Paul Guenther will captain effort to get Khalil Mack caught up when he reports

Paul Guenther will captain effort to get Khalil Mack caught up when he reports

NAPA – Khalil Mack isn’t with the Raiders in training camp. The elite edge rusher is holding out for a long-term contract that could set the market for defensive players, and has stayed away from his team since the offseason program started back in April.

He hasn’t practiced under Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. He doesn’t know all Guenther has in store for Mack. He won’t be anchored to one edge, ordered to see ball carrier, kill ball carrier.

“When he gets here, he’s going to find out that he’ll have a lot of new matchups,” Guenther said on the Raiders Insider Podcast. “We have an ability to move him around. We have guys like Bruce Irvin and Arden Key, who can move around as rushers, too. They won’t always know where Khalil is at when we play on Sundays.

“Hopefully, when everything gets rectified here and we get rolling, he’ll see that.”

It remains uncertain when Mack will report to the Raiders. A deal is not close, and Mack seems set on staying away until a pact is reached. That may change if the impasse gets close to the regular season and the loss of game checks, owed as part of a $13.846 million fifth-year option he’s owed in 2018, becomes a real thing.

Guenther isn’t concerned about all that. He wants Mack in camp posthaste, but has a plan for whenever the Raiders’ best player does arrive. Guenther will teach a crash course in his scheme to get him as ready as possible to make an immediate impact.

While the nature of Mack’s position and him being in impeccable shape will help him return, he’ll operate within a new system with new terminology. Guenther will personally get him up to speed.

“When he shows up, I’ll be his position coach for about a week,” Guenther said. “I’ll catch him up. We have a plan for that. Hopefully he can get here sooner than later. If that doesn’t occur, then we’ve got some guys out here working their tails off and competing and we’ll roll with them.”

Guenther expects to roll with a speed rushing package during obvious passing downs that could include Mack, Irvin, Key and the hottest interior rusher between Maurice Hurst, PJ Hall or Mario Edwards.

“I look forward to seeing that one day,” Guenther said. “If that works, I won’t have draw up crazy blitzes to reach the quarterback. That’s ideal, because teams who win the NFL can rush four and get home. They have seven guys in coverage and they don’t give up explosive plays. Having guys like that we can roll through can make us more disruptive.”

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