Raiders

Five potential Raiders Football Czar candidates

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Five potential Raiders Football Czar candidates

For the last few years of his life, Al Davis hinted he was on the cusp of hiring a football operations person to help him through the daily grind of putting a competitive team together.It never happened.No doubt it's a taxing business but even as his health was failing, Davis ran the Raiders as a one-man show. So when he passed away Saturday morning at the age of 82, a seeming power vacuum atop the franchise opened up. The team purportedly goes to his wife Carol and his son Mark, who has been a much more visible figure around the Raiders in recent years, but it is not known yet just how the succession of football responsibilities will play out.RATTO: With Davis gone, Raiders enter lengthy 'interim' stage
Is first-year coach Hue Jackson the acting general manager? If not, to whom does he answer in football matters?

What about John Herrera, Davis' right-hand man and relative mood ring, who is more of a business-side figure than a football guy having worked for Davis since he was 16 years old?Big, sexy names sure to pop up will include the likes of Bill Parcells. And while Tuna would be a hefty catch, landing him would also be a major shock to the system. Then there's Ron Wolf, who helped build the Raiders in the glory days before rebuilding Green Bay.Davis was all about keeping things in the family, so to speak, so with that in mind, we present five intriguing potential G.M.Director of Football OperationsFootball Czar candidates who either bleed Silver and Black, have G.M.-type experience andor bring an exuberance that Davis would appreciateJOHN MADDENSilver and Black -- The first Raiders coach to win a Super Bowl, Madden was a trusted Davis confidante for decades. In fact, Madden was long rumored to be the logical choice as a Raiders football czar, so to speak. He popped up at training camp in Napa in recent years and watched practice with Davis in his golf cart. The Hall of Famer is an icon in the game and today's generation of player would instantly know him from the video game bearing his name. Who's going to try and get one over on Madden, really? Silver and Blecch -- Madden, though, is 75 years old and if he burned out from the daily grind of coaching during the Carter Administration, would he really want to deal with the nuts and bolts of contracts and hiring and firing folks in the Internet Age? Plus, while he was a constant around the game with his broadcasting role, just how in touch would he be with today's game? He seems better suited for an advisory role.JON GRUDENSilver and Black -- A seeming no-brainer, if he'd want to do it. "Chucky" would take the energy Jackson has infused within Raider Nation and pierce a hole through the ozone with it. That Jackson and Gruden already have a history with each other and respect for each other would be a bonus. And here's a secret: Gruden is still cherished by many influential Raiders figures as the "secret" party held for him at a certain East Bay sports bar a few years back and attended by just about everyone in the organization, aside from Davis himself, attests. Pictures from the event were taken down from the establishment's Web Site, lest they upset and offend Davis. Gruden is only 48 and has been out of the daily grind since 2008, so even though he's been visible with his TV work, he might be ready for the challenge.Silver and Blecch -- He's already been in Silver and Blackdom, done that. He has a high-profile, high-paying gig with ESPN that basically allows him to create his own schedule, or at least, not have to work a 23 12 hours a day, as he did when he was the Raiders' coach. And for as much as can be made about the relationship between "Chucky and Hue," Jackson just might get a tad uncomfortable with such another dynamic personality and beloved-by-the-fans face. And Gruden's name always comes up when a high-profie college gig opens.MATT MILLENSilver and Black -- A Raider through and through, Millen's toughness is what Davis believed every one of his players should exude. And he has President and CEO experience, having already run the day-to-day operations of the Detroit Lions from 2001 to 2008. Being out of the inner workings of the game for only three years could actually serve as a positive in that Millen might be hungry to get back into running a franchise. And with his history with the Raiders, he'd be invested spiritually, so to speak.Silver and Blecch -- Yeah, he has history as a GM, but it was with the Lions. And they were just 31-97 under his watch, counting only three games of an especially wretched 0-16 campaign in 2008, in which he was fired a month into the season. A myriad of confounding roster moves and, well, losing was his undoing in the Motor City. Many critics say the Lions' feel-good resurgence this season is in spite of Millen, not because of any path he began to blaze.BRUCE ALLENSilver and Black -- He oversaw the Raiders' most recent successful run, working hand in hand with Gruden. But philosophical differences with Davis led to his departure, and the Raiders have been craving his brand of wisdom ever since. He's remained plugged into the NFL since leaving Oakland and he's Washington's general manager now. So there would be little, if any, adjustment period for him in dealing with current executives. He could hit the ground running.Silver and Blecch -- Loyalty was key to Davis. Break a certain trust and you were basically done, in his eyes. Does that line of thinking extend to the rest of his family? Because after Allen left the Raiders he joined Gruden in Tampa Bay, a perceived slap to Davis if ever there was one. Then he went to Washington and joined forces with, gulp, Mike Shanahan, who was no doubt on the late Davis' figurative enemies of the Raider Nation list. There just might be some lingering resentment within the walls of Silver and Blackdom.TOM FLORESSilver and Black -- The understated yet stately Flores is the only coach in Raiders history to win two Super Bowls. He's already on the team payroll working in Oakland's radio booth. And, oh yeah, he has experience as a G.M. with Seattle in the early 1990s. The first quarterback in franchise history would command respect in any NFL board room he entered and he was also a favorite of the Davis family.Silver and Blecch -- Like Millen, Flores did not exactly set the world on fire as a G.M.. Dan McGwire, anyone? Rick Mirer? And, like Madden, he's older, at 74, and probably does not want to deal with the cutthroat world of trades, signings and scouting. He's better suited as an advisor, of sorts. In fact, he should be preparing his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech, not contemplating running the Raiders' football operations. But that's another story for another day.

