Raiders

Handicapping Raiders' Pro Bowl chances

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Handicapping Raiders' Pro Bowl chances

The Raiders should want nothing to do with the the Pro Bowl.Yes, it would be nice to be selected for the NFL's annual all-star game. No doubt a free trip to Hawaii in the dead of winter would be a welcome reward at the conclusion of a grinding season.But if you're "playing" at Aloha Stadium on Jan. 29, 2012, that means that neither you nor your team is in the Super Bowl the following Sunday. And that, is the true end game for every player in the NFL.Still, it wouldn't be football without some pigskin prognostications. So, as we enter to the fourth quarter of the 2011 regular season, a look at some Raiders who should garner consideration for the Pro Bowl as fan voting for the exhibition game runs through Dec. 19, with players and coaches voting that week and the initial Pro Bowl teams announced Dec. 27RELATED: Handicapping 49ers' Pro Bowl chances
NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTS--Punter Shane Lechler: The best punter in the history of the game -- just look at the stats -- will be making his TKth trip to the game. And really, the 12th-year veteran might not deserve it anymore than this season, or have you already forgotten that 80-yard bomb he unleashed against Chicago? He is leading the fan voteby a wide margin.
--Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski: Finally, mercifully, the man known as SeaBass and first-round draft pick from 2000 will get his overdue recognition. At least, he should. He's made 22 of 24 field goals and he tied the NFL record with his 63-yarder in the season opener. Janikowski, who also converted a franchise-record six field goals against Chicago despite a gimpy left hamstring, might actually be the Raiders' team MVP. He too is leading the fan voteby a wide margin.
--Strong safety Tyvon Branch: Quietly, at least on a national level, he's put together the finest season of his four-year career. Still, what he lacks in national appeal -- he was only third in fan voting, behind Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu and Buffalo's George Wilson -- he more than makes up for in gritty play against both the run and the pass. That he has only one interception belies his importance. "He is the epitome of a Pro Bowl player in my mind," said Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. "Anybody that knows football, sees the impact he has on a game."SERIOUS CONSIDERATION--Defensive tackle Richard Seymour: He not only has name recognition, but stats, as in six sacks. The TK-time Pro Bowler is second in fan voting behind Baltimore's Haloti Ngata and is highly respected among his peers, even if he gets kicked out of the occasional game for throwing a punch.
--Fullback Marcel Reece: A matchup nightmare with his myriad skill set, Reece is no mere lead blocking back. Opposing teams have to actually gameplan for the converted receiver who is third in fan voting, behind San Diego's Jacob Hester and Baltimore's Vonta Leach. Reece missing four games due to injury, though, might work against him.
--Left tackle Jared Veldheer: Just because he's not in the top 5 in the fan vote does not mean he's not deserving. Take a look at the job he did at Minnesota in shutting out Jared Allen. Then throw in the relatively low number of sacks he's surrendered and penalties for which he's been called all season in protecting the QB's blind side. Yes, the second-year lineman He deserves serious consideration.ALSO IN THE MIX--Free Safety Michael Huff: Fresh off being named second-team All-Pro last season, Huff suddenly has name recognition with fans, ranking fifth in the vote behind Baltimore's Ed Reed, San Diego's Eric Weddle, Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark and Indianapolis' Antoine Bethea. It would take a lot of withdrawals and one of those guys going to the Super Bowl to get Huff to Hawaii, though.
--Strongside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley: He's not in the top 5 for outside linebackers but he does have seven seven sacks and there are two Ravens and a Steeler in the top 5.
--Special teamer Rock Cartwright: A highlight of the Raiders season was Cartwright taking the direct snap and rumbling downfield on a game-turning fake punt at Houston. He is third in fan voting, behind the Ravens' Brendon Ayanbadejo and Pittsburgh's Arnaz Battle.
--Long snapper Jon Condo: Hey, Lechler and Janikowski can't do their jobs without Condo, right? Well, he already went to the Pro Bowl two years ago, so that might be held against him.
--Left guard Stefen Wisniewski: That a rookie is fifth in the fan vote speaks to his popularity. His ability to transition from guard to center and back again should only help his candidacy with Li'l Wiz's peers and opposing coaches.
--Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly: A Pro Bowl alternate a year ago, Kelly's play has maintained, if not improved, as evidenced by his 5 12 sacks with four games to play. He'd need some serious help from the coaches and players, though, as he is not in the top 5 of the fan vote.BEFORE YOU ASK --Running back Darren McFadden: He was the most explosive back in the NFL and its leading ground gainer through five weeks and seemed primed for the Pro Bowl. But he has not played since Oct. 23, and while was was still shockingly second in the fan vote to Arian Foster, he has become an object of scorn, of sorts, for frustrated Raiders fans of late.
--Cornerback Stanford Routt: He's acquitted himself quite well, thank you very much, as the Raiders' top cornerback in the wake of Nnamdi Asomugha's departure. But even with a Top 5 "burn rate," he's not in the top 5 of the fan vote.
--Kick returner Jacoby Ford: A threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball, unfortunately for the Raiders, and his Pro Bowl chances, he has not touched the ball since Nov. 10, when he went out with a sprained left foot.

