Carr: Expectations raised for Raiders; '7-9 isn't going to cut it'


Carr: Expectations raised for Raiders; '7-9 isn't going to cut it'

ALAMEDA – The Raiders began their offseason program Monday in a much different place. This time last year, they were integrating a new head coach and new schemes after a disastrous 3-13 campaign.

The Raiders are now a sexy pick to make playoffs. That’s what happens when you “win” free agency, a moniker bestowed following several high-priced pickups this offseason. The honor doesn’t always translate to on-field success, especially if players believe their own hype.

“On paper it looks great. We don’t want to be paper champs,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “We’ve got some good guys, but none of that matters unless we put the work in. Everything can look good in theory and in practice it all falls apart. As a leader of this team, I’m going to concentrate on pushing to get better every day.”

The Raiders earned respect in 2015, a 7-9 campaign that produced five Pro Bowlers and hope for the future. It took two previous years to win that many games. Now outsiders are saying double-digit wins and an AFC West title are distinct possibilities.

Signing cornerback Sean Smith, guard Kelechi Osemele, safety Reggie Nelson and edge defender Bruce Irvin in free agency, upgrading weaknesses and adding to a solid young foundation, generated excitement about this year's Raiders.

“It’s a great thing that people are talking about us in that light. When I first got there, they certainly weren’t doing that,” Carr said. “It’s a credit to where we’ve come from, but that’s about it.”

“What we did last year on the field was better, but we want the same kind of jump again this year. We want to be better than 7-9. Honestly, 7-9 is not going to cut it. It felt good last year, I think we were close to winning 10 games. We have to continue to push ourselves to do better than that.”

The Raiders understand improvement came through hard work, and plan to use the same methods in an attempt to take another step forward.

The offseason is time for dreamers, where fans and analysts discuss what could happen when new talent meets old. Khalil Mack wants nothing to do with that. He doesn’t want to fantasize about rushing the passer with Irvin and eventually Aldon Smith. He wants to pour focus into the effort itself, even with meaningful games still four-plus months away.

“I’m a doer. I want to see us do something real special,” Mack said. “The only way to do that is to put in the work. That’s what we’ve been talking about. We need to keep our heads down and grind. We can talk about what could or should happen, but I want to go out and put it on film. That’s what the offseason is based on, getting ready to show up when it matters most.”

Raiders' Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Killings opt out of 2020 NFL season

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Raiders' Jeremiah Valoaga, D.J. Killings opt out of 2020 NFL season

Two Raiders have been added to the growing list of NFL players opting out of the 2020 season.

Former UNLV defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga and cornerback D.J. Killings are the first two players from the organization to make the decision.

The moves were confirmed by an official transaction announced by the team as they were placed on the reserve/opt out list.

Valoaga has spent time with the Lions, Dolphins and 49ers. He was claimed off waivers in December and signed a one-year deal with the Raiders in April.

Killings is a cornerback who spent last year on injured reserve for the Raiders and was re-signed in May.

Read more at the Las Vegas Review-Journal


Raiders' Mike Mayock explains how Las Vegas heat affects training camp

Raiders' Mike Mayock explains how Las Vegas heat affects training camp

Anyone who has spent time there in the summer knows: The heat in Las Vegas is no joke.

With coronavirus forcing the Raiders to move training camp to the organization's new facility in Henderson, Nevada, players and staff have had to acclimate to a pretty consistent diet of 100+ degree days, something that isn't exactly ideal for professional athletes looking to get a workout in.

“I’ve been all over the country, obviously, and I’ve been hot,” Mayock told NBC Sports' Peter King on a day that reached 113 degrees in Sin City. “But this is pretty hard to get used to.”

[RAIDERS TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

But don't think for a second that Mayock and the Raiders' leadership didn't anticipate scorching temperatures during training camp.

“Jon wants to practice outside some," Mayock continued. "The good thing for us is, we’ve got three alternatives for practice—an outdoor grass field, an indoor [FieldTurf] field with one-and-a-half fields, and a climate-controlled stadium. When we’re outside, Jon wants to be off the field by 10 a.m.”

The climate in Las Vegas is similar to what the Arizona Cardinals have to deal with in Phoenix. Facing similarly brutal summers, the Cardinals conduct most of their training camp activities inside the team's home stadium in Glendale, Ariz., which features a retractable roof.

[RELATED: Raiders won't allow fans at home games in first Vegas season]

Mark Davis recently said he hopes the team will continue the tradition in 2021 of hosting training camp in Northern California's Napa Valley, where it had been for the past 25 years prior to 2020.

“I would like to continue to do it there,” Davis said. “It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and gives us ties back to our Northern California roots. Southern California is another possibility, but I just think there is nothing better than Napa.”