Injury report: Malcolm Smith's absence puts strain on Raiders LBs


Injury report: Malcolm Smith's absence puts strain on Raiders LBs

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have some injury issues building this week as they head toward Sunday’s home game against San Diego.

They’ll have to press on without tight end Lee Smith, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

It also seems increasingly likely they’ll be without linebacker Malcolm Smith, someone who has played nearly every defensive snap since signing here before the 2015 season.

He suffered a groin strain late in the third quarter of Sunday’s victory at Baltimore. He has not practiced or played since. That includes Thursday’s non-padded practice, his second missed session this week.

Playing without him would be a significant blow. The Raiders placed Ben Heeney on injured reserve Tuesday with an ankle injury also suffered playing defense against Baltimore.

Cory James will start at middle linebacker, but options next to him aren’t great. Daren Bates stepped in for Heeney, but is a career special teams player. Veteran Perry Riley is certainly a capable player, though he has only been a Raider since Tuesday.

“Perry’s smart, he’s a veteran. He knows what he’s doing,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. “He looks the way a linebacker’s supposed to look. He still runs very well, he’s going to help us.”

If the Raiders roster remains as currently constructed, the interior linebacker spot would be three men deep even Malcolm Smith can’t go.

Top running back Latavius Murray also missed a second day’s work with a toe injury that is reportedly turf toe – caused by strained ligaments around the big toe – but the Raiders and Murray still hope he can play. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said the team is trying to build shoes that could help alleviate pain and play against the Chargers.

Tight end Clive Walford returned to practice in a limited capacity after missing Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury.

Right tackle Austin Howard was limited a second straight day. It’s likely Vadal Alexander will start a second straight game.

Chargers participation report
Did not practice: S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), LB Nick Dzubnar (knee), CB Brandon Flowers (concussion), CB Jason Verrett (knee), LB Denzel Perryman (shoulder)
Limited practice: OT Joe Barksdale (foot), OT King Dunlap (illness), TE Antonio Gates (hamstring), CB Craig Mager (shoulder)
Full participation: DL Joey Bosa (hamstring), OL Orlando Franklin (knee), OT Chris Hairston (groin), LB Joshua Perry (knee)

Raiders participation report
Did not practice: S Nate Allen (quad), Latavius Murray (toe), LB Malcolm Smith (quad), OT Menelik Watson (calf)
Limited participation: OT Austin Howard (ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (knee), OT Matt McCants (knee), TE Clive Walford (knee)

Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders to sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanted veterans to help turn his defense around. He added a linebacker and defensive backs aplenty. Then, on Friday night, he gave the front some help.

Former 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine will sign with the Raiders, the 28-year old announced on his Instagram page. 

The Sacramento Bee first reported the news. 

He visited the Raiders on Thursday and was in Seattle earlier Friday, but will sign with the Silver and Black.

Carradine could help their transition to a more traditional 4-3 alignment, able to play end in the base defense. He has proven himself as a solid run defender, but believes he can be an effective pass rusher if given the opportunity.

Carradine didn’t get many pass-rushing chances with the 49ers, who generally removed him on passing downs. He has 5.5 sacks in four professional seasons. He played 37.9 percent of 49ers defensive snaps during eight games with the 49ers last season. He missed the same amount on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.

At 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, he has the size to be a 4-3 base end. He’ll likely have to battle Mario Edwards Jr. for snaps opposite Khalil Mack, though Bruce Irvin will take that spot in sub packages.

Carradine will be the 10th free-agent signing expected to make the roster, which means the roster turnover this summer should be significant. 

Here was his Instagram post from Friday night: 

Proud to become an Oakland Raider! Let's go #raiders#nation

A post shared by Cornellius Smith (@tank.carradine) on

Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary


Adding Rashaan Melvin the key move to Raiders' revamped secondary

The Raiders started this offseason looking to revamp their secondary around their last two first-round picks. Gareon Conley would start at one cornerback spot. Karl Joseph was penned at strong safety.

Every other job, however, was wide open and likely filled from the outside.

Safety Marcus Gilchrist came aboard Thursday, but one premium spot remained open opposite Conley. Veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin took it Friday afternoon, agreeing on terms of a one-year $6.5 million contract.

NFL Network broke the news of a bargain compared to other cornerback free-agent deals. They aren’t attached to him long term, and Melvin can sign a bigger deal if he plays well in 2018.

The Raiders declared interest in the former Indianapolis cornerback early this week and worked toward an agreement sealed during a Friday morning visit at the team’s Alameda practice facility.

The 28-year old’s fresh off a career year, allowing just 29 receptions for 328 yards and two touchdowns on 55 targets in 2017. He had three interceptions and 13 passes defensed. Quarterbacks had a paltry 60.3 passer rating against him.

Melvin stands 6-foot-2, 196 pounds and has the athleticism to excel in Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system.

Melvin bounced around before settling with the Colts, struggling to find footing in Tampa Bay, Baltimore New England and two offseason programs in Miami. He found a home in Indianapolis, and became a regular starter in 2016. His breakout 2017 season was cut short by a hand injury that kept him out the last five games.

Melvin projects to start right away. The Raiders will be thrilled if he stays healthy and retains recent form. Melvin has solid ball skills, regularly forces incompletions and thrived in tough assignments that came with being the Colts’ top cornerback.

Gilchrist’s addition, Melvin’s deal and the Friday addition of Shareece Wright fills a cupboard in the defensive backfield laid bare by design.

The Raiders cut David Amerson and now-jailed Sean Smith this offseason. TJ Carrie took a big deal in Cleveland. Reggie Nelson’s allowed to walk as a free agent.

The Raiders added three free agents to the group thus far, and could well draft another defensive back next month.

They’ll have safety Obi Melifonwu in reserve – he’ll have to earn a role after missing most of 2017 with injury – and cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Dexter McDonald vying for spots.

Melvin will be plenty motivated to have a big year and cash in at age 29, for what might be his last shot at a big payday.