Despite missing Raiders workouts, Vanderdoes staying involved

Despite missing Raiders workouts, Vanderdoes staying involved

The Raiders roster came together on Monday, with rookies joining veterans for the first time during this offseason program. The union will remain all spring and summer, as a massive roster trims to 53.

It is not 90 strong at this point.

The puzzle’s missing two pieces, including one highly-touted member of this year’s draft class. Third-round defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes can’t participate in OTAs and the team’s June minicamp, as NBC Sports California reported last week, due to an NFL rule that prohibits players from working until their school’s academic year concludes.

UCLA’s spring quarter wraps June 16, meaning Vanderdoes can’t practice with the team until training camp. Undrafted linebacker Nicholas Morrow is in a similar circumstance due to a late May finals week at Greenville College, but he’ll be involved in some workouts.

Vanderdoes will miss them all, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t staying involved. The Auburn native has to practice from long distance, but he's doing everything the Raiders do. He's taking on-field reps. He’s watching all the practice and game film his teammates watch.

Technology makes that possible.

“I have a team iPad with me, so I have literally everything you can imagine right here with me,” Vanderdoes said Tuesday in an interview with NBC Sports California. “I have all the practice installs and play installs. I can watch film of whatever game or practice they’re looking at that day.

“Right now, they’re doing individual workouts (in position groups). I’m able to see what drills they’re doing and am able to emulate those at UCLA. I can set up the equipment the exact same way and do everything they’re doing. I’m not there, but I’m still doing the same things that they are. I wouldn’t consider myself behind, and I won’t have to catch up when I come back.”

Vanderdoes can speak with defensive line coach Jethro Franklin any time to fill gaps, so he’ll stay up-to-speed on schematics and terminology. Vanderdoes can share film of his workouts to make sure he’s doing everything right.

Doing everything right would be Vanderdoes’ goal if he were in Alameda. It’s the same in Los Angeles, where he trains at Proactive Sports Performance and UCLA’s campus.

Being productive while missing a rookie offseason program is mandatory for UCLA products, who must adjust to the school’s late academic calendar whether they were enrolled for the spring quarter or not.

Fellow former UCLA defensive tackle and Kenny Clark went through the experience a year ago. Green Bay’s 2016 first-round pick had some simple, yet sage advice for his good friend.

“Get into that playbook, learn the plays and be patient,” Vanderdoes said. “You have to re-earn respect from your teammates and coaches and the organization. I’m coming in, starting from ground zero and working my way up.”

Being consistent and detail oriented on the practice field and in the meeting room is key to earning stripes. Vanderdoes understands that, and is completely devoted to realizing vast potential.

“My whole mentality is about taking it to the next level as a professional,” Vanderdoes said. “That involves everything, from the way I take notes, to how I’m learning and putting in extra work away from the facility. I want to show I’m a next-level professional. That’s my mindset right now, to learn the playbook and techniques they want you to master. Everything will fall into place if I do that.”

Derek Carr the main constant in a Raiders year of extreme change


Derek Carr the main constant in a Raiders year of extreme change

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has occupied the same end-of-the row locker since becoming a Raider nearly five years ago. He did a quick count recently, and believes 27 different guys have used the stall next to him.

That isn’t official, but it proves a greater point.

The Raiders have undergone insane turnover in recent seasons.

“It’s crazy, man,” Carr said. “My brother (David Carr) warned me about stuff like this because he played for 12 years. I was like, ‘No, way man.’ When you get here it’s just rainbows and butterflies because you made it to the NFL. All of sudden you get new friends every year.”

That’s true every year, where fringe players and occasional free agents rotate out.

The last calendar year has been different. It has been extreme.

More than two-thirds of the roster is new, but the loss of star power has been more jarring than sheer numbers.

Jack Del Rio was fired and replaced by Jon Gruden last January. Khalil Mack was traded in September. Amari Cooper was traded in October. Bruce Irvin got cut in November. And Reggie McKenzie got fired on the second Monday in December.

Carr has dealt with a lot this season, and losing McKenzie struck a powerful blow.

“He drafted me and gave me my chance,” Carr said. “I had a good conversation with him after I found out the news. I sent him a long text and he sent me a long one back. It was special, man. Our relationship was special, and it always will be. You never saw anything that would make you think this would happen, but it is what it is. You wake up and you see it and are like, ‘Oh, man!’

“It’s a part of this and we are moving forward. He is someone I will always keep in contact with and in my message, I said, ‘Any success that I have, I hope you feel a part of it.”

Carr has been the one constant in the second Raiders rebuild since the quarterback was drafted in 2014. Gruden has torn the team down, and plans to build it back up with cap space and three first-round draft picks. Carr has learned how to weather all this change while keeping focus on the field.

“There has been a lot of turnover,” Carr said. “Not only in the last five years, but in the last 12 months. There has been a lot of turnover. A lot of different things; systems, players, obviously the GM, coaches. It just teaches you that you can’t control anything outside of what you can control. The best thing that you can do is show up every day and give it everything that you have because anything outside of that is out of your control.”

Raiders-Bengals injury report: Interior offensive line in bad shape


Raiders-Bengals injury report: Interior offensive line in bad shape

ALAMEDA – The Raiders offensive line has a huge problem heading into Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. Both offensive guard spots have been decimated by injury.

Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson missed Wednesday’s practice with injury, and it’s possible both missed the Bengals game. Chief backup at both guard spots and center Jon Feliciano is now on injured reserve.

That doesn’t leave much flanking center Rodney Hudson, which is why Denver Kirkland and Cameron Hunt were signed. Hunt was brought in to be the backup center.

Kirkland will join Denzelle Good and Chaz Green in the mix to play guard if their frontline starters remain out.

“I know that both (Osemele and Jackson) are as tough as they come and if there’s a will, there’s a way,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “They have the will, I know that. We’ll just hope for the best. Like we’ve done at other positions on offense, we’ll have to rally around the next guy up.”

Gruden also lauded Jackson’s and Feliciano’s toughness, for finishing the game-winning drive against Pittsburgh despite significant injuries. Feliciano could barely walk down the stretch, and Jackson refused to burn a timeout late to give him time to recover from tremendous elbow pain.

The interior line, by far the line’s strength, is in bad shape and the Raiders must find ways to handle that setback against a tough Bengals front.

“It will be very challenging, especially against a good defense,” Carr said. “Their front, obviously we know they got good players. It just is what it is this year. Guys are hurt, guys are leaving the building and we are getting new guys in. It’s next man up, but just the mentality that coach Gruden and I have together is, however it unfolds we are going to give Cincinnati our best shot.”

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
G Gabe Jackson (elbow/ankle)
LG Kelechi Osemele (toe)
LB Kyle Wilber (hamstring)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle, knee)
DL Maurice Hurst (ankle)
WR Dwayne Harris (foot)
FB Keith Smith (calf)
CB Daryl Worley (shoulder)

Full practice
CB Gareon Conley (groin)

Bengals practice report

Did not practice
LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion)
DE Michael Johnson (concussion)
CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle)

Limited practice
OT Clint Boling (knee)
OT Cordy Glenn (back)
CB Tony McRae (concussion)
CB KeiVarae (finger)

Full practice
QB Jeff Driskel (right shoulder)
WR Alex Erickson (shoulder)