Tennessee Titans

Former 49ers TE Delanie Walker receives death threats

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USATSI

Former 49ers TE Delanie Walker receives death threats

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker says he and his family have received death threats since he told fans not to come to games if they felt disrespected by NFL players’ protests.

The Pro Bowl tight end shared the “heartbreaking” threats Thursday night in a social media post.

“The racist and violent words directed at me and my son only serve as another reminder that our country remains divided and full of hateful rhetoric,” Walker wrote. “These words of hate will only fuel me in my efforts to continue my work reaching out to different community groups, listening to opposing voices, and honoring the men and women in the Armed Forces who risk their lives every day so that we may have this dialogue.”

Walker and the Tennessee Titans joined the Seattle Seahawks in staying inside their locker rooms during the national anthem last weekend, and Walker walked out arm in arm with quarterback Marcus Mariota. On Monday, Walker tried to make clear he supports the military in a protest that is seeking equal rights.

“And the fans that don’t want to come to the games, OK, bye,” Walker said Monday. “I mean if you feel that’s something where we’re disrespecting you, don’t come to the games. You don’t have to. No one is telling you to come to the game. It’s your freedom and your choice to do that.”

The Titans had no comment Thursday night.

Walker took part this spring in the NFL’s USO Tour of the Middle East. He said in his statement he gained an even greater appreciation for the men and women who defend American values. He said he used strong words in defending the Titans’ right to make their own choices.

He wrote that it’s his choice to try to spark conversation for positive change and fans’ choice to attend Titans’ games, a U.S. freedom so envied around the world.

“I am proud to represent the many faces of Titans fans and believe that only through a more respectful discourse can we achieves the goals of unity, peace and racial equality that I know we all strive for,” Walker said.

Walker isn’t the only NFL player dealing with a backlash from protesting.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Akeem Spence shared on Twitter earlier Thursday that his father, a contractor, was denied a job on a house due to his protest. He was among the Lions who took a knee before their game against Atlanta.

Instant Analysis: Carr, Tavecchio lead Raiders to season-opening win vs Titans

Instant Analysis: Carr, Tavecchio lead Raiders to season-opening win vs Titans

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE – The Raiders entered Sunday’s fourth quarter in a one-score game. Surprise, surprise.

They lived in those moments last year. And fared pretty darn well.

The quarter started with a Raiders touchdown. Then a Titans stop. One deviation from the script: The Raiders didn’t need fourth quarter magic.

They held a late lead and put the Titans away without much drama.

They left with a 26-16 victory, the third win at Nissan Stadium in as many seasons.

Giorgio Tavecchio’s 43-yard field goal sealed it with just over a minute left.

While the offense scored in bunches, the Raiders defense held strong in the first game that matters. They were often criticized this preseason, but looked far better in Nashville. They gave up an early touchdown and put a force field at the goal line after that.

A series of Ryan Succop field goals kept Tennessee in it, but the offense closed things out with an impressive four-minute offense.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr made it a two-score game with a 19-yard strike to Seth Roberts. That capped a 70-yard drive well orchestrated, with a few nice runs by Marshawn Lynch. He finished with 76 yards on 18 carries.

The Raiders took a 23-13 lead into the final seven minutes and held it to start the season with a win.

The game started with a touchdown exchange. The Raiders cruised downfield to open their season, with a 50-yard touchdown drive that ended with Amari Cooper’s first score.

Marcus Mariota capped his first drive with a 10-yard touchdown run.

That furious pace didn’t continue. Field goals ruled the second and third quarters, with the Raiders winning that battle 3-2.

That set up another close one down the stretch, a position the Raiders were far too used to last season.

TAVECCHIO’S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL: Giorgio Tavecchio had an easy entry into his first regular-season game. He was charged with making a 20-yard field goal. Chip shot. Easy peasy.

His next effort was far tougher. No matter. He pumped a 52-yard field goal through the uprights to close the first half. He made another from the same distance in the third quarter.

Overall, he was 4-for-4 on field goals after taking over for Sebastian Janikowski, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a back injury. It’s uncertain what the Raiders will do at kicker moving forward, but Tavecchio made a solid case to keep the job.

