Raiders

Hamilton's return may mean end of era for Raiders legend

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USATSI

Hamilton's return may mean end of era for Raiders legend

ALAMEDA – The Raiders only have two designations to return off injured reserve. They used one on Obi Melifonwu in Week 6. Antonio Hamilton got the other on Tuesday.

That means kicker Sebastian Janikowski won’t return this season from a back injury. There’s a real possibility 39-year old won’t play for the Raiders again.

His contract expires at season’s end, which might mean he's played his last down in silver and black. Janikowski is scheduled to hit the open market, and could play for another team for the first time since the Raiders selected him No. 17 overall in the 2000 draft.

That would mark the end of an era. We’re not there yet, but the Raiders could go younger and considerably cheaper after paying Janikowski $17.85 million since 2013. Janikowski renegotiated the last year of his deal to include $3 million guaranteed, an action executed just before he went on IR.

They have been pleased with Girogio Tavecchio this season, who stepped right in before Week 1 as Janikowski’s replacement. The Cal product, who spent four straight offseasons with the Raiders, is 12-for-15 this season with three field goals over 50 yards. Tavecchio has missed three extra point attempts this season. Tavecchio will be cheap, even as an exclusive rights free agent.

Hamilton still has a few weeks before he can contribute. Tuesday's return to practice opens a two-to-three week window for him to re-join the 53-man roster.  

That’s a positive sign for an ailing group of defensive backs. David Amerson announced another one, saying he’ll return to practice Wednesday.

Hamilton was placed on IR after tearing the meniscus in his knee on the opening kickoff versus Baltimore. He has been doing side work, but will join regular practice in hopes of a late-season return.

Raiders notes: Keon Hatcher signed to replace injured Brandon LaFell

Raiders notes: Keon Hatcher signed to replace injured Brandon LaFell

ALAMEDA – Raiders coach Jon Gruden joked he might’ve gotten kicked out of the airplane home from Seattle if he decided to cut wide receiver Keon Hatcher after scoring three touchdowns in a preseason game against the Seahawks.

He didn’t do it right away, but it didn’t take long for Hatcher to get the axe. It swung on Sept. 12, when the Raiders brought back Martavis Bryant.

The Arkansas alum bounced around some after that, and spent the last six weeks on the Green Bay Packers' practice squad.

The Raiders signed him off of it Monday morning, and put him right back on their active roster. The move was required with Brandon LaFell officially placed on injured reserve.

Hatcher’s familiarity with this offense will help him integrate quickly. He’s expected to hit the ground running, and play next week against the Baltimore Ravens.

“I know the playbook inside out,” Hatcher said. “I know every [receiver] position. I think I’ll be out there pretty quick.”

Hatcher had a strong preseason, but was a surprise member of the 53-man roster. There are several reasons to like his game: Namely, he has great speed and is a smooth route-runner with solid hands.

The 24-year-old is coming in to help after LaFell tore his Achilles in the third quarter of Sunday’s 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. LaFell is a pro’s pro, and signed early this season as a reserve before moving into a larger role following the Amari Cooper trade.

He was on a one-year deal and faces a long recovery, so it’s likely he has played his last down as a Raider.

“He was a good player,” Gruden said. “He beat [top-flight Cardinals cornerback] Patrick Peterson on a touchdown pass yesterday. Went up and got a huge third-down conversion. Touchdown against the Colts. He did a lot of things for us. He played multiple positions. We’re going to miss him. He’s going to be a hard guy to replace.”

Ellis on the way back

The Raiders plan to designate defensive tackle Justin Ellis to return from injured reserve this week. Ellis is expected to practice starting Wednesday, and he would be eligible to play Baltimore if he’s physically ready to go.

That determination will be made later in the week, though the Raiders have an open roster spot should they want to add him. One was created when the team waived Saeed Blacknall Monday afternoon. It’s possible Blacknall will return to the Raiders' practice squad if he clears waivers.

