Raiders

Jon Gruden, Raiders will coach intriguing wide receivers at Senior Bowl

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USATSI

Jon Gruden, Raiders will coach intriguing wide receivers at Senior Bowl

The Raiders need new receivers, maybe more than one from the 2019 NFL draft class. A positional overhaul is expected and, when looking at a shallow free-agent class at the position, selecting an amateur early and again later on could provide the raw talent needed to improve the Raiders passing game.

Head coach Jon Gruden and staff will work with several up close while coaching the North Team at the Senior Bowl. Here’s a look at who the Raiders will be coaching up during the practice week leading up to the Jan. 26 all-star game in Mobile, Ala.:

Keelan Doss, UC Davis, 6-3, 206
Gruden likes big receivers with solid hands, and this small-school product will be trying to impress a team in his own backyard. The Alameda native had an excellent career with the Aggies, totalling 321 recpetios for 4,069 yards and 28 touchdowns during his four college seasons.

If he impresses the Raiders enough to warrant a selection, Doss could ride a bike to work. Until the Raiders move to Las Vegas, anyway.
Projected: Late-rounds

Emanuel Hall, Missouri, 6-3, 200
The Raider need a vertical threat, and Hall could be one found in the middle rounds. He was a burner with athleticism to spare and a producer over his last two seasons at Missouri, recording 70 receptions for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns in that span. He’ll have to show reliable hands and catching ability, even on deep passes, during Senior Bowl week to warrant strong consideration.
Projected: Mid-rounds

Andy Isabella, Massachusetts, 5-10, 195
Isabella isn’t a big guy or terribly physical at the line of scrimmage, but has solid change of direction, grit and finds ways to plays. He could be the shifty, productive slot receiver the Raiders haven’t had recently, so he’s someone to keep an eye. This is another small-school looking to show well on a bigger stage, proving that solid production wasn’t just a product of lesser competition. Analysts say he’s a good route runner who is adept at creating separation.
Projected: Late-rounds

Anthony Johnson, Buffalo, 6-2, 210
Johnson caught 133 passes for 2,367 yards and 25 touchdowns during his two seasons at Buffalo, with a knack for significant yards after the catch. Analysts say he has reliable hands and could be a solid possession receiver. He can play outside and in the slot.
Projected: Late-rounds

Terry McLaurin, Ohio State, 6-1, 205
McLaurin’s a big-school receiver who didn’t break out until his senior year, largely due to a talent logjam at his position. He had 35 catches for 701 yards with 11 touchdowns, averaging 20 yards per catch. Analysts say he’s an NFL-caliber route runner, something Gruden will like if that pans out during the Senior Bowl. He’s an athlete with room to improve, which could make him a developmental prospect.
Projected: Mid-rounds

Jakobi Meyers, N.C. State, 6-2, 203
North Carolina State a prep quarterback to receiver, and the position switch worked out well. He set a school record in 2018 with 92 catches for 1,047 yards in 2018, and has chose to turn pro after that. He can go up and get the ball and has solid hands, which could negate some struggled to create separation.
Projected: Late-rounds

Alex Wesley, Northern Colorado, 6-0, 184
Wesley was simply better than the smaller-school cornerbacks he was facing, and had 112 catches for 2,060 yards and 10 touchdowns over his last two years and North Colorado. He has a track background, and can stretch the field well. Match that will solid ball skills and you have an intriguing prospect worth watching during Senior Bowl week.
Projected: Late-rounds

Raiders will conduct joint training camp practices with Rams in Napa

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AP

Raiders will conduct joint training camp practices with Rams in Napa

The Raiders and L.A. Rams have agreed to conduct joint training camp practices on Aug. 7-8 in Napa, the Silver and Black announced on Monday.

Adding to the storylines the “Hard Knocks” producers have to follow, now the Raiders and juggernaut Rams will square off for two days of physical work prior to the Aug. 10 preseason opener for both teams at Oakland Coliseum. 

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and Rams counterpart Sean McVay are old family friends -- McVay also once worked on Gruden’s staff in Tampa Bay -- so the dynamic between the two quote machines should provide TV gold. As if there wasn’t enough to be mined from Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict, Richie Incognito and Derek Carr and a team moving to Las Vegas next year already.

These Raiders-Rams practices have been in the works for some time, and will mark the second straight year the Raiders are hosting these workouts in Napa. They practiced against the Lions last year, which proved incredibly productive.

