Raiders returner Cordarrelle Patterson flashing offensive skill

Raiders returner Cordarrelle Patterson flashing offensive skill

ALAMEDA – Cordarrelle Patterson is an All-Pro kick returner. That’s his calling card, rightfully so. The man has averaged 30.4 yards on 134 kickoff returns, with 18 percent of them going 40 of more. The man has five touchdowns in the kicking game.

He’s 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with track star speed.

It’s obvious why the Raiders were drawn to him in unrestricted free agency. Their return game as long been lacking. Patterson is a major weapon, even if he never takes an offense snap.

That isn’t the plan. Patterson is a receiver by trade, though his offensive numbers don’t overwhelm. Lackluster might be a fair term when attached to so much size and speed. He averaged 20 receiving yards per game and 10 per catch in four seasons with Minnesota, mostly relegated to screens and gadget plays.

The Raiders might use him in more conventional ways, though offensive coordinator will try and exploit tremendous speed.

“He’s a fun tool,” Downing said two weeks back. “I won’t speak too much about how he was used in the past. That’s somebody else’s job, but I can tell you that we’re going to have fun looking for ways to get him involved in the offense. He’s a big strong, physical, dynamic with the ball in his hands type player, and we’re excited to see what he can do for us.”

He flashed some of that skill in Wednesday’s practice. It was just a minicamp session in mid-June, but Patterson flashed speed, skill and hands while working with the first and second units. He scored three touchdowns, including one where he high-pointed EJ Manuel’s deep ball in the right corner of the end zone. His teammates immediately swarmed around the touchdown catch.

“EJ did a heck of a job throwing only where I could get it,” Patterson said. “I got the touchdown and everybody got excited, so I got excited.”

Patterson faring well as a conventional receiver would add yet another explosive element to a passing game that already features names like Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Seth Roberts and Jared Cook.

He’ll obviously play a major role on special teams. His offensive involvement could alter how much he does beyond kickoff returns.

“We're really happy that he's on our roster,” special teams coordinator Brad Seely said. “Obviously in Minnesota he was an outstanding returner, and we feel like he can bring that to our table. He can also be a coverage guy for us on our punt team. And it always comes down to how much offense is he going to play? We want to keep our guys as fresh as possible and balance that with getting as many reps as we can out of the kicking game.”

Patterson wants to play more offense but will accept whatever role he earns during his first season in Oakland.

“It’s whatever they want me to do,” he said. “I’m a guy where, if you tell me to do something, I’m going to go learn it. Doesn’t matter if it’s the quarterback position. Whatever the coaches feel like I need to play I’m going to go in and learn it, and do my best at it so I can be out on the football field.”

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.”

Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini


Raiders sign tackle Breno Giacomini

The Raiders need help at right tackle, the lone vacancy along their offensive line. They signed a veteran presence on Thursday afternoon, adding 32-year old Breno Giacomini as the frontrunner to join the starting five.

He has 86 starts in 94 career games, and has been a full-time starter three of the last four years. Giacomini spent 2017 in Houston and the previous three seasons with the New York Jets.

He was a Seattle Seahawk before that, working with Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable for three of his four years there. Cable gave Giacomini his first chance to start in the second half of 2011, and held the post through 2012.

The bond between the two is clearly strong, considering what Giacomini tweeted shortly after Cable got fired in Seattle.

Coach and player will reunite, hoping to provide steadiness on the right side of the Raiders offensive line.

He’ll compete for a starting spot with Vadal Alexander, second-year pros David Sharpe and Jylan Ware and possibly a drafted player. Giacomini should be considered the favorite unless the Raiders use an early pick on an offensive lineman.

Giacomini has plenty of starts, but his Pro Football Focus numbers aren’t pretty. The analytics says he allowed nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 64 pressures with Houston last year. He had some decent years under Cable, and a return to that form might push him into the starting lineup for good. Time will tell on that front.