Raiders

Raiders excited that Marshawn Lynch could join 'the dark side'

Raiders excited that Marshawn Lynch could join 'the dark side'

ALAMEDA -- Quarterback Derek Carr is quite the recruiter. He generally meets those considering a Raiders tenure when they visit the team facility, especially offensive players looking to join the attack.

That was certainly the case on April 5, when Marshawn Lynch came to see what the Raiders are all about. The Oakland Tech grad and Cal alum is strongly considering a return to professional football after leaving the game a year, and would like to do so representing his hometown team.

The Seattle Seahawks own his rights but have given the Raiders permission to speak with him, with the end goal of Lynch becoming a Raiders with a reworked contract and a trade.

There’s optimism those things will occur, but Lynch officially remains retired at this point. That hasn’t kept Raiders fans from dreaming. Players are doing some of that, too.

“Marshawn is one of the best running backs I’ve played against in my short career so far,” Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack said Monday, the start of the team’s offseason program. “He’s one hell of a player. It would be a great treat to have him on the dark side. That said, we’re focused on the now. We can’t really control what happens with that. Right now, we’re in the grind.”

Mack played against Lynch in 2015, a 30-24 loss to the Seahawks where he had 143 yard total offense and two touchdowns. Mack met Lynch at his absolute best, during a season when he averaged 4.7 yards per carry and led the league with 17 total touchdowns.

The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year came away impressed by Lynch’s raw physicality as a runner, and would like to play with him on the same side this time around.

“I think he’s the most physical guy I’ve played against,” Mack said. “We played him in the regular season my second year I believe, and he ran power right at me. I knew then he was one of the most physical guys I’ve played against in terms of running backs.

“Just knowing the type of player he is, he would be a good addition for us.”

Carr tried to sway Lynch into signing as a Raider, something player and team are still considering. There’s a long process involved in such a transaction, but it’s one the Raiders hope to complete in coming days.

“I was here talking to him when he was here,” Carr said. “He’s one heck of a football player. I hope to play with him, but I’m focused on the guys who are here today. Do I hope he gets here? Of course. Who wouldn’t want Marshawn Lynch? We have good running backs, but anyone would be open to adding a good player. You always need more.”

The Raiders have an expensive, hulking offensive line ranked among the best in football. Left guard Kelechi Osemele has tweeted about how he would love Lynch in his backfield. Center and team captain Rodney Hudson feels the same way.

“Great player. Ran for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns in the league,” Hudson said. “He’s a great player, but I guess it’s up to other people to figure out if he’s coming or not.”

 

Four Raiders to watch in Sunday's game vs. Dolphins

Four Raiders to watch in Sunday's game vs. Dolphins

MIAMI -- The Raiders have held second-half leads twice in as many games, without a victory to show for it. Jon Gruden’s consequently off to an 0-2 start running a team that can’t seem to finish well enough.

Game plans have been good, but the competition has been tough. The L.A. Rams surged using superior talent and force in the regular-season opener. The Broncos, though…Raiders had several opportunities to close that one out and couldn’t. There’s plenty of blame to go around for those second-half letdowns.

The pass rush is took a beating this week for failing to pressure well enough, which consequently extends the life of Khalil Mack trade talk. Penalties and a key dropped pass – nobody feels worse than fullback Keith Smith – came into play against the Broncos.

Quarterback Derek Carr said on this week’s Raiders Insider Podcast, “taking away two boneheaded plays by me,” and maybe the Rams game goes different.

Those results are etched in stone. All the Raiders can do is perform better Sunday here in Miami, where heat, humidity and a chance of thunderstorms await a team forced to wear black jerseys.

Here are four Raiders to watch as the Silver and Black try to avoid an 0-3 start.

Bruce Irvin

The Raiders’ best edge rusher hasn’t started the season particularly well. He has a strip sack and a quarterback hit and…no other pressures in two games. Those two plays made an impact, and no much else beyond it. He hurt the team’s chances against Denver with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty extending a Broncos scoring drive after the Raiders stopped it on third down.

The Raiders are looking to him to step up and not fill Mack’s shoes – few, if any, could do that – but generate steady pressure off the edge. That hasn’t happened yet but needs to here in Miami. He’ll have a tough task against Miami left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who has allowed but one quarterback pressure all year.

“We need to get more out of our captain,” Gruden said. “He’s been put in some tough spots, certainly. He’s a good player and has played some good snaps. We need more and more from him. I know he’s giving us everything he has. It’s tough on him because we have a lot of new guys around him up front, but we’re happy he’s here.”

[How to watch Raiders-Dolphins]

Jordy Nelson

Tight end Jared Cook exploded for a franchise record (for a tight end) 180 receiving yards in the opener. Amari Cooper roared after a less-than-impactful opening game, totaling 10 catches for 116 yards on as many targets against Denver.

Nelson has been relatively quiet in both games, with just five catches and 53 yards to his credit. Could this be Nelson’s first big game in Silver and Black. If the matchups dictate, as they did for Cook and Cooper in consecutive weeks. The Raiders need Nelson as a steadying presence, especially on third down. He will find a rhythm in this offense eventually. Starting Sunday could help his team get on the right track.

“There was improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 individually and as a whole,” Nelson said. “It’s all about matchups and opportunities. Jared had a great game in Week 1 and Cooper had one in Week 2, so maybe I’m next up this week. We’ll see.”

