Raiders

Raiders find secondary help, sign safety Marcus Gilchrist

Raiders find secondary help, sign safety Marcus Gilchrist

The Raiders continued their busy Thursday by signing veteran safety Marcus Gilchrist to a one-year contract.

NFL Network first reported the news.

Gilchrist’s the first defensive free-agent addition of this offseason – there are a few more in the works – and should fit right into the starting lineup.

He’ll line up alongside Karl Joseph, with both players able to play back or in the box as a run player. Gilchrist is a versatile talent who can play slot cornerback in a pinch, or a hybrid linebacker role if called upon.

He rebounded well from an ACL tear late in the 2016 season, totaling 56 tackles, an interception, a sack, a forced fumble and six passes defensed in Houston. He allowed 18 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown on 30 targets last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Gilchrist’s signing means the Raiders won’t have to rush 2017 second-round pick Obi Melifonwu into an important role. The talented, athletic UConn alum missed most of last year recovering from knee and hip injuries, missing key development time from training camp through the winter.

Melifonwu has potential to play both safety spots and could play corner if properly groomed, but was drafted by general manager Reggie McKenzie to cover tight ends and running backs. He could do that as a third safety, or something more if he earns a larger role. New defensive coordinator likes Melifonwu’s size and athleticism, but hasn’t yet spoken to where the second-year pro fits in his defense.

Gilchrist will bring veteran’s savvy to the back end, which still needs another cornerback (or two) to complete a secondary overhaul.

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

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USATSI

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

THURSDAY
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)
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

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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