Patterson excited to help Raiders in multiple ways with his speed

Patterson excited to help Raiders in multiple ways with his speed

The Raiders haven’t returned a kickoff for a touchdown in quite some time. Jacoby Ford did it in 2011, starting a drought the Raiders hope to end soon.

They took a big step toward that end by signing receiver and returner extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson on a two-year contract.

The former Minnesota Viking has only been in the league four seasons, and already has five return touchdowns. The Raiders know that all too well. Patterson burned them in 2015, returning a kickoff 93 yards to the end zone.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Patterson said Tuesday in a conference call.

The two-time All-Pro was greeted with jeers from the Black Hole, a fan base he’s proud to represent well.

“I’ve heard stay away from the fans over there, so you know, I’m blessed to be a part of them now,” Patterson said. “You know, when I scored that touchdown, they were giving me a lot of crap, all that stuff, but I’m a happy person. I like to have fun and enjoy myself and you can never let anybody get you down in life.”

Raider Nation will be happy to lift him up if he produces on special teams and find ways to contribute as a wide receiver. He hasn’t been targeted much, though he had a career-high 52 catches for 453 yards and two touchdowns.

Patterson said the Raiders want to use him more on offense, an attraction for someone who wants to be known as more than a return specialist.

“That was one of the deciding factors,” Patterson said. “We sat down and talked. They were just saying how they can work on getting me a better receiver. Things I’m good at, they’re going to keep continuing to do that. Those things I need to work on, they’re going to help me improve on that.”

The Raiders were certainly try to capitalize on his breakneck speed and get him the ball is space. He’ll be a fourth receiver to start, though he’ll certainly compete for playing time. He’ll definitely be the top kickoff returner, which is an area the Raiders looked to upgrade this offseason.

“I love special teams, especially on kickoff returns,” Patterson said. “It’s just a feeling you wouldn’t understand until you’re back there when you get that ball in your hands. You’re nine yards deep in the end zone and you have those 10 guys in front of you who are going to block and give you their all for you. I’m willing to bring it out anytime I can. If the coach gives me the OK, I want to bring it out.

"I want to go somewhere and know that I can help on special teams. I feel like that’s my best in the game right there, so I want to go and help on special teams as much as I can and get this receiver stuff down pat.”

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.

Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'


Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden needed specific tools to run his running game. He wanted blocking tight ends and a bruising fullback, relics of a bygone offensive era.

“If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, I think it’d be nice if we serviced him with a fullback,” Gruden said at the combine. … You need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. So, those are two things that I’m looking for.”

Gruden said he wanted to import some old-school elements to help run with brute force.

Enter free-agent fullback Kyle Smith and tight end Derek Carrier. Welcome back, Lee Smith.

Then, on Sunday, Raiders made another vital move in this old school effort. They cut Marshawn Lynch a $1 million check.

The Oakland native’s roster bonus came due and the Raiders had no problem paying it, the clearest sign Lynch will be the Raiders feature back in 2018.

He’ll have a great chance to thrive in that role. The Raiders have a hulking, expensive offensive line (that still needs a right tackle). They have new ancillary blocking elements, and the centerpiece remains in place.

That last part was expected in recent weeks. The coaching staff, offensive line coach Tom Cable especially, wanted Lynch back. NFL Network confirmed those facts, stating Lynch will be around in 2018.

That was the case, even with Doug Martin’s addition. The former Tampa Bay back is expected to be a backup bruiser, someone who might put DeAndre Washington or (less likely) Jalen Richard’s job in jeopardy.

The Raiders can cut Lynch without a cap hit. Lynch is scheduled to make $6 million in salary and bonuses, with another $2 million available in incentives. The Raiders should hope to pay those; it would mean Lynch is running well.

The Raiders have given him a great opportunity to do so. They have solid blocking and a coach in Cable who helped him succeed during dominant days in Seattle.

Lynch proved he’s still got it in 2017’s second half, with 70 percent of his 891 rushing yards in the final eight games. He struggled early on, and upset some fans by helping the opposition during a scuffle with Kansas City. That mitigated a PR bump the Raiders looked for when signing a popular Oakland native just months after committing to Las Vegas long-term.

Jack Del Rio and staff grew tired of what they perceived as leeway given to Lynch unavailable to others, and probably wouldn’t have kept him on if still gainfully employed.

Gruden seems committed to Lynch this season, though nothing is ever 100 percent with an enigmatic rusher who doesn’t make private thoughts public.

His elusive, rough-and-tumble rushing style fits well with what Gruden wants, though he demands commitment to the team and sport. Sports Illustrated relayed a story of Gruden saying he needed a “full-time Lynch.”

If he gets that, the Raiders run game should thrive.