Paul Guenther searching for Raiders' every-down cornerback tandem

Paul Guenther searching for Raiders' every-down cornerback tandem

ALAMEDA – Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther doesn’t want to rotate cornerbacks as much as he has this season. He would like to establish a proper pecking order, with two every-down outside cornerbacks working with Leon Hall in the slot.

Rashaan Melvin and Gareon Conley have started and certainly played the most, with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie entering for a series or two. That was the case until Daryl Worley returned from suspension.

The 23-year old played a ton Sunday against the L.A. Chargers in his first game back. He did so largely in Conley’s spot. Worley played well, and could consequently earn more playing time moving forward.

“It’s a battle right now,” Guenther said. “Everybody’s competing for jobs. We’re going to go with the hot hand.”

Each outside cornerback has put good tape and bad out there, with the inconsistency that has led Guenther to give several an opportunity to claim a starting spot.

“I want to eventually get to two starting cornerbacks,” Guenther said. “Daryl was one of our best cornerbacks all offseason and he proved again on Sunday that he’s a high-level player. We’ll see how it goes with the snaps based on how guys are playing and the situations we’re facing.”

Conley was expected to be the team’s top cornerback this season, even with Melvin’s addition. He’s extremely talented and an excellent cover man, but has made some mistakes and some have wondering about his tackling ability.

“Gareon had a couple of struggles yesterday,” head coach Jon Gruden said Monday. “Trying to find a right mix. Trying to find a right mix at a lot of positions. Daryl Worley is a good player. I think he was second on our team in tackles. Daryl earned a right to be out there.”

The Raiders remain committed to developing Conley’s talent and will do so at a particular pace.

“He didn’t play as much last year, so he’s basically a rookie player,” Guenther said. “…I don’t want to give him too much right now. We’ll give him little, by little, by little, just like any rookie players. Gareon really only played 1-1/2 games last year and missed a lot of the offseason program.

"It’s no different that any young player. It’s a work in progress.”

Raiders training camp questions: Can Antonio Brown set new standard?

Raiders training camp questions: Can Antonio Brown set new standard?

Antonio Brown talked a good game at his Raiders introductory press conference. He vowed to set a new standard within the Silver and Black as a prime example of work ethic and accountability and, of course, by putting up crazy stats often under pressure.

He only has been through an offseason program since being traded from Pittsburgh, without much chance to back all that up. He has been excellent in spring opportunities to do so, showing great work ethic in private, behind closed doors as he does so often on social media.

The man practices so hard and so fast on every play that receivers can’t help but notice. He talks serious trash during drills, but has gained the respect of Raiders cornerbacks by helping them at times and always raising the level of competition.

Fans attending Raiders training camp in Napa starting this week will see incredible work rate firsthand.

He’s steady, dynamic and shockingly durable, the first Raiders offensive superstar since Jon Gruden’s previous head-coaching stint.

Superstars produce. If healthy, Brown will do that even in heavy coverage. He has six consecutive seasons with at least 101 receptions, 1,284 yards and eight touchdowns, all of them played with the spotlight shining bright. He has had more than 100 catches, 1,499 and 12 touchdowns in half of those years.

The best superstars also lead. That’s what Brown said he wants to do here. That effort ramps up in training camp. He shouldn’t play much, if at all, in the preseason. Risking his health is foolish in meaningless games. He should push his teammates, and his quarterback to be better throughout this summer stint in Napa.

Brown is eccentric. Lots of players are. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if the leadership by example trend continues and he helps elevate teammates by more than just drawing coverage.

The main question from now on is that effort’s sustainability through training camp’s dog days. And, what if the Raiders stumble out of the gate and struggle mightily through a grueling schedule? How will he react then? What if Carr struggles some finding Brown as well or as often as he did with the Steelers? While it didn’t end well with the Steelers, Pittsburgh never finished below .500 while Brown was there, and averaged 10.4 wins per season. We simply don’t know how he’d adapt to steady losing if that happens because he hasn’t been through it as a pro.

[RELATED: Five incredibly bold predictions for 2019 Raiders season]

Brown will set a new standard for work rate and production around here, but maintaining it through tough times might be equally important.

Is Derek Carr too sensitive? Raiders QB bashed by NFL coaches, exec

Is Derek Carr too sensitive? Raiders QB bashed by NFL coaches, exec

Derek Carr is entering a critical season in his second year under Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. It could be make-or-break for the QB as the Silver and Black head into their final season in Oakland. 

After looking like an MVP candidate in 2016, Carr has been trending down in the eyes of many. The Athletic's Mike Sando presented his Quarterback Tiers survey Monday after talking with 55 anonymous coaches and executives who rank the QBs from Tier 1 to Tier 5. 

Carr was voted into Tier 3 as the No. 20 overall quarterback, one spot behind 49ers starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo. And the comments on the Raiders' signal-caller aren't too pretty. 

Voters brought up three specific plays that show the kind of quarterback Carr was last season. One was him throwing the ball away on fourth down, another example was him looking scared in the final minutes of the Raiders' Week 8 loss to the Colts, but the final example is what really stands out. 

“The Chiefs game, he throws a pick-six and the guy (Jared Cook) isn’t even running the route. It was, ‘What the f--k?" the voter said to Sando.

Carr's ability to handle Gruden's style has been questioned ever since Chucky signed his 10-year deal with the Raiders. Through one season, those questions aren't going away. 

“He is sensitive and needs encouragement, and that is not the style he is going to get,” an offensive coach said to Sando. “When someone shows disappointment in him, he shrinks. The head coach not coming out and completely endorsing him has to be eating him alive."

[RELATED: Five bold predictions for upcoming Raiders season]

If the Raiders endure another losing season and Carr doesn't significantly improve, he could be looking for another job when the team moves to Las Vegas next year. It sounds like plenty of people around the league believe that could be the case.