Raiders notes (830): CB Johnson returns to practice


Raiders notes (830): CB Johnson returns to practice

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comALAMEDA -- Raiders fans weary of their young cornerbacks getting the Elvis "Toast" Patterson treatment this preseason might have reason to rejoice, or at least, exhale.Chris Johnson, who underwent an undisclosed surgery two weeks ago he likened to getting an "oil change," practiced Tuesday for the first time since the procedure. And while he said he is not playing in the Raiders' exhibition finale Friday in Seattle, Johnson said, "Hands down, I'll be there Monday night" in the season opener at Denver on Sept. 12."By the grace of God, I think that's why I'm back so fast," Johnson added. "He has everything in control of my body. All I can do is go out there and do what the coaches ask me to do. I don't even think about it. I've felt better the last couple weeks than I've felt in the last two years. So it's a big improvement I feel in my body. I'm just ready to go."As Johnson has been sidelined, he could only watch as rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke and second-year cornerback Walter McFadden have had their troubles. Van Dyke surrendered 73 yards on four Drew Brees passes in New Orleans' opening 80-yard drive Sunday.RECAP: Saints double up Raiders at the 40-20
"It's tough, but ... when I first came in it was the same way," Johnson said. "It just takes one or two plays for you to just knock a ball down or pick the ball off and they'll respect you. If you don't do that, they're going to continue to pick on you in this league."Our guys, they can run with anybody, so we just have to turn our heads (and look for the ball). People see we're there. All you've got to do is turn your head and it's a pick. I told the guys, 'Don't worry about it. You've got good quarterbacks in this league ... you're playing elite quarterbacks. Just don't let one game determine your season.'"I asked Johnson, a Green Bay seventh-round draft choice in 2003, if it was tough accepting that message as a youngster."It was because, as a man you always want to be able to back up your ground and back up your last name," he said. "It's kind of frustrating to the guys, but I think the young guys are are actually getting the input they need from the coaches and also some of the players."I think it's going to be a good (experience) for us once we get into the regular season."Chekwa making a switch? -- Fourth-round draft pick Chimdi Chekwa, who played cornerback at Ohio State, is close to making the full-time transition to safety after being switched last week and playing there against the Saints."I'm a rookie," Chekwa said. "I'm going to try to get on the field any way I can -- special teams, safety, corner, whatever it is. Do whatever they ask of me and see what happens."At corner, you're kind of locked into one side of the field. At safety, your eyes open up. You see a lot more than what you usually see at corner ... you've got to have eye control at any position on defense, but at the safeties, it's a lot different because you see so much more. That's something I learned in the past week."Showing his leadership skills -- Center Samson Satele said Oakland quarterbacks got hit 121 times by their count last year.Obviously, that's something they want to change. Especially with Jason Campbell exhibiting newfound leadership skills."You can see it," Satele said. "Guys used to leave the huddle last year when he's not even done with the call. This year, he's keeping them in. You can just see little things like that. You can see how comfortable he is back there, with us giving him time to throw the ball."Seymour sits out, again -- Richard Seymour (hamstring) did not practice, but coach Hue Jackson did not mind. Even if Seymour last practiced full early last week and did not dress Sunday."He's doing well," Jackson said. "He'll be fine. Richard will be fine. Again, as I tell you guys, I get to reserve the right with some of these guys, and some of these guys I like to keep under wraps and make sure they're ready to go. And Richard is one of those guys."Also, rookie left guard Stefen Wisniewski sat out practice with what Jackson described as "one of those little dings."Long time, no talk -- Jackson was asked if he had spoken to Tom Cable since he was dismissed by Al Davis and resurfaced in Seattle."Mainly, when coaches leave, you don't really talk for a while," Jackson said. "I think there needs to be some time. I'm sure we will (talk) in the future. We haven't (talked) at this point but that's part of it and I understand and respect that. I will speak to him on Friday if our paths cross. But I think it's all good."Quote of the day: "Oh wow. A lot of things have surprised me. I'm 0-3." - Hue Jackson, on his first training camp as a head coach in the NFL.

Norton looks at his Seahawks days to slow down Brady: 'I have a good feel'


Norton looks at his Seahawks days to slow down Brady: 'I have a good feel'

ALAMEDA – Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. has a good feel for Tom Brady. He faced New England’s legendary quarterback three times as Seattle’s linebackers coach, with some positive results. The Seahawks won two regular-season games and lost the Super Bowl at the last second.

He knows what worked then, and believes that should help prepare the Raiders defense for what’s coming Sunday in Mexico City.

“I played Brady a couple years ago in the Super Bowl with Seattle. We played very well against him,” Norton said Thursday afternoon. “I’ve had some success against him so I have a good feel for what can be done and what cannot be done. It’s just a matter of having the right emphasis and the ability to make the plays.

“Having a guy like (Brady) on the team who’s capable at any point of throwing a deep ball, capable at any point of getting it to the right players at the right time. He understands who is around him. He understands how to get the ball to the guys. He’s got a long resume of doing it well.”

