How Raiders can turn to John Pagano as he faces Chargers for first time


How Raiders can turn to John Pagano as he faces Chargers for first time

ALAMEDA – The Los Angeles Chargers have a new defensive scheme. Gus Bradley runs it and oversaw the conversion from a 3-4 to a 4-3 base front. They do different things. They obviously run different plays from different concepts.

There’s plenty of carryover in personnel. Few people know Chargers defensive personnel like John Pagano. That should be the case. Pagano was the Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-16, and was with the Bolts in various coaching positions from 2002 until he was let go this winter.

The Raiders scooped him right up, adding a bright defensive mind to the coaching staff. Officially titled assistant head coach – defense, Pagano has worked with defensive backs in practice and has been tasked with improving defensive communication. He’s also involved in the game plan, and finding efficient ways to beat opponents.

This is the first time, however, Pagano can share inside information. Coaches always downplay such advantages, but intimate knowledge of an opponent can certainly be an asset.

“He’s a heck of a coach and a heck of a football mind; certainly knows those guys,” Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “He was in San Diego a long, long time. He’s a point of reference, but right now the offense is focus on doing our job well and executing our assignments. Not really spending a ton of time trying to uncover little gems. We’re focused on doing our job.”

While Pagano knows the Chargers defense well, he also practiced each day against the Bolts’ offensive weapons. Pagano might have some insight on those guys, too.

“He has a little more insight to what they think or what they might see when they see us play,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton said. “Different ways they might want to attack us and things like that. So that certainly helps us out in a lot of ways to see how we want to go forward.”

Quarterback Derek Carr has a notebook filled with tendencies of every defensive coordinator he has faced. There’s a page or two on Pagano, which has prompted quarterback and coach to compare notes.

Every Wednesday, in fact. The conversations won’t change too much, even with a familiar opponent.

“It’s nothing different,” Carr said, via ESPN. “I’m not going to make the conversations any different. He and I have a great relationship, and we love talking to each other about football and things like that.”

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”