Raiders young WRs to work with Palmer over bye week


Raiders young WRs to work with Palmer over bye week

ALAMEDA -- NFL players generally circle the bye week as an opportunity to shut it down for a week. A chance to head home and re-charge the batteries for the coming grind.The Raiders, after being embarrassed 28-0 by the bottom-feeding Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday? Their young and impressionable receiving corps is sticking around Silver and Blackdom to better acclimate themselves with new starting quarterback Carson Palmer."Yeah, I think that's more important than going home," said second-year receiver and kick returner Jacoby Ford. "Everybody wants to go home, but you definitely want to get this thing right with Carson."
It was obvious in the course of Palmer's Oakland debut at the sold-out Coliseum that he had only three practices with his new wideouts. He barely knows their names, let alone their pass-catching tendencies.Which is why, following one-hour practices in shorts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the wideouts are hanging "on the West Side," as Ford put it, rather than catching flights to relative Parts Unknown.It's about developing a familiarity and a certain chemistry."That's what football is, you know, on offense, building a relationship with your quarterback," said Louis Murphy. "That's what training camp's for. That's what off-season workouts are for, to run routes with your quarterback, so in the game they can work out."We just have to go to work, man. We've got to put in the time with him. We've got to, you know, make it work. Put our heads down and just go to work."Derek Hagan agreed."We know we need to be here, and we're going to be here," he said."It's the timing. That's the main thing. We got to get back on the same page. Obviously, Carson wasn't here for training camp. He wasn't here the first six weeks. We're so used to Kyle (Boller) and so used to Jason (Campbell), it's just a different cadence. It's just one of those things where we just got to get back. We know we can get there. We just got to get the confidence in Carson to know that we're going to be in a certain place at the right time for him to get the ball to us. As long as we're doing that, we should be just fine.""We know after (Sunday's) game, K.C. really put it on us. It's obviously one of those games where we just got to learn from those mistakes that we made and, hopefully, not make those same mistakes moving forward. We know we got a big game coming up in two weeks against Denver."Palmer's passer rating of 17.3 against the Chiefs was a career-low for a game in which he attempted at least 20 passes. He completed eight of 21 attempts for 116 yards but was intercepted three times, including a 58-yard return for a touchdown by Brandon Flowers.It was obvious Palmer had little rapport with his receivers. When will he?"There's some real good talented playmakers as you guys have seen," Palmer said following Sunday's game. "There's a handful of guys you can just get the ball into the hands, and it doesn't need to be an 80-yard bomb every time. They can make big things happen; they can make people miss. So two weeks is enough time to be where I need to be, and I'm going to get everything I can out of these guys."Said coach Hue Jackson: "We've got to speed the process up as fast as we can. I think that's pretty obvious, what needs to happen. How comfortable is he going to be? I can't tell you he's going to know them stone-cold by the time we play Denver (after the bye), but he'll have a better grasp of what this guy can do and what that guy can do based on situations because he's going to have more practice time with those young men."The new Collective Bargaining Agreement ensures the players having four consecutive days off during their team's respective bye. So the receivers remaining in the East Bay is totally on them.And according to Jackson, coaches can have no contact with the players in those four days, though they could conceivably work out at the team's facility. Having two practices this week should give Palmer and the receivers a crib sheet on what to work on over the bye."So whatever those things are it would just be a running deal from there," Jackson said. "So he'll take what we do over the next two daysand continue to work through them with the players."Ford, Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey all spent time during the lockout with Jason Campbell at his Virginia home, building up that all-important rapport while Ford and Murphy crashed at Campbell's house.Surely, Palmer taking over must feel like a new beginning after all that trust-building, right?"No, it doesn't feel like starting over," Heyward-Bey said. "I mean, it's football. Ever since you're little, you go out and play backyard football. So whoever's back there, you're just going to have to get some type of chemistry going and then you play football."And the chemistry with Palmer now?"It's building," Heyward-Bey said. "That's my answer."And Jackson likes that his malleable pass catchers are solidifying and taking a stand. As he should."This team was very disappointed about the way they performed (Sunday)," Jackson said. "Especially offensively. I think those guys are wanting to get this thing right, and again, that's the leadership of the team, that's the leadership of Carson talking to these players, and Kyle. And I think the receivers and runners and all the skill guys, I think they want to get this right."And again, when you have that kind of influence as a player, the peers are pushing each other, 'C'mon, guys, let's go, we got a job to do.' I think that's what you look for."

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR


Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

ALAMEDA – Obi Melifonwu participated in a Raiders practice Tuesday afternoon, his first session in months.

The second-round safety has been on injured reserve all season and hasn’t done football activities of any kind since suffering a knee injury in a preseason game in Dallas.

