Raiders

Von Miller: Raiders own NFL's best O-line, 'from tackle to tackle, they're great'

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AP

Von Miller: Raiders own NFL's best O-line, 'from tackle to tackle, they're great'

ALAMEDA – Von Miller had high praise for the Raiders offensive line. He called it the NFL’s finest front.

He stuck with it even after playing the Dallas Cowboys superb line this season, and having seen tape of the Raiders’ Sunday debacle at Washington, when the Raiders turned in their worst performance in some time.

“When we were getting ready for the Cowboys, everyone was saying that this is the best offensive line that we’re playing against,” Miller said Wednesday in a conference call. “I really felt like the Raiders, they really are put together to be the best offensive line. That’s just my opinion. Up in Dallas, they have a great, arguably the best offensive line, but my opinion, I’ve always thought that the Raiders had the best offensive line. From tackle to tackle, they’re great.”

They weren’t great, or even good, against Washington. The offensive line allowed four sacks against Washington, just the sixth time quarterback Derek Carr has been sacked at least that much. It hasn’t happened since the super line formed, one featuring Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson from left tackle to right guard.

The line was rattled, along with the entire offense, against Washington.

“We did lay an egg on Sunday, and the only way to get the bad taste out of your mouth is to play somebody else,” Penn said. “It’s not like they’re going to roll over, especially in their house. I know they’re tough. I know their mentality.

“We’re ready to get to the next game, and it doesn’t matter who we play. We could be playing ‘The Replacements.’ We’re ready to get another game out there. We want to get going again, because we weren’t the Raiders on Sunday. We need to get back on point.”

Penn emphasized that the Raiders offensive line should look like it did the first two weeks, when Carr had time and running backs had space.

Their wasn’t much of either in Washington. Those things might be hard to come by in Denver, which features the NFL’s No. 4 defense and its best run D. Oh, and Von-freaking-Miller. And All-Pros in the secondary.

Miller is right. It’s the best line around, with the talent and pride required to rebound well.

“I just encourage them and tell, ‘You do what you’ve been doing,’ because I know they’re just going to work their tail off,” Carr said. “I know that they’re going to come in angry today just like they always do. They’re going to come in and fight at practice, just like they always do. If they find any little thing in their game that they didn’t like last week, they’re going to come and try to correct it this week. I don’t ever have to say anything to them. I have a really good offensive line. I don’t have to worry about them.”

The Broncos will, even with supreme talent on the defensive side. Respect has been paid, even as one team’s strength locks horns with another.

“They play with an attitude,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said. “They’re trying to hurt people, which you love about your offensive line. In pass protection, they’re really good at that also. They’re so long and so big. With [Donald] Penn, he’s got great feet as a left tackle. It’s a formidable group.”

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

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AP

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

ALAMEDA – Obi Melifonwu participated in a Raiders practice Wednesday afternoon, his first session in months.

The second-round safety has been on injured reserve all season and hasn’t done football activities of any kind since suffering a knee injury in a preseason game in Dallas.

He had arthroscopic knee surgery and was put on the shelf for the season’s first half. Melifonwu's professional career barely started and then quickly stopped. That's why Wednesday's practice was such a big deal. 

“It was awesome to get back out there, finally,” Melfonwu said. “It’s been a while. It was beyond fun to just be out there and practice with the team."

He nearing a return to game action. That’s why the Raiders designated him to return off injured reserve. Wednesday marks the start of a three-week practice window where the Raiders can decide whether to put him on the 53-roster.

He’s expected to do so when eligible. Melifonwu was first able to practice this week, and can join the 53-man roster after Week 8. His NFL debut could come in Week 9 at Miami.

He can't wait, especially because he's physically ready now. 

"I feel 100 percent," Meilfonwu said. I feel fine."

The Raiders still struggle covering the aforementioned skill players, using young linebackers or an undersized safety against those guys. The Raiders have given up the most yards to tight ends and running backs in the NFL this season. Melifonwu was drafted to help cover tight ends and running backs right away in sub packages, with a long-term eye on a full-time starting spot.

"I bring versatility, and I think I’m a guy who can fit into a lot of different spots," Melifonwu said. "Wherever the coaches need me to fit and help the team win, I’m all for it."

He has missed significant development time while out. He also missed most of training camp with an apparent ankle injury. The team hopes he can be ready to contribute when eligible despite missing so much time. The downtime was difficult, but Melifonwu now hopes to hit the ground running.

"It was definitely tough," he said. "As a competitor, you always want to be out there helping your team win. As a guy who hasn’t been hurt, it was pretty tough. It comes with playing football. I’m just glad to be out there now."

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

NaVorro Bowman hasn’t been a Raider long. The inside linebacker visited the team’s training complex Monday morning, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that afternoon and was on the practice field a few hours later.

Bowman’s in something of a rush. His new team plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Bowman plans to face them.

That’ll take a crash course in Raiders defense. There’s new terminology to learn and roles to master, even if he hones on a specific package.

It won’t be easy. Even a perfect week might come up short with but one real practice in an incredibly quick turnaround.

It’s rational to think he won’t be ready, fair to give him two weeks practice before a Raiders debut.

That’s not the tack he’ll take.

“Hey,” Bowman said, with a wry smile. “I’m going to show you something.”

He understands the situation. The Raiders are 2-4, in desperate need of an AFC West win. A loss might put the Raiders too far down to rebound. The four-time All-Pro knows he’s needed, and believes he can help if he can get some scheme down.

“It’ll take a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that,” Bowman said after Monday’s walk-through. “It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. It doesn’t come easy.

“I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”

Immersing in brand new can be a cleansing process. Bowman left the only NFL team he’s ever known Friday when the 49ers cut him loose. He wanted to spend his career with one team. After seven-plus seasons, a switch was required. He didn’t like losing snaps. The 49ers wanted to go younger at the position. A trade was attempted. He didn’t like the suitor, and the 49ers respectfully pulled back. An outright cut was the decisive action.

It gave Bowman an opportunity to choose his next step. He didn’t go far. Bowman’s new job sits 35 miles north in Alameda, which offered plenty of advantages for a family man.

“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” Bowman said. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”

Enthusiasm was evident in two ways. The bottom line comes first. The Raiders offered $3 million to make this deal quick, adding a solid sum to the $6.75 million base salary guaranteed by the 49ers under his previous contract.

The second was clear in a Monday morning conversation with Jack Del Rio. The Raiders head coach spoke plainly, saying Bowman could make a major impact as a player and veteran leader of a shockingly young position group.

“It was really upfront, letting me know their position and how bad they want me,” Bowman said. “He let me know exactly what he wanted to get out of me coming here and being a presence for this defense. Being more vocal, getting guys to understand the urgency to be really good at the NFL level.”

His lessons start Tuesday morning. Starting weakside linebacker Cory James introduced himself in the locker room Monday and asked Bowman when he’ll start watching film. The answer: bright and early.

Bowman has a game to play Thursday. That’s possible because he didn’t have to relocate. He can just hit the ground running. He’s been constantly learning new systems during the 49ers coaching carousel, so he’d a quick learning. He also sees similar concepts between schemes.

“It’s not too different,” Bowman said. “The terminology is really the hard part. I’m a fast learner. I went out there today and I think I did pretty well. I’ll get in here early tomorrow and learn from my mistakes and try to keep getting better.”

That’s Bowman’s first goal. He also wants to show knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries haven’t sapped his effectiveness as many believe.

“I’m only 29 years old,” Bowman said. “I still have a lot of juice left in me.”