Raiders

Special teams coach Fassel leaves Raiders for Rams

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Special teams coach Fassel leaves Raiders for Rams

John Fassel, who has overseen the Raiders' record-setting special teams unit as its coordinator the past three years, is leaving Oakland for a similar position with St. Louis under new Rams coach Jeff Fisher, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.Fassel is the third member of last year's staff to depart the Raiders, joining defensive line coach Mike Waufle in St. Louis and receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who accepted the same position with the New York Jets.Offensive coordinator Al Saunders is the lone holdover from former coach Hue Jackson's staff still under contract, though new coach Dennis Allen was non-committal on Monday about Saunders' future with the team.

In fact, general manager Reggie McKenzie said Monday that Allen was "close" to having his staff ready, which could include some holdovers."There's a couple of guys he wants to keep, yes," McKenzie said. "But a wholesale of them? He's going to work through that. He's going to see who he can get and who he can't."Raiders assistants still unaccounted for: defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, linebackers coach Greg Biekert, tight ends coach Adam Henry, assistant linebackers coach Ricky Hunley, safeties coach Kevin Ross, running backs coach Kelly Skipper, assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski, cornerbacks coach Rod Woodson and offensive line coach Bob Wylie."Here's what I want," Allen said, "I want a group of guys who are obviously smart and intelligent, great communicators. But more than anything else, I wants guys who are going to be loyal, committed guys to the cause. I think honesty and integrity go a long way."Fassel, known as "Bones" for his skinny frame, initially came to the Raiders in 2008 in a special teams quality control role in 2008 from Baltimore. And this past weekend three of his charges in placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, who tied the NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in the season opener at Denver, punter Shane Lechler, who had a franchise-record 80-yard punt against Chicago, and long-snapper Jon Condo all played in the Pro Bowl.

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

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Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both guys were given a day off, one scheduled earlier in the day. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime comes a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.”

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

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USATSI

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”