Raiders want second-round pick Ward to stop playing like a robot

Raiders want second-round pick Ward to stop playing like a robot

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders want defensive lineman Jihad Ward to stop acting like a robot. The rookie second-round pick is a bit too rigid at times, trying too hard to play by the rules.

With his agility and athleticism, coaches want him to riff a little bit and make more plays.

“The message is, don’t be so rigid,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Yeah, you have the B-gap, but you can whip that guy and go make a play in the A or B or C or somewhere else in the backfield. Sometimes young guys are so conscientious on being exactly where they have to be that they just don’t play football. So, we want our guys to express themselves, want them to let it flow and just trust their instincts to help play football.”

Ward is learning on the fly this season. He’s playing far more that anyone expected, largely because Mario Edwards Jr. is on injured reserve with a hip injury. He’s on the comeback trail, and hopes to join an improved Ward and Denico Autry on the interior defensive line.

“I’m just taking it to the next step,” Ward said. “You have to keep learning and learning and getting better. I have learning to do. I feel a little like a robot, you know what I’m saying? It just takes time. Everything takes time.”

Rookies often worry to much about following the letter of the law, and the Raiders hope Ward realizes how much talent is locked inside.

“He’s an effort-filled guy. I’m waiting for him to kind of recognize how athletic he is,” Del Rio said. “He’s a lot more athletic than some of the linemen he’s allowing to actually get their hands on him. So, as he gains that experience and recognizes that more and more, I think we’ll cut him loose more and more.”

Interior pressure has been missing from the Raiders defense, though Ward provided more of it in a victory over Jacksonville and has shown better in recent weeks. It still isn’t good enough for the Illinois product, who was always as a high-ceiling player who needed some polish.

That has come through experience in a busy rookie year where he’s playing 60 percent of Raiders defensive snaps.

“With me first coming up in the NFL, I’m wondering, ‘Why am I thinking too much?,’” Ward said. “I have it, ain’t no point in thinking. … I just have to keep trusting it, keep trusting it and that’s all I have to say on that one.”

Source: Raiders trading veteran WR Patterson to Patriots


Source: Raiders trading veteran WR Patterson to Patriots

The Raiders are trading receiver/kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson to the New England Patriots, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday afternoon.

The Raiders will receive a fifth-round pick, while sending a sixth-round pick back to New England, according to the NFL Network. Patterson must pass a physical to complete the transaction, NFL Network is also reporting.

The moved frees $3.25 million in salary cap space for a Raiders team that was up against the NFL spending threshold. Former Washington receiver Ryan Grant is reportedly visiting the Raiders’ Alameda complex soon. Grant is available after a failed physical voided his free-agent deal with Baltimore. He passed a physical in Indianapolis, NFL Network reported, but left the Colts without a contract. Grant is a surehanded target who averaged 12.7 yards per receptions and had just three drops in 63 targets. 

The Raiders will likely add another receiver if Grant doesn't come aboard. One of head coach Jon Gruden's preference could be found in the NFL draft if Grant goes elsewhere.

The Raiders also added receiver Griff Whalen, a Stanford alum who has some returning experience, before free agency began. 

Patterson proved a productive, explosive member of last year’s offense, primarily as a gadget player. Patterson finished the season with 31 catches for 309 yards, and had 13 receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

He never became a steady, standard receiving option, and wasn’t able to shed his reputation as a relatively poor route runner. That likely made him expendable in  Gruden’s eye. He needs quality routes and steady hands from his wideouts.

That outweighs Patterson’s prowess returning kickoffs. The two-time All-Pro averages 30.2 yards per kickoff return over five seasons, with five return touchdowns to his credit.

The Patriots are well known for excellent special teams play, and needed a returner with Dion Lewis leaving for Tennessee in free agent. The Super Bowl runners up now have a dynamic returner and gunner to pair with solid coverage and return units.

This is a developing story. Check back for further details.

Raiders 2018 offseason scorecard


Raiders 2018 offseason scorecard


Veteran additions
WR Jordy Nelson (cut by Green Bay): 2 years/$15 million, $13 million guaranteed
CB Rashaan Melvin (UFA; Indianapolis): 1 year/$6.5 million
LB Tahir Whitehead (UFA; Detroit): 3 years/$18 million, $9 million guaranteed)
S Marcus Gilchrist (UFA; Houston): 1 year
RB Doug Martin (cut by Tampa Bay): 1 year
FB Keith Smith (UFA; Dallas): 2 years/$4.2 million
TE Derek Carrier (UFA; L.A. Rams): 3 years/$7 million
DE Tank Carradine (UFA; San Francisco): 1 year
LB Kyle Wilbur (UFA; Dallas): 2 years/$3.25 million
LS Andrew DePaola (UFA; Chicago): 4 years/$4.27 million
WR Griff Whalen (but by Baltimore)

Re-signed/extensions/contract tenders offered
DT Justin Ellis (UFA): 3 years/$15 million; $6 million guaranteed)
TE Lee Smith (UFA): 3 years
K Giorgio Tavecchio (ERFA): 1 year/$555,000
DE/LB Shilique Calhoun (ERFA): 1 year/$630,000
S Erik Harris (ERFA)
DE James Cowser (ERFA)
OL Denver Krikland (ERFA)

CB Sean Smith (released)
CB David Amerson (released; Kansas City)
RT Marshall Newhouse (released)
LB Aldon Smith (released)
WR Michael Crabtree (released; Baltimore)
DL Denico Autry (UFA; Indianapolis)
CB TJ Carrie (UFA; Cleveland)
WR Cordarrelle Patterson (traded, along with a sixth-round pick, to New England for fifth-round pick)  

S Reggie Nelson (UFA)
K Sebastian Janikowski (UFA)
LB NaVorro Bowman (UFA)
LS Jon Condo (UFA)
QB EJ Manuel (UFA)
S Keith McGill (UFA)

UFA-Unrestricted free agent: Free to sign with any team
ERFA-Exclusive rights free agent: Player has no outside negotiating power

NOTE: Contract figures obtained by, league sources, NFLPA sources or

* * *

1. First round:
No. 10 overall
2. Second round:No. 41 overall
3. Third round: No. 75 overall
4. Fourth round: No. 110 overall
5. Sixth round: No. 185 overall
6. Sixth round: No. 192 overall
7. Sixth round: No. 210 overall*
8. Sixth round: No. 212 overall*
9. Sixth round: No. 216 overall*
10. Sixth round: No. 217 overall*
11. Seventh round: No. 228 overall
* compensatory pick