Raiders key matchup No. 2: Burris vs. Charles


Raiders key matchup No. 2: Burris vs. Charles

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Chiefs matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (CBS), at Arrowhead Stadium.Raiders LB Miles Burris vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal CharlesTale of the tape
Burris (56): 6-foot-2, 236 pounds, rookie, San Diego State
Charles (25): 5-foot-11, 199 pounds, fifth season, TexasKANSAS CITY -- The Chiefs are breaking in a new quarterback in Brady Quinn, who will be starting his second game for them this weekend, so you figure coach Romeo Crennel does not want to overload his signal caller. Not when he already has such an explosive threat running the ball in Jamaal Charles.Besides, the Chiefs have the league's No. 3-ranked rushing attack, averaging 164 yards per game on the ground and Charles' 591 rushing yards are the second-most in the AFC.So you figure Crennel would rather run Charles at the Raiders than have a rusty Quinn try and beat them with his arm. Even if Charles is coming off a left knee injury that limited him to two games last year."You never know about injuries and how players are going to respond, and how theyre going to come back from an injury," Crennel said in a conference call with Bay Area writers. "Jamaal, he worked hard during his rehab. At the beginning of training camp he hadnt made it all the way back, but we tried to manage him a little bit in camp. His knee feels good, and hes excited about being able to help the team the way he has. Hes looking forward to the rest of the season."Charles is averaging 5.1 yards per carry and had a 91-yard scoring run against New Orleans in Week 3. He is most dangerous when he bounces outside, and that figures to be where the excitable rookie Miles Burris figures to have a shot at him."A lot of intensity," Raiders cornerback Michael Huff said of Burris. "On every play hes fired up, intense, just running around making plays. You can tell hes a young guy whos just hungry and wants to go out there and make plays. Hes been playing well."Interestingly enough, the Chiefs lead the league in most runs for a loss, with 33. Might that play into Burris' skill set, or would an over-pursuing, over-excited rookie play right into the shifty Charles' hands?Burris, the Raiders' starting weakside linebacker, has played every snap the past two weeks and has 25 tackles, 17 solo, with a sack on the season."You know, I was even a little more beat up this time around," he said with a laugh. "Even more reps this game, and it's been a lot of fun, though. It's been a good kind of pain, especially when you win."Burris has been thrust into the starting lineup with Aaron Curry dealing with knee issues and on the PUP list to start the season."I came in with no expectations of how much I'd be playing or what the deal was," Burris said. "But I came in with the mentality to try and win a job and to just work as hard as I can to try and contribute to the team."Burris credited Curry and Rolando McClain with helping his development."They've been awesome," he said. "They've been a big part of my continued progress here, helping me get lined up, helping me learn, helping me on techniques. Not just the coaches. They've been great teachers in this process as well."A guy like Aaron Curry, too, not just in football, but he's making sure I know when Bible studies are and he's making sure I'm doing all right off the field. These guys are awesome."The Raiders are going to need just as awesome an effort from Burris to neutralize Charles.

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires


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.”

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

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

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

QB EJ Manuel, OT David Sharpe

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


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.