leave him on that island? What do you want to do? When you do, are they going to play hard over the top?

"And then you get everything else working for you, so working on that deep ball is always important. Me and ‘Coop,’ it’s something that we work very hard at. We want to continue to hit a lot of those during the games.”

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.