Notes: 'Robin showed up,' as Irvin's sacks pace Raiders pass rush

Notes: 'Robin showed up,' as Irvin's sacks pace Raiders pass rush

SAN DIEGO – Raiders edge rusher Bruce Irvin calls himself Robin to Khalil Mack’s Batman. The pass rushers have formed a dynamic duo this season, combining for 18 sacks between them.

Attention and praise is typically heaped on Mack, a legitimate contender to be named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Mack still made an impact in a 19-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers that clinched a Raiders playoff spot, but the self-appointed sidekick stole the show.

He had six tackles, two sacks and two other quarterback hits in the victory.

“Robin showed up today,” Irvin said with a smile. “Robin woke up with a pep in his step. I had a good breakfast. I just felt good about the whole situation when I woke up. I was ready to go, and I’m happy I was able to contribute and come out of here with this win.”

The Raiders pass rush was particularly effective preventing a late Chargers comeback. Irvin had a sack in that last ditch effort, and generated pressure on a fourth down pass that Reggie Nelson intercepted to seal victory.

Irvin now has seven sacks on the season and five in his last six games. The Raiders are thrilled with Irvin’s recent play. The man himself feels like he’s on a tear.

“This is the most consistent I’ve been in the five years I’ve been in the league,” Irvin said. “I still have a long way to go, a lot of critiquing to do in my game. I’m definitely on a roll, and I’m definitely playing well right now.”

Crabtree’s toe-tapper: Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree didn’t have a good game last week against Kansas City, but responded well against San Diego. He had six catches for 60 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown catch late in the first half that got the Raiders back in it.

Crabtree extended fully and managed to get his toes down just inside the boundary. That was acknowledged after a replay review, where the referee said their was a “slice of blue” between Crabtree and the sideline.

That was vintage Crabtree, a savvy move from a veteran who has made quite a few this season and works on that craft extensively in practice.

“We’ve had so many of those this year,” Crabtree said. “It was fun to do.”

Murray responds well after fumble: Latavius Murray hadn’t fumbled all year entering Sunday’s game. Then he lost possession twice in the first half. The first miscue rolled out of bounds. The second occurred in the red zone, and was recovered by San Diego.

The Raiders went right back to Murray after that and he really picked up steam with chunk yardage on the ground that kept the offensive running strong.

He finished with 81 yards on 13 carries, and was heavily involved in key scoring drives.

Raiders-Cardinals injury report: Jordy Nelson still shelved as game nears


Raiders-Cardinals injury report: Jordy Nelson still shelved as game nears

ALAMEDA – The Raiders receiver issues didn’t get any easier on Thursday. Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson remained out of action, though that’s considered an estimation because the Silver and Black didn’t conduct a full practice.

They trimmed on-field prep due to air quality issues in the East Bay, which hovered in an unhealthy range that would impact even healthy adults.

Practice became a walk-through session at an off-site location in Alameda. The team did not conduct any activities outdoors on Thursday.

While Bryant has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game against Arizona, the Raiders are holding out hope Nelson can recover in time to play the Cardinals. Fingers, however, could be crossed in vain. It seems unlikely Nelson will play, even though head coach Jon Gruden believes he’ll be designated questionable Friday on the team’s official injury report.

The players considered limited this week were all pulled off the injury report before last week’s loss to the L.A. Chargers. All save cornerback Gareon Conley, who was new to the injury list this week.

Raiders practice report

Did not practice

WR Martavis Bryant (knee)
WR Jordy Nelson (knee)

Limited practice
CB Gareon Conley (groin)
LB Kyle Wilber (knee)
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
LG Kelechi Osemele (knee)
CB Daryl Worley (shoulder)

Full practice
RG Gabe Jackson (pectoral)
OL Jon Feliciano (ribs)
LT Kolton Miller (knee/elbow)
WR Dwayne Harris (shoulder)
RB Doug Martin (hip)

Cardinals practice report

Did not practice
S Budda Baker (knee)
S Rudy Ford (heel)
DT Rodney Gunter (not injury related)
OL DJ Humphries (knee)
WR Chad Williams (ankle)

Limited practice
K Phil Dawson (hip)
OL Mike Iupati (back)
DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf)
LB Josh Bynes (wrist)

Full practice
DT Corey Peters (heel)
OL Jeremy Vujnovich (hamstring)
WR Larry Fitzgerald (not injury related)

Raiders rookie spotlight: CB Nick Nelson could be long-term answer in slot


Raiders rookie spotlight: CB Nick Nelson could be long-term answer in slot

ALAMEDA – There isn’t much to play for in a Raiders season that has started 1-8 with no guarantee that future wins will come.

Significant roster turnover is expected this offseason, with most veterans playing now not expected back.

The Raiders are keeping a close eye on their rookie class, and we’ll do the same. We’ll put the spotlight on one rookie each week as the season carries on and evaluate what they’ve progressed to this point and what strides must be made down the stretch.

This week we’re looking at ...

Nick Nelson

Position: Cornerback
Draft slot: No. 110 overall (Fourth round)
School: Wisconsin
Stats: 3 tackles, 4 receptions allowed for 28 yards on 7 targets over three games (61 defensive snaps)

Raw tools: Nelson is stronger than you might expect at his listed 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, with an ability to play receivers physically at the line of scrimmage. He can be a tight cover man and a solid tackler, and could be considered a fourth-round steal if he becomes the Raiders’ regular slot cornerback as expected.

Early returns: Nelson was inactive most of the season’s first half. The Raiders slow-played his recovery from surgery to repair a torn meniscus, an injury suffered during a pre-draft workout with the Detroit Lions. His draft stock took a hit, and sent him sliding down draft boards with teams uncertain about how he would rebound to knee surgery. He didn’t do anything this spring, but worked his way back to practice and earned increased snaps over the past three weeks.

Where Nelson has improved: Well, his health is the biggest area of improvement. He’s finally 100-percent healthy, in football shape and well versed in coordinator Paul Guenther’s system, and can play free on Sundays. That’s a good sign for the Raiders, who hope he can develop into a defensive staple.

Nelson got a real chance to showcase his skills in last week’s loss to the L.A. Chargers, and played well in coverage and against the run.

“He has some quickness and size and strength to play the nickel position. I think he played 25, close to 30 snaps, something like that. Leon Hall’s snaps were down at the nickel position, but for his debut I thought he played pretty good. I was excited about it.”

What’s next: Nelson should continue taking snaps away from Hall in the slot, as the Raiders figure out what they have in the Wisconsin alum. This is a great opportunity for Nelson to play to his confidence level, which is always high.

The Raiders like tough, physical corners and Nelson must prove he falls in that category to give coaches confidence to make his 2019’s presumptive starter at slot corner.

Quotable: “He probably played the most snaps of the season last week. I thought he did a good job in there. We’ll continue to get him snaps and get him some experience in the slot.” – Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther