Paul G's 53-man Raiders roster projection


Paul G's 53-man Raiders roster projection

SEATTLE -- Final 53-man rosters are due by 6 p.m. PT Friday and with the Raiders, there does not figure to be a lot of surprise cuts as new general manager Reggie McKenzie and rookie coach Dennis Allen pare it down from 75 players. So after an offseason of activities, four weeks of training camp in Napa and four mostly exhibition games, here's one man's guess at the Raiders' 53-man rosterQuarterbacks (3)
Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor
The thinking: Really, no thinking needed here.Running backs (5)
Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, Taiwan Jones, Mike Goodson, Owen SchmittThe thinking: The Raiders might be scanning waiver wires, though, and Goodson might be nervous.Offensive line (8)
Jared Veldheer, Cooper Carlisle, Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel, Khalif Barnes, Joseph Barksdale, Alex Parsons, Tony Bergstrom

The thinking: A little light on tackles, might the Raiders consider keeping nine O-linemen?Tight ends (3)
Brandon Myers, Richard Gordon, David Ausberry

The thinking: A roster spot could be found here if the Raiders only keep two tight ends.Wide receivers (6)
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater, Juron Criner, Travionte Session.

The thinking: Roscoe Parrish might have fumbled away his roster spot with his two punt-return fumbles against Seattle and Session came out of nowhere to get a lot of second-team reps. But keeping two UDFA WRs along with the injury-prone Moore and Ford might be asking too much.Defensive line (9)
Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant, Dave Tollefson, Christo Bilukidi, Jack Crawford, Jamie Cumbie
The thinking: Cumbie's height and kick-blocking prowess gives him the sight edge over Dominique Hamilton, who is practice squad material. Unless, of course, Oakland thinks it needs 10 D-linemen?Linebackers (6)
Miles Burris, Rolando McClain, Philip Wheeler, Travis Goethel, Nate Stupar, Carl Ihenacho (Aaron Curry-PUP)
The thinking: The Raiders' decision on Curry -- if he goes on the PUP list they'd need another linebacker -- could open a door for a pass-rusher in Ihenacho.Cornerbacks (5)
Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, Pat Lee, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa

The thinking: Lee came on strong at the end of the preseason while Van Dyke and Chekwa, in particular, held on for dear life, or better than Coye Francies did when he fumbled his lone kickoff return in Seattle.Safeties (5)
Michael Huff, Tyvon Branch, Matt Giordano, Mike Mitchell, Brandon Underwood
The thinking: Tough call for Underwood over Curtis Taylor, who excelled on special teams Thursday. Then again, why was Mitchell playing essentially the entire second half with guys that will be cut? Might he be on the block again?Specialists (3)
PK Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Condo
The thinking: Heresy in these parts, I know but the Raiders would save 9.4 million against the salary cap for 2012 by cutting Janikowski and Lechler, in favor of Eddy Carmona and Marquette King. Not going to happen. Still, with King suddenly having an injured left foot and wearing a boot, the Raiders may have found a way to keep the backup punter around. Conspiracy theorists unite.

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice


Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing


Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”