Dantonio: Raiders rookie Cook 'won't be intimidated' by playoff start

Dantonio: Raiders rookie Cook 'won't be intimidated' by playoff start

ALAMEDA – Raiders rookie quarterback Connor Cook played a lot of big games at Michigan State. He had a 34-5 record in three years as Spartans signal caller, with a Rose Bowl victory and two Big 10 championships to his credit.

He also played in the 2016 College Football Playoff, though that game against Alabama didn’t go so well.

Cook was known as a big-game player at Michigan State, something his college coach believes will help in his first professional start. That comes on Saturday at Houston, in the Raiders’ first playoff game since 2002.

“He’s been in the spotlight,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said Wednesday on NFL Network. “I know it’s an elevated level of play and it’s all relative and everything, but he’s played on a big stage and he’s had a lot of anxiety, big-game jitters and things like that and he’s played very, very well in those games. I think that’s going to serve him as well as anything as he takes this opportunity and has an opportunity play this weekend.”

Cook has several factors working against him in that Texans game, most notably a lack of NFL game experience and practice reps. He isn’t lacking poise or physical tools. Cook stands 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, can make every throw and has firm command in the pocket.

“He has a big arm. He can throw you open,” Dantonio said. “He’s a big guy as they probably all are in that league…He has a live arm and I think he prepares very well, at least on the college end of things. He’s very particular in terms of everything, wants it to be right. Could overcome a mistake – I think that’s as big as anything; he threw an interception and he bounced back from that and continued to play on through it. So I don’t think that he’s going to be intimidated by the scope of the game. That hasn’t been a problem for him when he was here. I expect him to play very well.”

Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere


Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere

The Raiders missed out on signing Ryan Grant. The former Washington receiver visited the team’s Alameda training complex, but left without a contract and ultimately chose to sign a one-year, $5 million deal with Indianapolis.

They lost that one, but are undeterred in their quest to upgrade the receiver corps.

They already signed Jordy Nelson and let Michael Crabtree walk, hoping for steady production and quality locker room leadership in the exchange.

Cordarrelle Patterson was traded to New England on Sunday, creating a spot in the position group.

The Raiders tried to fill it with Grant. No go, no matter.

They hosted veteran Eric Decker on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. They also declared interest in Allen Hurns, a player the Jaguars released Tuesday morning.

Hurns listed the Raiders among interested teams – he said there were 10 in total – in an interview with KFNZ radio in Charlotte, N.C.

Hurns has a 1,000-yard season to his credit – his biggest year came with now-Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson as Jacksonville's O.C. -- and two relative down years since. Injuries have also played a part in that.

Decker had a stellar four-year run with Denver and the New York Jets, but was less effective during two seasons in Tennessee. The 31-year old has experience in the slot, and could be a productive No. 3 option in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Gruden doesn't mind working with veteran receivers, something clear from his past and willingness to add Nelson as a major contributor. 

Even if the Raiders don't land a veteran receiver, they could also look for a receiver in the NFL draft.

Amari Cooper will remain the No. 1 option. Seth Roberts has $4.45 million guaranteed in 2018. Johnny Holton, Isaac Whitney and Keon Hatcher are also on the roster.

Report: Ndamukong Suh set to meet with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh set to meet with Raiders

After visiting the Titans, Saints and Rams, free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will make a stop in the East Bay.

Recently released by the Dolphins, Suh will visit with the Raiders on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

The former No. 2 overall pick made it through just three seasons of a six-year, $114 million deal he signed with Miami prior to the 2015 season.

The 31-year-old Portland, Oregon native last made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and was last earned First-Team All Pro honors in 2014.

In 16 games with the Dolphins last season, Suh recorded 4.5 sacks and 48 combined tackles.