Raiders

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.”

Raiders-Bengals injury report: Interior offensive line in bad shape

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AP

Raiders-Bengals injury report: Interior offensive line in bad shape

ALAMEDA – The Raiders offensive line has a huge problem heading into Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. Both offensive guard spots have been decimated by injury.

Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson missed Wednesday’s practice with injury, and it’s possible both missed the Bengals game. Chief backup at both guard spots and center Jon Feliciano is now on injured reserve.

That doesn’t leave much flanking center Rodney Hudson, which is why Denver Kirkland and Cameron Hunt were signed. Hunt was brought in to be the backup center.

Kirkland will join Denzelle Good and Chaz Green in the mix to play guard if their frontline starters remain out.

“I know that both (Osemele and Jackson) are as tough as they come and if there’s a will, there’s a way,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “They have the will, I know that. We’ll just hope for the best. Like we’ve done at other positions on offense, we’ll have to rally around the next guy up.”

Gruden also lauded Jackson’s and Feliciano’s toughness, for finishing the game-winning drive against Pittsburgh despite significant injuries. Feliciano could barely walk down the stretch, and Jackson refused to burn a timeout late to give him time to recover from tremendous elbow pain.

The interior line, by far the line’s strength, is in bad shape and the Raiders must find ways to handle that setback against a tough Bengals front.

“It will be very challenging, especially against a good defense,” Carr said. “Their front, obviously we know they got good players. It just is what it is this year. Guys are hurt, guys are leaving the building and we are getting new guys in. It’s next man up, but just the mentality that coach Gruden and I have together is, however it unfolds we are going to give Cincinnati our best shot.”

Raiders practice report

WEDNESDAY
Did not practice
G Gabe Jackson (elbow/ankle)
LG Kelechi Osemele (toe)
LB Kyle Wilber (hamstring)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle, knee)
DL Maurice Hurst (ankle)
WR Dwayne Harris (foot)
FB Keith Smith (calf)
CB Daryl Worley (shoulder)

Full practice
CB Gareon Conley (groin)

Bengals practice report

WEDNESDAY
Did not practice
LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion)
DE Michael Johnson (concussion)
CB Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle)

Limited practice
OT Clint Boling (knee)
OT Cordy Glenn (back)
CB Tony McRae (concussion)
CB KeiVarae (finger)

Full practice
QB Jeff Driskel (right shoulder)
WR Alex Erickson (shoulder)

Mark Davis weighing 'all options' for Raiders' 2019 home after Oakland sues

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USATSI

Mark Davis weighing 'all options' for Raiders' 2019 home after Oakland sues

The Raiders were a focal point of Wednesday's events at the NFL winter owners meetings in Dallas.

The 2020 NFL Draft was awarded to Las Vegas in the team’s first year there. The Raiders also were attached to a strengthened Rooney Rule after many questioned whether the team ignored the spirit (and letter) of that law when hiring coach Jon Gruden last winter.

But the most pressing concern for the Raiders and their fans is where the team will play in 2019. The Raiders' lease with the Oakland Coliseum expires after this season, and a federal antitrust and breach-of-contract lawsuit levied Tuesday by the City of Oakland puts the team’s plans for next year up in the air.

“We do not have any answer on where we’re going to play next year,” team president Marc Badain told reporters Wednesday, via Pro Football Talk. “We made an offer of $7.5 million in rent to the city, and that’s now off the table. We have a number of options, and when we have an answer we’ll share it with you.”

The Raiders don’t have forever to decide. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference that NFL schedulers would need to know where the Raiders will call their 2019 home in “early January, February.”

The Raiders always have preferred to remain in Oakland until their new Las Vegas stadium is scheduled to open in 2020, but they're starting to look into contingency plans once this lawsuit was approved by Oakland’s city council in early September.

Owner Mark Davis also spoke at the NFL meetings in Dallas, and said, “all options are open,” to where the Raiders will play in 2019. He was specifically asked about San Diego, Levi’s Stadium and other locales including in Nevada -- he doesn’t love San Antonio’s Alamodome turf -- and wouldn’t eliminate any on spec.

Davis wouldn’t even shut the door on Oakland despite pulling the latest Coliseum lease offer off the table.

“Emotionally, I don’t want to pay for my own lawsuit,” Davis said. “But, for the fans, that’s something I’ve got to think about.”