Raiders ready to 'show the world what we've got' in primetime clash

Raiders ready to 'show the world what we've got' in primetime clash

OAKLAND – The Raiders are all the rage these days. Significant preseason hype has been realized during a 6-2 start built on high drama and comeback road wins, making the Silver and Black a trending national topic to start the season’s second half.

Quarterback Derek Carr is considered an early MVP candidate, edge rusher Khalil Mack has asserted himself in recent weeks and head coach Jack Del Rio has this team walking into every game with confidence.

There’s plenty to discuss heading into the biggest game of the year and the biggest game in Oakland in a dozen years.

“Sunday Night Football” scheduled a game in Oakland for the first time since 2005, and they booked a good one. The Raiders and Broncos are both 6-2, and they’ll battle for AFC West dominance in primetime.

“I think what we recognize as an organization is as you become relevant, as you play good football, you’re going to have more of these opportunities,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “This is the natural progression in building a good football team. We should expect to be in these games. We’re going to expect to win these games. Then we’re going to move forward and have more of these kinds of games.”

The Raiders made waves with a 5-0 road record and three comeback wins, and enter this game eager to put their talents on display.

“We’re going to show the world what we’ve got,” left tackle Donald Penn said after last week’s overtime victory at Tampa Bay. “It’s a big game. It might be for first place. This win feels good, but I’m excited about playing the Broncos. This one is going to be big.”

Several new Raiders have played in big games before. Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith were Seahawks. Reggie Nelson was imported from the Bengals. Sean Smith was a Kansas City Chief. Those playoff contenders regularly played in big games.

“I’m used to it,” Irvin said. “It’s always good to be talked about. It’s been a long time since the Raiders have been highlighted like this on the season. We’re going to try and keep it as normal as possible.”

That will be key for a large young foundation drafted and developed by the Raiders which hasn’t played in a game of this magnitude. How they handle the spotlight’s glare will have an impact on Sunday night’s outcome.

The Broncos are used to this. The defending Super Bowl champs are regular features in nationally televised games as an AFC powerhouse in recent years, but they also understand this game’s importance at this stage of the season.

“The circumstances we’re coming into—both at the top of the division—we know that (it’s going to) definitely have, later on, playoff meaning,” Broncos safety T.J. Ward said. “It’s a big game. It’s a playoff game, divisional game, Sunday night. It’s not going to get more intense than that.”

Raiders coaches have done a good job keeping their players focused on rest, recovery and game-planning for a solid Broncos team. They’ve worked to shut out the hype and treat this like any other game.

“We’re going to out and do what we do,” Mack said. “There’s no pressure. We’re just focused on playing fundamentally sound game.”

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.”