Raiders, Maurice Hurst ready to move beyond DT's heart condition


Raiders, Maurice Hurst ready to move beyond DT's heart condition

ALAMEDA – Maurice Hurst spent his career at University of Michigan dominating from the defensive interior, but his pre-NFL-draft experience focused on something else entirely.

A heart condition Hurst already knew about got him sent home from the NFL scouting combine and caused a free fall down the draft that a Raiders fifth round pick finally stopped.

General manager Reggie McKenzie was queried about it after the draft, revealing Hurst will have annual check-ups to ensure the dynamic defensive tackle remains good to go.

Hurst was asked about it during a conference call shortly after being selected No. 140 overall.

He’s hoping those days are done. The Raiders have cleared him to play. Michigan and Harvard have, too. Hurst has said several times that everything is fine from his perspective.

He’d rather not repeat himself, and focus instead on football tasks ahead.

“(I’m) just trying to get all of that stuff behind me, try to get people to stop talking about it,” Hurst said. “You know, some sort of issue or all of those kinds of things – just try to move past that and focus on playing football and just having fun out there.”

Gruden isn’t concerned about Hurst’s health, either, and is frankly tired of the topic.

“I’m not going to answer any more health questions on Hurst,” Gruden said. “I realize there are a lot of ghost stories out there about unnamed sources that have an opinion on why we shouldn’t have drafted him.

“This man played at Michigan. I know the head coach there. They’ve looked after him carefully. We’re happy to have him in any round. I’m excited for him. He’s an Oakland Raider and a great kid. I hope you just judge him on the field. He has been cleared medically, and I’ll just leave it at that. He’s a fine football player and a great young man who is excited to be here.”

Hurst is widely considered this draft’s finest inside pass rusher and an excellent run stopper with high football IQ. If Hurst can compete against NFL talent, he’s exactly what the Raiders need from a three technique, and could be an immediate impact player as a rookie.

Hurst’s immediate focus was on learning the Raiders routine and the team’s history after leaving the tradition-rich Wolverines.

“I mean it’s exciting,” Hurst said. “Spending five years at Michigan, I’ve never really put on another helmet, but getting to be a part of a team with so much tradition sort of like the Wolverines, it’s great. Just to think about the players that played before you and get to represent them, represent the greats that have made this place what it is.”

Other notes from rookie minicamp:

-- Gruden said his first five picks didn’t participate in a full rookie minicamp practice. Those guys participated in individual drills and then eased off, as coaches chose to introduce them to the team’s strength program, trainers and staff. The goal is to get them ready for practices with veterans present quickly.

-- Rookies were also given information on the Raiders rich history, something important to Gruden and staff.

-- First-round pick Kolton Miller will start working on at left tackle, while third-round pick Brandon Parker will start working on the right, though Gruden said that could change down the line.

-- Undrafted kicker Eddy Pineiro, who will offer incumbent Giorgio Tavecchio still competition this offseason, was allowed to skip rookie minicamp to participate in the University of Florida’s commencement ceremony.

-- Gruden said the Raiders are trying to arrange joint practices with another team this preseason, but it hasn’t been solidified yet.

-- WR Ryan Switzer has impressed since being acquired from Dallas in trade. He’ll compete for both return jobs, and Gruden said he has “nasty quickness” from the slot.

-- Gruden said Gareon Conley is close to full clearance after having shin surgery last winter.

“He participated in the veteran minicamp in the walk-throughs and he’s running with our defensive backs out here on the field,” Gruden said. “He’s extremely close to get the green light. We’re just being smart with him.”

-- Fourth-round CB Nick Nelson watched practice while rehabbing from meniscus surgery. Gruden said he’s three-to-four weeks away from being cleared, and should be ready for training camp.

Report: Raiders want first-round draft pick in trade for Amari Cooper

Report: Raiders want first-round draft pick in trade for Amari Cooper

If the Raiders actually are trying to trade wide receiver Amari Cooper, they're swinging for the fences on the return.

One day after Fox Sports reported the Raiders are shopping Cooper and safety Karl Joseph, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said the team wants a first-round draft pick in return for the wide receiver.

As Rapoport explained Monday, asking for a first-round pick might make a deal hard to complete.

"My understanding is [the Raiders] have asked for a first-round pick for Amari Cooper, which seems incredibly significant and might make it difficult, if not impossible to trade him," Rapoport said.

Cooper, 24, was a first-round pick himself, taken by the Raiders No. 4 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Cooper is in the midst of an inconsistent 2018 season, catching 22 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown. On Sunday, his day was cut short when he took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit in the first quarter and later was ruled out with a concussion.

Cris Carter believes Raiders don't look like they love playing football

Cris Carter believes Raiders don't look like they love playing football

Mired in a disastrous 1-5 season, the Raiders players clearly aren't having any fun.

But does that mean they don't love the game of football? Not necessarily. But to Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter, at a minimum, it appears like the Raiders don't enjoy playing the game right now. Does that have something to do with new head coach Jon Gruden and the sudden trade of Khalil Mack? Carter isn't sure, but he left the door open for that possibility.

"We can keep making excuses, but man, Khalil Mack is gone. And is not coming back," Carter said Monday morning on FS1's First Things First. "But let me tell you what you are stuck with. You're stuck with that head coach. And to me, they don't have a lot of guys that look like they love playing football."

On Sunday morning, just as the Raiders were getting set to take on the Seahawks in London, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported that first-round picks Amari Cooper and Karl Joseph were being shopped by Oakland. Carter tied in his previous comments with Cooper, someone he's known for a long time.

"Amari Cooper, he's a kid I know really, really well and I heard recently this week that Oakland might potentially give up on him and he's available to be traded," Carter said. "I'm just telling you, Amari Cooper can play for my team, he is a great guy. Man, he's the kind of guy you would introduce to your partner's daughter. He is a gentleman. And to see him not play with any type of enthusiasm, like I've known the kid a long, long time, it looks like the joy of football has been sapped from him. And I don't know the reason why, but I have known the kid for a long, long time. He comes from the tough streets of Miami, Miami Northwestern High school. Went to Alabama where it was not easy. I never saw the look on Amari Cooper's face the way I've seen him the first part of the season and what I saw there yesterday in London."

As Scott Bair wrote Sunday evening following the Raiders' 27-3 loss to Seattle, the players were brutally honest about their performance. Rookie defensive end Arden Key eluded to the Raiders needing increase their passion.

“We came here and we got our ass whooped,” Key said. “There’s no way around it. We got our ass whooped from first whistle to the last one. We have remember that, and come out with fire [after the bye] week and continue to come out with fire.”

So maybe Carter is on to something. Maybe playing for a coach that traded their best player and might trade two more first-round picks has crushed the player's desire.

After traveling back from London on Monday, the Raiders enter their bye week. When they put the pads back on, the face the Colts and 49ers in two winnable games. We'll find out if they come back from the break with the fire Carter and Key wants to see.