Raiders

Raiders cut veteran LB Curtis Lofton

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Raiders cut veteran LB Curtis Lofton

Curtis Lofton was one of the few members of last year’s free agent class who didn’t pan out. The veteran interior linebacker was expected to be a three-down producer at the center of the Raiders defense, but he quickly fell from favor and lost responsibility as the year went on.

He was a decent run stopper and a solid goal-line presence, but the Raiders preferred other options alongside Malcolm Smith at inside linebacker.

The Raiders decided to move on after one year. They released Lofton on Friday afternoon with a failed physical designation.

The team should save $2 million in salary cap space with Lofton’s release. He signed a three-year, $18 million deal last offseason.

The Raiders will add interior linebackers this offseason through free agency, the draft, or both methods of acquisition.

Lofton had 64 tackles and a sack in 585 snaps, half the Raiders’ defensive total.

Outside of Smith, the Raiders hope fifth-round pick Ben Heeney continues to develop on his rookie year. Fellow fifth-rounder Neiron Ball also has promise, but it’s uncertain how he’ll recover after a knee injury that cost him most of last year.

Raiders QB Derek Carr appreciates owner Mark Davis’ vote of confidence

Raiders QB Derek Carr appreciates owner Mark Davis’ vote of confidence

ALAMEDA – Derek Carr can do no right these days. The Raiders quarterback either pushes the ball downfield in an unsafe manner or checks down so often playing it safe.

Such is life as the face of a franchise that can’t buy a win. Focus has honed on Carr’s every move this season after years sharing the spotlight with Khalil Mack and, to a lesser extent, Amari Cooper. Those guys have been traded, leaving Carr and the lightning rod for criticism among the players. His hefty paycheck doesn’t help matters much, as he struggles to score steadily and orchestrate Jon Grduen’s offense well.

Raiders owner Mark Davis recognizes this, and defended his quarterback in a Sunday interview with ESPN.

"Derek's taking a lot of s--- right now," Davis said. "He is the franchise quarterback right now. He doesn't have Amari Cooper. He lost (Martavis) Bryant to a knee injury today. Guys have been getting hurt. Who's he throwing to? Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts, which are good guys. But they're not putting the fear of God in anybody.

"The tight end (Jared Cook) is playing his ass off. You look at the quarterback and he's playing behind a battered offensive line ... so I don't know what you can put on Derek and I don't think it's fair to put all the blame on him."

[RATTO: Raiders owner Mark Davis is just poking the rubble by taking the blame now]

Davis is right. The Raiders offensive struggles are not all on Carr. The offensive line’s less reliable than any point in the last few seasons. The skill spots aren’t as strong, especially with Cooper gone and Marshawn Lynch on injured reserve.

Fan frustrations are largely taken out on Gruden, and the man making the most money. That’s Carr. The signal caller was thankful for the vote of confidence but was far more interested in giving his owner and Raider Nation what they really want.

“It just is what it is. It’s nice words,” Carr said Wednesday. “He’s just telling the truth, man. He’s not one to sugar coat things. It hasn’t been easy, but there’s no excuse. I still hold myself to a standard. Whether he calls me and tells me those things, I still say, ‘But I could’ve done this or this. I could keep doing this.’ He keeps having my back. He keeps telling what everyone keeps telling me inside (the building). I just go by what they say. For him to say that, it feels good.

"It’s nice, but at the same time I just want to win. The words are nice and it means a lot. I don’t want to take anything away from that. But at the end of the day I wake up early, I work my tail off, grind myself to sleep until tonight because I just want to win. It feels good, but winning is definitely better.”

Raiders-Cardinals injury report: Justin Ellis still isn't practicing with team

Raiders-Cardinals injury report: Justin Ellis still isn't practicing with team

ALAMEDA – Justin Ellis was out on the field during Raiders practice, but the veteran defensive tackle was still working on the side with a trainer.

He hasn’t been designated to return off injured reserve yet as expected. His recovery from a foot injury sustained in the season opener needs more time to complete. He was eligible to start practice after Week 6, but wasn’t ready then and still isn’t now.

After a player is designated to return, he can practice for 21 days before being placed on the 53-man roster. A team could also choose to end his season if he’s not deemed ready. This makes it unlikely Ellis return to game action in the next few weeks.

Ellis would help a porous Raiders run defense, but just isn’t ready yet.

The Raiders also won’t have defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who had his practice window close without being taken off the physically unable to perform list.

The Raiders are thin at receiver as well, with Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson sidelined with knee injuries.

Raiders practice report

WEDNESDAY
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

WEDNESDAY
Did not practice
S Budda Baker (knee)
K Phil Dawson (hip)
WR Larry Fitzgerald (not injury related)
S Rudy Ford (heel)
DT Rodney Gunter (not injury related)
OL DJ Humphries (knee)
OL Mike Iupati (back)
DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf)
WR Chad Williams (ankle)

Limited practice
LB Josh Bynes (wrist)
DT Corey Peters (heel)
OL Jeremy Vujnovich (hamstring)