He had arthroscopic knee surgery and was put on the shelf for the season’s first half. Melifonwu's professional career barely started and then quickly stopped. That's why Wednesday's practice was such a big deal. 

“It was awesome to get back out there, finally,” Melfonwu said. “It’s been a while. It was beyond fun to just be out there and practice with the team."

He nearing a return to game action. That’s why the Raiders designated him to return off injured reserve. Wednesday marks the start of a three-week practice window where the Raiders can decide whether to put him on the 53-roster.

He’s expected to do so when eligible. Melifonwu was first able to practice this week, and can join the 53-man roster after Week 8. His NFL debut could come in Week 9 at Miami.

He can't wait, especially because he's physically ready now. 

"I feel 100 percent," Meilfonwu said. I feel fine."

The Raiders still struggle covering the aforementioned skill players, using young linebackers or an undersized safety against those guys. The Raiders have given up the most yards to tight ends and running backs in the NFL this season. Melifonwu was drafted to help cover tight ends and running backs right away in sub packages, with a long-term eye on a full-time starting spot.

"I bring versatility, and I think I’m a guy who can fit into a lot of different spots," Melifonwu said. "Wherever the coaches need me to fit and help the team win, I’m all for it."

He has missed significant development time while out. He also missed most of training camp with an apparent ankle injury. The team hopes he can be ready to contribute when eligible despite missing so much time. The downtime was difficult, but Melifonwu now hopes to hit the ground running.

"It was definitely tough," he said. "As a competitor, you always want to be out there helping your team win. As a guy who hasn’t been hurt, it was pretty tough. It comes with playing football. I’m just glad to be out there now."

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

NaVorro Bowman hasn’t been a Raider long. The inside linebacker visited the team’s training complex Monday morning, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that afternoon and was on the practice field a few hours later.

Bowman’s in something of a rush. His new team plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Bowman plans to face them.

That’ll take a crash course in Raiders defense. There’s new terminology to learn and roles to master, even if he hones on a specific package.

It won’t be easy. Even a perfect week might come up short with but one real practice in an incredibly quick turnaround.

It’s rational to think he won’t be ready, fair to give him two weeks practice before a Raiders debut.

That’s not the tack he’ll take.

“Hey,” Bowman said, with a wry smile. “I’m going to show you something.”

He understands the situation. The Raiders are 2-4, in desperate need of an AFC West win. A loss might put the Raiders too far down to rebound. The four-time All-Pro knows he’s needed, and believes he can help if he can get some scheme down.

“It’ll take a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that,” Bowman said after Monday’s walk-through. “It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. It doesn’t come easy.

“I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”

Immersing in brand new can be a cleansing process. Bowman left the only NFL team he’s ever known Friday when the 49ers cut him loose. He wanted to spend his career with one team. After seven-plus seasons, a switch was required. He didn’t like losing snaps. The 49ers wanted to go younger at the position. A trade was attempted. He didn’t like the suitor, and the 49ers respectfully pulled back. An outright cut was the decisive action.

It gave Bowman an opportunity to choose his next step. He didn’t go far. Bowman’s new job sits 35 miles north in Alameda, which offered plenty of advantages for a family man.

“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” Bowman said. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”

Enthusiasm was evident in two ways. The bottom line comes first. The Raiders offered $3 million to make this deal quick, adding a solid sum to the $6.75 million base salary guaranteed by the 49ers under his previous contract.

The second was clear in a Monday morning conversation with Jack Del Rio. The Raiders head coach spoke plainly, saying Bowman could make a major impact as a player and veteran leader of a shockingly young position group.

“It was really upfront, letting me know their position and how bad they want me,” Bowman said. “He let me know exactly what he wanted to get out of me coming here and being a presence for this defense. Being more vocal, getting guys to understand the urgency to be really good at the NFL level.”

His lessons start Tuesday morning. Starting weakside linebacker Cory James introduced himself in the locker room Monday and asked Bowman when he’ll start watching film. The answer: bright and early.

Bowman has a game to play Thursday. That’s possible because he didn’t have to relocate. He can just hit the ground running. He’s been constantly learning new systems during the 49ers coaching carousel, so he’d a quick learning. He also sees similar concepts between schemes.

“It’s not too different,” Bowman said. “The terminology is really the hard part. I’m a fast learner. I went out there today and I think I did pretty well. I’ll get in here early tomorrow and learn from my mistakes and try to keep getting better.”

That’s Bowman’s first goal. He also wants to show knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries haven’t sapped his effectiveness as many believe.

“I’m only 29 years old,” Bowman said. “I still have a lot of juice left in me.”