Raiders

Four Raiders players to watch in NFL Week 12 game vs. Ravens

Four Raiders players to watch in NFL Week 12 game vs. Ravens

BALTIMORE – The Raiders haven’t been on a winning streak all season. Their two wins came six weeks apart sandwiching five straight losses by at least 14 points.

The opportunity’s here Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens after last week’s comeback victory over Arizona, but it won’t be easy sledding. They’ll have to corral fast quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is a better thrower than many realize. They’ll have to continue making strides on defense, and avoid giving up a huge play (for once).

An expensive, yet beat up offense has to produce better, and find a way in from near the goal line (for once).

Let’s take a look at four Raiders key to achieving those goals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

S Karl Joseph

The West Virginia alum is finally a steady, regular contributor on this Raiders defense. He started the year as its No. 4 safety, and then spent several weeks nursing a hamstring issue suffered in Week 3.

Joseph has been a regular at strong safety, and has brought physicality playing near the line of scrimmage. He has eight tackles the last two weeks, with five considered run stops without much gain. Joseph has also levied some big hits, adding a new element to this Raiders defense.

“He’s got very good striking ability,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s a good tackler in close-range situations. I think he’s improving. I think he’s learning this defense. He’s been able to practice, and I think he’s starting to recognize plays and smell plays out. he usually arrives in a pretty bad mentality. He’s a tough guy. We need a physical presence at or near the line of scrimmage and I think he can help us do that.”

LT Kolton Miller

The first-round left tackle has been dealing with knee injuries all season. He suffered another sprain last week in Arizona, but battled through as he does every single game. His sack total is high, but has shown great grit as clearly the best left tackle on the roster.

“It’s one thing to go out there and play hurt. It’s another thing to go out there and play winning football when you’re hurt,” Gruden said. “Not many guys can do that. Not many young guys, especially. That’s why we made him our first-round pick. He’s got really good inner strength, mental strength, mental toughness. He’s a tough guy and he’s showing it right now.” Miller has battled injury and a run of excellent pass rushers this season Terrell Suggs comes calling Sunday with great power and veteran savvy to manipulate tackles while pressuring the quarterback.

Miller must be ready for another stiff challenge in order for the offense to produce steadily.

CB Nick Nelson

Veteran slot cornerback Leon Hall is questionable to play Sunday with a back issue that kept him from practicing all week. Rookie Nick Nelson must be ready for a heavy snap count if Hall can’t go. He should be able to handle increased volume after rotating in with Hall the past few weeks and taking over following his injury last week.

Nelson’s stats in Arizona weren’t great. They say he gave up three catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns on five targets, though one was on a screen to Christian Kirk where many were culpable.

Nelson has all the tools to be a quality nick cornerback, and must show that against an unpredictable offense with Lamar Jackson at the helm. Nelson must offer solid run support as well, making his job as vital as any in this Raiders scheme.

WR Marcell Ateman

The Oklahoma State productive had a solid debut against Arizona, with four receptions for 50 yards. That included a big 32-yard catch to help set up the game-winning field goal.

Consistency will be key for a seventh-round pick now thrust into the spotlight by injuries atop the receiver depth chart. Expect Ateman to play most every snap, and he’ll have to use unique methods of separation creation to get open without breakneck speed. Quarterback Derek Carr needs some friendly target in the pattern. Ateman can certainly be one.

Why one NFL exec sees Tom Brady-to-Raiders as QB’s 'fallback position'

Why one NFL exec sees Tom Brady-to-Raiders as QB’s 'fallback position'

When there's smoke, there's fire. And until Tom Brady re-signs with the New England Patriots, rumors will keep swirling regarding him joining the Raiders in Las Vegas. 

Brady has spent his entire 20-year NFL career with the Patriots, but if he does move on, the Raiders could make sense. The Raiders' stellar rookie class from last season should take another step forward in 2020 and between coach Jon Gruden, general manager Mike Mayock and owner Mark Davis, the Silver and Black want to start their Las Vegas tenure with a bang.