Raiders put Amari Cooper in position to break out vs Chiefs

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AP

Raiders put Amari Cooper in position to break out vs Chiefs

Raiders receiver Amari Cooper has been creating steady separation for a few weeks now. That didn’t break him out of a prolonged slump.

Coaches were impressed by Cooper’s route running in a Week 5 loss to Baltimore. It only earned two targets and an eight-yard catch. They tried to find No. 89 more often in a Week 6 loss to the L.A. Chargers, though six targets generated five short catches for 28 yards.

Low production stretched through a four-game losing streak, with nine catches for 51 yards. Including stats from to early wins, Coopers season stats (18 catches, 146 yards and a touchdown) were worse than nearly 200 others.

Even that astonishment didn’t make Cooper demand the gosh darn football, please. The low-key Cooper attitude: The ball will find me.

It finally did in Thursday night’s 31-30 victory over Kansas City. Several times in fact.

Cooper had 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted 19 times. Nineteen. That’s no coincidence.

They moved him around, including significant snaps in the slot. He was targeted 11 times from that position, per analytics site Pro Football Focus, and produced six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.

They schemed opportunities and quarterback Derek Carr used them to create big plays early.

Carr’s first pass went 12-yards to Cooper. His third was a 38-yard touchdown strike. His seventh was an in-stride delivery that Cooper took across and then up the field for a 45-yard score.

Just like that, Cooper was off and running for the first time this year.

“We put him in positions to make plays, obviously,” Carr said. “We knew that there were certain things that we liked. Nothing changed in his demeanor or his mentality or the way he worked or anything like that. We just stayed the course. We know what we have here and we know that if we just stay the course and work and grind through the tough times.

“…For ‘Coop’ to just continue to grind and get on the other side of it, I just felt good for him. You guys know Amari. I think we all felt good for him.”

Cooper said the early explosive touches provided confidence. Ability produced a signature performance. The Alabama product is excellent extending production with his legs, and had 78 of his yards come after the catch. That’s an average of 7.1 yards after the catch per reception, per PFF.

His second touchdown reached him 15 yards downfield, and he hit the jets and reached the end zone. He turned a short catch into 15 crucial yards to start the game-winning two-minute drill, and later high pointed a 39-yard receptions.

“The way he finished after the catch was really special,” Carr said. “Obviously, we all know he can go up and get a ball and all those things. That second touchdown where he cam across, the burst that he had, that’s freakish. Not a lot of guys have that. To turn the jets on like that and just out run the angles of the defense, that was really special. I think just after the catch he just played with some dog in him, which we know he has. We were able to get him the ball and let him shine and do what he does.”

Cooper’s showcase was vital to a huge victory that kept his team in the hunt. It also ended a rough month where Cooper and the Raiders both struggled. Veteran running mate Michael Crabtree was never concerned with the downturn and told the young receiver to stay the course during tough times.

“(I told him), ‘Just be you,’” Crabtree said. “It’s just about everything coming together. Coop’s a fighter, man. Coop has got skills. I don’t worry about Coop and I’m sure he doesn’t worry about me. That’s why we are so good together.”

Reports: Peters to speak on Marshawn’s behalf during appeal hearing

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USATSI

Reports: Peters to speak on Marshawn’s behalf during appeal hearing

First it was Marshawn Lynch coming to the defense of Marcus Peters. Now, it appears the Oakland native is returning the favor. 

The Chiefs cornerback will be speaking on behalf of Lynch during the Raiders' running back's appeal of his one-game suspension, according to multiple national reports. The appeal will take place on Monday.

Lynch was ejected in the second quarter of the Raiders' 31-30 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday night. After the Chiefs and Raiders saw themselves in a heated exchange from a controversial late hit by Peters on Derek Carr, Lynch ran off the sidelines and came to the defense of his close friend Peters with multiple Raiders going after the young defensive back. 

But in doing so, Lynch put his hands on an official and was immediately ejected from the game. He was then handed his one-game suspension on Friday.

“They can say what they want to say, but one thing’s for certain: Family do come first," Peters said to Logan Murdock of The Mercury News on Thursday.

FOX Sports was first to report the news.