Raiders snap count: Bowman a three-down linebacker vs Bills


Raiders snap count: Bowman a three-down linebacker vs Bills

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders have a new field general running their defense. NaVorro Bowman played all 69 defensive snaps in a 34-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, acting as the three-down linebacker his former team didn’t prefer.

Bowman’s snaps were expected to decrease with the 49ers, a major reason why they released him roughly two weeks ago. The Raiders had a glaring need on the inside, especially for someone with Bowman’s experience, on-field leadership and tackling ability.

He won’t be a part-time player here. The Raiders are banged up at linebacker, Bowman’s the position group’s permanent fixture.

Weakside linebacker Cory James was a three-down player – he missed most of the last two games with a knee injury – but left in certain packages.

Nicholas Morrow, previously involved in sub packages, only played special teams on Sunday.

Time will tell if this change is permanent or injury related, but Bowman has quickly taken command of this defense. He led the team with 11 tackles, including one for a loss. He allowed three receptions for 19 yards – just two after the catch – on as many targets. Pass coverage was a perceived weakness in Bowman's game, but the Raiders aren't putting him in bad spots. They're playing to strengths whenever possible while keeping him on the field. 

“We haven’t really asked him to go eliminate people in terms of if they’re trying to play a lot of man and isolate him on backs or things like that or tight ends," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. "We’re not asking him to do a lot of that. From what I’ve seen, he’s a good football player. He’s come in, two weeks in a row he’s led our team in tackles. He’s taking charge. He’s been a very positive addition to our football team. His experience, his toughness, his love for the game; it’s a positive for us.”

Quarterback – Derek Carr 65
Running back – DeAndre Washington 32, Jalen Richard 26, Jamize Olawale 5
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 63, Cordarelle Patterson 57, Michael Crabtree 55, Johnny Holton 13
Tight end – Jared Cook 46, Lee Smith 19, Clive Walford 6
Offensive line –Kelechi Osemele 65, Rodney Hudson 65, Donald Penn 65, Marshall Newhouse 65, Gabe Jackson 65, Vadal Alexander 2, Jon Feliciano 1

Defensive line – Khalil Mack 58, Justin Ellis 47, Mario Edwards 43, Denico Autry 37, Eddie Vanderdoes 37, Treyvon Hester 30, Mario Edwards 28, James Cowser 7
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 69, Bruce Irvin 61, Cory James 49
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 68, Dexter McDonald 67, Sean Smith 29, Shilique Calhoun 11, Xavier Woodson-Luster 1
Safety – Reggie Nelson 69, Shalom Luani 68, Keith McGill 8

Keith McGill 25, James Cowser 25, Xavier Woodson-Luster 19, Erik Harris 19, Nicholas Morrow 15, Shalom Luani 16, Jalen Richard 12, Johnny Holton 12, Cordarrelle Patterson 11, DeAndre Washington 9, Lee Smith 9, Jon Feliciano 9, Elijah Hood 8, Demetrius McCray 8 Clive Walford 7, Jamize Olawale 7, TJ Carrie 6, Mario Edwards 6, Denico Autry 6, Eddie Vanderdoes 6, Treyvon Hester 6, Jon Condo 6, Marquette King 6, Giorgio Tavecchio 5, Gabe Jackson 2, Marshall Newhouse 2, Kelechi Osemele 2, Vadal Alexander 2, Justin Ellis 2

QB EJ Manuel, WR Seth Roberts

CB Gareon Conley, QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, LB Marquel Lee, DL Jihad Ward, CB David Amerson, OT David Sharpe

Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades


Raiders confirm Greg Papa out as team's radio voice after two decades

The Raiders made it official Thursday. Legendary broadcaster Greg Papa, who also serves as an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, no longer will be the radio voice of the team.

[RAY RATTO: Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap]

Raiders owner Mark Davis made the following statement Thursday: 

The Raiders organization would like to thank Greg Papa for his two decades of service to the Silver and Black.. He wasn’t just given the job.. He earned it.. With intense preparation Greg was always ready for the call.. Just as my generation remembers Bill King and “Holy Toledo”.. The Raider Nation will remember Greg Papa and “Touchdown Raiders”.. We wish Greg and his family the best in whatever the future brings..
-Mark Davis-

Brent Musburger reportedly will replace Papa in the booth. That hasn't been made official, however. 

Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season


Five new Raiders with something to prove in 2018 season

The Raiders are taking some time off during the dead period of the NFL offseason. Even early bird Jon Gruden is slapping the snooze button these days, spending some quality time with family before training camp cranks up later this month.

Coaches and players are still finding time for work, sometimes while they’re on vacation. The Raiders want to hit the ground running this preseason, with many motivated to show well in silver and black. That’s especially true for a large class of new Raiders, many of whom hope to silence detractors.

Here are five newcomers with plenty to prove in 2018:

5. CB Rashaan Melvin

Lists like this are normally reserved for guys coming off injuries or down years. Melvin doesn’t fit that mold. The 28-year old had his best year in 2017, often shutting down top receivers as Indy’s top cornerback. He allowed a paltry 60.3 passer rating when targeted, with three picks, 10 passes defensed and just two touchdowns allowed.

Those stats didn’t produce a robust free-agent market. Melvin ended up signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Oakland, and is now working to show he’s not a one-year wonder and can stay healthy for 16 games. An ovation-worthy encore would surely earn a long-term, bigger-money deal.

Melvin made his motivation clear on Twitter a few weeks back.

4. WR Jordy Nelson

Nelson had a down year in 2017. It started well, with six touchdowns in the first four games he played. Then all-world Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down, and things hit the skids. He averaged just 9.1 yards per reception, and didn’t score after that early flurry.

That led some to say Nelson lost a step at age 32 he would not recover. The Packers asked him to take a massive pay cut, and ended up releasing him in March. The Raiders swooped in quickly with a two-year deal and plenty of guaranteed money.

Nelson has been praised for his attention to detail and position-group leadership, and will fit into the starting lineup with Amari Cooper and Martavis Bryant. He had four straight 1,000-yard seasons prior to last year. His worth won’t be defined by a monster statistical year. Reliability, leadership and red-zone performance will show if Nelson’s still got it.

3. RB Doug Martin

The veteran rusher has had an uneven career. Excellent production has come in spurts, with dominance in 2012 and 2015. The last 1,400-plus yard season was followed by two seasons of 2.9 yards per carry, which led Tampa Bay to cut his this winter.

He met Gruden for lunch at a Florida golf course, and the exchange convinced Gruden the 29-year old was ready to work and prove he had plenty left in the tank. His work was praised during the offseason program, though practice in pads and preseason play will offer stronger evidence of 2018 effectiveness. Showing well in camp could lead to an increased role behind starter Marshawn Lynch. Gruden likes using multiple backs in his offense, and could make steady contributions in the run game.

2. MLB Derrick Johnson

The longtime Kansas City Chief was let go by the team that drafted him in 2005, but it was not the end of his NFL journey. Some thought he’d call it a career at age 35, especially after suffering an Achilles’ tendon tear in Dec. 2016, but he found a new home in Oakland and a strong bond with Gruden. The Raiders need stability in the middle, and Johnson will provide on-field leadership. There’s no doubt about that.

Johnson must prove capable of being a three-down linebacker effective against the run and pass. Marquel Lee is available should the Raiders require a platoon, but Johnson doesn’t want that. The Raiders need his expertise inside at all times.

1. Head coach Jon Gruden

Gruden isn’t a newcomer, but it’s been nearly two decades since he roamed the silver and black sidelines. He hasn’t coached since 2008, but returned to the Raiders in January after nine years in the broadcast booth.

Gruden has said several times he has something to prove to his critics. That might be a self-motivational tool. There aren’t many in the East Bay, where the fan base as rallied behind him and players have loved the intensity and passion he brings to practice and meetings.

Some assume his old school tendencies and his “bringing it back to 1998” comment this offseason implies he is resistant to change or offensive innovation. That’s not the case, not by a long shot. We’ll see lots modern offense Gruden studied as an ESPN broadcaster and in his downtime at his Tampa offices, with new wrinkles unveiled as game plans dictate.

Gruden has made a solid impression in his return to coaching but, as it always is in his line of work, effectiveness will be determined by wins and losses. He won’t be graded off one-year alone, especially without solid roster depth, but Gruden wants to start fast and re-establish Raiders winning ways.