Raiders

Mike Zimmer has second-guessed cutting now-Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson

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Mike Zimmer has second-guessed cutting now-Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson

ALAMEDA – The Minnesota Vikings took the first kicker in last year’s NFL draft. They had pick of the litter and chose Daniel Carlson.

The Auburn product was awesome in college, with all the power and accuracy and mental fortitude to be an excellent NFL kicker.

Top talent, however, doesn’t guarantee perfection. Carlson was not that with the Vikings, especially in a Week 2 tie with Green Bay where he missed three field goals.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer wasn’t pleased, and he cut the fifth-round pick right away.

He had this to say when asked about the swift ax.

“Did you see the game?” Zimmer said last year. He called the decision “pretty easy.”

In hindsight, it may have been made in haste.

Carlson took some time off after that cut to work on his technique in private, and emerged a better kicker for the experience. The Raiders benefitted from that, acquiring a specialist who looks like a long-term solution.

Carlson set a Raiders franchise record for single-season field goal accuracy in 2018, converting 94 percent of his attempts.

It’s possible that Carlson turned things around only after a tough exit from Minnesota, but letting Carlson go has weighed some on Zimmer’s mind.

He said so in a Wednesday conference call leading up to Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“I mean, do I have regrets?” Zimmer said. “I like our kicker who we have now, but did I second guess it? Sure. He’s done great there, and I think he’s a very, very talented kid. I wish him well, just not this week. But no, I’m happy for him and in retrospect, I guess, yeah, I’ve thought about it many times.”

[RELATED: Why Raiders' Joyner is encouraged by team's mindset]

That thought may have crossed Zimmer’s mind more last season, even with veteran Dan Bailey in purple. He hit just 75 percent of his field goals last season, while Carlson was near perfect.

Raiders' Trent Brown accused of domestic violence by woman in lawsuit

Raiders' Trent Brown accused of domestic violence by woman in lawsuit

Raiders offensive tackle Trent Brown has been accused of domestic violence by his son's mother, Diorra Marzette-Sanders, in a lawsuit filed Monday.

Pro Football Talk obtained a copy of the lawsuit, filed in a California civil court, in which Marzette-Sanders accuses Brown of slapping her "across the face, leaving her mouth bloody and her face bruised," and that he has "bruised, bloodied and battered" her multiple times. Marzette-Sanders also accuses Brown of threatening her by saying he'd "shoot yo a-- in the fu--ing head" when she wanted to leave with their son.

The lawsuit further cites three incidents this year as evidence of the abuse. In March, Brown “grabbed her face and covered her mouth while choking her out until she couldn’t breathe,” leaving “a ring of bruises around her neck," according to the suit. One month later, Brown “grabbed the Plaintiff’s arm, took her into a room, locked the door, slapped her across the face and punched her in the ribs” while they were vacationing in Hawaii, Marzette-Sanders alleges.

In June, police in Bastrop County, Tex., were called and report was filed after Brown allegedly slapped Marzette-Sanders in the face. Charges were never filed. According to the lawsuit, Brown terminated his relationship with Marzette-Sanders at that time. 

The NFL is aware of the suit, and a league spokesman said the NFL will "review the matter."

According to the 2019 NFL personal conduct policy, the league investigates possible violations even when charges are not filed and an player is not charged with a crime: "Whenever the league office becomes aware of a possible violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, it will undertake an investigation, the timing and scope of which will be based upon the particular circumstances of the matter. Any such investigation may be conducted by league office personnel, independent parties, or by a combination of the two."

The Raiders signed Brown to a record-setting four-year, $66 million contract this past offseason.

Surging Raiders face tough upcoming tests in Packers, Texans offenses

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Surging Raiders face tough upcoming tests in Packers, Texans offenses

The Raiders haven’t played a true home game in forever. That's true, even though the Silver and Black have two games left in a five-game stretch played away from Oakland that will define this season.

They have started it off well, with two quality wins in three attempts. The team has rallied together during this time, facing in-game adversity and practice-week setbacks head on. This group doesn’t wilt, finding ways to beat Indianapolis and Chicago after what could’ve been a demoralizing loss in Minnesota.

Head coach Jon Gruden deserves credit for guiding the Raiders through with expert game plans. The coaching staff and the locker room’s leadership core have kept the team together during tough times playing difficult opposition.

The path doesn’t get any easier as this road trip winds down. In fact, the competition ratchets up. The Raiders face Green Bay on Sunday and Houston the following week before returning to Oakland for a three-game homestand.

Yeah, that’s Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson in consecutive weeks. Those elite quarterbacks are as tough as they get, with an ability to score at will and perform well in the clutch.

The Raiders have scored 55 points in the last two games with a solid run game and efficient passing, with strong starts in both wins. That will be essential yet again if the Raiders are to continue performing well against a run of legitimate playoff contenders.

This two-game win streak, punctuated by an excellent win over the Bears in London, has brought positive press about the coaching staff and the team's toughness. The next two games could offer a reality check -- or densely pack the bandwagon. 

The Packers and Texans offer stiff competition to a Raiders team right in the thick of the AFC West race. The division is bunched up at the moment, with the Chiefs and Chargers each losing two straight games. The Broncos have won two in a row. The Raiders are in a position to make some noise in the division, especially if they can get at least one win out of the next two games.

The schedule gets a bit easier after these two, with golden opportunities down the stretch. There are weak sisters on the schedule that a quality team should handle and a flood of division games. The Raiders can remain highly competitive if they maintain a strong ground game offensively while shutting down the opponent’s rushing attack.

Early leads allow the Raiders to play their way, with a steady diet of Josh Jacobs working behind an imposing offensive line. The Raiders seem committed to playing solid run defense, but the back end must hold its own against excellent quarterbacks. Doing so puts most every game in play, even those where the Raiders look inferior on paper. 

[RELATED: Why Jackson sees so much potential in this Raiders O-line]

The Raiders have played quality competition tough, and found ways to win three important games through five attempts. They aren’t going to win every game, nor should that be expected from a team managing significant talent losses via injury, suspension or other.

Coming out of this two-game stretch with a win, or even two, would show the NFL these Raiders arrived before many expected, and that they’re a legitimate playoff threat heading into the season’s second half.