Notes: McGloin wanted a chance to play: 'It's not my decision'

Notes: McGloin wanted a chance to play: 'It's not my decision'

HOUSTON – Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin spent his Saturday alternating head gear, between a hat and a helmet.

He threw on a cap when the Raiders were on defense, and a helmet when they had possession in case rookie starter Connor Cook got hurt. He never warmed up on the sideline. Not once.

The Raiders stuck with Cook all game despite the fact their offense rarely moved the football.

McGloin was available after injuring his shoulder and neck in the regular-season finale at Denver, when he struggled mightily before the injury.

McGloin was waiting for a call that never came. They stuck with Cook in a 27-145 loss to the Houston Texans and NRG Stadium that officially ended their season.

The fourth-year veteran and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent didn’t lobby for a chance to play, though he certainly wanted to get into the action.

“It’s not my decision,” McGloin said. “It doesn’t really matter what I do, what I think. I had tremendous help from the training staff and the strength coaches throughout the course of the week to be as healthy as I could be to be available if they needed me to go in.”

McGloin’s playing status was initially uncertain, but he was able to rehab enough to be active. The Raiders coaches never pulled him off the bench.

“I asked at halftime,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “The coaches really felt that there were other things that were kind of contributing and that there wasn’t going to be a big change based on changing the quarterback, so we stayed the course with it. I know (Cook) got a lot of experience in the game and the last game and a half. (Cook) did some good things, and he did some things he’ll certainly learn from.”

Defense laments missed opportunities: The Raiders defense allowed just 291 yards to the Texans, and gave up points on short fields, but it didn’t come through for a struggling offense.

The Raiders didn’t have a takeaway or a single sack, without the game-changing plays necessary to make a significant impact. That will stick with Raiders defenders after missing opportunities to change the game.

“That really bothers me, that we weren’t able to create a turnover and make some big plays,” cornerback TJ Carrie said. “We needed to step up as a defense and play our best game. That didn’t happen today.”

Cook can’t connect with top WRs: Receiver Michael Crabtree suffered a concussion in the second half and did not return to the game, but he and Cook struggled to connect when he was on the field. They had just two completions for 33 yards on seven targets.

Amari Cooper didn’t fare much better. He was doubled covered most of the night, and only had two catches for 10 yards on a whopping 10 targets. Cooper struggled down the stretch, with only more than 60 yards once in the last nine games.

Injury update: Center Rodney Hudson suffered an ankle injury and returned to the game, though he was seen after the loss in a walking boot.

Inside linebacker Malcolm Smith didn’t finish the game due to a hamstring injury. Cory James played in his absence.

Left tackle Donald Penn’s knee injury is relatively minor and shouldn’t require much time to heal.

This ‘n that: Punter Marquette King broke a franchise-record with 10 punts in a postseason game, and some of them didn’t go well. He dropped just two inside the 20-yard line, and had a few short ones that gave the Texans good field position. …The Raiders running game struggled to generate offense, with 64 yards on 21 carries. …Return man Jalen Richard had a good day, with a 13.6 yard average on five punt returns. He had a 37-yard return that set up the Raiders first touchdown.

Former Raiders interim head coach, 49ers assistant Tony Sparano dies


Former Raiders interim head coach, 49ers assistant Tony Sparano dies

Former Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano died unexpectedly on Sunday morning. He was 56.

The Minnesota Vikings announced his passing, though an exact cause of death is unknown.

He was the Vikings offensive line coach, a position he held since 2016. Sparano had been an NFL coach for nearly two decades, with stints in Oakland and San Francisco. He was also Miami's head coach from 2008-11.

He was hired to run the Raiders offensive line in 2013, and was promoted to interim head coach after Dennis Allen was fired four games into the 2014 campaign.

Sparano showed well in that role, kept the team playing hard during a difficult 3-13 season and nearly had the interim tag removed. He was a finalist for 2015 head coaching job, though Jack Del Rio ultimately got the job.

He left the organization then, and spent the 2015 season as 49ers tight ends coach. He ended up in Minnesota after that.

Sparano helped the Raiders finished 2014 with a three wins over their final six games, which started an upward trend that carried through 2016. He also remained patient with then-rookie starter Derek Carr.

Left tackle Donald Penn joined the Raiders in 2014, and experienced a career renaissance that season under Sparano.

The Silver and Black mourned Sparano's loss.

"The Raiders family was deeply saddened to learn of Tony Sparano's passing this morning," the team said in a statement. "Tony had a deep passion for football and was embraced by the Raider Nation during his time with the Silver and Black. Tony will be sadly missed by the entire NFL community. Our hearts are with (his wife) Jeanette and the Sparano family during this extremely difficult time."

The 49ers also paid respects to the longtime NFL coach.

“The 49ers organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Sparano,” the 49ers said in a statement. “We share our heartfelt condolences with the Sparano family and the Minnesota Vikings.”

Sparano is survived by his wife Jeanette, their three children and four grandchildren.

Jon Gruden gets Raiders fans ready for training camp with party


Jon Gruden gets Raiders fans ready for training camp with party

To celebrate his return to the sideline, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden threw a party for fans on Friday at Ricky's Sports Theatre and Grill in San Leandro.  

Raider Nation showed up in droves. 

In all, over 500 fans showed up, according to a Ricky's spokesperson.

"We are honored to be a part of the love story between Jon Gruden and this fan base," the spokesperson said. "It's incredibly special. And the significance of this event, at this time, is not lost on us."

The Raiders, Gruden, and Ricky's all collaborated on the event, which came together because of Gruden's relationship with Ricky's owners, Ricky and Tina Ricardo. Gruden paid for the catering and entertainment himself, according to the spokesperson. 

Plenty of Raiders alumni attended, including Cliff Branch and Lester Hayes, according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. Branch even took the mic and made a guarantee. 

Gruden broke in as an NFL head coach with the Raiders in 1998, and coached Oakland for four seasons. It was in Oakland where Gruden was first given the nickname "Chucky," after the murderous puppet in the Child's Play film franchise. Gruden paid tribute to those roots at Ricky's with a... creative autograph signing. 

Raiders training camp begins on July 27. Whether or not the team will be joined by its best defensive player remains to be seen. 

Star defensive end Khalil Mack skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June in pursuit of a new contract. Gruden told fans on Friday that the team will "find a way" to bring Mack back.