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.

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

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AP

Doug Martin ready, willing to mentor Raiders first-round RB 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’s injury.

Crowell’s torn Achilles’ tendon brought Martin back to the Silver and Black, with zero 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.”

He’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 yard 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.

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.”

NFL rumors: Raiders-Packers to play Week 3 preseason game in Winnipeg

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Raiders-Packers to play Week 3 preseason game in Winnipeg

Buckle up, Winnipeg, Jon Gruden and the Raiders are coming to town.

It was reported in March that the Raiders were looking to play one of their four preseason games in Canada and now it appears they have found a site for that game.

The Raiders will play the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg for their third preseason game, Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press reported Friday.

The Raiders have been looking to move one of their preseason games for some time, to mitigate some of the increased rent from their 2019 lease with Oakland Coliseum, and have honed on playing north of the border. The rent amount will decrease with a game off the schedule, a clause that was written into a new lease agreement with a revenue that is expected to host the Raiders one more season before the team is scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020.

It makes sense to play the Green Bay Packers in Canada, considering their close proximity to the country.

The Raiders originally looked at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. That deal proved difficult, and the Raiders moved on to other Canadian options. Winnipeg was the best fit, and a formal deal seems to be in the cards.

The Raiders or Packers have not made a formal announcement, despite being less than three months from the game.

Oakland began Phase Three of its offseason program Tuesday when organized team activities began in Alameda.

[RELATED: Undrafted rookie WR drawing rave reviews from Gruden, Carr]

Derek Carr vs. Aaron Rodgers in a "dress rehearsal game" isn't bad NFL treat for the fine folks of Winnipeg. Enjoy.