Sunday they took an L, but Raiders D-line bounces back at children's hospital


Sunday they took an L, but Raiders D-line bounces back at children's hospital

ALAMEDA – The Raiders got back to Oakland just before dawn Monday morning. The flight was solemn, downright quiet after Washington whooped the Silver and Black 27-10 on national television.

Players had the day off, plenty of reason to ignore the alarm and relax. The defensive line resisted that urge. There was important work to do, and it required a smile.

Kids at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland didn’t care much about Sunday night’s final score. They have bigger problems to deal with. They just wanted to have some fun with their heroes.

Bruce Irvin, Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards Jr. and the entire Raiders defensive line made sure that happened. They played Uno. They helped make arts and crafts. They signed autographs. They thanked nurses for their service and visited kids quarantined to a hospital room, spending time with patients and caregivers on an individual basis.

“It was important to me because I have a son,” Irvin said. “Seeing those kids in those kids on those situations can be pretty painful, but it also makes you feel good because, during little time they see us, they're the happiest people in the world.”

They didn’t feed the hungry or revitalize a neighborhood or teach kids to exercise. The goal was to make a kid smile, and it’s as important as anything the Raiders do in the community.

“It was a moving experience,” Edwards Jr. said. “It was sad at times, but it was definitely cool to see how much of an impact that we made. The area I went, those kids can’t leave a section, or go beyond double-sided doors or else they’ll get sick. To have a piece of the outside world come in was pretty big.

“To see how big an impact you can have in that little bit of time was definitely great. … Seeing those kids smile was really powerful.”

This trip was of particular importance to a group who made a sociopolitical stand on Sunday night in response to Donald Trump’s comments about NFL players who have tried to bring light to a cause during the national anthem. The defensive line sat arm-in-arm on the bench Sunday with several other position groups as a sign of unity.

That was a one-time thing. Making an impact in the community is not. Irvin and Edwards Jr. were interviewed for this story, and both men said they want to do more.

“With us doing what we did Sunday, I want to get out there and be more involved in the community,” Irvin said. “I don’t want to just to stand for what I feel, but be hands-on in the community and show my face, show these people that I care and I’m a human just like them. I want to give back more.”

Irvin, Justin Ellis and Jihad Ward went out in consecutive weeks. They passed out food with the Alameda County Community Food Bank after beating the Jets, and gave up another day off to visit kids in the hospital.

Irvin says he wants to do something on a regular basis.

“I wasn’t put in this position to only bless me,” Irvin said. “I was put in this position to bless other people, too. That’s why I want to be more hands on.”

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?


Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders


Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”