Raiders ready to 'show the world what we've got' in primetime clash

Raiders ready to 'show the world what we've got' in primetime clash

OAKLAND – The Raiders are all the rage these days. Significant preseason hype has been realized during a 6-2 start built on high drama and comeback road wins, making the Silver and Black a trending national topic to start the season’s second half.

Quarterback Derek Carr is considered an early MVP candidate, edge rusher Khalil Mack has asserted himself in recent weeks and head coach Jack Del Rio has this team walking into every game with confidence.

There’s plenty to discuss heading into the biggest game of the year and the biggest game in Oakland in a dozen years.

“Sunday Night Football” scheduled a game in Oakland for the first time since 2005, and they booked a good one. The Raiders and Broncos are both 6-2, and they’ll battle for AFC West dominance in primetime.

“I think what we recognize as an organization is as you become relevant, as you play good football, you’re going to have more of these opportunities,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “This is the natural progression in building a good football team. We should expect to be in these games. We’re going to expect to win these games. Then we’re going to move forward and have more of these kinds of games.”

The Raiders made waves with a 5-0 road record and three comeback wins, and enter this game eager to put their talents on display.

“We’re going to show the world what we’ve got,” left tackle Donald Penn said after last week’s overtime victory at Tampa Bay. “It’s a big game. It might be for first place. This win feels good, but I’m excited about playing the Broncos. This one is going to be big.”

Several new Raiders have played in big games before. Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith were Seahawks. Reggie Nelson was imported from the Bengals. Sean Smith was a Kansas City Chief. Those playoff contenders regularly played in big games.

“I’m used to it,” Irvin said. “It’s always good to be talked about. It’s been a long time since the Raiders have been highlighted like this on the season. We’re going to try and keep it as normal as possible.”

That will be key for a large young foundation drafted and developed by the Raiders which hasn’t played in a game of this magnitude. How they handle the spotlight’s glare will have an impact on Sunday night’s outcome.

The Broncos are used to this. The defending Super Bowl champs are regular features in nationally televised games as an AFC powerhouse in recent years, but they also understand this game’s importance at this stage of the season.

“The circumstances we’re coming into—both at the top of the division—we know that (it’s going to) definitely have, later on, playoff meaning,” Broncos safety T.J. Ward said. “It’s a big game. It’s a playoff game, divisional game, Sunday night. It’s not going to get more intense than that.”

Raiders coaches have done a good job keeping their players focused on rest, recovery and game-planning for a solid Broncos team. They’ve worked to shut out the hype and treat this like any other game.

“We’re going to out and do what we do,” Mack said. “There’s no pressure. We’re just focused on playing fundamentally sound game.”

Neiron Ball, Raiders 2015 draft pick, in a coma after brain aneurysm


Neiron Ball, Raiders 2015 draft pick, in a coma after brain aneurysm

Raider Nation has a heavy heart at the moment.

Former linebacker Neiron Ball, Oakland's fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Florida, suffered a brain aneurysm on Sept. 16 and is currently in a medically induced coma. He is not responding to stimuli. The Raiders sent out a tweet Tuesday asking for thoughts and prayers for the 26-year-old.

News of Ball's situation was first made public by people that run the Facebook page for his old school district in Georgia. Ball attended Jackson High School in the Butts County School System.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, in 2011 while at Florida, Ball was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, "a tangling of blood vessels." Surgery to alleviate the issue cost him the 2011 season.

"I can't really explain it," Ball told the Orlando Sentinel in 2012. "The closest thing I can think is somebody just smushing my brain...Like somebody was squeezing my brain."

Ball appeared in six games his rookie season with the Raiders, recording four tackles and one sack. A knee injury forced the Raiders to place him on injured reserve.

Report: Raiders to sign new kicker Matt McCrane

Report: Raiders to sign new kicker Matt McCrane

Mike Nugent is dealing with a hip injury suffered in a loss to Miami, which forced the Raiders to work out several kickers Tuesday morning. The Silver and Black have chosen to sign undrafted rookie Matt McCrane, according to NFL Network.

McCrane spent the summer with the Arizona Cardinals and played college ball at Kansas State. He was 4-for-4 on field goals in the preseason, including two from beyond 50 yards. 

While the team hasn't announced his addition, McCrane has already added "kicker for Oakland Raiders" on his Twitter profile. The account, however, is not verified. 

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden didn't formally rule Nugent out of Sunday's game against Cleveland, but his hip injury is of concern. Nugent has been solid since assuming the kicking job this regular season. He was 6-for-6 on field goal attempts, including two conversions from 50-plus yards. 

The Raiders worked out McCrane, 2017 kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, among others on Tuesday. Tavecchio was released early in camp for Nugent, who was expected to be Eddy Pineiro's mentor during the preseason. Pineiro suffered a groin injury at the end of training camp and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.