Snap count: Injuries change cornerback rotation in Raiders' loss to Broncos


Snap count: Injuries change cornerback rotation in Raiders' loss to Broncos

The Raiders secondary looked a lot different in Sunday’s loss to Denver than it did in Washington.

Injuries forced some changes, and brought Sean Smith back into the fray.

The veteran cornerback played a significant role Sunday a week after playing just three defensive snaps.

Gareon Conley was inactive with a shin injury and David Amerson was concussed in Denver, leaving Smith as the No. 2 cornerback opposite TJ Carrie.

Dexter McDonald entered in sub packages and played 31 snaps.

Both guys fared well in coverage. Smith allowed four catches for 35 yards on five targets. McDonald allowed a one-yard catch on two targets.

Those guys might be called upon again next week. Conley and Amerson are question marks heading to the Baltimore game.

The Raiders running back rotation was tweaked some late in the game. Jamize Olawale played his most extensive offensive role yet, offering pass protection and a receiving outlet to quarterback EJ Manuel. He had a carry and two catches in 17 snaps.

Marshawn Lynch saw more action this week, but the running game never got going. He finished with 12 yards on nine carries, and was frequently hit in the backfield before space was created.

Quarterback – Derek Carr 34, EJ Manuel 20
Running back – Marshawn Lynch 23, Jamize Olawale 17, DeAndre Washington 6, Jalen Richard 6
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 53, Seth Roberts 50, Cordarelle Patterson 33, Johnny Holton 12
Tight end – Jared Cook 48, Lee Smith 13, Clive Walford 9
Offensive line – Gabe Jackson 54, Kelechi Osemele 54, Rodney Hudson 54, Donald Penn 54, Marshall Newhouse 54

Defensive line – Khalil Mack 53, Mario Edwards 44, Eddie Vanderdoes 39, Justin Ellis 28, Treyvon Hester 24, Denico Autry 19, Jihad Ward 11, James Cowser 6
Linebacker – Cory James 64, Bruce Irvin 58, Nicholas Morrow 34, Marquel Lee 28
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 64, Sean Smith 60, Dexter McDonald 31, David Amerson 9
Safety – Karl Jospeh 64, Reggie Nelson 64, Shalom Luani 2, Erik Harris 2

James Cowser 26, Shalom Luani 26, Erik Harris 26, Tyrell Adams 26, Jamize Olawale 19, Antonio Hamilton 15, Johnny Holton 14, Xavier Woodson-Luster 12, Cordarrelle Patterson 11, Jon Condo 9, Jalen Richard 9, Marquette King 9, Lee Smith 8, Jon Feliciano 7, Dexter McDonald DeAndre Washington 7, Khalil Mack 7, Mario Edwards 7, Dexter McDonald 7, TJ Carrie 7, Treyvon Hester 6, Denico Autry 6, Marquel Lee 5, Giorgio Tavecchio 5, Karl Joseph 3, Vadal Alexander 2, Gabe Jackson 2, Marshall Newhouse 2, Kelechi Osemele 2, Clive Walford 2, Justin Ellis 2, Gabe Jackson 2, Marshall Newhouse 2, Kelechi Osemele 2, Clive Walford 2, Vadal Alexander 2

WR Michael Crabtree, QB Connor Cook, CB Gareon Conley, DB Keith McGill, OT Jylan Ware, OT David Sharpe, DT Darius Latham

Future in question, Raiders need hyphy Marshawn in final home game of 2017


Future in question, Raiders need hyphy Marshawn in final home game of 2017

OAKLAND – Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington were headed for the field when Marshawn Lynch held them back. The young Raiders running backs weren’t sure why their position group’s elder statesman would do so, especially before starters were announced to the Oakland Coliseum crowd.

Lynch wanted Richard and Washington to run out with him. Questions ran rapid fire through Richard’s mind: Are you sure you want company? This was, after all, the proud Oakland native’s homecoming game. Won’t that mess up your big moment in the sun? Is this even allowed?

Lynch wasn’t worried about any of that. Lynch rolled three deep into the Week 2 home opener against the New York Jets, flanked by young protégés he has advised all year. His big moment was theirs, too.

”That was my first time going through the tunnel,” Richard said. “The first time, I didn’t think they were going to let us do that. But Marshawn said it was fine, and brought us with him. It’s a different feeling running out the tunnel all three of us, through the smoke and onto the field. It lets you know you’re in the league.”

That was a true Marshawn moment. So was a tackle-breaking touchdown run during the game, and when the scoreboard broadcast him getting hyphy on the sideline. The entire stadium partied with him that day, his first regular-season game as a Raider at Oakland Coliseum.

