Raiders

Raiders inactives: Trent Brown, Zay Jones unavailable vs. Packers

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USATSI

Raiders inactives: Trent Brown, Zay Jones unavailable vs. Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Raiders' offensive line just can’t get right. They finally got Gabe Jackson back after the guard missed the first five games, only to lose star right tackle Trent Brown for Sunday’s Week 7 game against the Packers.

Brown suffered a calf strain during Monday’s practice, the first workout after the bye week.

Brown was unavailable Wednesday and Thursday. He was limited Friday, but he didn’t look ready to play at that point. The days after that didn’t help enough to make him active here at Lambeau Field.

David Sharpe will start in his place. Brandon Parker will be the swing tackle. That could spell trouble against Packers edge rushers Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith.

That’s not the only significant blow the Raiders must absorb. They didn’t deem new receiver Zay Jones ready to go after roughly two weeks prep in the Raiders' offense.

The Raiders acquired Jones from the Buffalo Bills in an Oct. 7 trade and gave him a crash course in their scheme, but he wasn’t prepped enough to handle the snap count required of an active receiver.

The Silver and Black are weak at that spot, going with Trevor Davis, Keelan Doss, Marcell Ateman and Hunter Renfrow. Dwayne Harris will miss his fourth straight game while dealing with an ankle injury.

[RELATED: Report: AB's $30 million grievance vs. Raiders hits snag]

All told, the Raiders have Brown, Jones, Tyrell Williams, edge rusher Arden Key, cornerback Keiseasn Nixon and quarterback DeShone Kizer inactive for this game.

Meanwhile, the Packers will get two of their receivers back, as both Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be active.

Capitalizing on golden opportunities has defined Maxx Crosby's career path

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USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES

Capitalizing on golden opportunities has defined Maxx Crosby's career path

ALAMEDA – Eastern Michigan’s football program was certainly interested in Maxx Crosby. He had a stack of recruiting letters to prove it.

That didn’t immediately result in a scholarship. It came will an invitation to the Eagles’ annual prospects camp. If Crosby wanted his first (and only D-I) offer, he had to go earn it.

The Crosbys packed up the car and drove the roughly 1,200 miles from Colleyville, Tex. to Michigan, a well-worn path made annually to visit family. This one, however, had big stakes.

“I knew I had to kill it, and I feel like I did,” Crosby said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “They ended up offering me and my best friend right after the camp. It was crazy, and an awesome experience.”

Crosby got his scholarship. Great. Now he had to do something with it. He parlayed his one shot at D-I football into a professional one with the Raiders, who selected Crosby in the fourth round of this year’s NFL draft.

“My goal out of high school was to play D-I, and they were the school to offer me,” Crosby said. “I was going no matter what. I wanted that opportunity and took advantage of it. It’s just like this year. I knew whomever took me, it was going to be the right fit. The Raiders believed in me and are letting me play my game. Now it’s up to me to take full advantage.”

Crosby’s getting good at capitalizing on golden opportunities. He got another one in Week 4, with Benson Mayowa was unavailable. Crosby had four quarterback pressures, two big run stops, two batted passes and a forced fumble in a career-high 44 defensive snaps. That’s worth a high factor grade, which Raiders coaches value nearly above everything else.

That lead to more and more snaps and now Crosby’s a full-time, three-down player operating well in all aspects of the game.

“He has a relentless playing style that we like and I talk about factor grades more than sacks,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “A lot of people count sacks out there. Sacks, I put them on a reel: ‘Who’d you sack? When did you sack them? And who’d you beat and how’d you beat them?’ Crosby is batting down passes, he’s getting pressures. I know it doesn’t necessarily show up on the stat sack ledger, but he’s impacting the game and that’s the big thing we want from all of our defenders.”

All that from a kid expected to be a situational pass rusher this year. He has shed knocks from his pre-draft profile, that he was a small-school kid who wasn’t strong enough and need improvement against the run, someone NFL.com expected to be a backup or a special teams player.

“I had production the last two years of college, a lot of it,” Crosby said. “When I came to the NFL, I knew that I could get it done. They break down small pieces of your game before the draft, some that don’t even matter, and I just used that as another chip on my shoulder. I’m very confident in my abilities. I really don’t listen to outside noise. I just do what I do, and it has been working.”

“I feel like I’ve always been slept on and overlooked, but that’s just more motivation.”

Crosby is impacting games, like he did in last week’s victory over the L.A. Chargers. He had just a half sack but led the team with seven pressures and forced two errant throws that became Raiders interceptions.

Fans love sacks, but Crosby is simply interested in making plays everywhere on the field and capitalizing on every chance to make a contributions to a team that believed he could be something special.

