Raiders

Doug Martin ready, willing to mentor Raiders first-round pick Josh Jacobs

Doug Martin ready, willing to mentor Raiders first-round pick Josh Jacobs

Doug Martin has spent most of his career as a feature running back, with some standout seasons to show for it. His career entered another phase last season, when he joined the Raiders knowing full well he’d be a backup.

Marshawn Lynch was the primary option when he signed up, and steady carries proved hard to come by as an understudy even with head coach/offensive play caller Jon Gruden’s propensity for using multiple backs. Lynch deserved the workload he got, and Jalen Richard was a change-of-pace back off the bench.

Martin went full-time after Lynch’s season-ending groin injury, and churned out a respectable 4.2 yards per carry. He wasn’t able to find another solid opportunity in free agency, and was unemployed when the Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs and signed Isaiah Crowell.

Crowell’s torn Achilles’ tendon brought Martin back to the Silver and Black, a second time with zero allusions of being the feature back. He came here to counsel Jacobs, and take over in an unexpected pinch.

He was frank about that fact after Tuesday’s OTA session.

“Josh Jacobs, he’s a good kid with good character,” Martin said. “You all heard his story, I read up on it myself. I commend him for being as strong as he is, and that being said I came here to mentor, push him, show him that I’ve been in the league eight years, so I am a vet now. I can’t believe it, but that’s the case and so I’m here to just be that role model for him.

"If he has any questions, I’m here for him to ask them. Like I said, he has good character, but at the same time he looks like he can just run you over, so he’s going to be great for the team.”

Martin definitely wanted a shot at steady carries, especially after leading the team with 723 rushing yards and four touchdowns primarily as a first-and-second-down back.

A Raiders reunion seemed likely at first, though the sides couldn’t agree on terms and Martin remained a free agent deep into the offseason. That was worrisome, but Martin insists it didn’t cause great consternation.

“If something doesn’t go your way, you just have to stay optimistic, and I was being optimistic with the situation,” Martin said. “I knew I was going to be somewhere and do good things, but it’s just crazy how things folded out. I wish happy healing to Isaiah Crowell for his Achilles' (tendon injury), but, when there is chaos you just make a positive out of negative and you just got to stay optimistic about it.”

Martin's back with the Raiders, understanding his role as mentor and backup capable of playing well on early downs.

This mentor/protégé partnership could work, considering how much Jacobs and Martin have in common. Both guys were first-round picks, with the Raiders adding Jacobs at No. 24 this year, and Tampa Bay taking Martin at No. 31 in 2012.

They also have similar builds, with Jacobs standing 5-foot-10, 220 pounds and Martin at 5-9, 223. Both guys can slash through the interior, with enough speed to pop good runs outside.

Martin had nearly 2,000 yards of total offense (on 368 touches!!) as a rookie, a sum the Raiders would gladly take from Jacobs early on.

Nearly a decade separates them and the Raiders are looking to get younger across the board, making this Jacobs’ time to shine.

[RELATED: Jacobs is Raiders rookie in best position to succeed]

This will be the first time Martin has assumed a mentorship role, but he’s ready for it.

“It’s not something I’m used to but it’s something that I want to do,” Martin said. “I’ve been in the league eight years. I’ve been through the whole spectrum of good to bad in this league and, if I can teach somebody, if I can teach Josh on what to do, what not to do, how to stay in on the narrow path and just keep his eye on the goal, then I’m here for that.

"And, yeah, I’m grateful.”

If Antonio Brown isn't 'all-in,' Raiders are left with very few options

If Antonio Brown isn't 'all-in,' Raiders are left with very few options

The Raiders appeared to reach their breaking point with Antonio Brown on Sunday.

After the star receiver left camp again after receiving more bad news on the helmet front, general manager Mike Mayock delivered a public ultimatum to the Raiders' prized offseason acquisition. Either he's "all-in or all-out."

