Raiders 'don't mind tough things,' ready for adverse conditions vs Chiefs

Raiders 'don't mind tough things,' ready for adverse conditions vs Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Arrowhead Stadium has literally become a frozen tundra. Heaters under the playing surface malfunctioned on Wednesday night, allowing a layer of ice to form under the tarp in below freezing temperatures.

That information comes courtesy of an NFL Network reporter on site Thursday morning in advance of an evening showdown between the rival Raiders and Chiefs.

The field is expected to thaw by kickoff, but any remaining ice patch would add to the adversity facing the Silver and Black in a pivotal AFC West showdown.

They are the only NFL team to travel more than one time zone to play on “Thursday Night Football,” adding another wrinkle to a game that deserves to be played on regular rest. Instead teams will square off in a made-for-TV event without much time to prepare

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio could’ve griped about an adverse lot, but he refused to line up reasons why his team might not play well.

“We’re going to be excited to play,” Del Rio said. “It’s a tough set of circumstances. We don’t mind tough things. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Beating the Chiefs is a daunting task. The Raiders weren’t up to it earlier this year, when Kansas City came to Oakland and made it their home. The Raiders must even the score or find themselves in a bind. Kansas City would own the divisional tiebreaker with three games remaining, and would be in great position to win the AFC West.

The Chiefs have been Raiders kryptonite in recent seasons. They have won six of seven matchups, a trend the Raiders hope to buck on Thursday night.

“Everyone mentions, ‘They’ve beaten you this many times,’ and these things and all of that,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “When I’m preparing for these guys, it never goes through my head. That stuff never has a determining factor on anything I write down, anything that goes on in my brain or anything like that. I just prepare for them just like I do any other game. I prepare for them the same way that I do for everybody. I’m going to go out there, and I’m looking forward to competing against them though this time.”

Carr won’t compete from under center. The Raiders will stay in shotgun and pistol formations for a second straight week to protect a right pinky finger dislocated in two places against the Carolina Panthers. That shouldn’t limit them much, though it makes life harder on the run game.

The Raiders performed pretty well on the ground against Buffalo, totaling 139 yards on 32 carries. Latavius Murray led that effort, with 82 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Murray missed the last game against Kansas City with turf toe, but will be ready to take a heavy load this time around. He has been taking more carries over the last month, with a previously equal running back rotation now shading his way. Murray should be a play a big role in this contest, which should come down to the fourth quarter.

“The Chiefs are a rival that we’ve struggled with,” Murray said. “We know what’s at stake for this season. They stand in the way of our goal of winning the division. We need to take care of them.”

The Raiders must take care of Kansas City on a short week, in loud, hostile environment. Oh, and in the bitter cold. It’s expected to be 20 degrees at kickoff, with wind coursing through Arrowhead Stadium.

The Raiders don’t mind that either. They’re 6-0 in games away from Oakland Coliseum, and are confident they can overcome adversity this particular game presents.

“You just have to get your mind right and go play,” Del Rio said. “We’ll be ready to go. We have a good group of guys. Feel like we’re weather proof. We’ll go play.”

Raiders retain Manuel, now have four QBs on roster


Raiders retain Manuel, now have four QBs on 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.”

Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini


Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini

The Oakland Raiders signed unrestricted free agent T Breno Giacomini, the club announced Thursday.

Giacomini is entering his 11th NFL season, having spent time with the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets and Houston Texans. He has appeared in 94 career games with 86 starts, including 53 starts over the last four seasons. He originally entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick (150th overall) of the Green Bay Packers in 2008.

Last season, the 6-foot-7, 320-pounder started all 16 games at right tackle for the Texans. From 2014-16, Giacomini started 37 games for the Jets, including every game in 2014 and 2015.

Giacomini saw his first significant action with the Seahawks in 2011 and was a mainstay on the team’s offensive line through 2013, helping the team win Super XLVIII as the starting right tackle.

A native of Malden, Mass., Giacomini played four seasons (2004-07) at Louisville, appearing in 27 games. He began his collegiate career as a tight end before converting to tackle before his senior year.

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