Raiders

Raiders make forward progress in Allen's first win

894565.jpg

Raiders make forward progress in Allen's first win

BOX SCORE

It took one play for the Oakland Raiders to be doomed Denarius Moore to slip on a route and Carson Palmer to hit Pittsburghs Ryan Clark directly in the chest. At that moment, the Coliseum audience, and the nation as a whole, knew this was one more Raider game about to be inflicted upon a weary nation.Four hours later, Dennis Allen walked out of his office, a suit, a tie, and a perceptible smile leading him into a happier night. A night that frankly he and the New Boys needed very very badly.We felt like we were the only ones who really believed we could win, Palmer said later, basking in his own way in the glow of Oaklands 34-31 win over Pittsburgh. We felt like wed already been written off.And he was right. They had been. And based on all the available evidence from all the placed where evidence can be gathered, they should have been. They are the Raiders, and no good comes of that.Except that they are members of the National Football League, where the difference between yes and no, right and wrong, mirth and misery becomes increasingly narrow. They beat the Steelers because the Steelers arent the Steelers of old, true, but they beat the Steelers because they are just learning how not to be the Raiders of old, either.They fought off two 10-point deficits in the second half. They scored each of the last five times they had the ball. They kept a purportedly superior team from scoring for the entire fourth quarter. They committed only three penalties, their lowest number in 30 games, and none of them game-changing. And they overcame the temptation to lose heart and focus after Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off the field with what provide to be a concussion.Not only that, Palmer, their overly maligned quarterback, showed himself in the best possible light, especially once the Raiders went to a no-huddle offense. Darren McFadden validated the much loathed zone blocking scheme by breaking out a 64-yard touchdown run the first time he touched the ball. The defense forced two second-half fumbles to stop the Steelers seemingly relentless momentum.And in the end, Dennis Allen won the right to stand up in front of his team and say, straight-faced and with facts to back it up, Trust us, guys. We know what were doing.Say what you will, but that matters. This is a franchise that has known only coaching chaos since Jon Gruden left more than a decade ago, and front office shambles through the last decade of Al Davis stewardship. Players, fans, media and just plain disinterested observers had come to believe the worst in this team, and this team had rarely disabused them of the notion.And lets be frank, the woods have not yet revealed the spacious green lawns behind them yet. This was one game, played well by a team that started so skittishly. This was not the proof of the brand new day.But it was, and this is just as important for the moment, the first time the AllenReggie McKenzie regime could say that the job was not too big for them, that they know what they want and have a firm idea of how to get it.Palmer being the master of his huddle was a start. McFadden breaking out was a start. A team that didnt give in to Heyward-Beys loss or the circumstances surrounding it (a helmet-to-helmet blow from Ryan Mundy that wasnt flagged). A team that kept its composure and a grasp of the rules that neither the Steelers nor the officiating crew could approached, let alone match.It was all a start. There will have to be more, obviously, and a league with three unbeaten teams and two winless teams means that there is much more chaos to come.But these Raiders are no longer going in blind. They have something more than faith, hope, or wishful thinking, to speed them on their way to work Monday. Thats what Sunday meant. Its not the beginning of the end, or even the end of the beginning, to steal from Winston Churchill. But its a light bulb that may lead eventually to the end of a very long, damp, dark and cold tunnel.

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

obi-melf-black-cowboys.jpg
AP

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

ALAMEDA – Obi Melifonwu participated in a Raiders practice Wednesday afternoon, his first session in months.

The second-round safety has been on injured reserve all season and hasn’t done football activities of any kind since suffering a knee injury in a preseason game in Dallas.

He had arthroscopic knee surgery and was put on the shelf for the season’s first half.

He’s on the mend and nearing a return to action. That’s why the Raiders designated him to return off injured reserve. Wednesday marks the start of a two-week practice window where the Raiders can decide whether to put him on the 53-roster.

He’s expected to do so when eligible. Melifonwu was first able to practice this week, and can join the 53-man roster after Week 8. His NFL debut could come in Week 9 at Buffalo.

Melifonwu was drafted to help cover tight ends and running backs right away in sub packages, with a long-term eye on a full-time starting spot.

The Raiders still struggle covering the aforementioned skill players, using young linebackers or an undersized safety against those guys. The Raiders have given up the most yards to tight ends and running backs in the NFL this season.

He has missed significant development time while out. He also missed most of training camp with an apparent ankle injury. The team hopes he can be ready to contribute when eligible despite missing so much time.

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

NaVorro Bowman hasn’t been a Raider long. The inside linebacker visited the team’s training complex Monday morning, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that afternoon and was on the practice field a few hours later.

Bowman’s in something of a rush. His new team plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Bowman plans to face them.

That’ll take a crash course in Raiders defense. There’s new terminology to learn and roles to master, even if he hones on a specific package.

It won’t be easy. Even a perfect week might come up short with but one real practice in an incredibly quick turnaround.

It’s rational to think he won’t be ready, fair to give him two weeks practice before a Raiders debut.

That’s not the tack he’ll take.

“Hey,” Bowman said, with a wry smile. “I’m going to show you something.”

He understands the situation. The Raiders are 2-4, in desperate need of an AFC West win. A loss might put the Raiders too far down to rebound. The four-time All-Pro knows he’s needed, and believes he can help if he can get some scheme down.

“It’ll take a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that,” Bowman said after Monday’s walk-through. “It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. It doesn’t come easy.

“I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”

Immersing in brand new can be a cleansing process. Bowman left the only NFL team he’s ever known Friday when the 49ers cut him loose. He wanted to spend his career with one team. After seven-plus seasons, a switch was required. He didn’t like losing snaps. The 49ers wanted to go younger at the position. A trade was attempted. He didn’t like the suitor, and the 49ers respectfully pulled back. An outright cut was the decisive action.

It gave Bowman an opportunity to choose his next step. He didn’t go far. Bowman’s new job sits 35 miles north in Alameda, which offered plenty of advantages for a family man.

“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” Bowman said. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”

Enthusiasm was evident in two ways. The bottom line comes first. The Raiders offered $3 million to make this deal quick, adding a solid sum to the $6.75 million base salary guaranteed by the 49ers under his previous contract.

The second was clear in a Monday morning conversation with Jack Del Rio. The Raiders head coach spoke plainly, saying Bowman could make a major impact as a player and veteran leader of a shockingly young position group.

“It was really upfront, letting me know their position and how bad they want me,” Bowman said. “He let me know exactly what he wanted to get out of me coming here and being a presence for this defense. Being more vocal, getting guys to understand the urgency to be really good at the NFL level.”

His lessons start Tuesday morning. Starting weakside linebacker Cory James introduced himself in the locker room Monday and asked Bowman when he’ll start watching film. The answer: bright and early.

Bowman has a game to play Thursday. That’s possible because he didn’t have to relocate. He can just hit the ground running. He’s been constantly learning new systems during the 49ers coaching carousel, so he’d a quick learning. He also sees similar concepts between schemes.

“It’s not too different,” Bowman said. “The terminology is really the hard part. I’m a fast learner. I went out there today and I think I did pretty well. I’ll get in here early tomorrow and learn from my mistakes and try to keep getting better.”

That’s Bowman’s first goal. He also wants to show knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries haven’t sapped his effectiveness as many believe.

“I’m only 29 years old,” Bowman said. “I still have a lot of juice left in me.”