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Raiders give Dion Jordan what could be final shot to realize potential

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Raiders give Dion Jordan what could be final shot to realize potential

ALAMEDA -- The past seven years haven't gone as planned for Dion Jordan. But now a Raider, Jordan is certain he's where he is supposed to be. 

"It all just fell in place, man," Jordan said Wednesday after practice. "I feel like every day or every hour that I've been here, I'm reminded that I made the right decision. I'm just very thankful that it happened the way it did. There's no stress on me. It's all football."

It hasn't been all football for Jordan thus far in his career. 

Jordan was reinstated by the NFL on Tuesday after serving a 10-game suspension for Adderall. He had a therapeutic exemption to use the drug for his ADHD, but it expired, and Jordan took the medication anyway. 

That suspension was just the latest speedbump in what many thought would be a promising career.  

Drafted with the No. 3 overall pick by the Dolphins in 2013, the Oregon product struggled to make an impact during his first two seasons in Miami. Jordan totaled just three sacks and seven quarterback hits in his first 26 games, 

Before the 2014 season, Jordan received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. He violated the policy again in September 2014, receiving an additional two-game ban. A diluted urine sample during the following offseason gave Jordan his third strike for violating the policy, and he was suspended for the entire 2015 season. While reinstated before the 2016 season, Jordan did not play a down of football and was cut by the Dolphins in March 2017 after failing a physical. 

Still loaded with potential, Jordan was signed by the Seahawks, and he played five games for Seattle in 2017, notching four sacks. He played 12 more games for the Seahawks in 2018. 

Now, Jordan joins a Raiders team in need of pass rush help after Arden Key went down with a broken foot. Jordan still is just 29 years old, and filled with the talent that tantalized the Dolphins to trade up with the Raiders to make him the highest Duck drafted since Joey Harrington in 2002. 

Jordan spent his suspension working out in San Francisco. He's in the best shape of his life --- down to 8 percent body fat -- and turned down a few offers from other teams to stay by his support system and help a Raiders team that has its eyes on the playoffs

"The same thing I bring everywhere: Just effort," Jordan said about what he brings to the Raiders. "Effort and the will to want to win. I know that's what this organization's all about, and I'm just trying to be apart of that." 

Jordan starred as both a tight end and a defensive end at Chandler High School in Arizona, and was the No. 10 tight end in the country coming out of high school. After redshirting in 2008, Jordan permanently made the switch from tight end to defensive end in 2010. During his final three seasons at Oregon, Jordan recorded 119 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks. 

He had some great moments at Oregon, but  henever took over games the way top draft picks are expected. There was some surprise when he shot up draft boards and was taken No. 3 overall.

The talent never was the issue. But can he put everything together and realize his potential? 

Raiders coach Jon Gruden hopes Jordan, with a support system around him, will become everything so many teams thought he would be while he was laying the wood in Eugene. But it's on Jordan, not the Raiders, to make that happen. 

"They extended the offer for me to come here, that was it," Jordan said of what the Raiders must do to help him be what he has the talent to become. "I feel like the environment and the people that [Gruden] set up around this place is proven that I have that opportunity [to reach his potential]. It's all up to me like it is with everything else. It's up to the individual, it's up to me to go out there and work hard at practice, dive into the playbook, and to treat people with respect and type of loyalty and love that they deserve."

Jordan joins a young and talented defensive line that is coming into its own after a Thursday night win over the Chargers. Rookies Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby have been tasked with leading the pass-rush unit. Ready to hit the ground running, Jordan feels like this unit suits what he brings to the table.

"A lot of young guys who just know how to go," Jordan said of his new teammates. " I feel like I fit right in with these dudes. That's how I play. I just go."

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Jordan has his support system, one the Raiders are helping him with. He's ready to help his new team in any way, shape or form. The Silver and Black need another pass rusher. Ferrell, Crosby and Benson Mayowa have a lot on their shoulders, and Jordan has the talent to step in and create havoc in the backfield.

He's no longer expected to be the defensive cornerstone the Dolphins drafted him to be. He's just here to play a role.

But he's happy to be given an opportunity to put on a helmet and go to work every day. To dive into the Raiders' playbook, stick his hand in the dirt on Sundays and be apart of a playoff push.

The expectations that come with being a high draft pick still follow him. Maybe because he puts them on himself. Maybe because the talent and potential still are there.

He's in a good place mentally and physically. He's back playing the game he loves, is ready to seize an opportunity afforded only to those with immense talent and make the most of what might be his final opportunity to become what many believed he would when his name was called in 2013.

Why Bill Belichick will miss Oakland Coliseum after Raiders' finale

Why Bill Belichick will miss Oakland Coliseum after Raiders' finale

It’s no secret that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn’t a man of many words.

When it comes to his press conferences, answers don’t tend to extend longer than a sentence or two.

But when the six-time Super Bowl champion coach was asked about the Raiders playing their final game at the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday, the famously tight-lipped coach opined on the soon-to-be-former home of the Silver and Black.

“Pretty intense fans. It’s like Halloween every Sunday there,” Belichick said to reporters Friday. “So, yeah. I mean, it’s a great environment.

“When I was with the Broncos, of course we played out there, so that was – especially at that time in ’78, if I get that right – I’m pretty sure the Broncos won the division that year. We were right there with the Raiders. It was the Raiders-Broncos. It was a very intense rivalry, so there was a lot of – there was the game, and then there was all the other aspects of the game.

