Raiders

Two suspension-related moves help Raiders ahead of big game vs Chiefs

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USATSI

Two suspension-related moves help Raiders ahead of big game vs Chiefs

ALAMEDA – The Raiders might play Kansas City without one of their best weapons. They are, however, getting one back.

Amari Cooper is a question mark for Sunday’s pivotal AFC West matchup. He remains out with an ankle sprain, and has not been cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol. He didn’t practice Wednesday, nor was he working on the side.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio remains hopeful that Cooper will play, but he’d have to get ramped up in a hurry to do so.

They’ll definitely get Michael Crabtree back. The veteran receiver returned from suspension on Tuesday and will be an integral part of the Silver and Black’s attack.

“It’s going to be huge,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “We’ve been through this a couple of times this year. Anytime you can get a piece back, it’s nothing against anybody else, but those guys are starters for a reason. Those guys got all the reps.

“With ‘Crab’ coming back, obviously it’s no secret. I love throwing him the ball. I love ‘Crab’ and I think a lot of people know that. So being able to get him back, it definitely helps our team.”

His job will be a bit easier this time around.

The Chiefs suspended cornerback Marcus Peters for Sunday due to an incident in last week’s loss where he threw an official’s flag into the crowd and left the field despite not having been ejected.

The Raiders will benefit from Peters’ omission. He’s one of the league’s best cover men, with 17 interceptions in less than three seasons. Carr has been willing to throw his way, but it will be easier to complete passes with him out. The Raiders might tweak their game plan with him out for a game.

“You do what you can to adjust,” Del Rio said. “This time of year, you’re typically adjusting to injuries that occur. We’ll treat it very similarly to that. We’re trying to get our own group of guys healed up as best as possible for this game. That’s part what we do in this league is the next guy plugs in and you keep rolling.”

The Raiders plugged in Cordarrelle Patterson and Johnny Holton with Cooper and Crabtree out for last week’s victory over the New York Giants.

They’ll get a motivated Crabtree back for this one.

“I know how much ‘Crab’ is a competitor and I know how much he loves football,” Carr said. “I know just from having to miss a game this year because of my back how much that sucks. As much as we work hard and love to compete and be out there with our brothers, I know it just was hurting him because he just likes to be out there. For him to be able to come back, I can pretty much promise you he’s juiced and ready to play.”

Raiders shut down LB Cory James, pull from practice squad

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USATSI

Raiders shut down LB Cory James, pull from practice squad

ALAMEDA – Raiders weakside linebacker Cory James has battled knee injuries all year. That dates back to the preseason, when he had arthroscopic surgery. He started the first six games before knee issues crept back up. He missed a Week 7 win over Kansas City and the last two games.

The Raiders decided to shut him down Wednesday and let his knee heal. James was placed on season-ending injured reserve, the team announced.

Darius Latham was promoted from the practice squad in a corresponding move. Defensive end Joby Saint Fleur was took Latham’s place on the practice squad.

James has developed into a steady starter. Last year’s sixth-round pick played most every linebacker spot at Colorado State, but the Raiders focused him on the weak side. He had 67 tackles, two passes defensed and a forced fumble in 10 games this season.

James took 15 snaps in a Week 12 win over Denver, but hasn’t played since. A knee that might need another surgical repair couldn’t get him through the year.

Undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow will continue taking James’ snaps. He has been a near-permanent fixture in the lineup the past two games. He has 12 tackles in that span, and allowed two receptions for 14 yards on three targets Sunday against Kansas City.

James is firmly in the team’s future plans, one set spot on a defense that could see significant turnover this offseason. The Raiders have to restock that unit, which could have 4-6 new starters next season.

What's happened to the Raiders passing game?

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AP

What's happened to the Raiders passing game?

ALAMEDA – Jack Del Rio didn’t update the status of Amari Cooper’s ailing ankle. It was in bad shape last week, made worse by playing in Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cooper rolled it again on his 15th offensive snap, when he was blocking for a run. Cooper was one of three receivers in a bunch formation left of the offensive line. Cooper and Michael Crabtree got out front of the play, and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis landed on Cooper’s lower leg while tackling rusher DeAndre Washington. Cooper let out a scream picked up by television cameras, after his ankle got hurt again.

“It was a toss, a crack toss. He was involved in it,” Del Rio said in his Monday press conference. “He had an assignment to block. It’s football. He was involved in a play.”

That play ended Cooper’s day, and put him back on the shelf. He was there for nearly two weeks before, after being concussed and suffering an ankle sprain in a violent collision against Denver.

Cooper was expected to miss the Chiefs game, but pressed to practice Friday and play a pivotal AFC West showdown in Kansas City. He got his wish. The Raiders didn’t get much in return.

He was targeted once and didn’t have a catch before aggravating an injury that may keep him out of future must-win games. Time will tell in that regard.

One certainty: The Raiders need more from their receiver corps. Quarterback and offensive line also contribute in the passing game, but this group struggled to separate and dropped three passes against Kansas City. STATS, Inc. has the Raiders third worst with 24 dropped passes this season.

The Raiders needed Crabtree especially with Cooper out. He had seven catches for 60 yards in 13 targets.

The passing game isn’t in great sync, a surprising turn for a group that features a Pro Bowl quarterback and two 1,000-yard receivers from a year ago.

“I don’t like to sit up here and grade positions, so I’m not going to today,” Del Rio said. “I thought they competed hard and we played a lot of guys. Obviously without both of our guys in Cooper and Crabtree, we didn’t have Coop very long. We filled in and battled. We’d like to get more production there.”