In middle of sloppy season, Raiders still in playoff hunt


In middle of sloppy season, Raiders still in playoff hunt

ALAMEDA – Jalen Richard fumbled three times Sunday and quarterback Derek Carr threw two passes right to New York Giants. The Raiders never lost possession.

Johnny Holton coughed it up and didn’t recover, and Marquette King had to eat a punt attempt inside his own 10. Defense bailed the Raiders out both times, and the Silver and Black beat the NFC’s worst by one score.

This ugly game produced a positive result. For a Raiders team in full-on survival mode, that’s all that matters.

“Trust me, I don’t care how we win. I just want to win,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “I’ve said that since my rookie year when we were 0-10, when I was begging for wins. Obviously, you want to go out and throw for 400 every game and win by 40, rush for 200 yards and all those things. At the end of the day, this game is so hard. It’s not easy.

“We have good players and all those things, but you see just how hard it is to win these games. It takes almost every NFL game, within one score if not two. It’s always going to be close. It’s going to come down to the wire. So anytime you can win, doesn’t matter how you do it, you just want to win.”

If the Raiders do enough of that, they’ll win the shockingly competitive AFC West. The Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers are tied atop the division at 6-6, with games against each other left on the schedule.

The Silver and Black play Kansas City Sunday morning at Arrowhead Stadium and the Chargers in the regular season finale. If the Raiders beat both of their rivals, they’ll win the division even if they drop a game to Dallas or Philadelphia.

“We’re in a situation that all of our goals are still right in front of us,” Carr said. “It’s just right in front of us, it’s there. Everything we want to do is right there. We realize that. We have a good group of guys that’s growing.”

Imagine that. A team that lost four straight and were 4-6 after getting worked by New England is right in the thick of things. They control their own destiny, and have done so by winning ugly.

Let’s be frank. A Raiders game hasn’t gone according to plan since Week 2.

The New York Jets got thoroughly stomped 45-20 at Oakland Coliseum and Marshawn got hyphy on the sideline. Those were simpler times, with the 2-0 Raiders playing to lofty expectations.

The Raiders have been wading through the swamp ever since. They haven’t won game by two scores after that. They’ve lost six games by an average of 13.6 points

They weren’t dominant last year, but most every game was tight. Why? The Raiders found a formula that worked. The Raiders were efficient offensively, generated turnovers by the ton, controlled the kicking game and most always came through in the clutch.

These aren’t the 2016 Raiders, as much as fans wish they were. They have to win games a new, slightly messier way.

“It’s different than last year. Every year is a new year,” Carr said. “We’re learning now, how to prepare, how to recover, how to compete. We’re learning how to win games. As long as we can get hot, right around now, this is the time to do it.”

The Raiders are 6-5 in December or after in the Jack Del Rio era, but simply must get hot to save the season.

“We’re feeling good,” middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “We want to continue stacking these wins. I understand that we have a shot. …Playing good football in December is really what you need.”

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”