Raiders

With Gruden in fold, who is responsible for roster construction?

With Gruden in fold, who is responsible for roster construction?

Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie will work together on Raiders roster construction. Owner Mark Davis and the principal players themselves expressed that time and again during Tuesday’s press conference honoring Gruden’s return to the Silver and Black.

That’s what Davis wants, and has wanted since taking control of this team in 2012.

“My vision at that time was Jon Gruden to coach this football team,” Davis said, “and Reggie McKenzie to bring in the talent.”

He finally has that, following a long pursuit bringing Gruden back.

Mark Davis didn’t give Gruden $100 million to sit in the back seat, but denied that Gruden will have final say on personnel decisions.

“No, Reggie and Jon are going to be working together,” Davis told reporters after Tuesday’s press conference, with this quote from The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami. “You should ask them those questions.”

Gruden and McKenzie were asked about that, and stuck to the script.

“It is a team effort,” McKenzie said. “We are a team. It is going to be a Raider decision, bottom line. We are going to work great together.”

Gruden and McKenzie have worked together before. Gruden was Green Bay's receivers coach in 1994, when McKenzie joined the Packers’ personnel department. Gruden became Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator a year later, but the pair grew up under Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf. That gives them, Gruden believes, a shared perspective on players.

“I think we have a similar viewpoint in terms of what kind of players we are looking for,” Gruden said. “It has got to be a collaborative effort, whether it be a salary cap decision, a free-agent acquisition, or who we draft. We’ve got to work together. I think that is the great thing about being here. We are going to be united, we are going to work hard and we are going to assemble the best team possible. We aren’t always going to agree and Reggie will probably win… Look at the size of the guy!”

No question McKenzie would win a backyard brawl. What about a standoff in the NFL draft room, with the Raiders on the clock? What about contrasting views on a free agent, or how to best use salary cap space?

It seems Gruden has been given master keys to the castle.

He has also been given clearance to bring in another executive or two. McKenzie will also be involved in that hiring process. The Raiders wanted former Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf, Ron’s son, but ESPN reports he accepted a job as Cleveland’s assistant GM.

It will be interesting to see who gets hired, and whether that person is connected to one Raiders power player over the other.

Those details will offer insight into the Raiders hierarchy. Gruden is expected to be at the top. Regardless, Davis really wants them to work together. McKenzie scoffed at questions suggesting they can’t.

“That’s laughable,” McKenzie said, via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur. “Have the people who say that met Jon and me? We’re pretty laid-back guys. We both love football, love the grind and have a relationship back to when we were in Green Bay.”

Jon Gruden, Raiders seeking solid third option behind Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson

Jon Gruden, Raiders seeking solid third option behind Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson

ALAMEDA -- Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson are locked into the Raiders starting lineup. They have been both dynamic and steady during training camp.

Receivers behind them on the depth chart haven’t been so strong.

Head coach Jon Gruden wants better from those guys.

“Hopefully someone can step up and will clearly emerge as the third receiver,” Gruden said Monday after practice. “… We need somebody to step up in that room this week.”

The Raiders will run a game-like practice week heading into Friday’s exhibition against the Green Bay Packers, and regulars will play an extended stretch.

Game performance could lift someone above the rest. The third receiver typically works in the slot, a spot Ryan Switzer manned during the offseason program and early in camp.

Griff Whalen has taken that spot over the last week.

Martavis Bryant is the most talented receiver, maybe in the entire group, but has been slow to absorb the offense and learn multiple receiver positions. Gruden has called him out on that, and has him working primarily with the second and third units.

There will be a competitive battle for receiver jobs, but it’s expected that Bryant and Switzer will end up taking control of snaps behind Cooper and Nelson. That isn’t guaranteed, however. Gruden wants more consistency and production from his wideouts.

“There has been some good and some, I don’t want to say bad, but there have been some ups and downs typical in training camp,” Nelson said. “Sometimes guys come out of the blocks fast and then slow down. Sometimes start slow and then pick it up. The main thing is being consistent.

“Keep reminding them that you can’t let the roller coaster get to you. You’re going to have good days and bad ones. You’re going to run good routes and bad routes. You have to continue to improve and continue to grind. If you do that, you’ll get the results you want.”

The Raiders need more from the slot, which could be an important role with threats on the outside. The competition there is an important one that quarterback Derek Carr is watching closely.

“Yeah, a couple of them are new, fighting for that spot. A couple have been banged up. So, I think we’re all sitting there excited to see what happens,” Carr said. “They’re all, I think, healthy. We’ll see. I think they’re all mentally ready, physically ready. Hopefully come game time, we can sit there and we can evaluate that spot. Because, obviously it’s important.

"When you have guys like Martavis or [Amari Cooper] Coop or Jordy on the outside, you have Jared [Cook] on the inside, someone is hopefully going to get a good matchup on the other side and in the slot, wherever we put them. We have to figure that out and it’ll be exciting. I’m just excited to watch how that goes this week, preparation-wise and then in the game.”

Watch Marshawn Lynch's tee shot that earned him MVP of Klay Thompson's golf tourney

marshawncartap.jpg
AP

Watch Marshawn Lynch's tee shot that earned him MVP of Klay Thompson's golf tourney

Marshawn Lynch is much better at driving a golf cart than he is at driving a golf ball. 

The Raiders running back, of course, famously took an injury cart for a spin in 2006 after a win when he was at Cal. On Sunday, he took to the links, playing alongside Klay Thompson at the Thompson Family Foundation Golf Tournament in San Francisco.

Thompson gave a look at Lynch's "form" on his Instagram story, and the result was not pretty. 

Courtesy: @klaythompson/Instagram

That won't be considered solid, let alone way too solid, by anybody. Thompson told the Bay Area News Group's Mark Medina that he wants to improve his golf game, and it's probably best if he doesn't turn to Lynch for advice.