Gutierrez: Li'l Wiz at center of Raiders rookie corps


Gutierrez: Li'l Wiz at center of Raiders rookie corps

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comNAPA -- He has the bloodline. The nasty disposition. The skill set to succeed in the league. And, as of Thursday morning, a signed contract to officially become an Oakland Raider.But keep in mind, Stefen Wisniewski is still a rookie."I've had it described to me as like this is a Big-10 All-Star team," the Penn State product said, when describing the talent level of the NFL. "You take the best players from the Big 10 teams and put them on one and play an All-Star team every week."Yeah, well, the talent he'll see every Sunday is probably a little better than that. But his point is understood.

Besides, a lot is expected of Li'l Wiz, who was the Raiders' first draft choice, taken No. 48 overall in the second round and nephew of Raiders great Steve Wisniewski, who just so happens to be the team's new assistant offensive line coach. And for good reason.From the moment he was drafted -- though there have been rumblings from deep within Silver and Blackdom the Raiders were also keen on Miami tackle Orlando Franklin, taken two picks before Li'l Wiz by Denver -- Oakland crowned him the new center.Even if he still had to win the job and with so much labor turmoil ahead. So without as much as a rookie mini-camp or an OTA or even a conversation about football with his uncle -- lockout rules forbade it -- here he was on the first practice of his first professional training camp, lined up at the brain of the offensive line. As a rookie."He's got to earn it, there's no question, but we drafted him for a reason: to play center," rookie head coach Hue Jackson said of Wisniewski. "We're going to give him every opportunity until something shows that he can't. But he showed that he can, and we're going to keep pushing him, but he's got a ways to go, we've got a ways to go, but I was impressed with his first day getting out there and competing."You've got Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly on the other side growling at you; that can be at tough battle. He handled it well for the first day."But before the first snap, he sat at his locker and marveled at his helmet. The same colors he stared at growing up in Pennsylvania while worshipping his uncle and, yes, rooting for the Raiders.Then he tugged it down over his ears and it fit just right. Like it was meant to be."It was really cool," he said. "I got my helmet; the helmet is great. It's going to be even better when I get a jersey and some pads on."To be honest, I was just sitting around smiling today. I'm actually a Raider. It kind of feels real for the first time today. Getting drafted and then being on my own (during the lockout), it kind of wasn't real yet. But wearing a helmet and practicing and getting at it, it feels great."According to the National Football Post, Wisniewski signed a 4.135-million contract with Oakland and a 1.507 million bonus.I asked him how steep the learning curve would be, what with so much valuable learning time missed this offseason."It is steep," he said. "This was Day 1, and normally that would have been two months ago and I would be a lot further along here at the start of training camp. All that being said, it's just going to take more of a commitment from me. We have 40 days until the first game. That's enough."He smiled. More of a smirk, really. But cocky? Not at all. It's actually closer to a swelling confidence. Plus, he knows exactly what he has to work on. And if he forgets, his uncle will be in his ear hole.Not that it was even a factor on Thursday.Rather, Li'l Wiz spoke about what he needs to do to improve. And it's the most basic of responsibilities for a center."I gotta be a little quicker with the snap," he said. "I am thinking about eight million things with who I'm blocking and what not, and snapping the ball really fast gets pushed to the wayside a little bit. That's something I have to work on."I am really excited about the strategy. We're moving around a lot, we got motions, we got shifts, we're going to mess with defenses, we've got all kinds of speed everywhere. The offensive line just has to hold up the defense a little bit and give those guys some running room."Besides, he'll learn on the job in practice, going up against the likes of a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro in Seymour and the blossoming Kelly."I am excited about the challenge," Wisniewski said. "They are going to kick my butt some time, but that's fine. It's going to make me better. To be honest, you want to be practicing against the best because when you get in the games it's like, 'Oh, these guys are good, too but they're no Richard Seymour.'"And they're no Big-10 All-Star team, either.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game


Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch suspended one game

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch watched most of Thursday night’s game versus Kansas City from the stands after getting ejected for making contact with an official.

He’ll also be a spectator next week.

The NFL suspended him one game for unsportsmanlike conduct stemming from an incident where left the sidelines to join an on-field scuffle and ended up pushing an official.

The league announced the suspension Friday afternoon. Lynch has already appealed the suspension, per multiple reports.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and automatically ejected by rule.

Punishment after the fact has gotten expensive.

By rule, Lynch will be fined $30,387 for making contact with an official. He could get hit with other penalties, including entering a fight unnecessarily.

Lynch is also suspended without pay, meaning he’ll forfeit a $79,411 game check and a $31,250 per-game roster bonus.

The Cal alum won’t play a Week 8 contest in Buffalo, against a Bills team that drafted him No. 12 overall in 2007.

Lynch was on the sidelines during a third down draw play where quarterback Derek Carr incurred what officials called a late hit from Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters.

