Raiders

Snap count: Injuries leave Raiders razor thin at several spots

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AP

Snap count: Injuries leave Raiders razor thin at several spots

OAKLAND – Raiders personnel packages don’t vary much at this stage of the season. The same players man the same packages, with the depth chart largely set after some early-season experimentation.

Injury, however, has chipped away a predictable patterns. That’s especially true on defense, where the Raiders were forced make do with healthy bodies available.

The Raiders knew they’d work without cornerbacks David Amerson and Gareon Conley. Those guys were ruled inactive before kickoff.

They had to adjust on the fly at linebacker during Sunday’s 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Starters Cory James (knee) and Marquel Lee (ankle) were lost in the second half, and there’s no guarantee either will return to play next week.

That forced Tyrell Adams into action. He finished with 36 defensive snaps after only playing special teams in the two previous games. Nicholas Morrow played significant reps next to him, especially when Lee was lost late.

The Raiders have two healthy inside linebackers right now. They only had three healthy cornerbacks during the game, after Antonio Hamilton hurt his knee on the opening kickoff.

A thin secondary kept veteran Sean Smith on the field, which hurt the defensive effort. He allowed three receptions for 114 yards on three targets, including two deep strikes to Mike Wallace.

The Raiders finished with just two healthy running backs. DeAndre Washington was inactive with a hamstring injury and fullback Jamize Olawale was concussed, leaving Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard to man the backfield.

That pair fared well, with versatility to handle every situation. Lynch finished with 43 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Richard had 37 yards on nine carries.

OFFENSE
Quarterback –EJ Manuel 56
Running back – Marshawn Lynch 23, Jamize Olawale 17, DeAndre Washington 6, Jalen Richard 6, Jamize Olawale
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 55, Seth Roberts 50, Michael Crabtree 36, Cordarelle Patterson 19, Johnny Holton 4
Tight end – Jared Cook 34, live Walford 13, Lee Smith 12
Offensive line –Kelechi Osemele 56, Rodney Hudson 56, Donald Penn 56, Marshall Newhouse 56, Jon Feliciano 56, Vadal Alexander 1

DEFENSE
Defensive line – Khalil Mack 57, Justin Ellis 43, Mario Edwards 42, Denico Autry 37, Eddie Vanderdoes 31, Treyvon Hester 19, Darius Latham 15, James Cowser 14
Linebacker – Bruce Irvin 49, Tyrell Adams 36, Cory James 34, Nicholas Morrow 33, Marquel Lee 31
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 62, Sean Smith 62, Dexter McDonald 25
Safety – Reggie Nelson 66, Karl Joseph 62, Keith McGill 6, Shalom Luani 2

SPECIAL TEAMS
Tyrell Adams 24, James Cowser 24, Keith McGill 24, Shalom Luani 20, Erik Harris 17, Johnny Holton 12, Jamize Olawale 12, TJ Carrie 11, Cordarrelle Patterson 11, Jalen Richard 9, Lee Smith 9, Dexter McDonald 9, Nicholas Morrow 8, Marquel Lee 8, Darius Latham, Xavier Woodson-Luster 8, Khalil Mack 7, Mario Edwards 7, Eddie Vanderdoes, Treyvon Hester 7, Jon Condo, Giorgio Tavecchio 7, Marquette King 7, Denico Autry 6, Clive Walford 4, Karl Joseph 4, Kelechi Osemele 3, Marshall Newhouse 3, Rodney Hudson 3, Jon Feliciano 3, Vadal Alexander 3, Justin Ellis 3, Jared Cook 1, Antonio Hamilton 1.

INACTIVE
CB Gareon Conley, QB Derek Carr, OT Jylan Ware, RB DeAndre Washington, CB David Amerson, RG Gabe Jackson, DL Jihad Ward

Four running backs the Raiders could target during 2018 NFL Draft

Four running backs the Raiders could target during 2018 NFL Draft

The Raiders have running backs aplenty.

Marshawn Lynch is the feature player, with Doug Martin set to be the primary backup. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard offer changes of pace. Keith Smith is the prototypical fullback new head coach Jon Gruden prefers. Elijah Hood is also on the roster.

While the stable seems full, there’s a real possibility another back comes in this week’s NFL draft.

Lynch and Martin are only under contract for 2018. A primary rusher is needed down the line, and a young contributor would be useful right away. That means a name you know, likely Washington or Richard or Martin if he doesn’t prove himself this offseason, might hit the unemployment line should to make way for the new guy.

Analysts consider this running back draft class incredibly deep, with quality available as rounds progress. Let’s take a look at some options should the Raiders look for another rusher.