Erik Harris

The rangy safety hasn’t played much defense in his NFL career. He was labeled a special teams player before 2018 but Gruden’s staff saw more in him starting with the offseason. He failed to secure a starting spot over Reggie Nelson and/or Marcus Gilchrist to begin the year, but he played 26 defensive snaps in Denver after playing two since his Raiders tenure started in 2017.

Harris looked good working in, with a few one-on-one, open-field tackles that impressed many. He allowed just one four-yard catch on the day, and could earn more playing time as the season carries forward.

That’s especially true if Reggie Nelson struggles in coverage. Coaches love Nelson’s smarts and assistance getting the team lined up properly, but Harris provide long speed, range and sure tackling that could prove helpful against the Dolphins.

“He has been playing good,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “He’s real smart. He understands the ins and outs of the defense. He earned his right to play. Like I’ve been saying in the past, I’m going to utilize all the personnel I have. I think you’ll see some more of that on Sunday.”

Marshawn Lynch

The Raiders don’t have a proven defensive closer now that Khalil Mack works in Chicago. They have one, however, on offense. Lynch can go full BeastMode late in games and grind out tough yards that continually move the chains. He was on a roll late in that Denver game, but Cook’s false start took them off schedule and messed up Lynch’s flow.

He had great rhythm last time the Raiders were in Miami, rumbling for 57 yards on 14 carries, notching two touchdowns and four first downs in the process.

He’s only averaging 3.7 yards per carry thus far, though penalties have negated some big runs and coaches believe he’s in great shape and has a big game on the immediate horizon.

“I know this, he’s extremely hard to tackle still,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “He almost popped out a big one last week again. He’s a dangerous guy to deal with. He’s a big man that does not like to touch the ground. I’ve seen him way too much it seems like.”

Gase might see him a lot on Sunday.

embed]<iframe style="border: none; margin:0px; width:100%; height:250px;" src="https://www.stanza.co/@nfl-raiders?embed=true&banner=true&site=comcastsportsnet"></iframe>[/embed]

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

MIAMI -- Kolton Miller has played every Raiders offensive snap through two games, compiling stats suggesting the rookie left tackle’s season is off to a solid start.

This year’s No. 15 overall pick has allowed just three quarterback hurries -- he’s one of seven left tackles to allow no sacks, no QB hits this season -- in 83 pass-blocking snaps against the Rams and Broncos. The Raiders have not run great off the left tackle, with 13 yards in the too-small-a-sample-size four attempts. Running backs are averaging 4.0 yards on carries between Miller and mauler left guard Kelechi Osemele.

Numbers will tell part of this story. Tom Cable sees the whole matrix.

The Raiders offensive line coach believes Miller can be an excellent left tackle, but he fully understands his star pupil has a long, long way to go.

“If you’re looking at the whole spectrum of it, I would say he’s doing C-plus work right now and continuing to climb,” Cable told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “That’s where you want him. You don’t want him failing, and at the same time I don’t think there will be rookies out there doing better than him. That’s a good thing, but he has a long way to go to become a complete player.

“That’s just part of being young, more than anything. He is on course. He’s invested in this process. I like his preparation and how he gets ready for each test. He presses into it, which is really important.”

Cable has pressed new mechanics upon the 6-foot-8, 309-pound UCLA product, helping a supreme athlete become a technician in time. He has Miller going more vertical in his pass-blocking sets, to help him control matchups with defensive linemen and use his size appropriately. There’s a major emphasis in cleaning up his run blocking.

And, in an effort that will take some time, Cable believes Miller can gain functional strength and lean bulk to his frame working with the Raiders' strength staff.

“[Cable] has worked to adjust things here and there to help refine my technique and make me a better player,” Miller said. “It has been great working with him.”

Miller has the size and athleticism and savvy to be a productive player. Cable believes two other attributes are vital to his professional success: coach-ability and commitment.

“He’s the strong, silent type in terms of personality and is hungry to be the best version of himself,” Cable said. “He’s in search of that. He checks all the boxes for us. He wants to learn and fix mistakes, and the cool thing is that he’ll then come out on the field and work hard at it.”

Cable and the Raiders took a deep dive into Miller’s background, and felt confident in making him a first-round pick.

“If you’re going to take a guy early in the draft like that, you need to understand his level of humility,” Cable said. ‘There are times when guys get picked early and get paid a little bit, they think they’re made it. You want to find out of he can stay even-keeled, not put too much into the whistles and bell and put everything into being worthy of that pick. That’s important to me. That’s always important because, once the ‘disease of me’ hits people, they’re screwed up. Then they become less of a teammate.

“We learned that about him, that he’s humble and coachable, and cares about his craft. That’s a major plus that allows him to grow and develop.

The biggest fear in starting a rookie at left tackle, especially after two-time Pro Bowl pick Donald Penn moved to the right to make room for Miller, is the big mistake that gets quarterback Derek Carr in trouble. We haven’t seen anything like that off Miller’s edge.

Miller has fared well against the vaunted Rams and Broncos defensive fronts, and gained confidence from those efforts. He believes he already can compete with anyone, knowing full well there’s room for improvement. He’s honed on technique, not emotion or trash talk or who he’s lined up against. Miller is as even-keeled as they come.

“The goal is to be consistently good from week to week,” Miller said. “That’s how players become good and establish themselves in this league.”

Cable believes maintaining this current course could lead to good things.

“Potential is a dangerous word. That said, he’s potentially one of the really special young players in the game,” Cable said. “It will be up to all of us to keep him on the track of growth and development. If he ever makes it about money and outside stuff, it’ll detract him. Knowing him, I think he wants to find out how good he can be. As long as he keeps that mindset, he can be something great.”