The Raiders offensive line took offense, and came after Peters in a scrum. Lynch and Peters, both Oakland natives, are extremely close. Lynch ran on the field to get between his teammates and his friend, but ended up inadvertently pushing an official. The league has zero tolerance for that, and sent him off the field.

Lynch watched a dramatic 31-30 victory over Kansas City from the stands and screens near the field, and congratulated his teammates after a big win.

Lynch did not explain why he entered the fray, though he seemed to be trying to get Peters out of harm’s way.

“They can say what they want but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first,” Peters told Bay Area News Group’s Logan Murdock.

His Raiders teammates and coaches must carry on without the 31-year old power back. They’ll roll with Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and fullback Jamize Olawale against the Bills, as they did against the Chiefs.

Lynch had two carries for nine yards before getting tossed. He has just 266 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries through seven games.

If the suspension is upheld, Lynch will be eligible to return in Week 9 against Miami.

Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense


Snap count: Bowman worked overtime to be 'hunting dog' in Raiders' defense

OAKLAND – NaVorro Bowman would’ve been forgiven for skipping Thursday’s game. The veteran inside linebacker signed with the Raiders, and had one practice and a pair of walk-throughs before facing Kansas City.

That isn’t much time to absorb a new scheme. No matter. As he said Monday, Bowman wanted to show you something.

The former 49er certainly did, even more than Bowman expected. He played 60 of 62 defensive snaps in a crucial 31-30 victory over the Chiefs.

He didn’t just play. He performed. Bowman led the Raiders with 11 tackles, including one for a loss and a crucial hit on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on a crucial third-down stop in the fourth quarter.

He wore the green dot – play calls were relayed to his helmet speaker -- and helped get the defense lined up.

“I just absolutely love the football player in him. He’s a hunting dog,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He loves to play. He brought experience during the week. He was a settling influence, kind of a determined influence on the sideline. I thought he did a remarkable job.”

That’s the result. The process of getting there was remarkable. He put in 40 hours of work in three days, memorizing terminology and defensive concepts specific to the game plan. He bunkered down and ignored the world during his acclimation process, and came out a functional member of the Raiders defense.

“Everyone knows I’ve only been here for three days and must be wondering how I did it,” Bowman said. “It was my commitment to the game, and my family understanding how much I love the work and giving me that peace and quiet time in hours away from them to really get everything down. This is why you want to come out so well and execute. So many people are sacrificing so you can play the game.”

Bowman helped keep the Raiders close down the stretch, and had key stops in a pair of defensive stops that allowed quarterback Derek Carr to orchestrate a successful two-minute drill.

"I was on the sidelines with my back turned, saying ‘I can’t watch, I can’t watch,’” Bowman said. “They all looked at me funny like, ‘This is what we do.’ They went out and won, and acted all normal. I guess that’s how we roll. It was a great game, and I enjoyed it.”

That was clear after the game. There was a good reason for it. Bowman hadn’t won a game since September 2016. Bowman lost most of last season recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury, meaning he last tasted victory in Week 2 last season.

“I’ve worked my way back from the Achilles injury, and to have a shot to better and get better and possibly win a division is huge,” Bowman said. “We just beat a really good team. I think this will propel us and get us going.”

Quarterback –
Derek Carr 82
Running back – Jalen Richard 26, DeAndre Washington 25, Jamize Olawale 11, Marshawn Lynch 10
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 78, Seth Roberts 72, Michael Crabtree 72, Cordarelle Patterson 18, Johnny Holton 6
Tight end – Jared Cook 67, Lee Smith 17, Clive Walford 8
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 82, Rodney Hudson 82, Donald Penn 82, Vadal Alexander 82, Gabe Jackson 82

Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 62, Denico Autry 46, Justin Ellis 44, Treyvon Hester 32, Mario Edwards 28, Eddie Vanderdoes 19, James Cowser 3
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 60, Bruce Irvin 59, Nicholas Morrow 38,
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 62, Dexter McDonald 50, David Amerson 28, Sean Smith 19
Safety – Reggie Nelson 62, Karl Joseph 62, Keith McGill 7, Shalom Luani 1

Keith McGill 25, James Cowser 25, Shalom Luani 21, Xavier Woodson-Luster 19, Erik Harris 19, Jamize Olawale 19, Shlique Calhoun 16, Jon Feliciano 14, Lee Smith 14, Giorgio Tavecchio 12, Johnny Holton 12, Marquette King 11, Jon Condo 11, Cordarrelle Patterson 11, Jalen Richard 10, Nicholas Morrow 10, Darius McCray 8, Kelechi Osemele 7, Gabe Jackson 7, Vadal Alexander 7, Clive Walford 7, Justin Ellis 7, David Sharpe 7, Khalil Mack 6, TJ Carrie 6, Denico Autry 6, Treyvon Hester 6, Eddie Vanderdoes 6, Mario Edwards Jr. 5, Karl Joseph 5, DeAndre Washington 4,

QB EJ Manuel

CB Gareon Conley, QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, LB Marquel Lee, LB Cory James, DL Jihad Ward, RT Marshall Newhouse