Loss to Browns a microcosm of Raiders' season


Loss to Browns a microcosm of Raiders' season


OAKLAND -- Searching for a microcosm of the Raiders' lost season?Look no further than Sunday's curious 20-17 loss to an unimpressive Cleveland club. Because sure, while the Browns did just enough to win, the Raiders did even more to lose before a season-low announced crowd of 43,641 at the Coliseum.Three separate developments marked the occasion and all-but guaranteed the Raiders losing a fifth straight game for the first time since 2007.1) Injuries wreak havoc with the Raiders' lack of quality depth
The Raiders lost three defensive players to concussions and their respective absences wrecked the Raiders secondary. First, starting free safety Matt Giordano was knocked out of the game on the final play of the first quarter knocking Browns tight end Benjamin Watson out of bounds.Then, late in the second quarter, cornerback Phillip Adams was concussed when he hit the ground after picking off Brandon Weeden on a long pass down the left sideline inside the Raiders' 10-yard line.Finally, safety Mike Mitchell took a knee to the helmet while tackling Browns running back Trent Richardson on those same sidelines at the Oakland 21-yard line and stayed on the field for a few minutes. He left the field and returned for one play before being taken off again, much to his protest.To put it in simpler terms, at one point Brandian Ross was in the game at free safety to replace the injured Mitchell, who had replaced the injured Giordano, who had been inserted to the starting lineup in place of Michael Huff, who moved to cornerback to replace the injured Shawntae Spencer.Where have you gone Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes?And oh yeah, strong safety Tyvon Branch lost his right shoe and tweaked his foot and had to come off the field for for a spell, too. Plus, cornerback Ron Bartell got benched for a bit after getting the Elvis "Toast" Patterson treatment on Josh Gordon's 44-yard touchdown reception.Any surprise, then, that Weeden passed for a career-high 364 yards?"It obviously was a factor," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "But injuries happen. We have to find ways to persevere and make it through that."2) A costly and back-breaking turnover
Yeah, you could most definitely Tweet that this one was PalmersFault.Momentum had shifted to the Raiders' side by the fourth quarter and, trailing by just three, Oakland was at the Browns' 33-yard line and had a 1st and 10 situation.Palmer dropped back and spied Juron Criner flying down the left sideline. Palmer threw and while Criner had a step on cornerback Sheldon Brown, the ball was badly underthrown and all Brown had to do was settle under it for the interception."Well, Carson threw a few deep balls at me today," Brown said. "You'd have to talk to him and see what he saw on tape last week when he was preparing. On that particular play I had an opportunity to cover the short field. I lined up in press like I was going to stay down tight. Criner released outside, I bailed out of there. And at that point I saw Carson throwing the ball and I just became the receiver and caught it."Sounds easy enough, right?"I tried to take a shot there and go for the touchdown quickly and didn't put the ball in the right spot," Palmer said. "Didn't give Juron a chance to make a play on the ball."I just didn't put it far enough outside."Said Allen: "We've got all the momentum. We can't have that self-inflicted wound."No, Palmer is not Jay Schroeder, or even Marc Wilson. But to a certain segment of the fan base, he's no Terrelle Pryor, either. For better or worse. Then again, we don't know what, exactly, Pryor can do in an NFL game yet.3) The defense gets gashed, again
Sure, Palmer's pick hurt. But there was still 9:31 to play in the game when the interception occurred, and the Browns' backs were in the Black Hole as Cleveland set up at its own 6-yard line.A defensive stop and Palmer would be in business to atone for his interception, like he did in Atlanta earlier this year.This time, though, the defense did not rise to Palmer's defense. Instead, it allowed the Browns to march 94 yards in a mind-numbing 14 plays that took 6:04 off the clock. So by the time Trent Richardson plowed in from three yards out, the Raiders trailed by 10, with just over three minutes to play.Ballgame."A 94-yard drive? Those are hard to manufacture early in the game," said Browns coach Pat Shurmur. "There were some guys that made some key plays. We were throwing it, we were running it. We converted a couple third downs on that drive. So that was a credit to the players involved."Said Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston: "We haven't been able to finish yet this year."Yup, a microcosm of the entire season, wrapped up in three tidy developments.

Inactives: Raiders forced to face Brady with just three healthy cornerbacks


Inactives: Raiders forced to face Brady with just three healthy cornerbacks

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders can’t get healthy at cornerback, David Amerson in particular. The Silver and Black’s best cover man will miss a third straight game on Sunday with a foot injury that can’t get right, meaning the Raiders will face New England with just three healthy cornerbacks.

TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald will take most of the snaps, with safeties Karl Joseph, Obi Melifonwu and Shalom Luani able to assist in the slot should go with four or more receivers.

The Raiders chose not to sign a cornerback off the street despite Amerson’s ailments and Gareon Conley being moved to injured reserve.

They reinstated Darius Latham and then made him a healthy scratch due to their abundance at defensive tackle.

The Raiders are down an offensive lineman, with right tackle Marshal Newhouse unable to play with hip and quadriceps injuries. Vadal Alexander will start in his place.

In addition, defensive tackle Jihad Ward, quarterback Connor Cook, edge rusher Shilique Calhoun and offensive tackle Jylan Ware are also inactive.

The Patriots will play without starting center David Andrews and right tackle Marcus Cannon. Receiver Chris Hogan is also out with injury.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots


Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”