'Freak of nature' Osemele has Raiders teammates buzzing


'Freak of nature' Osemele has Raiders teammates buzzing

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr had spoken to Kelechi Osemele since he signed a massive contract with the Raiders, but the quarterback hadn’t met his new bodyguard before Monday.

The pair converged just before the offseason program, and Carr was surprised. 6-foot-5, 330 pounds didn’t do him justice.

“The first time I saw that guy, I couldn’t believe how big he was, not just how big he was because all offensive linemen are big, but that guy is jacked,” Carr said. “You could that he’s not just a big guy. He’s cut, he’s lean. It’s just like, ‘You weigh what? And you look like that?’ It’s unreal. The guy is a freak of nature.”

That’s why he commanded a high price. It’s also why he fits in well with this offensive line. The Raiders prefer maulers on the interior. They have them now, with Osemele and Gabe Jackson flanking cerebral, athletic center Rodney Hudson.

Osemele’s new deal and left tackle Donald Penn’s return have national pundits buzzing about the Raiders offensive line, now considered one of the NFL’s best. Most of that respect was built last year, with four returning lineman holding down the fort.

Osemele’s the big addition, easily the best offensive lineman on the market. He still hasn’t played a snap in silver and black, but already has his new team excited about the future. And the new guy surely isn’t lacking confidence.

“The first time I saw him, I walked up to him and gave him a hug and said, ‘Hey, thanks for coming here.’” Carr said. ”He just laughed and said, ‘Not a problem, man. You’ll have all day.’ I said, ‘All right. I’ll hold you to it.’”

That’s a realistic claim. Osemele gave up just one sack last season, and steps into an already strong line.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus used last year’s grades to square off against the 2015 Dallas Cowboys, which was the NFL’s finest last year.

The offensive line has confidence entering the season and, as Penn says, wants to “back up the hype.”

That comes from shoring up last year’s lone weak spot with a top young talent.

“Kelechi is a really good player,” Hudson said. “I’ve kind of watched him from afar, as I do watching tapes of other teams and game-planning for us. You see guys play over time. He’s a good player. He plays hard and physical and he’s definitely going to help us out.”

Neiron Ball, Raiders 2015 draft pick, in a coma after brain aneurysm


Neiron Ball, Raiders 2015 draft pick, in a coma after brain aneurysm

Raider Nation has a heavy heart at the moment.

Former linebacker Neiron Ball, Oakland's fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Florida, suffered a brain aneurysm on Sept. 16 and is currently in a medically induced coma. He is not responding to stimuli. The Raiders sent out a tweet Tuesday asking for thoughts and prayers for the 26-year-old.

News of Ball's situation was first made public by people that run the Facebook page for his old school district in Georgia. Ball attended Jackson High School in the Butts County School System.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, in 2011 while at Florida, Ball was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, "a tangling of blood vessels." Surgery to alleviate the issue cost him the 2011 season.

"I can't really explain it," Ball told the Orlando Sentinel in 2012. "The closest thing I can think is somebody just smushing my brain...Like somebody was squeezing my brain."

Ball appeared in six games his rookie season with the Raiders, recording four tackles and one sack. A knee injury forced the Raiders to place him on injured reserve.

Report: Raiders to sign new kicker Matt McCrane

Report: Raiders to sign new kicker Matt McCrane

Mike Nugent is dealing with a hip injury suffered in a loss to Miami, which forced the Raiders to work out several kickers Tuesday morning. The Silver and Black have chosen to sign undrafted rookie Matt McCrane, according to NFL Network.

McCrane spent the summer with the Arizona Cardinals and played college ball at Kansas State. He was 4-for-4 on field goals in the preseason, including two from beyond 50 yards. 

While the team hasn't announced his addition, McCrane has already added "kicker for Oakland Raiders" on his Twitter profile. The account, however, is not verified. 

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden didn't formally rule Nugent out of Sunday's game against Cleveland, but his hip injury is of concern. Nugent has been solid since assuming the kicking job this regular season. He was 6-for-6 on field goal attempts, including two conversions from 50-plus yards. 

The Raiders worked out McCrane, 2017 kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, among others on Tuesday. Tavecchio was released early in camp for Nugent, who was expected to be Eddy Pineiro's mentor during the preseason. Pineiro suffered a groin injury at the end of training camp and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.