Sony Michel, Georgia
The former Bulldog’s a top talent, but could get pushed down by others in his position group ranking above. That might be create a conundrum for the Raiders if he’s available at No. 41 overall. Do they go with a position of greater need, or a disciplined, elusive, yet powerful runner. Analysts say he has good vision, finds the right spots in a zone and has good leadership traits. He’s also a good pass protector, something vital in Jon Gruden’s offense. He could prove an excellent fit running the ball behind a respected offensive line.
Projected round (per NFL.com): 2

Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Penny has solid speed at 220 pounds, and can be a powerful downhill runner and steady producer. He’s a slasher who can absorb punishment and handle a high carry volume and wear down a run defense. Analysts say he isn’t a home-run hitter and doesn’t always choose the most efficient path. He also has experience as a returner, who gives maximum effort on offense and special teams.
Projected round (per NFL.com): 2

Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
The former Tiger’s a true three-down back who can do it all. He has a solid combination of burst and physicality to gain initial yards and can be a punisher downfield. He’s a capable receiver and someone who can bounce off tacklers. Analysts say he can be slow finding proper rushing lanes and runs upright. That leads to greater punishment at the professional level. He would be an intriguing option if he somehow makes it into the third round.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 2-3

Justin Jackson, Northwestern
-- Jackson has been a steady production during his Northwestern career, relied upon heavily to churn out yards. He has proven durable, with elusiveness and burst to avoid getting caught in the backfield. Analysts say he has solid hands and route running, and could be effective as a third-down receiver. He has some technical issues that must be worked out, and might wear down against NFL tacklers.
Projected round (per NFL.com): 6-7

Raiders receiver quest may continue in NFL Draft

Raiders receiver quest may continue in NFL Draft

Go ahead and put receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson into the Raiders starting lineup. Use a pen. Only injury would be cause to reach for the White Out.

New Raiders head coach Jon Gruden loves both guys. He said Cooper will be the passing game’s main attraction. He imported Nelson for his on-field production and locker-room leadership.

The Raiders are looking to upgrade receiver depth, a point made clear in free agency. They went after Ryan Grant, who eventually signed with Indianapolis. They brought Eric Decker in for a visit, though he left without a deal.

The NFL Draft could provide an upgrade. The Raiders could use some help in the slot, and with a sure-handed speed demon to take the top off a defense.

This draft class doesn’t feature a pass catcher worthy of the No. 10 overall pick, with few considered first-round talents. Help can be found down the draft, with early contributors seemingly available in the early and middle rounds. Here are a few options that could help the Raiders passing game:

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
-- The former Aggie is a strong, target well suited for the slot. He can handle physical play at the line of scrimmage, has good hands and analysts say he’s adept at finding soft spots in zone coverage. He doesn’t have a huge catch radius, and doesn’t have burner speed to thrive on the outside, but he could be effective taking the smaller chunks offered in Gruden’s offense. He’s also a solid return man, and could help on special teams.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 2-3

James Washington, Oklahoma State
The former Cowboy doesn’t have D.J. Chark’s raw speed, but has plenty of big-play ability the Raiders need offensively. He uses solid positioning, hands and high-point ability to make important catches down the field. Analysts say he has great build-up speed and avoids physicality at the line. He can work inside and out, but could create space inside for Cooper and Nelson to work in favorable matchups. He isn’t built like a typical NFL receiver, but finds ways to make plays.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 2-3

Dante Pettis, Washington
-- Gruden likes precise route running, a trait Pettis has in spades. He could be a weapon from the slot, and can create separation quickly. Analysts also say he’s good finding open space during scramble drills, and has reliable hands. Physical corners can be bothersome, and he doesn’t have top-end speed. He could be an impactful member of an offense, and could help return punts as well.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 3-4

Deontay Burnett, USC
-- Burnett is built like a slot receiver, with plenty of experience playing inside. CBS Sports considers him a solid sleeper prospect among slot receivers, and analysts say he’s good making catches in traffic. He’s good in scramble drills, and can take big hits without losing possession. He isn’t great on deep passes and scouts say he doesn’t have room to add significant muscle mass to his relatively thin frame. He could be an asset in Gruden’s scheme, and available later than aforementioned receivers.
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 4-5

Damion Ratley, Texas A&M
-- NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah tweeted about Kirk's teammate on Saturday morning as an intriguing prospect with size, speed and solid route running. He could be available late, a viable option if the Raiders look toward other positions earlier in the draft. He averaged 23.1 yards per catch, with an ability to make plays after the catch. His draft profile suggests he needs help battling physical corners, and may need better focus each play to compete steadily at the NFL. 
Projected rounds (per NFL.com): 6-7