“Sacks come in bunches. They will be there if I keep playing hard,” Crosby said. “Personally, I can’t worry about sacks and trying to get them If you’re thinking too much and getting sack happy, you’re going to things the coaches aren’t going to be happy about. Just do your assignment and go 100 mph. That’s what I’m, trying to do.”

Raiders reminded not to overlook Bengals by Kentucky, Saints upsets

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USATSI

Raiders reminded not to overlook Bengals by Kentucky, Saints upsets

ALAMEDA -- After back-to-back wins over the Lions and the Chargers, everything is in front of the Raiders. 

The hard part of their schedule is behind them, and they sit just a half-game back of the Chiefs in the AFC West with just the 0-9 Bengals and the hapless Jets standing between them and a marquee Dec. 1 showdown with Kansas City. 

The Bengals, who appear to be in full tank mode, look to provide little resistance against a Raiders team that has been securing wins through grit, resiliency and toughness. 

But many believed the same thing about the Saints before the Falcons rolled them in Week 10. And no one gave the Evansville Purple Aces a shot at beating No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Tuesday night. So, the Raiders are giving the Bengals their full attention. 

“No, we’ve had a tough season," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday when asked if he had to remind the team not to overlook Cincinnati. "We’ve had tough moments around here, so we’re familiar with tough moments. We’ve got a lot of respect for the Bengals. You ever heard of the Evansville basketball team? They just went into Lexington and beat the No. 1 team last night now.

"So, this is pro sports. This is the National Football League. I don’t really care about anybody’s record. We’ve got a lot to prove. We’ve got to keep getting better and keep working hard, and hopefully, we can find a way to win another game.”

This is a young Raiders team, relying on heavy contributions from a number of rookies. After two straight wins over Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers, it would be normal for young guys to start strutting, looking ahead to bigger games than what awaits the Raiders on Sunday. 

Gruden is all over it, though.

"You’ve just got to remind some of the young people that you can’t believe everything you read and you can’t believe everything you hear these days," Gruden said. "If you don’t respect Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, if you don’t think Will Jackson and Joe Mixon are great players, then you better get some film and look at it.”

Derek Carr knows what it's like to be in the Bengals' position. As a rookie, he was part of a Raiders team that started 0-10 in 2014 before picking up their first win of the season in Week 12.

Carr is aware that anything can happen in professional sports. He doesn't want to hear about numbers or perceived plans to tank. The Bengals are a real threat as far as he and the Raiders are concerned. 

"Oh, yeah. You know, I never look at stats or records. I just turn the film on and see what I have to see," the quarterback said. "This team that we are playing is talented everywhere. They got a great football team, they got great coaches that have come from great places. They are in the middle of installing their system. They are in the middle of trying to figure out what offense and defense with their personnel that they are trying to do and all those kinds of things, they are in the middle of that.

"So, who says it wouldn’t click this week, right? And so, I don’t care about records, man. I prepare every game as if this is the game, and so there is no, ‘They haven’t won a game.'  I don’t care how many games they have or haven’t won. They got Pro Bowlers all over their football team, and they are going to bring it, that’s for sure."

The Raiders are banged up. While they exited their miniature bye relatively healthy, they likely will be without slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner on Sunday. Safety Karl Joseph was placed on injured reserve after the win over the Chargers. D.J. Swearinger was brought in to provide aid to the secondary, and Dion Jordan was signed to bolster an ailing pass rush. 

Carr is accustomed to being picked to lose, so he's not taking any stock in the public's perceptions of the Bengals. After all, "on any given Sunday" -- you know the rest of the saying. 

"We look at just last night, young Kentucky, No. 1 team in the nation lost to someone no one thought they’d lose to, right?" Carr said, echoing Gruden's early example. "You watched the Saints, who were 7-1, they lose to the Falcons, who everyone has written off. This is the NFL. This is not high school football, it’s not even college football. It doesn’t matter what the spread is or who’s picked to win. I think we’ve been picked to lose every game since I’ve been here.

"Like, it doesn’t matter at all. You just got to show up and you got to play. And I don’t expect Cincinnati to come out here and just roll over. Those guys are professional athletes, and they are really good professional athletes. They don’t get enough credit. I think people sometimes look at an 0-9 team and they play Madden and see that their ratings are going down, but when they turn the film on, people that play football know how good the Bengals are.”

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So, did Carr and Gruden rehearse their "take no team lightly" spiel? 

“No," Carr said when asked if Gruden had been using those examples to keep the Raiders focused. "Those are the same ones? I promise it wasn’t. I tell you, he’s rubbing off on me.”