“But, yeah, the Oakland crowd was a lot more intense than the L.A. crowd, and we’ll miss it. We’ll miss it.”

One thing the legendary coach won’t miss is the iconic Black Hole.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Davis discusses end of Raiders' Oakland era]

“I think we kind of warmed up down there, so it’s not really where you want to be as a visiting coach,” Belichick said. “Tell the players not to stand too close to them in case they throw something and miss.”

The Raiders will host the Jacksonville Jaguars in their finale in front of the Oakland crowd on Sunday, as the team will officially move its operations to Las Vegas before the 2020 season.

Derek Carr among five Raiders who must play well to win Oakland Coliseum finale

Derek Carr among five Raiders who must play well to win Oakland Coliseum finale

OAKLAND -- The Raiders will play their last game at Oakland Coliseum on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It will be an emotional day for everyone involved.

That includes Jon Gruden, as attached to this East Bay fan base as anyone. The Raiders coach has shut off his emotions all week, driving focus into preparation for this game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s the last Oakland moment he can control, and Gruden plans to take advantage.

Gruden desperately wants this win, and a victory might finally provide the opportunity to be emotional about the team’s scheduled move to Las Vegas.

“I wish I had time to stand up here and thank all the fans," Gruden said earlier this week. "I wish I had more time to really sit down and make that the big story here, and thank the fans for their support over the years, and what this franchise has accomplished, and what it means and what Oakland means to the Raiders. So, I’d like to thank everyone that welcomed us back when we came back and I know that they are going to stay with us when we go, but I appreciate all the fans and their loyalty and their support. We’ll try to give you one hell of a show.”

In order to put on a showstopper, the Raiders will need good performances from these five guys.

QB Derek Carr

I generally try to leave the franchise quarterback off these lists, but we’ll make an exception for the last Raiders game in Oakland. He got booed off the field after last week’s first half and again at the end, but this fan base still has a great affinity for the signal-caller who started virtually every game since 2014.

Carr owes them his best on Sunday, and odds are great he’ll put on a show for the faithful. He must improve upon recent performances to execute his plan. Carr will need help from a so-so receiver corps and an offensive line -- Trent Brown’s questionable with a pectoral strain -- that haven’t been at full strength all season.

Emotional Derek Carr is generally the best Derek Carr -- the season opener is a great example -- so we should anticipate him being on top of his game. The Jaguars have struggled mightily this season. but they’re sure to put up a fight during the final game in Oakland.

Carr is capable of putting a team on his shoulders, and he might have to with the Raiders defense playing as it is.

RB Josh Jacobs

The Raiders don’t have much to play for. Their playoff hopes are essentially dead, with the path to the postseason now complicated calculus when it was simple math not long ago. Jacobs is this team’s offensive engine, the player who matters most in what the Raiders do moving the football.

They know that. They believe his fractured shoulder can’t get worse and are hoping to trot him out there Sunday to help win the last game in Oakland. Jacobs' play exponentially increases their chances to win, and Jacobs knows that. He desperately wants to win this game.

The rookie is expected to be active, though it’s unclear exactly how much he will play. A 20-plus carry dose should do the Jaguars in. If he can provide that, the Raiders are in great shape if the defense holds up even a little bit. If not, Sunday could well be a struggle.

CB Isaiah Johnson

There’s no telling how much the fourth-round draft pick will play Sunday. Heck, he might not play at all.

Johnson hasn’t done much since returning off injured reserve, at times a healthy scratch since being activated around midseason. He has sat behind other guys during a playoff push and that made sense, but now it doesn’t. The Raiders are essentially out of the postseason running, with cornerback Daryl Worley either out with a neck injury or moving to strong safety in the base package.

That provides an opportunity to see what Johnson’s got. He won’t be his absolute best, not after missing most of training camp and half the regular season with a facial fracture suffered in the first regular-season game. Rookies can’t make up for that lost time until the following offseason, and Johnson clearly would’ve played earlier had he not been behind.

But it’s time to throw him out there as a test, to see what you’ve got in a talented young player. If he gives up a massive play, so what? The guy has to learn on the job. That’s how Trayvon Mullen has done it, and the Clemson product has thrived despite making some rookie mistakes. It’s time to let Johnson do the same.

DE Maxx Crosby

A devout Raiders follower made a flag to hang over the Oakland Coliseum railing -- enjoy that while you can Raider Nation, the tradition isn’t following you to Las Vegas -- to honor the departing club. He featured a skull and swords as crossbones, with a name filling out the remaining fabric. It said Mad Maxx.

That honors the rookie pass rusher who has already adhered himself to the fan base with one sack and pressure after another. He has proven a better run defender than people have expected. The Silver and Black need him to step up Sunday and generate heat largely missing from recent games.

Crosby currently has 7.5 sacks and would certainly like to reach 10 in his rookie year, needing at least a sack on Sunday to make that happen and give him a chance to compete for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

WR Tyrell Williams

The veteran receiver just isn’t right. Coaches volunteered that Williams' plantar fasciitis has plagued him all season despite it keeping him out just two games in the early going.

Williams simply hasn’t produced at a No. 1 receiver level, which has hurt the offense as a whole. Drops have been a real issue, and his lack of consistent separation can be attributed to his ailing foot.

He is not even on the injury report and is expected to play, and Williams has to produce if that’s the case. He remains the team’s best receiver and has to act like in the final game played in the spot where his grandparents live, in the town where he spent so much time as a kid.