Raiders getting production out of no-huddle


Raiders getting production out of no-huddle

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen likes the production his team is getting out of the no-huddle offense.

The Raiders scored two touchdowns and a field goal running the no-huddle against Jacksonville on Sunday, when they overcame a 14-point deficit in the third quarter and went on to beat the Jaguars in overtime 26-23.

It was the second game this season in which quarterback Carson Palmer has engineered a fourth-quarter comeback. Both times he did it while running the no-huddle.

The question for Allen is: How much is too much?

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp continues to be criticized for his play-calling. The running game is barely showing signs of life. Pass protection for Palmer has been shaky at best.

``It worked for us against Pittsburgh and it worked for us yesterday but it's one of those things where you don't want to hang your hat on a no-huddle offense,'' running back Darren McFadden said Monday. ``We know we're going to have to use it when we can. When we go out there and use it, we're running it pretty good.''

Yet Allen isn't ready to commit to the no-huddle full-time.

While Palmer has looked comfortable calling his own plays at the line of scrimmage - something he did earlier in his career in Cincinnati - the Raiders plan to use the no-huddle only as a part of their offensive package and not a regular thing.

``It's something that, on a week-to-week basis, we try to determine how much we'll use it,'' Allen said. ``Obviously, we were not executing in the first half on offense. It was the worst half of football we've played offensively. But we knew we needed to do something to try to change some things up and the no-huddle worked good for us.''

Oakland's offense sputtered throughout the first half against Jacksonville and managed only two Sebastian Janikowski field goals before halftime.

After a three-and out on the Raiders' opening possession in the third quarter, the decision was made to go to the no-huddle and Oakland scored on three of its next five drives to force overtime.

Palmer completed only 56.5 percent of his passes against the Jaguars but was 9 of 13 for 118 yards while running the no-huddle.

Afterward, Palmer talked about the value of the no-huddle for Oakland's sluggish offense.

``We tired (the Jaguars) out a little bit, especially in their secondary,'' Palmer said. ``It got them tired, kept things off balance and it was a great halftime adjustment by coach Knapp.''

Palmer also used the no-huddle during a comeback win against Pittsburgh on Sept. 23. One of the biggest plays in that game came when the Raiders quarterback checked out of the original call and made a small tweak that resulted in McFadden's 64-yard touchdown run.

``It's worked well in some situations and in others it hasn't worked well,'' Allen said. ``It's kind of a feel on how the game is going. In the game (Sunday) ... it seemed to increase our focus offensively and we executed better offensively. So it will remain part of our offense and some games it will be more part of what we're going to do than others.''

Notes: The Raiders are still uncertain what they'll do with LB Aaron Curry. Curry came off the physically unable to perform list last week but the team is still evaluating his progress and conditioning. ... WR Rod Streater (knee), DE Dave Tollefson (shoulder), LB Miles Burris (elbow), DL Desmond Bryant (elbow), LB Keenan Clayton (shoulder) and RB Mike Goodson (hip) are all nursing minor injuries.


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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.