Connor Cook

Raiders inactives: Sean Smith given the green light, Ward healthy scratch


Raiders inactives: Sean Smith given the green light, Ward healthy scratch

LANDOVER, Md. – The Raiders are shockingly healthy heading into their third game. Cornerback Sean Smith was the only Raider on the injury report with neck and shoulder issues, and even he was given the green light.

The Raiders secondary will be whole for the first time this season with Smith and Gareon Conley both healthy. David Amerson will start in his return to Washington.

Keith McGill will make his season debut after missing most of the preseason with a fractured foot.

Defensive tackle Jihad Ward is a healthy scratch, joining cornerback Dexter McDonald, safety Erik Harris, quarterback Connor Cook, defensive tackle Darius Latham and offensive tackles Jylan Ware and David Sharpe on the inactive list.

Washington had several questionable players who weren’t ready to go. Tight end Jordan Reed is inactive, which should benefit a Raiders defense that has struggled mightily covering players of his size. Washington is also playing without primary running back Rob Kelley and starting inside linebacker Mason Foster.

Instant Analysis: Raiders end preseason with loss to Seahawks


Instant Analysis: Raiders end preseason with loss to Seahawks


OAKLAND – The Raiders preseason has, at long last, come to an end.

Thursday’s throwaway 17-13 exhibition loss to the Seattle was the finish line, the team’s last act as a 90-man unit. Rosters will cut to 53 by Saturday afternoon, when the Raiders will pour focus into the Sept. 10 opener against Tennessee.

Coaches have certainly peeked ahead, but they had to get through this game first. The primary goal was leaving Oakland Coliseum unscathed.

Head coach Jack Del Rio ensured that outcome by sitting 42 players against the Seahawks, leaving guys on the roster bubble or certainly cut to sweep up.

Play was rarely pretty for either side in this one, but that doesn’t matter. Most everyone set for a substantial role this season was glued to the sideline.

That included the team’s brightest stars – Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, etc. – and most of their draft class.

Gareon Conley isn’t ready to play after returning Tuesday for his first practice in over two months. Obi Melinfonwu is believed to be out with injury. Eddie Vanderdoes, Marquel Lee and Treyvon Hester weren’t active to preserve health.

There were a few guys pushing for a final roster spot trying to make a final impression. Nicholas Morrow might have the best chance to make the 53-man roster of any undrafted rookie. The quick, agile linebacker was steadily active and around the ball, as he has been all summer.

Linebacker LaTroy Lewis and receiver K.J. Brent were also under the microscope tonight trying to lock down a final roster spot. Lewis finished the game with four tackles and a sack. Brent, who put together a string of solid practices with the first unit and has NFL side, was particularly good. He finished with four catches for 55 yards.

Darius Latham played a ton Thursday, and continued solid preseason performances that should lock up a roster spot despite an influx of defensive tackles this offseason.


-- EJ Manuel has been the No .2 quarterback all offseason and, as expected, should keep the job this fall. Neither Manuel nor second-year pro Connor Cook impressed during the preseason, but Cook did nothing to disrupt the depth chart.

-- First-round cornerback Gareon Conley wasn’t expected to play Thursday and didn’t, but the Ohio State product went through a strenuous pregame workout with trainers. He ran, cut, and backpedaled into a sprint during the workout.

Conley was taken off the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday in time to practice that afternoon on a limited basis. The Raiders hope to have him ready to play the regular-season opener at Tennessee.

-- Left tackle Donald Penn’s preseason was a short one. He played 19 snaps last week after ended a prolonged contract holdout, and was held out of Thursday’s action. Offensive line coach Donald Penn put him through the paces before the game. Penn is expected to start and play full time against the Titans.

-- Undrafted rookie linebacker Xavier Woodson-Luster, didn’t make a great impact this summer but was put some good plays on film. He had four tackles and a sack.

EJ Manuel came to compete, push Cook in Raiders' backup QB battle

EJ Manuel came to compete, push Cook in Raiders' backup QB battle

NAPA – The competition to become Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s backup remains a dead heat. That’s offensive coordinator Todd Downing’s take, and an accurate one. Nobody wins a position battle after two training camp practices.

Padded practices begin Monday, with several more and four preseason games after that. There’s plenty left to evaluate.

One thing, however, it already clear in camp. The No. 2 job won’t be handed to 2016 fourth-round pick Connor Cook.

EJ Manuel came to compete.

The 27-year old former Buffalo Bill has made some solid throws since camp started, showing increased accuracy and confidence as he gets comfortable with a new scheme.

“With the quarterback position, the phrase knowledge is confidence comes to mind a lot,” Downing said after Sunday’s practice. “As he gets more and more comfortable with our system, he’s able to use his footwork, the proper technique, the proper drops, the proper eye placement on zone defenders to help him be more confident in where he’s going with the football. We anticipate EJ continuing the growing trend that we’ve seen.”

Manuel is a talented thrower. First-round quarterbacks typically are. He got a bit bogged down by his time in Buffalo, where he started 10 games as a rookie and played less every year. Tyrod Taylor became the man there. Manuel needed to hit reset.

He chose to do so in Oakland with Downing, who was Bills quarterbacks coach during Manuel’s tenure there. This new start has Manuel feeling fresh and enjoying his job more.

“I don’t care what the profession is, I think you can tell when somebody enjoys what they’re doing,” Downing said. “I can’t speak to the past couple of years for EJ, but I know he’s enjoying himself now. When you enjoy what you do for a living, you can show up each day with the right attitude and approach. He’s certainly done that each day, found a way to get better every day.”

Manuel looked sharp on Sunday, with several accurate passes in the short and deep passing game. He seems especially comfortable with training camp roommate Cordarrelle Patterson, who he connects with often.

Manuel worked mostly with the second team during camp’s first two practices, though Downing said the backup quarterbacks will alternate between the second and third units.

Cook is younger and the homegrown talent, which seemed to put him in line for the No. 2 spot. Manuel plans to push him throughout camp and wants to win that immediate backup job. Winning that position battle won’t be viewed as a personal victory, even for someone trying to reinvent himself after a disappointing stint in Buffalo.

“My focus is now on the team,” Manuel said. “Anything I can do personally is secondary. I’m going to come out, work every day, and try to make the quarterback room better. We all have to have growth. As good as Derek has to be, we all have to be good, too. When and if that time comes, you have to answer the bell.”

The Raiders know that all too well. They floundered after Derek Carr broke a fibula in Week 16. Matt McGloin floundered and Cook was thrown to the lions in a playoff game. Having a confident, savvy backup could help in an emergency.

Manuel is focused on consistency in preparation and practice, to consistently make smart decisions on the field. He learned from his Buffalo experience, and believes he’s a better quarterback for it.


-- RB Marshawn Lynch started team drills with two nice runs that showed great burst and agility, which sent the East Bay crowd into a tizzy.

-- ILB Marquel Lee joined the first unit for the first time Sunday, seeing reps over Tyrell Adams on the weak side.

-- Amari Cooper made several nice catches, including a long pass after beating CB Sean Smith. He was left alone after Karl Joseph blitzed. Derek Carr saw the pressure and found Cooper wide open.

-- Head coach Jack Del Rio makes units do up-downs for making mistakes like pre-snap penalties, and the offense did several on Sunday. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing joined his charges in the grunt work.

“Up-downs aren’t great,” tackle Marshall Newhouse said. “I haven’t done up-downs since high school and I’m trying to keep it that way. I don’t love up-downs.”