Notes: 'Robin showed up,' as Irvin's sacks pace Raiders pass rush

Notes: 'Robin showed up,' as Irvin's sacks pace Raiders pass rush

SAN DIEGO – Raiders edge rusher Bruce Irvin calls himself Robin to Khalil Mack’s Batman. The pass rushers have formed a dynamic duo this season, combining for 18 sacks between them.

Attention and praise is typically heaped on Mack, a legitimate contender to be named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Mack still made an impact in a 19-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers that clinched a Raiders playoff spot, but the self-appointed sidekick stole the show.

He had six tackles, two sacks and two other quarterback hits in the victory.

“Robin showed up today,” Irvin said with a smile. “Robin woke up with a pep in his step. I had a good breakfast. I just felt good about the whole situation when I woke up. I was ready to go, and I’m happy I was able to contribute and come out of here with this win.”

The Raiders pass rush was particularly effective preventing a late Chargers comeback. Irvin had a sack in that last ditch effort, and generated pressure on a fourth down pass that Reggie Nelson intercepted to seal victory.

Irvin now has seven sacks on the season and five in his last six games. The Raiders are thrilled with Irvin’s recent play. The man himself feels like he’s on a tear.

“This is the most consistent I’ve been in the five years I’ve been in the league,” Irvin said. “I still have a long way to go, a lot of critiquing to do in my game. I’m definitely on a roll, and I’m definitely playing well right now.”

Crabtree’s toe-tapper: Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree didn’t have a good game last week against Kansas City, but responded well against San Diego. He had six catches for 60 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown catch late in the first half that got the Raiders back in it.

Crabtree extended fully and managed to get his toes down just inside the boundary. That was acknowledged after a replay review, where the referee said their was a “slice of blue” between Crabtree and the sideline.

That was vintage Crabtree, a savvy move from a veteran who has made quite a few this season and works on that craft extensively in practice.

“We’ve had so many of those this year,” Crabtree said. “It was fun to do.”

Murray responds well after fumble: Latavius Murray hadn’t fumbled all year entering Sunday’s game. Then he lost possession twice in the first half. The first miscue rolled out of bounds. The second occurred in the red zone, and was recovered by San Diego.

The Raiders went right back to Murray after that and he really picked up steam with chunk yardage on the ground that kept the offensive running strong.

He finished with 81 yards on 13 carries, and was heavily involved in key scoring drives.

Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys


Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys

The Raiders lured fullback Keith Smith away from Dallas in free agency. The Cowboys suddenly had a need at the position, and called a Raiders team with a surplus.

They wanted Jamize Olawale, a tough, faster-than-you-think blocking back with receiving skill.

A draft pick swap got it done.

The Raiders traded Olawale and the No. 192 overall pick to Dallas for the No. 173 overall selection. NFL Network first reported the news. The Dallas Morning News revealed trade details.

The Raiders didn’t have a fifth-round pick this year, but now have two after trading Olawale and WR Cordarrelle Patterson in combination with a glut of sixth-round selections. They still have four remaining.

Smith is more of a true blocking fullback Gruden sought. Olawale doesn’t fit that old school mold, but is a versatile player who can produce if used correctly. He has dealt with injuries in the recent past, which also may have been a knock against him.

This thins the running back room a bit, but more ball carriers will be jettisoned before the season starts.

The trade also saved $1.6 million in salary cap space, important for a team where every little bit counts this offseason.

Olawale returns to the team that originally signed him as an 2012 undrafted free agent. He was cut at preseason’s end, and picked up by Oakland. He enjoyed a productive tenure in silver and black, though he wasn’t used much by 2016 offensive coordinator Todd Downing.

The Raiders aren’t necessarily done in free agency. They have a little cap space left, and could look for another receiver or defensive lineman. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman remains on the open market, and the Raiders hope to have him back.

Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders


Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had a hand in drafting Josh Johnson a decade ago. The agile quarterback and Oakland native was a Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2008, Gruden’s last year as Buccaneers coach.

The pair will reunite in Johnson’s hometown. The well-traveled quarterback signed with the Raiders on Monday, the team announced.

Johnson will compete with Connor Cook to backup starter Derek Carr, and brings a veteran’s influence to the position group. It likely spells the end of EJ Manuel’s short tenure in silver and black. The strong-armed former first-round pick, who started one game last season, remains a free agent after a year with the Raiders.

This move should make Marshawn Lynch happy. He and Johnson are extremely close and together run the Family First Foundation, a charitable organization that does significant work for East Bay kids. Johnson and Lynch also played football together at Oakland Tech High.

Johnson has played 10 NFL teams prior to this Raiders stop, but hasn’t played in a regular-season game for some time.