Raiders

Pro Bowl provides silver lining for Raiders stars

Pro Bowl provides silver lining for Raiders stars

Dec. 29, 2010RAIDERS PAGEGUTIERREZ ARCHIVEPaul GutierrezCSNBayArea.com

ALAMEDA And now, for the latest swig from the cup of bittersweet goodness flowing down the main canal in Silver and BlackdomThe Raiders beating Kansas City this coming weekend to go 6-0 in the AFC West, yet becoming the first team since the 1970 merger to fail to qualify for the playoffs after being perfect in their division, is so 2010.The postseason-less Raiders having three Pro Bowlers (Oaklands most so-named to the original team since 2002) and four more alternates tabbed for the NFLs annual all-star game? Pass the shot glass, but after raising them up to cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (his fourth selection), punter Shane Lechler (sixth) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (sixth overall, first in Oakland).I think that people are recognizing that were better, said Raiders coach Tom Cable. I think that people recognize that were a more talented team. Obviously, that shows that guys went out and performed at a pretty high level. Would like to see more, but that will happen as you start to win more and you become a playoff team."VIDEO: Tom Cable on the changing of the Raiders standards
Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, running back Darren McFadden and tight end Zach Miller were the Raiders alternates.Im proud of all of them, Cable added, but I just think it says, Hey, were better and we have guys playing better.It just didnt translate into enough victories. Consider: the Raiders (7-8) have just as many Pro Bowlers on the AFC team as the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs (10-5), New York Jets (10-5) and Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4).First and foremost, having played in a lot of big games, its an ultimate honor to be recognized as a Pro Bowler, Seymour said. More importantly, we would like to play in the postseason a little bit more than playing in this game. Thats really going to be the next step for us and this football teamgetting over the hump, having a great offseason, a great draft, a great workout.Really just taking the next step as a football team and everybody on board taking that step together.Wait a minute. Seymour is due to become a free agent, the lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the looming threat of a lockout by the owners be damned. Sure sounds like he wants to return to the Raiders, right? Might he even do a little recruiting at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii?I definitely invite anybody to come in, to Oakland, said Seymour, acquired in a trade from New England for a first-round draft pick on the eve of the 2009 season. Its a great place to play. The fans are unlike any others in the league; theyre definitely committed and they want the same type players to play in this organization. The history of being here, the mystique of putting that Silver and Black on and representing the Raiders, its been a lifelong dream for me and, hopefully, it continues.Seymour, whose 5 sacks rank fourth on the team despite missing two games with injury, was slapped with the Raiders franchise tag last offseason.Obviously, you always want to be where youre wanted, Seymour added. If Im wanted (by the Raiders), Im definitely open for anything.RICHARD SEYMOUR PROFILE RAIDERS STATS
The Raiders two other Pro Bowlers, Asomugha and Lechler, have known nothing but Oakland as their NFL home since entering the league in 2003 and 2000, respectfully.Despite his relative lack of interceptions he has none this year, and just one in each of the previous three seasons Asomugha is still seen as one of preeminent shutdown corners in the game.You always want to have those numbers, he said. But two of the three corners going in dont have any interceptions (Asomugha and the Jets Darrelle Revis). So it says a lot about the respect that you have around the league.Ive been measured a little differently from other guys just because I dont get as many opportunities as they do. So, theres other factors like, what were the completions, and that sort of thing. Ive still been able to hold my own pretty well, so it means a lot.Lechler, despite an off year, is still leading the AFC in punt average (47.0, his lowest since 2005) and net average (40.6).What tweaked him, though, was his 2000 draft-mate Janikowski being passed over. Janikowskis 135 points lead the AFC and are 25 more points than those scored by Pro Bowler Billy Cundiff. But Baltimores placekicker has missed just three of his 27 field-goal attempts, compared to Janikowski going 32 for 40 on field goals.Not to have SeaBass after the year hes had, thats very disappointing, Lechler said. I know hes disappointed. Im disappointed for him. There would be a whole lot of head coaches around the league I guarantee would take him.They wont say it to their guys face, but they would take him over their guy right now. Thats just how it is. Thats just how good he is.Enough of the bitter. How about some more sweet in seven players recognized, so to speak?That just shows were headed back in the right direction and weve got this thing turned around, Lechler said, and were no more the laughing stock of this league.Asomugha agreed, pointing to the teams woeful 29-83 (.259) record from 2003 through 2009 as a cautionary tale. The Raiders have a chance to finish .500, though they let games against Arizona, the 49ers and Jacksonville slip away.Its great to see progress in the team, he said. Where weve been in the past to where were at now, its beautiful to see that, to see the guys still into it and still wanting to win games and us being capable of winning games.Progress is a beautiful thing. Its something that you can build off of. We have that.The Raiders as a team will take it with them to Kansas City this weekend. A select few will tote it to the Islands for the Jan. 30 Pro Bowl.

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

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USATSI

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

The Raiders are razor thin at cornerback, without many bodies or talent they can trust. They were down to three healthy career cornerbacks heading into Sunday’s game against New England, with TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald available.

