Raiders

Notes: Del Rio 'not going to dwell' on penalties, praises Raiders resilience

Notes: Del Rio 'not going to dwell' on penalties, praises Raiders resilience

ALAMEDA – The Raiders lead the NFL in penalties and penalty yards, both by a long shot.

The Raiders set an all-time record with 23 penalties in Sunday’s victory over Tampa Bay, costing 200 yards that stands as third-most in history.

Del Rio wasn’t pleased about the infractions, especially those occurring before the snap. He also chose to focus on one word in the previous par above all else.

Victory.

“What I like about our guys is that we’re resilient,” Del Rio said during his Monday press conference. “We continue to fight through whatever obstacles present themselves. Yesterday we dealt with a large number of infractions that we don’t want to see. We fought our way through it and found a way to win.”

While the Raiders earned some penalties, he certainly didn’t think all were warranted. A pair of illegal formation calls called against Vadal Alexander were bothersome, as he believed the rookie properly signaled himself as an eligible receiver.

Del Rio wants to be better in this area, especially considering his reputation as a fundamentally sound player who demands the same as a head coach, but he won’t worry about this issue much because he knows the Raiders are a disciplined team.

“We’ve made our corrections,” Del Rio said. “We’re not going to dwell on anything negative. We’ll go forward with positive energy and focus on things we need to do.”

No Sean Smith update: Raiders cornerback Sean Smith injured his shoulder on the second play of Sunday’s win and did not return after seeming to jam his arm back into the socket.

Del Rio didn’t update his condition on Monday. He thought DJ Hayden and TJ Carrie fared well with increased action.

“We matched (David Amerson) on (top Tampa Bay wideout) Mike Evans, and he did a nice job,” Del Rio said. “We doubled him throughout the day, and those other guys were left one-on-one a lot and they did a good job covering their guys.”

Penn a fantasy option?: Raiders left tackle Donald Penn scored a receiving touchdown on Sunday against a Tampa he used to play for, and it marked his fourth career TD. According to NFL Research, he has more touchdowns that any other player over 300 pounds.

Coach Del Rio, should Penn be a fantasy football option moving forward?

“He comes along once every two years,” Del Rio said. “You’d better be patient.”

Antonio Brown to Raiders? Jon Gruden a 'big fan,' John Clayton says

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AP

Antonio Brown to Raiders? Jon Gruden a 'big fan,' John Clayton says

The hot rumor right now is Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown being traded to the 49ers.

Michael Irvin wants it. Jerry Rice wants it. George Kittle wants it. The oddsmakers have the 49ers as the favorites to land Brown. Even Brown himself wants it, according to Rice.

But what about Brown to the Raiders?

According to former ESPN analyst John Clayton, it shouldn't be ruled out.

“I think, actually, Oakland would have a better chance to do something because they have three [first-round] draft choices," Clayton said Tuesday on 95.7 The Game. "And, of course, I think you could pretty well anticipate that the Steelers would like a No. 1.”

The Raiders hold the No. 4, No. 24 and No. 27 overall picks in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in April.

Clayton also eluded to Brown having a fan in the Raiders' building.

“I could see — the Raiders have three first-round picks — and I think Jon Gruden would be interested in getting a guy like Antonio Brown," Clayton said. "Because I know he was a big fan of Antonio’s work ethic and talent.”

Brown has been the subject of trade rumors since the end of the regular season. He reportedly got into a heated argument with a teammate, skipped practices leading up to Pittsburgh's season finale and then didn't play in that game.

Last Thursday, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said the team has no plans to release Brown, but a trade would be an option.

Raiders defensive depth chart: Upgrades mandatory at several key spots

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USATSI

Raiders defensive depth chart: Upgrades mandatory at several key spots

The Raiders have the salary-cap flexibility and draft picks required to significantly upgrade a talent-deficient defense. That unit was 30th in rushing, 19th against the pass and dead freaking last in points allowed.

Coordinator Paul Guenther needs more frontline talent and depth on his side of the ball, though there are a few members of the 2018 defense that will be counted on again next season.

Let’s take a look at the defensive starting lineup up as it stands heading into the offseason, and whether the Raiders can write those players in pencil, ink or a series of question marks where a name should be:

Defensive line

DE: ???
NT: Justin Ellis (ink)
DT: Maurice Hurst (ink)
DE: Arden Key (pencil)
Sub-package help: DT P.J. Hall (pencil)

The Raiders will be looking for upgrades across the defensive line, making it hard to put many names down with certainty. Both edge-rushing spots are up for grabs, with one vacant and likely filled by a veteran or high draft pick.

Key’s at the other end spot right now, but another import could take that spot as well. The LSU product could be an impactful situational pass rusher while developing skills, but was forced to play beyond that role. Dialing things back might be in his best interest.

The Raiders like Hurst a great deal, and have Ellis ready for the base defense. Another interior lineman could join the rotation, or even compete for serious snaps. The Raiders must get better up front, especially off the edges, and should spend significant capital to do so.

Linebackers

SLB: Marquel Lee (pencil)
MLB: ???
WLB: Tahir Whitehead (ink)
Jason Cabinda and Nick Morrow are available – Cabinda’s an exclusive rights free agent but should be back -- to assume the middle linebacker spot they manned last season. Both guys had solid moments working in a platoon, but an upgrade seems to be the right call here.

The Raiders could use a higher draft pick to get a middle linebacker, or bring in a veteran in free agency. Competition seems a necessary addition at the very least, though outright presumptive starter is the way to go. Lee performed well after moving to the strong side from the middle, but that position doesn’t play a ton with defenses in sub packages so often. His name’s still in pencil in case the Raiders snag an athletic edge rushing type who would play strongside linebacker and move to the line in sub packages.

The Raiders defense has lots of issues, and Whitehead isn’t anywhere near the top of the list. The veteran should return to the three-down role he held in 2018.

Secondary

CB: Gareon Conley (ink)
FS: ???
SS: Karl Joseph (ink)
CB: ???
Slot: Nick Nelson (pencil)
Conley will own one cornerback spot. Daryl Worley is expected to man the other, but we can't put him down yet. He’s a restricted free agent this offseason, and while the Raiders want to bring him back, there’s no telling what the open market will bear and whether the Raiders will match any offer or offer a high-round contract tender. There is a strong, belief, however, that Worley will be back.

Joseph showed great improvement down the stretch, and should be given an opportunity to develop further and bring physicality to the defense while attempting to be more of a big-play maker.

Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson are unrestricted free agentd and Erik Harris is restricted. Harris will likely return, but the Raiders should still look for an upgrade here in the starting lineup, either through free agency or the draft. ... Coaches like Nelson, who struggled some after losing valuable development time recovering from an offseason knee injury.

The Raiders could bring in some competition there, even as cornerback depth with Rashaan Melvin not expected back. A versatile corner could challenge and/or push Nelson over the spring and summer.