Lynch has brought Washington and Richard with him each time he comes out of the tunnel, a moment when the hometown crowd praises their favorite son.

“You definitely feel the energy,” Washington said. “He’s a hometown guy. Marshawn wears this city on his back. There’s a roar when they announce his name. It’s been a fun experience throughout the year.”

Sunday night's clash with the Dallas Cowboys is the final home game this season, unless, of course, the AFC West completely and shockingly turns on its ear and the Raiders host a playoff game.

That fact begs this question: Will Sunday be the last time Marshawn plays in Oakland?

The answer remains uncertain, with several factors at play.

Lynch remains under contract next season, with a $4 million base salary and incentives and bonuses that could pay an additional $2 million. None of that money is guaranteed, so the Raiders could cut him without dead money attached.

Lynch could also retire like he did right after Super Bowl 50. He didn’t miss the game in a year away from it, and the enigmatic personality may decide one season in Oakland was enough. He came back to show kids in the community he champions firsthand that someone from their neighborhood could bring attention to Oakland before the Raiders leave. Will an encore season further that goal?

The Raiders signed Lynch for two reasons: to boost their backfield and offer an olive branch to Oakland after being approved to relocate to Las Vegas. The Raiders won’t move until 2020, and having Oakland’s most popular person in Silver and Black helps keep butts in the seats.

He has practiced all year save a few rest days and has been a quality locker room presence, though he rubbed some the wrong way getting ejected and then suspended for defending good friend and rival Kansas City Chief Marcus Peters in an on-field scuffle. Coach Jack Del Rio said he practiced and played with extra zest after serving a one-game suspension. Stats bear that out.

His production lulled before midseason – he struggled to meld with the Raiders scheme and offensive line – but has picked up that pace significantly in the second half.

Lynch had 100-plus yards from scrimmage in two home games preceding last week’s loss in Kansas City, where he had 64 yards on eight touches.

He has averaged 4.2 yards per carry, and his 2.68 yards per carry after contact ranks sixth in the league. Lynch still has it at age 31, and might hit the ground running next season behind a familiar line.

That’s then. The Raiders still need him now, against a No. 11-ranked Cowboys run defense. Local fans would love to see him succeed in person one more time this year, which might mark the end or the halfway point of his tenure playing for the Raiders in Oakland Coliseum.

Secondary takes another hit; injury updates for two key Raiders


Secondary takes another hit; injury updates for two key Raiders

ALAMEDA – The Raiders secondary has been beset by injuries this season. An already shaky crew never really had first-round pick Gareon Conley, who played two games due to a shin injury and is on injured reserve.

Even he did more than Obi Melifonwu. The second-round safety was active for five games but played just 34 defensive snaps. He won’t play another this season.

Melifonwu had surgery to repair an injured hip on Thursday, and was placed on season-ending injured reserve Friday afternoon. Cornerback Antonio Hamilton was called up in a corresponding move.

This is Melifonwu’s second IR stint this season. He spent the season’s first half on IR following knee surgery, but was designated to return. Melifonwu never played his natural position. The Raiders used him at cornerback, a desperate experiment that failed in a Week 11 loss to New England and barely played after that.

Injury may have played a part in that.

“I can’t tell you exactly when that occurred,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think it’s been a little bit that he’s been working with. It required surgery and he had it, so he’ll be out.”

Injuries ran deeper than the draft class.

Top cover man David Amerson has missed six straight games with a foot sprain, and remains doubtful for Sunday night’s clash against the Dallas Cowboys. That absence stings, especially with the secondary working without the young bucks.

Expect Sean Smith, TJ Carrie and Dexter McDonald to maintain their posts at cornerback.

“Those guys have done a good job in a tough spot,” Hamilton said. “They’ve stayed healthy and available for us. That has been key.”

Hamilton tore the meniscus in his knee in a Week 4 loss at Denver and is healthy and ready to contribute.

The NFL’s No. 25-ranked pass defense must make do with what they’ve got down the stretch. There’s some hope Amerson will return, even after being removed from practice the past few days. He performed side work with a trainer Friday right next to the media area, and continues to work on a return despite having so few games left.

Cooper could come back: Raiders receiver Amari Cooper re-injured his sprained ankle in a loss at Kansas City and was ruled out for the Cowboys game. It might not, however, keep him out the rest of the season.

“I think he’s better than he was, but he’s going to be out this week,” Del Rio said. “I think we have a chance to get him back.”