[RELATED: Raiders Mailbag: Defense clearly still well behind offense]

The NFL also announced training camp report dates on Monday. Raiders rookies report to camp on July 23, with veterans due in Napa by July 26. The first full-squad practice is the 27th, with padded sessions a few days after that.

Raiders' front seven on defensive line still full of many question marks

Raiders' front seven on defensive line still full of many question marks

The NFL is heading into its one true hibernation period, a quiet stretch when coaches and players alike get away from the game before it consumes them all once training camps begin.

Focus will hone to the Raiders at that point, as NFL fans nationwide check in on Jon Gruden’s roster rebuild via weekly installments of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” There’s plenty of intrigue in a team with uncertain legitimacy and plenty of question marks at important positions, which is common at this stage of a radial reconstruction.

That’s why this is a good time to check in and answer some questions in the Raiders mailbag about what happened during the offseason program and what’s up next in camp.

The upgrade in talent looks obvious on the offense. Did you get a similar impression about the defense during OTA’s/mini camp? – Joe Bonura
I certainly do not. The offense has improved significantly because the Raiders invested heavily in veterans who can help it and, specifically, quarterback Derek Carr thrive. Antonio Brown’s expensive. So is Trent Brown and Tyrell Williams in 2019. Josh Jacobs cost a high draft pick. Those are major upgrades at important positions.

While this might be the deepest and most well-rounded secondary I’ve seen in years, the front seven does not inspire confidence. Honestly, who intimidates in the front seven? Anybody strike fear?

The linebacker corps is older with unwelcome recent injury history. The Raiders have used five draft picks on defensive linemen the past two seasons, but that area remains a giant work in progress. Even if Arden Key makes a second-year leap and Clelin Ferrell impresses right away, where are even middle-of-the-road sack totals coming from?

All that’s what we see on paper. These guys could prove doubters wrong, and we might well see that early on.

But it’s going to be hard, and that’s no shock for a defensive front that didn’t get much attention in free agency. It will take time to develop a young corps into a scary unit. There’s work to do there, without many sure things in the front seven.

What's your take on Chris Warren and his chances of being on the roster this year? Do you think he can fill a Zack Crockett type role in the Gruden offense or does Josh Jacobs shoulder the entire load? – Gabe Duran
It’s still up in the air. Count Jacobs, Doug Martin and Jalen Richard are roster locks. So is a fullback, whether favorite Keith Smith retains the post or Alec Ingold wins the gig. That doesn’t leave much room.

DeAndre Washington never quits and will continue to compete. Warren offers a true thumper’s dynamic to the crew, which isn’t present in his form on the depth chart. He’s a bruising 260 pounds right now, and remains an intriguing option with plenty to prove. He’s a tough read, considering he missed all of last season with a knee injury and head coach Jon Gruden doesn’t give him much public praise. A lot will weigh on his pass protection and versatility.

Hey Scott thanks for taking questions. I know sacks are crucial but are the DEs and LBs showing they can set the edge? – Thomas Davis
I hate to say ‘wait ‘til the pads come on,’ but I have to in this instance. Josh Mauro will certainly play a role here, and Clelin Ferrell must excel in this area to be the three-down player the Raiders hope he cane be. That isn’t an area with much depth, and could be an issue if not shored up in camp.

Hey Scott it’s been a while, that time of the year again ! Who do you see as the main slot guy? Hunter [Renfrow] is going to get every chance but grant and [J.J.] Nelson can make a strong push , how do you see it playing out ? How many of those guys make the team ? – Landon Weber
The Raiders really like Renfrow and his progress during the offseason program, but don’t count out Ryan Grant. He comes highly recommended from Gruden’s brother Jay while working with the receiver in Washington. He’s a tough veteran and solid No. 3, someone that Gruden could easily get behind as the primary guy.

Nelson has speed to spare, but I would think Renfrow will get every opportunity to earn a roster spot for sure and likely a role even as a reserve.

In terms of receivers, Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and return man Dwayne Harris are in for sure. Grant and Renfrow (if he earns it) could both be in, leaving everyone else to fight for one spot. Those are tough odds, but I’ll call my shot way, way too early and take Keelan Doss there. There will be heavy competition for the final one or two spots in this receiver corps.

