Raiders receiver Tyrell Williams already showing promise as deep threat

Raiders receiver Tyrell Williams already showing promise as deep threat

ALAMEDA – Tyrell Williams took off downfield, without offering much deception or distraction in his route. The new Raiders receiver simply turned on the afterburners and went.

Quarterback Derek Carr saw a sliver of separation created and launched one deep without hesitation, trusting Williams would make a big play downfield. Sure enough, the high-priced free agent signing jumped over his coverage and snatched the ball from the sky.

Touchdown, Raiders. Smooth and easy.

Having such a prominent deep threat gives Carr ample opportunity to fire his cannon arm.

“Contrary to popular belief, I like throwing it down the field,” Carr said with a smile. “I say that to mess with you guys, but we had fun out there. To see a guy that big, that fast – he reminds me of Andre Holmes – is great. He can run these routes and set people up. He’s a technician, not just a big body. To be able to hit those deep shots, it will help our running backs and offensive line. There’s no doubt we’ve added a lot of speed to the receiver room, and it’s going to be fun. It’s fun for a quarterback.”

Carr’s efficient throwing down the field, even though he didn’t have many opportunities last year with offensive line struggles and a pronounced lack of speed out wide.

Williams’ presence changes all that, though Antonio Brown and J.J. Nelson can make huge plays deep as well, which will, in turn, open up space for short routes and backs in the flat.

“A lot of football today is about stretching a team laterally,” Gruden said. “You also have to stretch the field vertically. When you can do both, you become a much more difficult offense to defend. That’s a goal that we’ve had since we got here.”

Brandon Parker moving around

Brandon Parker was thrown into the fire last year. The small-school third-round pick played almost exclusively on the right despite being a career left tackle, and did so right around 300 pounds.

An apprenticeship behind Donald Penn was expected but taken away after the veteran got hurt, and so Parker had to learn on the job. A bit too often through mistakes.

He won’t be asked to reprise his role as starting right tackle with Trent Brown around and won’t anchor the left with Kolton Miller back. He’s the team’s swing tackle instead and is physically equipped for the vital role following a productive early offseason.

“He spent most of the offseason living with (Gabe Jackson), and I don’t think they were just lifting weights down there,” Gruden said. “I think they were eating a little bit. Parker came back married. He came back stronger and heavier. We’re going to give him an opportunity to get on the field. He may end up being the left guard. Who knows? He may end up starting down the road. He has a tough assignment (at swing tackle). He played left tackle in college and right tackle last year. He does have experience playing both sides.”

Josh Jacobs leaves early, veteran LBs sidelined

The list of Raiders missing the offseason program’s first OTA featured several prominent names.

Brown did not attend the voluntary session. First-round running back Josh Jacobs stretched with the team and then headed back to the locker room, as planned, while dealing with an undisclosed ailment.

Veteran linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall worked on the side with trainers. So did defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. Daryl Worley was limited some during his return from offseason shoulder surgery.

Gruden wasn’t worried about any of those guys, especially at this point in the year.

“We have a lot of guys who are on different programs right now,” he said. “We’re not playing for a while. Jacobs should be back late this week, if not early next week. He’s taking part in the walk-throughs. We’re fast-tracking him to be ready. Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall are on a different program. So is Antonio, right now. We’ll come together as a team here shortly.

Early first unit defense/offense

The Raiders like to fluctuate personnel in their early units during the offseason program, so there’s zero assurance in most positions that first-team work in spring means they’ll be there in a week or three months later in training camp.

That said, let’s take a look at a few early groupings, especially those at (mostly) full health:

Offensive line: LT Kolton Miller, LG Denzelle Good, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Trent Brown
Defensive line: RE Clelin Ferrell, DT Eddie Vanderdoes, DT Johnathan Hankins, LE Josh Muaro
DBs: CB Gareon Conley, CB Nick Nelson/Daryl Worley, FS Erik Harris, SS Karl Joseph

Again, this is not written in stone. We’ll see who lines up with the top units next week.

[RELATED: Gruden not worried about relationships despite Brown's absence]

Peterman shows flashes

The Raiders are set with Carr as the starting quarterback and Mike Glennon as the primary backup. Landry Jones is here, as is Nathan Peterman, who had a rough start to his career in Buffalo. He’s trying to get back on the right track with Gruden, and made some good throws in Tuesday’s OTA session. He threw a near-perfect long bomb to Rico Gafford and showed good footwork moving around the pocket and making throws on the run.