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

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USATSI

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

The Raiders are razor thin at cornerback, without many bodies or talent they can trust. They were down to three healthy career cornerbacks heading into Sunday’s game against New England, with TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald available.

Head coach Jack Del Rio added a new name to the mix. He started second-round safety Obi Melifonwu at cornerback against the high-flying Patriots, an experiment that didn’t work out well.

Melifonwu played 26 snaps at cornerback, where he had been working some in practice since becoming eligible to return off injured reserve. He spent the early season on IR after having arthroscopic knee surgery.

Melifonwu was put in a tough spot, and struggled as a result. He allowed two receptions for 69 yards on four targets, including a 64-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks where he had his eyes in the backfield when the Patriots speedster blew right by.

This position switch came in Melifonwu’s second NFL game, with just seven defensive snaps under his belt. 

Head coach Jack Del Rio admitted it was a move made out of desperation.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Del Rio said after Sunday’s 33-8 loss to New England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. “We need more production (at cornerback). We're willing to try just about anything and we talked about being lean there and needing more production from that spot.

“(Melifonwu’s) a talented kid and it was probably asking a little too much, but we are going to roll those guys, we rolled our guys in the secondary tonight, and we're going to do that. We have got to do that until somebody starts playing well enough to stay in there full-time.”

The Raiders are in a bind at cornerback with Gareon Conley on injured reserve and David Amerson out three straight games with a foot injury. Demetrius McCray and Antonio Hamilton are also on season-ending injured reserve.

Carrie was a mainstay on Sunday, playing all 60 defensive snaps. Smith took over early, when the Melifonwu experiment wasn’t working out. He played 43 snaps, allowing three catches for 34 yards on five targets. McDonald played just eight snaps.

The Raiders are hoping someone can improve and settle into a full-time spot. The secondary has been thin for some time, but the personnel department has declined to sign anyone new off the street for depth.

That means Del Rio’s staff is still searching for answers at that position from a small pool.

“We're not playing really well on the back end and we have to find a way,” Del Rio said. “And we're going to make it competitive and let guys challenge for it and challenge for time and the guys that play the best are going to play the most.”

OFFENSE
Quarterback – Derek Carr 74
Running back – DeAndre Washington 24, Marshawn Lynch 21, Jamize Olawale 14, Jalen Richard 11,
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 67, Seth Roberts 59, Michael Crabtree 58, Cordarelle Patterson 25, Johnny Holton 13
Tight end – Jared Cook 54, Clive Walford 14, Lee Smith 10
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 74, Rodney Hudson 74, Donald Penn 74, Gabe Jackson 74, Vadal Alexander 74

DEFENSE
Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 53, Mario Edwards 44, Justin Ellis 38, Eddie Vanderdoes 34, Denico Autry 31, Treyvon Hester 24, James Cowser 14
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 51, Bruce Irvin 46, Cory James 44, Nicholas Morrow 15, Marquel Lee 9
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 60, Sean Smith 43, Obi Melifonwu 26, Dexter McDonald 8
Safety – Reggie Nelson 60, Karl Joseph 51, Shalom Luani 9

SPECIAL TEAMS
Nicholas Morrow 18, James Cowser 18, Marquel Lee 15, Erik Harris 15, Xavier Woodson-Luster 15, Keith McGill 15, Jamize Olawale 15, Cordarrelle Patterson 13, Dexter McDonald 12, DeAndre Washington 11, Jalen Richard 9, Shalom Luani 9, Lee Smith 7, Khalil Mack 7, Mario Edwards 7, Eddie Vanderdoes 7, Denico Autry 7, Treyvon Hester 7, Jon Feliciano 7, Johnny Holton 6, TJ Carrie 6, Jon Condo 4, Marquette King 4, Karl Joseph 2, Cory James 2, Obi Melifonwu 2, Giorgio Tavecchio 2

DID NOT PLAY
QB EJ Manuel, OT David Sharpe

INACTIVE
QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, DL Jihad Ward, CB David Amerson, LB Shilique Calhoun, RT Marshall Newhouse, DT Darius Latham

Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery

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USATSI

Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery

Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley will have surgery to repair his injured shin on Monday, a week after he was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

This year’s No. 24 overall pick announced that news in an Instagram post, accompanied by a picture of his young son.

Surgery was always a likely outcome after heading to IR, though the team never formally stated that would occur.

The Raiders believe Conley will return completely healthy for the 2018 campaign, and have high hopes for him as a lock down cover man.

They could certainly use him this season. He was expected to contribute heavily as a rookie, but a shin injury suffered in a June minicamp prevented that from happening. He missed training camp and the entire preseason slate, but eventually made his NFL debut in Week 2. He suffered a setback in a Week 3 game at Washington, and was shut down indefinitely on Oct. 6.

Conley was re-evaluated early last week, and the Raiders didn’t see enough progress to keep him on the 2017 roster.

The Raiders are lacking at cornerback with Conley down and David Amerson dealing with a foot injury.

Head coach Jack Del Rio will speak to the media Monday afternoon, and provide an update on Conley’s procedure.