Notes: Raiders will 'get some help' at running back


Notes: Raiders will 'get some help' at running back

Raiders running back Latavius Murray exceeded 1,000 yards and made his first Pro Bowl last season. Yet, by Murray’s standards and many others, the Raiders rushing attack wasn’t good enough.

The fourth-year pro expressed disappointment in the ground game, and head coach Jack Del Rio echoed those sentiments at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The Raiders addressed it during free agency by signing elite offensive guard Kelechi Osemele and re-signing left tackle Donald Penn.

The next step is adding options carrying the ball. Murray took 72 percent of his team’s carries, a whopping total of 266. There’s no doubt the Raiders could use some help.

That hasn’t happened yet.

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A fortnight’s passed since free agency began, and the team’s backfield depth chart remains unchanged. Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu are behind Murray, despite being ineffective last season. Jones had ball security issues, and Helu never caught on after early injuries and hip ailments that required offseason surgery.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Monday at the NFL owners meetings fresh blood is on the way.

“We had some injuries there, both backups Helu and Tawian were injured. We need some healthy bodies back there to help out,” McKenzie told’s Matt Maiocco. “The way this league is with the pounding you’re taking, you can’t just have one guy getting beat up all year with no help. We’ll get some help. We’ll get healthy. We’ll see how it goes. It’s March, so we have some time.”

The Raiders reportedly showed interest in unrestricted free agents Chris Ivory and Doug Martin, though those players signed relatively big money deals with other teams.

Second tier options remain on the free agent market, and there are quality alternatives in the NFL draft. Some experts have suggested Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott could be an option at No. 14 overall. The Raiders could find value later the draft as McKenzie did with Murray, a sixth-rounder from 2013.

Desire to keep Penn ‘never wavered’
The Raiders re-signed left tackle Donald Penn last week, a happy ending to a process that took a bit longer than the player hoped. Penn hoped to re-sign early in the offseason, but the sides couldn’t agree on a value. There was pessimism it would happen, prompting Penn to book a trip to New York for a visit with the Giants. A last-minute deal kept Penn in Oakland on a two-year, $11.9 million deal with $5.5 million in guaranteed money.

“I was trying to sign him during the season, so that never wavered,” McKenzie said. “If he’d gone somewhere else, that would’ve been the only thing. But we’ve always wanted him back.”

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Mario Edwards Jr. update:
The Raiders are still taking a wait-and-see approach with young defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr., who suffered a strange neck injury near last season’s end. An exact diagnosis hasn’t been given, though significant concern about the player has been expressed since the injury occurred.

McKenzie suggested in February that Edwards Jr.’s injury might’ve been genetic, something that was compounded when he got hurt. Edwards Jr. is confident he’ll return and play well, though the Raiders are giving last year’s second-round pick time for further evaluation.

He’ll be reexamined in April.

“He’s rehabbing. He feels great so that’s a good thing, but we’re going to wait and get all the information and get with the doctors,” McKenzie said on Monday. “We have another month for him to go by and see, listen to what he has to say, and we’re going to take it one day at a time.”

The Raiders offseason program begins April 18, which OTAs and practices set to begin in May.

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.”