It’s been almost 10 months and I still can’t believe it. I still haven’t heard a valid argument for it other than ego. I know hindsight is always 20/20, but you trade a HOF at a premier position for a 1st round RB prospect and some draft capital next year? Not to mention his cap number is only $11.9 million this year when we still have $27 million...So I guess my question is had everything but that trade happened, would we be SB candidates this year? – Mike Tarnovetchi
Wow. A Khalil Mack question, without actually naming him, nearly a year after the trade counts as a surprise. Jon Gruden surely hopes improved play will slip that controversial move farther into the background, but we apparently aren’t there yet.

To answer the question directly, the Raiders would not be serious contenders this year. They weren’t with Mack in 2017, and Gruden clearly believed this roster had to be torn down and rebuilt. There were holes before he got here, and he wanted to make this roster the way he wanted, without being saddled by yet another massive contract.

How effective do you see the Karl Joseph and Johnathan Abram working on the back end? And how is Trayvon Mullen doing? – Idris Gray
I think it could be a solid pairing, with Erik Harris active in the rotation as well. Abram has been impressive thus far, and Joseph has motivation to spare with the Raiders declining his fifth-year option. He was playing his best football near last season’s end, and wants to build off that positive play.

Abram’s a natural born leader, and fits in well as a versatile piece.

I can’t say that Mullen stood out in practices open to the press, but you can’t draw judgments from a rookie’s offseason program.

Who has been a offseason surprise either UDFA or last year didn't play much or just someone not on everyone's radar but has a good chance to make the team and provide an impact? – Lorenzo Taylor
Again, too early for such predictions. We normally select a ‘pick to click’ during training camp of an undrafted guy who makes the squad. Doss and Ingold are early favorites, but don’t sleep on Ronald Ollie along the defensive line. An interior offensive lineman could find a spot as well.

Biggest weakness going into camp, and ways to address it? Has to be pass rush by a mile. – Mark Lubienski
It’s the pass rush, and nothing else is even close. I talked about it earlier, but this defensive line remains a work in progress. It isn’t just sack totals. Run defense must be improved inside and out. But, yeah, the Raiders need some real juice off the edge.

It may take another draft class to find it, unless rookies in Ferrell and Maxx Crosby make a profound impact that’s hard to do.

If the O-line continues to struggle will [Tom] Cable be let go or is he getting a free pass? – Cody Knudtson
The Raiders drafted two offensive tackles in the first three rounds last year, and Cable was integral in those selections. He will have some time to develop them. Adding veteran help and a year’s experience to 2018 first-round left tackle Kolton Miller especially means the pressure will be on Cable a bit more this year.

The sack totals have to come down and run totals must go up and stay there for Cable to remain as secure as he is right now.

Who will be the standout for the D line this year?? – Donnie Medeiros
Maurice Hurst is the easy answer. I think he’s going to be a quality pro for a long time. We’ll go in a different direction here and say Maxx Crosby ends up with 5-7 sacks as a tenacious situational pass rusher and surprise standout.

I can go big with these predictions. It’s not they’ll stay on the internet for everyone to see or anything.

Who's the starter come Halloween, [Daryl] Worley or [Trayvon] Mullen? Will [Lamarcus] Joyner play the slot exclusively or will he bounce to safety any? And is [Darren] Waller really what they say he is? – Michael Stewart
That wasn’t one question, Michael. I’ll quickly answer all three: 1. Worley. I believe this will be his best year. Coaches like him, but he will be tested. 2. We can only go off of what’s been seen and said thus far. Right now, Joyner’s a slot cornerback. 3. Since I’m part of ‘they,’ and have written about his impressive offseason program, I’ll say I believe he will be an impact player in 2018. He has all the tools you want in a receiving tight end, and should receive favorable matchups with Brown and Williams in the pattern.

Is Richie Incognito the opening day starter? – Bob Jugan
I’m pretty sure that’s a trick question. Are you asking if he’ll be suspended to start the year? He’s pretty set as the primary option and could lock the starting gig down this summer, and could start in his first game eligible. That could be Week 1, or whenever a possible NFL suspension for off-field mistakes concludes.

The Raiders are still waiting for an answer there.

[RELATED: Raiders' Jacobs not sure he wants life story going Hollywood]

Can we get a late round pick for DeAndre Washington? I like him but he probably doesn’t make the 53 with Warren coming on and his skill set similar to Richard, Martin, and Jacobs -- Kevin Nisbett
It’s certainly possible with a solid preseason. He’s an NFL back. Don’t count Washington off the roster just yet. He’s a fighter.

Scotty, is Musburger going to call Raiders games again this season? -- Willie Gabel
Yes, you will be listening LIVE to another Raiders season of Brent Musburger on the call.