Raiders

McKenzie on Raiders' greatest need approaching draft: depth

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McKenzie on Raiders' greatest need approaching draft: depth

ALAMEDA -- Looking for a sneak peek into new Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie's draft philosophy?Look no further.With the Raiders holding draft selections in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds (two each in the fourth and fifth rounds) McKenzie held a pre-draft media conference Wednesday at the team's headquarters."We're in the beginning stages of our draft meetings," McKenzie said. "Been going on a couple of days so we're looking forward to getting our draft board exactly the way we want it and also excited to see all the players around and working out and getting familiar with the coaching staff. So this is an exciting time and we're just going to try and see if we can get better each day. But the draft preparations are going very well. All the scouts are in and getting this board the way we want it."Thanks to compensatory selections awarded them, the Raiders' first selection comes at the end of the third round, No. 95 overall.McKenzie has said he wants to pick the best player available, regardless of need. Still, I asked him what the Raiders' biggest needs were heading into the draft."You know what? When I talk to the coaching staff about (it), we need depth," he said. "We feel like weve got players that we can line up at a lot of spots. And weve got some good players. But when you talk about a guy goes down (injured), who do we have? A guy goes down here we need depth at a few spots. Quite a few spots. And some of these guys, its going to play out with the competition that we already have. The coaches are going to have to get to know some of these guys who are already on the roster."But we need some depth, regardless. To compete and hopefully win jobs. And thats what were targeting. When we say 'best player,' whether its D-line, linebacker, O-line, tight end, I mean, it doesnt matter. We want to get a good player."Weve got five picks, we need to make them all count."McKenzie is in a unique situation in that this is going to be his first draft, but his first selection won't come until the last pick of the second night of the draft. He has an opportunity to sit tight and watch the proceedings unfold.So that means he can ease into it real calm-like, right?"Absolutely not," McKenzie said with a big grin. "I wont be OK. Its hard to sleep now. Its an exciting time. This has been, Coach (Al) Davis, this has been his deal since the Raiders were the Raiders. So, I am the new guy. This is my first time drafting after a legend has been drafting for the Raiders for so long. So, its huge. But I am excited about it and I am looking forward to it."There are still so many people in the organization, so I get to hear everything about how he used to do it."Which begs a couple of questions -- would Davis have traded away a first-round draft pick for Carson Palmer, as former coach Hue Jackson convinced the Raiders to do last year? And will McKenzie even pay attention to the early-round talent since he does not select until 95th?"We'll take a look at them," McKenzie said. "We're going to go through the process. When Cincinnati's pick, from us, comes up (at No. 17 overall), we're going to figure out who's the guy on the board that we would like to have.McKenzie smiled."But we'll go through that process.," he added. "I need to go through that process. Being my first year, I want to go through that process. Second round also. Even the third round."That's when things really get started for McKenzie and the Raiders.

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

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AP

Back again: Patriots rally past Jags, head to eighth Super Bowl since 2001

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Give `em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after hurting it during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and possibly the season - on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

"I've had a lot worse," Brady said. "I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win."

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots (15-3), who'll play the winner of Sunday night's game between Minnesota and Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions.

Jacksonville - looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history - had one more shot, but Bortles' throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.

The Patriots then ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis' 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they did it mostly without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left the game late in the first half and didn't return.

Brady's hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since the quarterback's right ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's right ankle tendon - the bloody sock - in the 2004 playoffs.

Brady was listed as questionable after he hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week. He was limited Wednesday, sat out Thursday and was limited again Friday because of the injury.

That caused some panic among the Patriots faithful.

Turns out, it was nothing to fret about.

Brady came out for warmups without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes - including a 20-yarder to Amendola on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 30 - for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal.

A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Blake Bortles, who was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on an impressive and efficient seven-play, 76-yard drive.

Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run, hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars made some big mistakes that hurt them just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game - after New England called a timeout.

That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt.

With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England's offense took over and the fans chanted "Bra-dy! Bra-dy!"

And their quarterback delivered - with some help from the Jaguars on two long penalties.

On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church just as the ball was arriving. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville's 45.

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play on an incomplete throw for Brandin Cooks. The 32-yard penalty put the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, James White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10 with 55 seconds left.

Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.

But Brady & Co. were just getting started.

Report: Before hiring Olson as OC, Gruden interviewed ex-Texas A&M coach

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USATSI

Report: Before hiring Olson as OC, Gruden interviewed ex-Texas A&M coach

Greg Olson is back as the Raiders offensive coordinator, but he may not have been Jon Gruden's first choice.

Before hiring Olson, Gruden interviewed former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin for the OC position, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Despite not getting the Raiders' job, Sumlin was able to find work as he was announced as the new head coach of the Arizona Wildcats on Jan. 14.

Sumlin went 51-26 in six seasons with the Aggies and was 35-17 in four prior seasons with the Houston Cougars. The 53-year-old Sumlin has no NFL coaching experience.

Olson served as the OC in Oakland in 2013 and 2014. He spent this past season as the Rams quarterback coach.

“Greg Olson coached Derek Carr for a year here. His intel there will be very important. He coached with me in Tampa and he coached with Sean McVay, one of my ex-assistants, in LA. So, the system of football that we run will be a real natural flow,” Gruden said when the Raiders announced Olson's hiring on Ja. 12.