Raiders

Josh Jacobs is Raiders rookie in best position to succeed, analyst says

Josh Jacobs is Raiders rookie in best position to succeed, analyst says

The Raiders took three players in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but according to one NFL writer, the second of those three is in the best position to succeed next season. 

It's not defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who was taken with the No. 4 overall pick.

No, it's running back Josh Jacobs, who the Raiders selected with the No. 24 overall pick.

NFL.com's Dan Parr ranked his top 25 rookies who are "in the best position to kick some butt this season" and had Jacobs No. 8 on the list, in a segment dubbed "Greatness within reach."

Here's what Parr wrote about Jacobs:

"It's a good thing Jacobs didn't lose a lot of tread off his tires at Alabama, because we suspect he's in for a heavy workload, courtesy of Jon David Gruden. He's going to be the man in that backfield and is the prototypical every-down back. Now, is that offensive line as improved as some think?"

[RELATED: Gruden wants Martin to mentor Jacobs]

Parr did not list Ferrell or fellow first-round pick safety Johnathan Abram in his rankings.

Jacobs is expected to step in and be the feature running back for the Raiders, so he has a chance to put up monster numbers. Ferrell was drafted higher than most analysts thought he would be, so there might be a learning curve for him.

Jon Gruden, Gareon Conley gave Trayvon Mullen sage advice before first start

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AP

Jon Gruden, Gareon Conley gave Trayvon Mullen sage advice before first start

ALAMEDA – Jon Gruden approached Trayvon Mullen this week in the Raiders training complex to deliver the rookie cornerback one simple message.

It’s your time.

The Raiders had just traded outside cornerback Gareon Conley to the Houston Texans for a 2020 third-round draft pick, leaving a vacancy in the starting lineup. Mullen gets the first shot to fill it. If the No. 40 overall draft pick does well, he could be there for years to come.

It’s his time.

“This means a lot,” Mullen said. “I’m going to prove to them that they can trust and believe in me, and that I’m going to make the plays that come to me.”

Ironically, that’s the same message Conley gave his friend and protégé on his way to Houston.

Conley said it’s time to step up, time to shine.

That’s why Mullen called the opportunity “bittersweet.” He’s getting a great chance to launch his NFL career, but losing a friend and mentor who, oddly enough, he’ll see on the opposite sideline Sunday when the Raiders face the Texans at NRG Stadium.

“That was a good feeling knowing I have an opportunity, but it’s tough losing a guy I could depend on in Gareon, someone who was helping me grow and get better,” Mullen said. “I have to put that aside and start making plays and help this team.”

Mullen hasn’t had many opportunities thus far. He played heavier snaps in the first two weeks and got beat in key moments but hasn’t played much defense since.

“He has been in every game and he’s played better,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “He’s prepared himself, I think better. He’s healthy now. Remember he was hurt in training camp for a while, but I’m not going to make any predictions. We’ll get what we deserve at every position, including corner. I know he’s going to be tested and I’m anxious to see him compete.”

Mullen will get targeted a ton by fellow Clemson product and Houston quarterback DeShaun Watson, possibly while covering another Clemson product DeAndre Hopkins. Those elite talents are hard to handle, and Mullen might take some lumps early, but teammates like how he keeps getting up to compete.

“Trayvon is ultra-competitive,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “With a lot of corners, if they get beat in a practice, they get super mad and then they’re grabby, he just kind of stays even keeled but at an ultra-competitive level if that makes sense. Proven over time he’s not afraid to stick his face in there and hit somebody. He did it a lot in college and he’s done it for us in the short time that we’ve seen him be able to stick his head in there, he has no problem with the contact, which is a lost art these days at that position, and he has no problem doing it.

“He reminds me of just an old school, grimy, tough kind of corner. I think he’s…he’s a rookie so he’s going to have his plays where he wants them back, but at the end of the day I think he can be a really good player.”

Mullen has worked hard on his technique, on getting low and staying low, he says, and getting on the same page with fellow defensive backs.

[RELATED: Williams progressing well ahead of Texans game]

Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow has worked extensively against Mullen during their college days and shared some insight on how the cornerback will treat this starting chance.

“As I see it, Trayvon feels out his way and, when it’s his time, he goes and attacks it,” Renfrow said. “That’s what I think he’s going to do. That’s what I expect him to do. He’s a great player, and he’s reliable. That’s the most important thing. He’s going to be where he needs to be, and he’s going to go out and make plays.”

Raiders injury report: WR Tyrell Williams 'heading in right direction'

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USATSI

Raiders injury report: WR Tyrell Williams 'heading in right direction'

ALAMEDA – Raiders receiver Tyrell Williams returned to practice Wednesday after three weeks of rest while battling a bout of plantar fasciitis. He missed two games in that stretch, a difficult consequence of a foot that just couldn’t get right.

“It has been rough,” Williams said. “I had never missed a game in my career, so it has been tough to be out the last two.”

Williams ran some on Monday and responded well enough to practice on Wednesday. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll play Sunday in Houston, but odds are certainly improving after he stood zero chance heading into the previous game in Green Bay.

The Raiders have sorely missed their No. 1 receiver, using tight ends and running backs as passing game focal points. Receivers have been accent pieces without him, but Williams had to be smart and wait for his injury to heal enough to get back in the action.

The waiting, it seems is the most difficult aspect of this injury experience.

“I have been battling that for sure,” Williams said. “The hardest part for me isn’t the pain. It’s not being out there with my guys. I want to be dependable. That has been the toughest part for me.”

Williams said he’s “heading in the right direction” for a return to action, though he’ll have to see how his foot responds to practice work.

“I thought he looked pretty good,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I mean, he’s still questionable. We’ll see. We’ll give him one more day to go out there and test that foot.”

While right tackle Trent Brown also went back to work in a limited capacity, the Raiders are giving several prominent players time to rest this week. That list included right guard Gabe Jackson and center Rodney Hudson.

Running back Josh Jacobs said after the Packers game he wouldn’t miss any time with a shoulder injury, but sometimes the soreness hits a day or two later. He wasn’t able to go, and Gruden characterized it as more than simple rest.

“He’s got a legitimate shoulder injury,” Gruden said. “He got hurt in the Green Bay game, had it shot up. He’s still very sore and we’ll list him as questionable for the game.”

[RELATED: Jacobs setting tone for Raiders' offense]

Here’s the full Raiders participation report: Here’s the full Raiders participation report:

Raiders practice report

WEDNESDAY
Did not practice
DE Arden Key (knee)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

Limited practice
WR Tyrell Williams (foot)
RT Trent Brown (calf)

Full practice
WR Dwayne Harris (ankle)