Michael Crabtree

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 likely will turn to unusual trio at wideout against Giants

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USATSI

Raiders likely will turn to unusual trio at wideout against Giants

ALAMEDA – Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts man the Raiders’ three-receiver sets. That personnel group was required in the huddle late in the second quarter against Denver, and it looked a little different.

Roberts had Johnny Holton on one sideline, Cordarrelle Patterson on the other. This was not a change of pace. It was not a fire drill.

Crabtree got ejected in a brawl with Aqib Talib and the Broncos. Then Amari Cooper was concussed in a violent collision with Broncos safety Darian Stewart.

The Raiders were up just a touchdown ahead at that point, and this unusual trio had to help secure a must-win game. Hand wringing was absent. Anxiety did not cloud the huddle. These guys were as loose as can be.

“We were talking, laughing and having fun,” Roberts said. “We were in the huddle and one of us said, ‘Who would’ve thought it’d be us three out here, going to win a game?’ We had fun. We stayed after it. What impressed me most was that every guy came out with focus and knew their assignment, so we were fine.”

Fine doesn’t describe their performance. Roberts, Patterson and Holton were pretty gosh darn good, combining for seven catches and 151 yards in a 21-14 win.

Expect the same group Sunday against the New York Giants. Crabtree is suspended one game for the aforementioned brawl. It’s virtually certain Cooper sits out with concussion-like symptoms, an ankle injury or both.

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing will certainly call plays designed to highlight Holton’s straight-line speed or Patterson’s elusiveness in space.

Giants head coach Ben McAdoo expects the Raiders focus on the run game. That would be the case anyway, especially after winning with 37 carries against Denver.

“I think we’re going to go Wing-T. We’re going to run the triple option,” quarterback Derek Carr joked. “Hopefully that doesn’t get out.”

Carr’s statement was dripping with sarcasm. His actual point: The Raiders won’t reinvent themselves due to personnel changes.

The Raiders will need reserves assuming big roles, and Carr will make sure the timing’s right for those big moments.

“I do need to spend extra time with them because the guys that get all the reps usually with me, are ‘Coop’ and ‘Crab,’” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Seth gets a lot of reps with me, C.P. on certain things, Johnny on certain things. But now we have to make sure we get them all of those reps that sometimes they wouldn’t get with me.”

Carr won’t have all new receivers in the pattern. Roberts will be vital in the slot, where later-down reliability is key.

Tight end Jared Cook’s speed and versatility should make him a major factor in the passing game. He ‘s tied for first with 42 catches and leads the Raiders with 537 receiving yards.

Cook could be a real asset in this one. The Giants have struggled mightily covering tight ends this season, allowing five catches and 70 yards per game to that position. They’ve also given up 10 touchdowns to tight ends in 11 games.

Cook can also play every receiver position if asked, though he generally operates on the inside.

“We’ve played him at receiver. We’ve played him at tight end. We’ve played him at different spots in the wing and things like that,” Carr said. “It’s fantastic because you need to have weapons. Especially when things like this happen. I know that on the team we’re playing, they’ve lost a lot of weapons. It’s hard just trying to go about your business and things like that.

“When you have a lot of weapons, it’s nice that when injuries or suspension or anything like that happens, we can still play football and move forward.”

Raiders teammates supportive of Crabtree, Talib issue ‘a respect thing’

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AP

Raiders teammates supportive of Crabtree, Talib issue ‘a respect thing’

ALAMEDA – The Raiders will certainly miss receiver Michael Crabtree during his one-game suspension. Teammates understand why he’s gone.

Denver cornerback Aqib Talib snatched Crabtree’s chain Sunday for the second time in as many meetings, which led to a massive brawl early in a 21-14 victory over Denver. That produced ejections for both players and two-game suspensions halved on appeal. It was a messy situation. Light years from ideal. Maybe, though, a necessary evil.

“They have history that you have to understand,” tight end Jared Cook said. “Nobody’s tripping on it around here.”

Crabtree didn’t retaliate in the 2016 regular-season finale, when Talib snatched his chain without provocation. Talib wasn’t penalized, fined or suspended for the offense, which he bragged about after that game.

Crabtree retaliated this time when Talib broke his chain, and things got messy. Crabtree blocked Talib to the ground on the Denver sideline, and several Broncos jumped him at the same time. Then Crabtree’s helmet was taken off and thrown back at him. The pair swung wildly at each other.

Despite such a messy scene, teammates understand Crabtree’s decision to push back.

“I understand that we’re in a unique position, that we’re on the football field in front of millions of people or whatever and you have to handle yourself accordingly,” Raiders cornerback David Amerson said. “At some point, it becomes about a respect thing. I’m pretty sure he was tired of people making jokes about the (last) chain snatch, and this and that. Of course, you want to be a team guy, and Mike is a team guy, but I understand everything about how he felt. Not saying I would encourage it, but I understand it. Any man can understand that situation.”

The location doesn’t change the emotion felt when someone takes or ruins something that belongs to you.

“If you haven’t had somebody take something from you, then you don’t understand,” cornerback Sean Smith said. “Especially (if it’s) a stranger. There’s no way to explain (that feeling).”

There is something unique, Amerson says, about a chain or piece of jewelry.

“A chain around your neck is something you work hard for, something that costs a lot of money,” Amerson said. “It’s something that you value. Somebody coming to snatch that off your neck is like taking your manhood or something that you really value or care about. It’s a sticky situation.”

It’s a situation the locker room considers in the past. Crabtree will return to it next week, in time to play the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs.

“What’s done is done. What happened, happened,” Amerson said. “Everybody has seen it. Regardless of how you may feel, I feel like that was something that was probably going to happen after what’s gone on over the years. As a team, we have to move on. We have players ready to step up and their places. …We’ll be all right. The team has his back. We’ll always have Mike’s back. We’re going to move on.”