Lynch 'soaking up the system,' easing into Raiders OTA practices

Lynch 'soaking up the system,' easing into Raiders OTA practices

ALAMEDA – Marshawn Lynch didn’t bring his helmet to Tuesday’s OTA practice. Didn’t need it then, or on Monday. It's uncertain when he'll need it next.

Not for a cameo appearance during individual drills. The veteran running back wasn’t available during team sessions, and spent most of the two-hour practice working in the team’s performance center.

Lynch skipping full-speed work isn’t cause for alarm. First of all, it’s May. Second, Lynch is in great shape but still ramping back up after a season away from NFL football. It would make sense to ease him back in during the spring.

Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t say when Lynch’s activity would increase, but wasn’t concerned one bit about Lynch’s limited OTA participation – he routinely skipped them while playing in Seattle -- and praised the Oakland native’s level of involvement in the Raiders offseason program since a new contract was worked out and his rights were acquired from Seattle on April 26.

“He’s coming along. He’s doing great. There are no issues there,” Del Rio said. “He has been here like he said he would. He has really been committed. He said, ‘Coach, this is home for me. It’s not like I’m going home and I won’t be here. He is committed to being here and is excited to be a Raider. We’re excited to have him.”

Lynch was on the practice field for some team periods analyzing plays with offensive teammates, and was working out with them after the session. Del Rio didn’t delve into when Lynch’s on-field activity would increase, but there’s no reason to rush a veteran player who ultimately must be ready come September.

“He’s doing great,” Del Rio said. “He’ll continue to do the things we’re asking him to do. He is really soaking up the system, and has done a great job fitting in.”

That’s clear. He gets on well with left tackle Donald Penn and kicker Sebastian Janikowski, and gravitates toward fellow former Seahawks like edge rusher Bruce Irvin and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. General manager Reggie McKenzie said last week Lynch was already entrenched in the Raiders locker-room culture, which was evident in how teammates talked about him.

“Getting Marshawn has been great,” Penn said. “He brings a lot of energy here and a lot of momentum. It feels good having him here. We joke around a lot, having fun. You all probably don’t know Marshawn, but he’s a pretty funny guy. He’s really cool, and it’s good having him around here.”

New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'


New Raiders cornerback supremely confident, 'here to dominate the league'

Rashaan Melvin has the supreme confidence of a No. 1 cornerback, with none of the pedigree. Top cover men are often drafted high, paid well or both, with a steady ascent to elite status.

This undrafted talent bounced around the league without job security, trying and often failing to find NFL footing.

Melvin spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Baltimore, New England and Miami again before establishing himself in Indianapolis. The Colts gave him a real shot and he took advantage, evolving into the team’s top cornerback. Last year was Melvin’s best, but it didn’t provide a long-term contract despite a bull market for cover men.

Melvin signed a one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Raiders on Friday, the type of prove-it deal that could establish a big payday down this time next year. The 28-year old doesn’t consider that pressure. Melvin knowns another big year's on the way, one that proves he's an elite cornerback

"I’m here to dominate the league," Melvin said Friday in a conference call. "It might be time for some new faces at the cornerback position. That’s my take on that. I’m excited for it.”

Melvin wouldn’t trade his long road for a conventional path, and believes experience both good and bad has prepared him for a pivotal season.

“I’ve been cut four times,” Melvin said. “I’ve been in four different locker rooms, and I was able to gain my teammates’ trust, my coaches’ trust and the organization’s trust as well. My confidence just grows over time. There are not a lot of players that can say they’ve been cut four times and end up in a situation where I’m at today. Like I said, it’s perfect timing. My work ethic, my style of play and the way I approach the game and the way I approach my job, my business, it speaks for itself.”

Melvin’s work ethic is unquestioned. His reputation as a grinder is well documented, especially after establishing himself in Indianapolis. Commitment to a craft has created a player with consistent coverage and ball skills.

Melvin was excellent last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Melvin created an incomplete pass (combining passes defensed and interceptions) on 23.6 percent of his targets.

Passers had a 60.3 passer rating against him in 2017, with just 29 completions for 328 yards on 55 targets. The passer rating was 86.6 in 2016, his only other season as a regular starter.

The Raiders need that type of player on the outside. They’ve had inconsistent cornerback play (that’s being kind) in recent seasons, and are hoping Melvin provides stability at a key position. The Northern Illinois alum has loftier aspirations, individually and as the leader of a young position group.

“The goal is to be the best player I can be, first-team All-Pro,” Melvin said. “I’m going to show my leadership, help these young guys out this year. They have tons of potential to be successful in their own careers. For me coming in here and being the leader and showing that, hey, this is what it takes to be successful in this football league, that’s what I’m willing to do. That’s what I’m willing to bring to the table. On the football field, but outside as well.”

Paying $6.5 million for all that would be a bargain. Melvin’s the key acquisition in a secondary built around 2016 first-round safety Karl Joseph and 2017 first-round cornerback Gareon Conley. This secondary can be solid if those guys can realize potential and Melvin’s a true No. 1 cornerback.

He considers that title appropriate, and is ready to show he’s more that a one-year wonder. The Raiders have great confidence in Melvin, something clear after targeting him early in the free-agent process. Financing’s always a big factor, but Friday’s meeting with head coach Jon Gruden, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and secondary coach Derrick Ansley convinced Melvin that Oakland’s a proper fit.

“I can relate to these guys,” Melvin said. “They have big plans for me, big plans for the organization. I was born to be a part of something special; that’s happening in Oakland. It was a good thing. We were able to get everything done, a deal done. I’m just excited to be here and I’m excited to see what the future holds for us as a team and me as a player.”

Raiders sign former 49ers defensive lineman


Raiders sign former 49ers defensive lineman

Update (3/17, 11:15 a.m.): The Raiders have officially signed former 49ers lineman Tank Carradine.


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 Tank Carradine (@tank.carradine) on