Head coach Jack Del Rio added a new name to the mix. He started second-round safety Obi Melifonwu at cornerback against the high-flying Patriots, an experiment that didn’t work out well.

Melifonwu played 26 snaps at cornerback, where he had been working some in practice since becoming eligible to return off injured reserve. He spent the early season on IR after having arthroscopic knee surgery.

Melifonwu was put in a tough spot, and struggled as a result. He allowed two receptions for 69 yards on four targets, including a 64-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks where he had his eyes in the backfield when the Patriots speedster blew right by.

This position switch came in Melifonwu’s second NFL game, with just seven defensive snaps under his belt. 

Head coach Jack Del Rio admitted it was a move made out of desperation.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Del Rio said after Sunday’s 33-8 loss to New England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. “We need more production (at cornerback). We're willing to try just about anything and we talked about being lean there and needing more production from that spot.

“(Melifonwu’s) a talented kid and it was probably asking a little too much, but we are going to roll those guys, we rolled our guys in the secondary tonight, and we're going to do that. We have got to do that until somebody starts playing well enough to stay in there full-time.”

The Raiders are in a bind at cornerback with Gareon Conley on injured reserve and David Amerson out three straight games with a foot injury. Demetrius McCray and Antonio Hamilton are also on season-ending injured reserve.

Carrie was a mainstay on Sunday, playing all 60 defensive snaps. Smith took over early, when the Melifonwu experiment wasn’t working out. He played 43 snaps, allowing three catches for 34 yards on five targets. McDonald played just eight snaps.

The Raiders are hoping someone can improve and settle into a full-time spot. The secondary has been thin for some time, but the personnel department has declined to sign anyone new off the street for depth.

That means Del Rio’s staff is still searching for answers at that position from a small pool.

“We're not playing really well on the back end and we have to find a way,” Del Rio said. “And we're going to make it competitive and let guys challenge for it and challenge for time and the guys that play the best are going to play the most.”

OFFENSE
Quarterback – Derek Carr 74
Running back – DeAndre Washington 24, Marshawn Lynch 21, Jamize Olawale 14, Jalen Richard 11,
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 67, Seth Roberts 59, Michael Crabtree 58, Cordarelle Patterson 25, Johnny Holton 13
Tight end – Jared Cook 54, Clive Walford 14, Lee Smith 10
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 74, Rodney Hudson 74, Donald Penn 74, Gabe Jackson 74, Vadal Alexander 74

DEFENSE
Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 53, Mario Edwards 44, Justin Ellis 38, Eddie Vanderdoes 34, Denico Autry 31, Treyvon Hester 24, James Cowser 14
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 51, Bruce Irvin 46, Cory James 44, Nicholas Morrow 15, Marquel Lee 9
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 60, Sean Smith 43, Obi Melifonwu 26, Dexter McDonald 8
Safety – Reggie Nelson 60, Karl Joseph 51, Shalom Luani 9

SPECIAL TEAMS
Nicholas Morrow 18, James Cowser 18, Marquel Lee 15, Erik Harris 15, Xavier Woodson-Luster 15, Keith McGill 15, Jamize Olawale 15, Cordarrelle Patterson 13, Dexter McDonald 12, DeAndre Washington 11, Jalen Richard 9, Shalom Luani 9, Lee Smith 7, Khalil Mack 7, Mario Edwards 7, Eddie Vanderdoes 7, Denico Autry 7, Treyvon Hester 7, Jon Feliciano 7, Johnny Holton 6, TJ Carrie 6, Jon Condo 4, Marquette King 4, Karl Joseph 2, Cory James 2, Obi Melifonwu 2, Giorgio Tavecchio 2

DID NOT PLAY
QB EJ Manuel, OT David Sharpe

INACTIVE
QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, DL Jihad Ward, CB David Amerson, LB Shilique Calhoun, RT Marshall Newhouse, DT Darius Latham

Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery

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USATSI

Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery

Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley will have surgery to repair his injured shin on Monday, a week after he was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

This year’s No. 24 overall pick announced that news in an Instagram post, accompanied by a picture of his young son.

Surgery was always a likely outcome after heading to IR, though the team never formally stated that would occur.

The Raiders believe Conley will return completely healthy for the 2018 campaign, and have high hopes for him as a lock down cover man.

They could certainly use him this season. He was expected to contribute heavily as a rookie, but a shin injury suffered in a June minicamp prevented that from happening. He missed training camp and the entire preseason slate, but eventually made his NFL debut in Week 2. He suffered a setback in a Week 3 game at Washington, and was shut down indefinitely on Oct. 6.

Conley was re-evaluated early last week, and the Raiders didn’t see enough progress to keep him on the 2017 roster.

The Raiders are lacking at cornerback with Conley down and David Amerson dealing with a foot injury.

Head coach Jack Del Rio will speak to the media Monday afternoon, and provide an update on Conley’s procedure.