Raiders face multiple tough road stretches in 2017 schedule

Raiders face multiple tough road stretches in 2017 schedule

The Raiders gave up a home game to play in Mexico City and will take seven road trips into the Central Time Zone and beyond, including four along the eastern seaboard.

Head coach Jack Del Rio just hoped NFL schedule makers would give his Raiders a “fair shake.” The Silver and Black were put in some tough spots last year, including three road games in the first four weeks, a trip to Mexico and a Thursday night affair two times zones away in Kansas City where the Raiders looked flat.

The Raiders' 2017 schedule, which was released on Thursday evening, has more difficulties associated with travel. When giving away a home game, a travel inbalance will always exist. They start the season with three road games in four weeks, and will do so again from Weeks 8-11.

Oakland plays at Buffalo and then Miami, with a bye week separating a home game against New England to be played in Mexico City.

Del Rio requested back-to-back long road trips so the team could stay on the road as they did last season, when they won consecutive games at Jacksonville and at Tampa Bay.

There isn’t something as convenient as that Florida two-step, but it looks like they’ll stay out east between contests at Buffalo and then Miami. If that’s the case, they could use the same Central Florida facilities used a year ago. That travel decision has not been announced.

There's one clear improvement over last season, with a Thursday Night game played at home against Kansas City.

The bye should help prepare for the Patriots, and a home stretch could help them get right before finishing the season with two holiday road games. They play in Philadelphia on Christmas night and the L.A. Chargers on New Year’s Eve to close the season.

Despite some tough stretches, this schedule certainly puts the Raiders in the spotlight.

They’ll be featured in five primetime games, including a Sunday Night home game against Dallas that should be a great matchup and a Thursday Night home against rival Kansas City. They also play Sunday Night games at Washington and Miami and will spend their Christmas on Monday Night Football.

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the 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.”