Raiders

Inactives: Smith out; expect lot of action for Conley in Raiders debut

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Inactives: Smith out; expect lot of action for Conley in Raiders debut

OAKLAND – Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley’s snap count in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets might be significant. He ideally would’ve been eased into action in his NFL debut, but Sean Smith’s neck injury complicates things.

Smith was rendered inactive on Sunday morning after being designated questionable on the team’s injury report. That must be a disappointment for Smith, who played an excellent game last week at Tennessee.

He allowed just two catches for seven yards on four targets versus Tennessee, reversing a preseason trend of him getting beat deep.

Conley missed the entire preseason with a shin injury, and was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 29. He has practiced two-plus weeks, finally a full participant on Thursday.

The Raiders will start David Amerson at one outside cornerback spot, and TJ Carrie will start on the other side. Conley could be the No. 3 cornerback entering in sub packages. Dexter McDonald will fit into the mix as well.

The Raiders will also play without fullback Jamize Olawale (quad) and defensive back Keith McGill (foot) for a second straight week. Quarterback Connor Cook, defensive tackle Darius Latham and offensive tackles David Sharpe and Jylan Ware are healthy scratches.

What's happened to the Raiders passing game?

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What's happened to the Raiders passing game?

ALAMEDA – Jack Del Rio didn’t update the status of Amari Cooper’s ailing ankle. It was in bad shape last week, made worse by playing in Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cooper rolled it again on his 15th offensive snap, when he was blocking for a run. Cooper was one of three receivers in a bunch formation left of the offensive line. Cooper and Michael Crabtree got out front of the play, and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis landed on Cooper’s lower leg while tackling rusher DeAndre Washington. Cooper let out a scream picked up by television cameras, after his ankle got hurt again.

“It was a toss, a crack toss. He was involved in it,” Del Rio said in his Monday press conference. “He had an assignment to block. It’s football. He was involved in a play.”

That play ended Cooper’s day, and put him back on the shelf. He was there for nearly two weeks before, after being concussed and suffering an ankle sprain in a violent collision against Denver.

Cooper was expected to miss the Chiefs game, but pressed to practice Friday and play a pivotal AFC West showdown in Kansas City. He got his wish. The Raiders didn’t get much in return.

He was targeted once and didn’t have a catch before aggravating an injury that may keep him out of future must-win games. Time will tell in that regard.

One certainty: The Raiders need more from their receiver corps. Quarterback and offensive line also contribute in the passing game, but this group struggled to separate and dropped three passes against Kansas City. STATS, Inc. has the Raiders third worst with 24 dropped passes this season.

The Raiders needed Crabtree especially with Cooper out. He had seven catches for 60 yards in 13 targets.

The passing game isn’t in great sync, a surprising turn for a group that features a Pro Bowl quarterback and two 1,000-yard receivers from a year ago.

“I don’t like to sit up here and grade positions, so I’m not going to today,” Del Rio said. “I thought they competed hard and we played a lot of guys. Obviously without both of our guys in Cooper and Crabtree, we didn’t have Coop very long. We filled in and battled. We’d like to get more production there.”

As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

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As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

ALAMEDA – Donald Penn plans to play two more years after this one. That’s it.

The Raiders left tackle plans to play out a contract extended this fall, which would complete 14 NFL seasons.

Penn wants to make the most of the time he has left. This season hasn’t been good use of an opportunity. The Raiders are on life support following Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders entered Kansas City with a chance to control their own destiny, a shocking and possibly undeserved turn following the Chiefs' midseason collapse. They went from 2-4 to sitting atop the division with four games to play. They had a chance to erase a disappointing start, and ultimately coughed it up. They did that last year, too, and had to settle for a wild card spot.

“One of these days we’re going to stop giving it away. We we’re going to take it,” Penn said Tuesday. “Maybe I, being a veteran, need to do a better job of leading these guys and reminding them that chances are rare. I’m only playing two years after this, so my opportunities are getting shorter and shorter. I want to play in and win a Super Bowl before I’m done. My sense of urgency is at an all-time high right now.”

Salvaging this season might be tough, and players know it. They were just as frustrated as head coach Jack Del Rio was talking to the press a day before. This Chiefs loss stung. They were given a golden opportunity and squandered it. 

The Raiders need to win out and get tons of help to reach the postseason. They can’t get eliminated this week, but an eighth loss Sunday to Dallas would be a virtual death sentence.

“If we don’t beat Dallas, there won’t be a playoff scenario,” Penn said. “All I can focus on is our next game. We have to get that going and do something positive. It has been a frustrating season.”

A victory over K.C. would’ve been huge, but the Raiders never showed up in a terrible offensive effort. The Raiders had three or fewer plays on six of their first eight drives, and were shutout into the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t make plays when we had the chance. Kansas City did,” Penn said. “They made all the plays at the right time they needed to. They made the plays we didn’t make early in the game. We were still fighting. We didn’t make progress with the chances we had.

“We had opportunities but didn’t capture them. It festered all through the game. We did the same thing last year. We went to Kansas City last year with a chance to control our own destiny and gave it away.”