Raiders

Raiders snubbed from 2013 Pro Bowl

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Raiders snubbed from 2013 Pro Bowl

ALAMEDA -- For the first time since 2003, the Raiders were shut out of Pro Bowl representation as the NFL's all-star teams were announced Wednesday.

The Raiders (4-11) were one of eight teams to not have a Pro Bowl player, along with St. Louis (7-7-1), Philadelphia (4-11), Carolina (6-9), Jacksonville (2-12), Tennessee (5-10), San Diego (6-9) and Buffalo (5-10).

Kansas City (2-12) is in line to finish with the league's worst record and secure the No. 1 overall pick in the April draft, but still had five Pro Bowlers named.

Perhaps the biggest snub, though, was placekicker Sebastian Janikowski being left off the list and named only as an alternate, though the Raiders would not release what level of alternate he was for the game. Janikowski won the fan vote of the selection process -- coaches and players vote for the other two-thirds of the decision.

Cleveland's Phil Dawson was named the AFC's placekicker and since the Browns will not be playing in the Super Bowl, the only chance for Janikowski to book his trip to Hawaii for the Jan. 27 exhibition would seemingly be for Dawson, a first-time selection, to beg out.

Also, Raiders fullback Marcel Reece was named an alternate, though the level is not known. Baltimore's Vonta Leach is the AFC starter, though the position would open up should the Ravens advance to the Super Bowl.

It is also the first time since 2006 that punter Shane Lechler was not named to the Pro Bowl.

Janikowski, though, was the AFC's special teams player of the months for October and the AFC's special teams player of the week after kicking five field goals in the Raiders' 15-0 defeat of Kansas City on Dec. 16.

He is 31 for 34 on the season, with his three misses coming from 61, 64 and 51 yards, and Janikowski this season has moved into a tie with John Kasay for second place in NFL history for most career field goals of at least 50 yards, with 42 such kicks. Detroit's Jason Hanson, who is in his 21st NFL season and was a rookie in the waning days of the George H. W. Bush Administration, is the all-time leader with 52 field goals of 50-plus yards.

Janikowski has converted 53 in a row from 40 yards or less, last missing inside that marker on Sept. 26, 2010, at Arizona. Plus, on kicks of 40 or more yards, he has converted 19 of his last 24 attempts, missing from 51, 59, 61, 64 and 65 yards.

Janikowski's 57-yarder at the end of the first half on Dec. 16 set a league long for the season, and he co-holds the NFL record of 63 yards, set at Denver in the 2011 season opener.

He has also made 125 straight point-after attempts, last missing on Dec. 14, 2008, against New England.

Dawson, meanwhile, has made 28 of 29 attempts this season, his lone miss a 28-yard attempt that was blocked by the Raiders' Desmond Bryant on Dec. 2.

Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more

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USATSI

Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more

Paul Guenther hasn’t been Raiders defensive coordinator long. He has been in Alameda about a week now, interviewing potential position coaches and pouring over last year’s game tape.

He has some initial impressions on the group that struggled at the start and improved throughout the year. Generally speaking, however, Guenther sees talent on the roster.

“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” Guenther said Wednesday in a conference call. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there are a lot of good pieces here for a foundation, for sure.”

Guenther’s system, where it came from and why he brought it to Oakland is a story for another day. Thursday morning, to be precise, so stay tuned for that.

Guenther’s early evaluation of key Raiders, however, supports his statement about a strong foundation. He is most excited, as you’d expect, about working with edge rusher Khalil Mack and several others in silver and black.

Here’s what Guenther said about…

-- DE KHALIL MACK: “Having a talent like that and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense. We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency. He’s a guy that you can really build a foundation through and around. He’s an exciting guy to be able to coach for sure.”

-- CB GAREON CONLEY: “He was my favorite corner coming out. His ability, he’s smooth in the pedal, he’s a good press corner, which we love to have. I’m excited to work with him.”

-- S OBI MELIFONWU: “Obi is a big guy that when you turn on the tape, you’re like, ‘Man, who is this son of a gun?’ He’s playing half the field, he’s down in the box playing the run.”

-- LB NAVORRO BOWMAN: (an impending free agent): “NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really. The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”

Raiders OC believes Raiders will 'grow as Derek Carr grows'

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Raiders OC believes Raiders will 'grow as Derek Carr grows'

Quarterback Derek Carr’s stage is set for a giant step forward.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson thinks it happened the moment Jon Gruden became Raiders head coach, though not solely due to the mentor and his proven offensive system. It’s also the 10-year contract formally bringing him back. There’s no telling whether Gruden mans his post a full decade, but an extended stretch is guaranteed.

That in itself, Olson, says, is invaluable to a passer entering his fifth season with a fourth head coach and third offensive scheme.

“Probably more so than anything,” Olson said, “this guy has to get some continuity.”

Gruden will provide that, with Olson a link to Carr’s past. Olson was Raiders offensive coordinator from 2013-14, and guided Carr’s rookie campaign. Quarterback and coordinator worked well together a 3-13 season where the Fresno State alum started every game.

They’ll reunite under Gruden and stick together this time. Olson, after all, signed a four-year deal that’s double the industry standard.

“Derek is going to be in a system now,” Olson said Wednesday in a conference call with local media. “He’s going to be coached by a head coach that’s going to be the play caller. That’s the first time Derek will have an offensive head coach that has a quarterback background and will be hands on with him on a day-to-day basis. I just see that growth curve skyrocketing because of that.”

Carr’s trajectory went straight up from his rookie season with Olson through the next two years – he was a legit MVP candidate in 2016 -- though it markedly dipped during a disappointing 6-10 campaign.

Gruden and Olson are generally charged with fixing an offense with talent but little production last year, though their primary objective remains more specific.

Get Carr back on track.

“Everything we do in this building is going to be about the development of Derek Carr,” Olson said. “The way we script practices, the way we are doing drills, everything that we do is all about the development of the quarterback. That will really speed the development of Derek. More so than anything is that there’s somebody here in place that’s going to make everything that we do and that everyone in the building understand that we grow as Derek Carr grows.”

Olson knows first-hand about Carr’s work ethic and acumen. He has seen athleticism, passing accuracy and a quick release turn football smarts into production. He told Gruden all that following the 2014 season, and believes Carr’s presence was an attraction to take the Raiders job.

“We drafted this guy to be that franchise quarterback," Olson said. "We feel like he has the potential to be that guy that can be here and play for 10 more years. It’s up to us to try and get that out of him. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that that happens."