SMITH GETS HIS JOB BACK: Cornerback Sean Smith lost his starting spot in the base defense early in training camp. TJ Carrie took with a nice start to the summer, but he faded as the preseason wore down.

He got picked on during the first half, and was taken out of the base defense. Smith stepped in, with Carrie playing the slot.

QUICK SLANTS

-- The Raiders tried to rotate right tackles in the first half. It didn’t go well. Vadal Alexander came in on the third series and was directly involved in one sack and didn’t help on another. Marshall Newhouse was fare better early after getting the start.

-- Raiders tight end Jared Cook was expected to make an impact on the Raiders offense, and he certainly did. The former Tennessee Titan had five catches for 56 yards.

Raiders WR Seth Roberts may be clutch, but there's one flaw he wants to fix

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USATSI

Raiders WR Seth Roberts may be clutch, but there's one flaw he wants to fix

NASHVILLE – Seth Roberts must really love Tennessee. Or country music. Or the Nissan Stadium turf. Or having a dozen-plus family members in the crowd.

There must be a reason why the Raiders slot receiver owns the Titans.

“It’s the matchups their defense has given us,” Roberts said. “When they provide certain looks, I’m able to capitalize.”

Oh. Well, that isn’t quite as fun. Roberts doesn’t care, as long as it’s effective.

Roberts has had two excellent games in Nashville, with a combined eight receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns. His scores decided both games. He had a game-winner late in 2015, and the decider last season.

Clutch moments might be due to more than attractive matchups in Tennessee. He creates those against everybody.

Roberts has made four game-winning catches in two seasons with the club. While everyone remembers Michael Crabtree’s two-point conversion and Jack Del Rio’s gamble, Roberts caught the touchdown pass to set that up. Amari Cooper was a supernova against Tampa Bay, but Roberts’ 41-yard overtimes catch and run beat the Buccaneers.

Consider it a good omen if Roberts scores in Sunday’s regular-season opener. Odds are the Raiders will win another clash with the Titans. The Silver and Black are 9-0 when Roberts scored a touchdown.

That stat is Roberts’ favorite. That’s why he’s driven to perform in big moments. He feels a certain devotion to the Raiders and his teammates. He wants to come through for them.

“Deep down, I want it. I want to own the moment,” Roberts said. “I want to show up for the guys around me. They’ve always had my back. I have to have their theirs.”

Roberts remains thankful for the opportunity to shine. It wasn’t expected of an unheralded kid from Moultrie, Ga. who spent time at Pearl Rivers Community College and West Alabama before going undrafted. He spent camp with the Raiders and then got cut. He re-signed with the practice squad, impressed there, and became the team’s slot receiver. The rest you’ve seen on Sundays.

Roberts turned those efforts into a three-year, $12 million contract extension with $6.45 million guaranteed. The deal came together quickly, after summer contact between Roberts’ reps and the Raiders proved desire to extend was mutual. It was a proud moment for a player without pedigree, who toiled and grinded and never gave up.

“I’ve always had to work for things my whole life,” Roberts said. “Nothing was ever given to me. It feels even better to work and earn something like this.”

Roberts wants to repay the Raiders with clutch moments and steady play. Roberts’ clutch moments have come in droves. Consistency hasn’t been his calling card. He played through a double hernia last year and never missed a practice and had a newborn in season, but refused to use that as an excuse.

He spent the offseason getting healthy, while working on one major flaw in his game.

“The drops. That’s the main thing,” Roberts said. “It’s about concentration on what you’re doing and, at the same time, not thinking about it too much. You can’t have that. You can’t be thinking, “Am I going to drop the ball?’ You can’t worry about that. I think I went through that some last year. But, honestly, I’m over it. I’m confident in everything I do now.”

Fans will like hearing that, especially after Roberts dropped 10 passes last year and six the year before. It’s a new issue for Roberts, one he believes is corrected.

“Pluck and tuck. It sounds so easy,” Roberts said. “I never used to drop the ball, so it was a strange experience going through that. That’s not me.”