Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

MIAMI -- Kolton Miller has played every Raiders offensive snap through two games, compiling stats suggesting the rookie left tackle’s season is off to a solid start.

This year’s No. 15 overall pick has allowed just three quarterback hurries -- he’s one of seven left tackles to allow no sacks, no QB hits this season -- in 83 pass-blocking snaps against the Rams and Broncos. The Raiders have not run great off the left tackle, with 13 yards in the too-small-a-sample-size four attempts. Running backs are averaging 4.0 yards on carries between Miller and mauler left guard Kelechi Osemele.

Numbers will tell part of this story. Tom Cable sees the whole matrix.

The Raiders offensive line coach believes Miller can be an excellent left tackle, but he fully understands his star pupil has a long, long way to go.

“If you’re looking at the whole spectrum of it, I would say he’s doing C-plus work right now and continuing to climb,” Cable told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “That’s where you want him. You don’t want him failing, and at the same time I don’t think there will be rookies out there doing better than him. That’s a good thing, but he has a long way to go to become a complete player.

“That’s just part of being young, more than anything. He is on course. He’s invested in this process. I like his preparation and how he gets ready for each test. He presses into it, which is really important.”

Cable has pressed new mechanics upon the 6-foot-8, 309-pound UCLA product, helping a supreme athlete become a technician in time. He has Miller going more vertical in his pass-blocking sets, to help him control matchups with defensive linemen and use his size appropriately. There’s a major emphasis in cleaning up his run blocking.

And, in an effort that will take some time, Cable believes Miller can gain functional strength and lean bulk to his frame working with the Raiders' strength staff.

“[Cable] has worked to adjust things here and there to help refine my technique and make me a better player,” Miller said. “It has been great working with him.”

Miller has the size and athleticism and savvy to be a productive player. Cable believes two other attributes are vital to his professional success: coach-ability and commitment.

“He’s the strong, silent type in terms of personality and is hungry to be the best version of himself,” Cable said. “He’s in search of that. He checks all the boxes for us. He wants to learn and fix mistakes, and the cool thing is that he’ll then come out on the field and work hard at it.”

Cable and the Raiders took a deep dive into Miller’s background, and felt confident in making him a first-round pick.

“If you’re going to take a guy early in the draft like that, you need to understand his level of humility,” Cable said. ‘There are times when guys get picked early and get paid a little bit, they think they’re made it. You want to find out of he can stay even-keeled, not put too much into the whistles and bell and put everything into being worthy of that pick. That’s important to me. That’s always important because, once the ‘disease of me’ hits people, they’re screwed up. Then they become less of a teammate.

“We learned that about him, that he’s humble and coachable, and cares about his craft. That’s a major plus that allows him to grow and develop.

The biggest fear in starting a rookie at left tackle, especially after two-time Pro Bowl pick Donald Penn moved to the right to make room for Miller, is the big mistake that gets quarterback Derek Carr in trouble. We haven’t seen anything like that off Miller’s edge.

Miller has fared well against the vaunted Rams and Broncos defensive fronts, and gained confidence from those efforts. He believes he already can compete with anyone, knowing full well there’s room for improvement. He’s honed on technique, not emotion or trash talk or who he’s lined up against. Miller is as even-keeled as they come.

“The goal is to be consistently good from week to week,” Miller said. “That’s how players become good and establish themselves in this league.”

Cable believes maintaining this current course could lead to good things.

“Potential is a dangerous word. That said, he’s potentially one of the really special young players in the game,” Cable said. “It will be up to all of us to keep him on the track of growth and development. If he ever makes it about money and outside stuff, it’ll detract him. Knowing him, I think he wants to find out how good he can be. As long as he keeps that mindset, he can be something great.”

The Raiders and Chargers can't go home, so give up those fantasies


The Raiders and Chargers can't go home, so give up those fantasies

The Los Angeles Chargers have been an almost unfailing guide for how to fail as an NFL team, which is why there are still a few Raiders fans and Oakland civic types who still hold out hope that their team’s move to Las Vegas will somehow be derailed and the team will be forced to return helmet in hand to the place that spawned them.

Yeah, well, no.

The Chargers, whose on-field fortunes have already outstripped their popularity in Los Angeles, were rumored to have lowered their revenue projections from $400 million/year in the new stadium they will share in all ways but the profits with the Los Angeles Rams to around $150 million. Apparently nobody thinks buying a PSL for anything that includes Chargers games is a wise investment, and really, who can blame them?

But San Diegans who keep thinking the NFL will shame the Chargers into returning, again helmet in hand, to Bordertown, are being disabused of that notion by a report in Pro Football Talk that claims the team is contractually and financially committed to Inglewood for at least 20 years, effectively ending whatever pipe-based dreams Charger fans may have of having the team returned to their ancestral home.

No, wait, that’s Los Angeles, too.