Brown remains upset that the NFL won't allow him to wear the Schutt Air Advantage helmet he's worn for his entire career, a model that reportedly now finds itself on the banned list altogether, regardless of the year it was manufactured.

With the Raiders at their wits end with Brown, the question naturally arises: What options do head coach Jon Gruden and Mayock have? 

The options, according to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio, are limited.

If Brown continues to be away from camp over a helmet issue that isn't going to go his way, the Raiders obviously could cut him. They would owe him the $30 million in guaranteed money over the next two years, that cost would be reduced based on how much Brown signs with his next team for.

The Raiders also could send Brown a five-day letter, which demands he show up to the team within five days or else he will be placed on the reserve/left list and the Raiders can shut him down for the season. If Brown is placed on the reserve/left list, he won't be allowed to play for the Raiders or anyone else this season, and the Raiders would not have to pay him.

If Brown comes back to the team and continues to be a thorn in the Raiders' side, they can always discipline him via fines and suspensions. That course of action, obviously, might create even more issues with a receiver who has shown to be sensitive at times.

[RELATED: AB's agent responds to Mayock's 'all-in, all-out' statement]

The Raiders aren't going to cut Brown, he's too central to their plans to turn the ship around. The five-day letter is a last-ditch option that might alienate Brown and lead to an even bigger headache for a team working to build chemistry as the season quickly approaches.

Since #HelmetGate began almost two weeks ago, I've maintained that Brown will play. He's not going to walk away from $30 million in guaranteed money or the other $20 million that will come should he start to play the good soldier again.

Smart money is on Brown finding a helmet that works for him, and returning to the Raiders soon. But with AB, you never know.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus responds to Mike Mayock's Antonio Brown statement

Agent Drew Rosenhaus responds to Mike Mayock's Antonio Brown statement

The Raiders sent a well-coordinated shot across Antonio Brown’s bow Sunday afternoon, after the superstar wide receiver left training camp frustrated over not being allowed to wear the helmet he wants.

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock issued an in-person statement to reporters on the scene in Napa, and within minutes, the team had video of it posted on its social media accounts.

Brown spends significant time on those popular platforms, so he undoubtedly heard the Raiders' frustration straight from Mayock’s mouth.

The first-year GM made it clear that he wants to know if Brown is “all-in or all-out” after leaving camp frustrated that his preferred Schutt Air Advantage helmet failed a safety test and now is banned from use. Mayock said the Raiders have been supportive of Brown’s quest to wear the helmet he wants but have “exhausted all options.”

As of 10 p.m. PT Sunday, Brown hadn't responded to Mayock on social media through outright statements or cryptic posts. But  his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did so late Sunday in an appearance on WSVN-TV’s "Sports Xtra," aired in the Miami market.

Here’s what he had to say, in its entirety.

“We have worked very closely with the Raiders, and will continue to work very closely with the Raiders,” Rosenhaus said. “I’m not sure we agree that we’ve exhausted all the options, as Mike Mayock said, but there’s no doubt it’s still an ongoing process. We are trying to work with the team and the league and the union on a solution. We haven’t figured that out yet.

“To say that AB is upset about the decision to not let him wear his helmet is accurate, but we’re still processing it and figuring it out. I wouldn’t make too much about him not being there today, as much as we’re still trying to come up with a solution that works for everyone.”

That was Rosenhaus’ response to this statement from Mayock: "Antonio Brown is not here today, and here's the bottom line: He's upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that. We appreciate that. We have, at this point, exhausted all avenues of relief. From our perspective, it's time for him to be all-in or all-out.

"We're hoping he is back soon. We have 89 guys busting their tails. We are really excited about where this franchise is going, and we hope AB is going to be a big part of it starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story. No questions."

The Raiders formally break training camp Monday morning, and will conduct a practice at their Alameda training facility Tuesday. They are scheduled to leave Wednesday to play a Thursday preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg, Canada.