The Raiders could use some help against the run, where they have struggled mightily. Ellis is a nose tackle in the base defense, primarily where Johnathan Hankins has played. Hankins hasn’t been bad, but adding another big body in the middle will be a plus the rest of the season.

Jordy Nelson nearing return

Gruden said there was a chance receiver Jordy Nelson could start practicing this week, after he missed Sunday's game with a bone bruise centered on his knee.

“I visited with Jordy a little bit last night on the airplane,” Gruden said. “I thought he ran pretty good this morning. He’s got a chance. It’s important to him, I think he wants to come back and play no doubt, and he’s getting close to doing that.”

It’s somewhat unusual for players ruled out during the week to make road trips, but Nelson came to Arizona ro aid a young group of wideouts playing much larger roles.

“I asked Jordy if he wanted to stay in Oakland and get extra treatment,” Gruden said. “He said, ‘heck no, I want to come to the game.’ It’s just that kind of attitude we need right now on this team. A veteran presence, being with the receivers, being with Derek on the sideline. It’s a good group of guys, and he is at the head of the list. He’s really a special person to give himself to the team like he has.”

Raiders snap count: Three running backs split duties vs. Cardinals

Raiders snap count: Three running backs split duties vs. Cardinals

ALAMEDA – The Raiders were committed to running the ball well Sunday against Arizona. Doug Martin carried the load early, but was sidelined by an ankle injury in the second half. 

The Raiders looked to Jalen Richard and little-used DeAndre Washington to keep the run game rolling, and those two accomplished the mission well

The rushing trio churned out 152 yards on 33 carries in a 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The last time this franchise gave three different rushers 10 carries in a game: Nov. 9, 2003. 

The Raiders lost that game but won this one thanks to offensive balance that is rare. 

Richard had 32 total snaps, Washington had 23 and Martin had 14 in the first half before succumbing to injury. Martin’s bum ankle is not expected to be a long-term issue. 

The Raiders seem to have found their starting safeties over the season’s second half, with Marcus Gilchrist and Karl Joseph seeing most all of the work. Gareon Conley had an interception in the first half, but gave way to Rashaan Melvin the majority of the time. 

Here’s the complete snap count from the Raiders victory in Arizona. 

Offense

Total offensive snaps: 68
Quarterback – Derek Carr 68
Running back – Jalen Richard 32, DeAndre Washington 23, Doug Martin 14
Wide receiver – Marcell Ateman 65, Seth Roberts 47, Brandon LaFell 37, Saeed Blacknall 16
Tight end – Jared Cook 39, Lee Smith 29, Derek Carrier 11
Offensive line – Gabe Jackson 68, Rodney Hudson 68, Brandon Parker 68, Kelechi Osemele 68, Kolton Miller 66, David Sharpe 10, Clinton McDonald 2, Jon Feliciano 2

Defense

Total defensive snaps: 54
Defensive line – Arden Key 48, Maurice Hurst 33, Johnathan Hankins 32, PJ Hall 31, Frostee Rucker 28, Jacquies Smith, Shilique Calhoun 12
Linebacker – Tahir Whitehead 54, Nick Morrow 34, Marquel Lee 20, Jason Cabinda 20
Defensive back – Marcus Gilchrist 54, Daryl Worley 47, Karl Joseph 35, Rashaan Melvin 31, Nick Nelson 30, Gareon Conley 30, Reggie Nelson 19Erik Harris 7, Leon Hall 4

Special teams

Derek Carrier 30, E. Harris 28, Kyle Wilber 28, Lee 28, K. Smith 25, N. Nelson 24, Morrow 24, Calhoun 23, Dwanye Harris 17, 
Trent Sieg 13, Johnny Townsend 13, Daniel Carlson 10
Worley 10, L. Smith 9, Washington 8, Gilchrist 6, Joseph 6, Melvin 6
Parker 5, Jackson 5, Osemele 5, Miller 5, Sharpe 5, Feliciano 5, Richard 4, Cabinda 4, McDonald 3, Whitehead 3, Key 3, Hankins 3, Conley 3, R. Nelson 2