Raiders appreciate Jon Gruden's coaching style, expletives included

Raiders appreciate Jon Gruden's coaching style, expletives included

NAPA – Jon Gruden used three choice words to describe what he wanted to see heading into the Raiders’ second preseason game.

“Better f---ing execution.”

“Hard Knocks” cameras always are recording, with boom mics overhead to catch the coach’s every word. A senior producer certainly smiled when he heard those words.

That reached HBO’s air during the second episode, along with dozens more curse words during an hour-long show.

Cameras also caught Gruden following up a stern conversation with Nathan Peterman by saying, “I’ve got to stop cussing.”

Derek Carr isn’t holding a breath for that to happen.

“I said, ‘Good luck, man!’” Carr said with a smile. “’I wish you the best.’”

Look, Gruden swears like a sailor. It shows his passion. It’s part of his charm. It’s a regular occurrence on the practice field, where local reporters respect an element of privacy on the practice field by not repeating what’s said.

“Hard Knocks” adheres by no such rules. They’re recording everything and editing it after – with team approval, of course – so there are lots of curse words to choose from.

Gruden doesn’t love seeing them all played back.

“I don’t like hearing all the profanity,” Gruden said on Saturday. “It’s like every time I swear it makes the show. I mean I just love football. I really have a lot of passion for this and I get way carried away sometimes. I apologize, but I’m not as foul mouth as people think. If you think I am, I’m sorry.”

His players don’t have a problem with it. Gruden’s a firey coach, but he cares about details and making sure his players succeed. If you work hard for him, he’ll work hard for you.

“What people don’t get to see enough of maybe, is he treats us like we are his kids, like he loves us dearly,” Carr said. “That guy, when he is getting on us is just because he wants us to be perfect and that’s just how he is. So, it’s fun to watch [‘Hard Knocks’] and I tell those guys, ‘Hey, man.’ I told them before, ‘He’s aggressive, he’s going to be like that and it’s all because he wants you to be the best.’ It has nothing to do with him coming at you or him thinking some type of way about you. It’s only because he wants you to be the best version of yourself.”

Prior to last season, Carr hadn’t worked with Gruden beyond an ESPN “Gruden’s QB Camp” episode, but he was ready for a gruff exterior because he trusted that support and good intentions were always behind it.

“You know how much he cares about you. You know where his heart is,” Carr said. “You just say, ‘Yes sir.’ He’s just trying to make you better, so we never had a problem. I’ve had some head coaches, I won’t throw their names out there. I’ve had some certain coaches in my life, especially in college, that were the same way, so I’ve been used to that for sure.”

[RELATED: Why Jacobs has been seen on 'Hard Knocks']

Tyrell Williams hadn’t experienced Gruden’s trademark intensity except for what he viewed on TV.

“Obviously, you see the mic’d up’s and stuff before I started playing for him,” the receiver said. “So, I mean just being around him he’s hilarious and fun to be around so it’s been awesome, just his one-liners and all that stuff is just fun and seeing him on the sidelines in games is comedy, too. It’s been a lot of fun being around him.”

NFL rumors: Antonio Brown's quest to wear preferred helmet hits a snag

NFL rumors: Antonio Brown's quest to wear preferred helmet hits a snag

Antonio Brown’s camp thought the superstar receiver’s quest to wear his preferred helmet was nearing its end.

Not so fast, apparently.

Brown wants to wear a Schutt Air Advantage helmet, a version of headgear he has worn, in one model or another, since high school. It has been discontinued and is more than 10 years old, making it ineligible for certification.

Brown was told he could use the Schutt Air Advantage if he could find one made less than 10 years ago. He would then have to get it re-conditioned and re-certified.

The star Raiders receiver crowd sourced his helmet search, and found some that were made more recently.

The NFL tested a helmet made in 2010 that Brown’s camp submitted and, according to Pro Football Talk, the helmet failed the test. Brown was reportedly told of the failure on Saturday. Brown also has one from 2014 that was certified by an independent body, but it has not yet been recently tested by the NFL.

PFT also reports that Brown will continue his quest to wear the helmet he prefers.

The receiver, who squashed all talk of retirement over this helmet issue, said Thursday night that he would work within the system to get a helmet that works for him.

[RELATED: Brown shows great retention during practice]

“I’m still trying helmets right now,” Brown said after the Raiders beat Arizona in their preseason game. “As long as the league certifies them, those are the ones I’m trying out. I’m trying out every one I have. There have been a lot of great fans sending helmets. I’m just following protocol, man. I’m just excited to be back. You’ll be seeing a lot of me here shortly. I’m just excited to be around my teammates in the building and reached the shared goals we’re here to achieve.”