But we digress. The point is, the lawyers who worked diligently to make the L.A. Chargers and L.A. Rams a real thing made sure that anyone buying into the pleasure of the NFL in L.A. would be guaranteed a minimum of 20 pro games a year for those two decades. In other words, ain’t nobody going noplace no time soon.

And such is the case in Vegas, where sources have confirmed similar news, that the contracts are stiffly worded to make sure the Raiders uphold their commitments to Nevada, from whence they got $750 million, and to the banks and bankers who are helping with the rest of the deal. Barring a global catastrophe that hits The Strip but skips the Bay Area, the people lamenting the Khalil Mack trade in two years will live predominantly in the desert. I guess that means happy happy joy joy for people who proclaim good riddance to the Davises and Grudens, even though they largely don't mean it.

The fact that the NFL screwed up Los Angeles royally – again, and this time twice – is of no consequence to those who believe that teams belong in part to the people who love and support them. Teams have abandoned such fan pockets as St. Louis, San Diego, Oakland and are in the process of gradually putting the same hammer to Jacksonville. For the most part, people who angry at the way they have been treated but have dealt with the wound.

But those who haven’t yet learned to transition (mostly San Diegans, though St. Louis is suing the rams and the league for beating feet out of town) are in for a long haul of more disappointment. Even the talk that the Oakland city lawsuit against the NFL and the Raiders is close to being filed should not be regarded as a hopeful sign because the remedy in case of victory is not the return of the team but a few overstuffed bags of money for the city and Alameda County, which doubtless will not be passed on to any of you.

In short, in case you were wondering whether the continued failings of the Los Angeles market and the embarrassing bumblings of the league in assuring those failures could somehow undo the events that led them all to this pit of despair, stop. It doesn’t do that at all. Whether L.A. ever embraces the Chargers or Vegas the Raiders, the teams will never be San Diego’s or Oakland’s ever again.

You see, kids, when the NFL makes a mistake like this, it not only declares victory where there is only defeat, but makes sure the lawyers they hire make the deals as binding as possible.

Yep. It's another bucketful of bidness as usual, when the NFL outthinks itself. Either way, your last-ditch fantasies aren't happening, so play the lottery instead. Your chances are no worse, and at least you can dream that if you hit, you could buy a suite for all the Raider games you could ever want.

Or, more likely, keep the money and extend a finger of good cheer southward.

Why Raiders might wade back into NFL trade market with rumors swirling

Why Raiders might wade back into NFL trade market with rumors swirling

ALAMEDA – The Raiders continue making roster moves throughout the season. The latest came Tuesday, when veteran middle linebacker Derrick Johnson was formally released.

There could be more alterations on the horizons as the Raiders try to improve.

“There’s going to continue to be roster changes, certainly, on every team in the league,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “That’s just the way the league is. Players get hurt. We’ll see what the medical report is when we return from the bye and we’ll go from there.”

Injuries certainly necessitate change. That’s how defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Clinton McDonald ended up on the roster. Justin Ellis went on injured and P.J. Hall was lost a few weeks, creating vacancies filled by guys who stuck.

That’s one way rosters change. The others? Performance or preferred compensation.

We’ll explore the latter in this post.

Jay Glazer reported Sunday on the Fox pregame show that the Raiders are shopping former first-round picks Amari Cooper and Karl Joseph in trades.

Other media outlets, including one prominent site, have thrown other names out there, assuming the Raiders are willing to part with anyone after a 1-5 start. We won’t repeat unsubstantiated names, or those associated with conditionals like “could” or “might.”

Generally speaking, it will be interesting to see how involved the Raiders are moving parts before the Oct. 30 NFL trade deadline. Trading Cooper especially would show the Raiders are clearing the deck for future picks and salary-cap freedom. Cooper should demand significant salary in his second contract, which could be extended this offseason or after he plays on a fifth-year option. Cooper has been inconsistent, making it tougher to pay him top dollar.

Joseph was the No. 4 safety before hurting his hamstring a few weeks back, so getting something for someone not high on the depth chart might be worth it to brass.

Glazer reports in The Athletic that the Raiders are looking for a first-round pick for Cooper, but would have a market for the dynamic talent should the price drop some. The Alabama product is working the through the concussion protocol, meaning he wouldn’t get dealt until he is cleared.

Gruden was asked about shopping Cooper after a 27-3 loss to Seattle on Sunday, during which the receiver was concussed.

”I don't know. I haven't heard that. I'm not -- I'm not -- you know, I'm just sorry to have to deal with a lot of these reports,” Gruden said. “I just hope Amari is okay. Like I said, he's going to be a big part of our pass offense and we'll see what happens here. Hopefully he's all right.”

Glazer reports “decent compensation” is being demanded for Joseph, though a market hasn’t really developed.

There are other short-term veterans who could get moved, even in a league where deadline trades aren’t terribly common.

The Raiders are on the prowl for upgrades now or, more likely, in the future. It’s possible they could part with a player of pedigree to acquire them.