Raiders working exclusively from shotgun, pistol 'somewhat of an issue'

Raiders working exclusively from shotgun, pistol 'somewhat of an issue'

SAN DIEGO – Quarterback Derek Carr played yet another game without going under center. The Raiders offense operated exclusively out of the shotgun and pistol formations to protect Carr’s right pinky, which was dislocated in two places three weeks ago on a botched snap against Carolina.

Carr worked on snaps from under center before Sunday’s game at San Diego but used it only once in the game.

Carr says the pinky is just fine, thank you, and shouldn’t impact the Raiders play calling or offense in any way.

“I (took snaps under center) before the game,” Carr said. “I have no limitations. That’s just what we’ve been doing.”

The Raiders beat the Chargers 19-16 on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium despite being stuck in the shotgun and pistol, through their offense is having issues in the red zone. They are 1-for-10 (excluding a kneel-down series) inside the opposing 20-yard line the last two games, though those woes can't be blamed on one thing.

The Raiders were able to run well overall against San Diego – operating from aforementioned formations could have an impact on the ground game – and totaled 145 yards on 29 carries.

But, at times when they want to run with power, it can be a hindrance. That was the case on three plays from the Chargers 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, where they failed to punch it in from that distance and settled for a game-tying field goal. Generally speaking, the Raiders are good in short yardage situations.

“It is somewhat of an issue,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “It is not ideal. Being completely honest about it, it is an issue that we are working through, but it is the way we’re choosing to work through it right now. At some point we will feel better about going under center. We will, but until then we’ll execute the best we can out of the formations we feel most comfortable with.”

The Raiders are typically conservative with injuries and prefer to avoid setbacks whenever possible. They certainly don’t want their top-flight quarterback being unnecessarily exposed to injury.

The wins keep coming, and Carr continually says the pinky has no impact on his ability to execute. The Raiders will continue working on taking snaps from center in hopes of bringing it back and having a truly open playbook.

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.”