Having success against Brady, however, is a relative term. He still produced against a loaded Seattle defense far better than this year’s Raiders unit. He will produce again Sunday, even if most goes right. Limitation, however, if key.

Norton believes certain things are essential when facing a Patriots team. Sure tackling. Impacting the quarterback.

The first is vital, something the Raiders have done well save a Week 9 win over Miami. The Raiders have to limit explosives and keep the ball in front of them, especially with the way Brady likes to play.

“The Patriots do a really good job of underneath coverage,” Norton said. “They have guys that catch and run really well. The backs, the tight ends, the matchups underneath, they catch and make people miss. They try to match up with your linebackers and safeties. They feel like their guys are pretty good. Tackling is something we’ve been really outstanding with all year but this last game against Miami we didn’t do so well and it kind of stands out, especially when it’s something we’ve taken a lot of pride in.

“I really feel like our emphasis and what we do well matches up well with that they try to do.”

There are some problem spots. One is limiting deep shots, something Brady has unleashed with startling efficiency. He’s 19-for47 for 410 yards and four touchdowns on passes of 20-plus yards, with speedsters Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett able to haul them in. The Raiders have proven vulnerable to track-star receivers. 

Impacting Brady is mandatory, but also difficult given his excellent pocket presence. He’s especially good at feeling pressure off the edge, where reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack typically lines up opposite Bruce Irvin.

Brady has proven vulnerable to interior pressure, which is why Mario Edwards Jr. will be an X-factor on passing downs. He has four sacks this season and needs to break free in the backfield to force difficult decisions or, at the very lest, disrupt New England’s timing.

Brady gets rid of the ball fast at times. Raiders rushers can’t get frustrated by that, especially Mack.

“If the quarterback is going to throw the ball in less than two seconds, it’s going to be tough to get there,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So when the quarterback is throwing the ball quick like that, we’ve got to tackle and have their punt team come out. They’ll get tired of punting or turning the ball over and they’ll sit and hold the ball a little bit and Khalil can get there. If they’re throwing the ball in two seconds or less, it’s going to be hard to get sacks.”

The Raiders only have 13 sacks this season, second worst in the NFL. Getting a few could swing a tight game. Norton’s Raiders believe they have a solid plan to mitigate somewhat the Patriots ferocious attack, that features versatile tight ends allowing them to do different things from one personnel package.

Don’t expect a shutout, or anything close. The Raiders understand that, but believe they can mitigate some damage.

“If you go back to the New England Patriots five, six, eight years ago they’re doing similar things,” Norton said. “They do what they do really well. They’re a fine-tuned machine. Everybody knows exactly what their role is. Guys know exactly what’s expected of them. Obviously the quarterback is the heart and soul and the one that makes that train run. Really, really good players that really understand what their role is and play well against leverage, run after catch, tough and they make plays.”

Khalil Mack wants to be Raider for life: 'That’s a no-brainer for me'


Khalil Mack wants to be Raider for life: 'That’s a no-brainer for me'

The Raiders gave quarterback Derek Carr a massive contract extension last June. Right guard Gabe Jackson got paid later that month.

Khalil Mack’s big deal is coming, likely this offseason. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie anticipates a deal getting done, and hopes Mack’s agent feels the same way.

Mack’s rep and Raiders contract folks will work out details of a massive contract extension. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t have interest in all that. He has one preference above all.

Mack doesn’t want to go anywhere. He wants to stay with the Raiders long term.

“Of course. That’s not even a question,” Mack said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Fallon Smith, which airs in this week's episode of "Raiders Central." “That’s a no-brainer for me, especially when you think about coming into this organization and try to build something special, that’s something you want to be a part of for a lifetime”

Mack has plenty of money, top-5 overall draft picks often do. The No. 5 selection in 2014 considered that first deal life-changing money, enough to help his family.

“That has been a treat for me so far,” Mack said.

He doesn’t daydream about signing a nine-figure contract. He doesn’t long to be the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player (although that might be in the cards, anyway).

“I’m not really even thinking about that,” Mack said. “I’m thinking about the Patriots, that’s just my focus that’s just my mindset – anybody who talked to me about that matter, whether it be my best friend, my mom, my dad, I tell them the same thing. I’m thinking about the Patriots and sacking Tom Brady.”

That, unlike signing a record contract, was a career a goal. Mack said in a post-draft press conference he wanted to sack legends. Peyton Manning and Brady topped the list.

Manning retired before Mack could check his box. Mack will have a second chance at Brady Sunday when the Raiders play New England in Mexico City. He had eight tackles and two quarterback hits against Brady’s Patriots in 2014, but didn’t bring the quarterback down.

Mack considered his third regular season game a welcome-to-the-NFL moment.

The University of Buffalo alum has accomplished a ton since then, with 34.5 sacks and last year’s top defensive honor to his credit. He’ll need a Herculean performance against the Patriots to help the Raiders win a pivotal game. A sack would certainly help, but Mack isn’t calling his shot.

“Yeah, I’m not one to talk,” Mack said. “I’ll express that when I get on the field, but I can’t wait, I can’t wait to play against him.”