This team still might be going through a bit of a rebuild, but there the above trio won't wait forever. They want wins. And nobody is better at that then Brady. 

But one NFL executive believes the Raiders aren't quite yet Brady's first option. 

“The Raiders become a fallback position for Brady in my view," the anonymous exec said to The Athletic's Mike Sando. "If it turns out Brady really wants to get away from Bill Belichick and he is out of there no matter what, then I think the Raiders become the next best possibility.”

The Patriots reportedly are willing to offer Brady upward of $30 million a year, but NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported earlier this month that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is willing to let the six-time Super Bowl champion see what's out on the market before coming back to the Patriots with his demands. If that's the case, it sounds like the Raiders are ready to open their wallets for the future Hall of Famer. 

longtime sportswriter Larry Fitzgerald Sr., -- who also is the father of Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. -- dropped an eye-opener on Valentine's Day. 

Would the Raiders really be willing to give $60 million to a QB who will be 43 years old next season? The Raiders are slated to have around $55 million in salary cap room entering the offseason. Though they'd prefer to get Brady on a cheaper deal, the Raiders, in theory, can afford to give him a hefty sum. 

[RELATED: Why Raiders signing Brady could make sense for both sides]

This of course all depends on if Gruden and Co. are ready to move on from a much-younger quarterback Derek Carr. When you have a chance to add Tom Brady, though, you at least take a long look at the possibility. 

The Raiders certainly seem to have their eyes on Brady. But it could take a lot to break up a long marriage between a legendary QB and legendary coach in Brady and Bill Belichick. 

Foster Moreau defends Raiders' 2019 rookie class, claps back on Twitter

Foster Moreau defends Raiders' 2019 rookie class, claps back on Twitter

Oh, the disrespect. 

The Raiders' 2019 draft class was one of the best in recent seasons, in all of the NFL. Running back Josh Jacobs was an Offensive Rookie of the Year finalist, and defensive end Maxx Crosby was up for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Apparently that doesn't mean much to NFL.com's Gennaro Filice and Nick Shook. 

The duo of writers gave the Silver and Black's rookie class an A- grade, but ranked them as just the seventh-best in the NFL. That didn't sit well with Raiders rookie tight end Foster Moreau. 

As Moreau's tweet shows, the Raiders' rookie class finished first in rushing yards, first in receptions, first in yards from scrimmage, first in scrimmage TDs and first in sacks. Case closed. 

Moreau himself had 21 receptions for 174 yards and caught five TDs in 13 games. The fourth-round draft pick's rookie year was cut short with a knee injury. Before his injury, he impressed coaches as a run blocker, pass protector and receiver.

On offense, Jacobs led the way. Many believe he was snubbed as Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray was voted as Offensive Rookie of the Year. Jacobs broke almost every Raiders rookie rushing record, most of which were previously held by Marcus Allen. The Alabama product averaged 4.8 yards per carry and had 1,1150 rushing yards despite missing three of the last four games with a fractured shoulder.

Hunter Renfrow, selected in the fifth round of the draft, had the second-most receiving yards by a Raiders receiver this season, despite also missing three games to injury. Renfrow finished the 2019 season with 49 receptions for 605 yards and four touchdowns. 

Crosby, a steal out of the fourth round, totaled 10 sacks -- the second-most by any rookie throughout the league. He led the Raiders in sacks and tackles for loss (19), 9.5 more than fellow rookie teammate Clelin Ferrell. 

[RELATED: How Raiders' 2019 rookies are laying bedrock for success]

Ferrell, the No. 4 pick in last year's draft, vowed to return a completely different player. Safety Johnathan Abram, the No. 27 pick from last year, will be back and healthy in 2020.

The Raiders had a three-win improvement this past season. With a great rookie season behind them, the 2019 draft class can take the Raiders to new heights as they move to Las Vegas.