Raiders

Does Parrish address Raiders' punt-return woes?

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Does Parrish address Raiders' punt-return woes?

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders are averaging a mere 4.4 yards per punt return through three preseason games.Roscoe Parrish has averaged 12.0 yards per punt return in an NFL career that began in 2005.So with Parrish signed by Oakland, problem addressed, right?"I like the fact that there for a couple of years he was in the tops of the league in terms of being able to return the ball," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "The fact that he can get under it and catch it and make a move and get upfield and gain some yards for us in the return game."And that's an area that we've got to get better at."In 2007 and 2008, Parrish's punt-return averages of 16.3 yards and 15.3 yards for Buffalo led the NFL and, according to the Bills, he was the first player in league history to lead the NFL in punt-return yard average in consecutive years.Last year, though, his season came to an end in Week 2 due to an ankle injury suffered on a 16-yard reception against the Raiders."It was in the first quarter on a screen pass," Parrish said. "On the next play I tried to line up, I heard a click in my ankle and that was the last of it."Parrish, 30, insists he's healthy and ready to go, even as he was cut by San Diego Monday morning."Woke up as a Charger, went to sleep as a Raider," Parrish said. "That's how I look at it."And the Raiders look at Parrish as a potential answer at punt returner.Jacoby Ford was getting a look early in camp, but he injured his left foot at Arizona in the second exhibition game. And no one else has really stood out. Plus, as a slot receiver, the 5-feet-10, 168-pound Parrish could be the Raiders' sixth receiver.But the emphasis is on returning punts."When I go back there, I have to make something happen and my instincts, my quickness, I just use it to my advantage and just try to be a playmaker and just try to put the offense in good field position because that's the key," he said. "Sometimes you don't want to do too much, because a punt return is like an extra down for the offense."I feel like I ain't lost my skill set. It's all about opportunities."Of course, getting cut by the Chargers and signed by the Raiders will make for a juicy subplot come the season opener on Sept. 10."No doubt," Parrish said. "I'm ready. So ready. So ready. That's all I can say."

Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up

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AP

Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up

The Raiders are aiming to snap a four-game losing streak as they take on the first-place Chiefs Thursday night under the lights in Oakland. And they will be thin in the middle of their defense. 

Cory James and Marquel Lee are both inactive, but a well-known new face is ready to go.

Oakland will turn to veteran NaVorro Bowman, along with two undrafted rookies, Woodson Luster and Nicholas Morrow, to man the middle. 

The following players have been ruled out tonight vs. the Chiefs: 

Cornerback Gareon Conley

Quarterback Connor Cook

Linebacker Cory James

Linebacker Marquel Lee

Tackle Marshall Newhouse

Defensive End Jihad Ward

Tackle Jylan Ware

Role reversal? Alex Smith currently more of a gunslinger than Derek Carr

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AP

Role reversal? Alex Smith currently more of a gunslinger than Derek Carr

OAKLAND -- Derek Carr is going through a rough patch. The beloved Raiders quarterback is being criticized for his part in this prolonged losing skid, a rarity since his rookie year.

Carr is supposedly playing it safe, getting rid of the ball quick, throwing short and avoiding potentially risky deep shots downfield.

That doesn’t sound like someone who wears No. 4 as homage to Brett Favre. Alex Smith comes to mind instead.

The Kansas City signal caller is notoriously known as a game manager, a cautious leader who rarely lets it rip.

Not this year. The former 49ers No. 1 overall pick is killing it in K.C., with career highs in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. The early MVP candidate has 12 touchdowns and no picks despite the fact he’s throwing deep more than ever.

Now that sounds like the Derek Carr we knew last year.

These quarterbacks seem to have reversed roles heading into Thursday’s clash between AFC West rivals. The Raiders are 2-4 and in desperate need of win against the AFC West-leading Chiefs.

Smith and Carr can be truly dynamic downfield. Only one guy’s found that rhythm lately.

That’s crystal clear when examining their deep throws.

Nobody’s better going yard this year than Smith, per analytics site Pro Football Focus – wrap your head around that – who is 13-of-23 for 526 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions on throws beyond 20 yards in the air. Carr is 17th, completing 3-of-10 deep shots – no starter has fewer attempts -- for 109 yards, three touchdowns and a pick.

Last year, Carr ranked fifth in passes over 20 yards in the air, again, using PFF stats, with a 46-percent completion rate, 858 yards and a 117.6 passer rating. Smith was 20th in that category, completing less than a third of his attempt with a 72.8 passer rating.

The Raiders certainly want to push the ball downfield more. Carr has but four explosive plays in nearly three games of the Raiders’ four game losing streak – he missed the Baltimore loss with a fractured in his back – and hasn’t worked short passes consistently enough to score often.

“We definitely want to be able to (create explosive plays),” Carr said. “Now does that mean we’re going to do anything differently or trying to force things? Absolutely not. That’s where you get in trouble. That’s something that I’ve learned in my career. You can’t force it. You just have to work hard and let it happen.”

Some think Smith is letting it fly with a stoked competitive fire because the Chiefs traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City head coach Andy Reid believes a strong supporting cast led by Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and rookie running back Kareem Hunt allows him to do big things Carr typically does.

There is, however, one constant heading into Thursday’s matchup. Smith has owned the Raiders. The Chiefs have had Carr’s number.

Smith is 9-1 against Oakland. Carr’s 1-5 against K.C.

Smith has 8.3 yards per attempt, 19 touchdowns and just four picks against the Raiders. Carr averages 4.92 yards per attempt, six touchdowns and five interceptions versus the Chiefs.

“These are big games in the division,” Smith said. “You know they’re going to be four quarters. You know they’re going to come down to the end. You just try to go out there every single play and execute. They’re all hard fought and have been close.”

Carr knows Kansas City stands in the way of his ultimate goals. This year, he has to get past them to get the Raiders back on track. That won’t be easy.

“They do a good job of rushing the passer. They do a good job of stopping the run. They do a good job on the coverage end,” Carr said. “They’re sound. They’re really well-coached. (Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton) is a great coach. All the respect for him. So much respect that he even texted me when I got hurt last year. He’s just a good dude. But this week I don’t like him too much. He does a really good job of making sure everyone is locked in. They’re really smart. They’re really smart players. They don’t do a lot so they can see route concepts. They can visualize things and get used to seeing those kind of things.”