Raiders

CJ Anderson's mother rooting against him: 'Not against my Raiders'

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USATSI

CJ Anderson's mother rooting against him: 'Not against my Raiders'

C.J. Anderson is from Vallejo. He went to school at Cal. So it's not too wild to imagine that some of his friends and family will be rooting against him -- and for the Raiders -- this weekend in Denver.

But his mother?

"It’s tough," Anderson said with a smile after practice this week. "My mom goes every time, she criticizes me: 'Look, I’m a Raiders fan. I love you, son. Just not against my Raiders.'"

Those Raider-rooting friends and family members will be on hand in Denver this weekend, but Anderson doesn't think they'll rock the Silver and Black in Denver.

"They won't wear Orange and Blue," he said. 

The game will be meaningful to Anderson for another reason. He grew up idolizing and modeling his game after Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, who attended Cal five years before Anderson.

"The way we play, we play for our city. We play for our family. And play for our teammates," Anderson said."The nastiness that we bring to the game. The energy. ... He got plenty more to tell. Let's just hope he doesn't tell it this weekend."

Anderson, 26, is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt this year for the Broncos, rushing for 235 yards and a touchdown in the first three games. He's trying not to focus on the fact he's playing the team he grew up with.

"It's just a big division game this week," Anderson said. 

Marquel Lee looks to stabilize role Raiders have struggled to fill

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USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES

Marquel Lee looks to stabilize role Raiders have struggled to fill

NAPA – Marquel Lee spent his first professional training camp working with the first unit. The Raiders didn’t have many options at middle linebacker, so they rolled with the fifth-round pick from Wake Forest.

The Raiders haven’t had much luck with middle linebackers starting with Rolando McClain, with veteran signings Nick Roach and Curtis Lofton and draft picks Ben Heeney and Neiron Ball failing to stabilize an important position.

Perry Riley Jr. helped out during the 2016 season, but he didn’t return and hasn’t played NFL football since that year.

The Raiders were hoping Lee would fit right in as a primary starter, but he wasn’t quite ready for so much responsibility. The team went out and signed NaVorro Bowman after six weeks, and he held the position strong during his time in silver and black.

Lee might not have been ready then. Raiders coaches believe he’s ready now.

He’s been the first-team middle linebacker in the base defense despite the team signing Derrick Johnson in the offseason.

“I think he’s more and more of a complete linebacker,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s getting more comfortable in pass coverage. I think he’s a presence in the middle of our defense right now. It’s something that is not going unnoticed with his teammates and coaches.”

Johnson’s working in sub packages, but the Raiders believe there’s potential as a three-down linebacker.

“That’s the goal. It takes a lot of work,” Gruden said. “He’s still a young linebacker. He’s learning a new defense. He’s earning more and more looks.”

Lee had a strong preseason game against the Lions and a productive training camp in general. He’s taken first-team reps and run with them. Lee’s far more comfortable in his role this year over last, taking confidence into every practice session.

“I’m playing faster,” Lee said. “I’m seeing things faster and diagnosing things and playing with more instinct. I’m more comfortable in the defense. I know where I need to be, which allows me to fit the run well and just make plays.”

The Raiders wanted Lee a bit heavier heading into training camp. He’s up approximately five pounds after offseason work, but has found ways to stay quick with the extra mass.

“They wanted me to be heavier, so I had to learn how to play at that size,” Lee said. “I’m around 240 now, and playing fast at that weight, taking on blocks at that weight is key. I feel really functional at this weight.”

Johnson seemed set to be a three-down linebacker after signing here, but there was no guarantee the 35-year old could play as fast as he has. Lee often pairs with Tahir Whitehead, an established NFL starter who signed a three-year deal with the Silver and Black.

He has enjoyed partnering with Lee, and could do so in future seasons if Lee continues to develop.

“He’s asking all the right questions, really diving into the film,” Whitehead said. “I think he’s going to take a huge step this year. He’s smart, athletic and phsycial. I feel really good about him and our young guys.”

Source: Donald Penn agrees to restructure of his Raiders contract

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AP

Source: Donald Penn agrees to restructure of his Raiders contract

NAPA – Raiders left tackle Donald Penn has agreed to restructure his contract, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday evening.

The Pro Bowl blind side protector took a small pay cut, and received more guaranteed money than he was previously owed.

Penn had two years remaining and $18.6 million on the previous deal, with only $3 million guaranteed this year and no guaranteed funds in 2019.

The Raiders asked Penn to take a pay cut last week, and ultimately worked out a more team-friendly total that ensures he’ll have a bit more coming his way in 2019.

Exact totals of increased guaranteed money were not immediately known.

Penn remains on the physically unable to perform list recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery in Dec. 2017. He has been doing side work most if training camp and is nearing a return.

Penn worked out for Raiders coaches on Saturday, but head coach Jon Gruden did not update the veteran’s status in a Monday afternoon press conference.

First-round draft pick Kolton Miller has been the team’s first-team left tackle in Penn’s absence. Penn has also made a point to mentor Miller during practice and even on the sidelines of Friday’s exhibition versus Detroit.

He’s expected to regain full health and, if he returns to old form, should be expected to start at left tackle. Miller has been solid in camp, and is learning well from practice mistakes.