Raiders

Marshawn's homecoming focal point of Raiders season opener

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USATSI

Marshawn's homecoming focal point of Raiders season opener

OAKLAND – Leaving Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey unblocked normally spells trouble. The two-time Pro Bowler, after all is 6-foot-1, 305 pounds backfield wrecking ball. A lack of communication up front left Casey free and Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch exposed approaching the line of scrimmage.

Lynch didn’t dodge. He went full battering ram in that instant, slamming into someone 90 pounds heavier. Size didn’t matter here. Lynch trucked Casey on that play and stay upright for a 6-yard gain.

The Raiders sideline went crazy.

Just imagine if that play happened at Oakland Coliseum. Roar might’ve registered on the Richter scale.

That could happen Sunday against the New York Jets. That’s Marshawn’s homecoming game.

Beast Mode is a national brand, but Oakland is its capital. Lynch is The Town’s most popular resident, a proud native who has given so much to his community. Tales of his generosity are legend in these parts, though never, ever told by him.

They get out nonetheless, drawing a complete picture of someone who cares about far more about community than football.

Lynch came out of retirement for Oakland. He made that clear in one of two meeting with the media since returning to football. He did so after the Raiders were approved to bolt for Las Vegas and leave Lynch’s hometown for a second time.

“A lot of the kids probably won’t have an opportunity to see most of their idols growing up and being in their hometown (after the Raiders leave),” Lynch said on June 6 “With me being from here and continuing to be here, it gives them an opportunity to see somebody who actually did it from where they’re from and for the team they probably idolize.”

It will be a big moment for many, one that has captured local attention to a point that you haven’t seen headlines about leaving for Las Vegas. This could mark the beginning of the end for Oakland football. It won't. Not on Marshawn's day. Maybe not while Marshawn's in silver and black. 

That especially true after last week’s performance, which was vintage Beast Mode. This is Marshawn’s game, in his house.

“Super excited to be at home and knowing that Marshawn is a home boy,” said head coach and Hayward native Jack Del Rio. “This is his home, like me, grew up here in the East Bay. I know he’s going to have special feelings being out there and it’s going to be great. It’s always great when we come in front of our people here at home.”

The crowd will be emotional. Lynch might not be. Left tackle Donald Penn, one of Lynch’s best friends on the team, says Beast Mode knows how to compartmentalize.

“I know he’ll be happy, but he’ll be cool about it,” Penn said. “But, you know what? Marshawn is a professional on game day. He comes in there focused. We always joke around, but on game day he’s a different person. He’s a businessman. I know he’s going to be excited. I hope we get him in the end zone this weekend in front of his home team.”

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

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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.