Raiders

Raiders snap count: Not much room for Obi Melifonwu right now

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AP

Raiders snap count: Not much room for Obi Melifonwu right now

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Head coach Jack Del Rio up-front about Obi Melifonwu’s activity level upon return from injured reserve.

The Raiders had a big role for him. It’s far smaller now after so much time out.

The second-year safety out of UConn played seven snaps on defense and 10 more on special teams in Sunday’s 27-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

There isn’t much room for more right now.

Starting safeties Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson play virtually every snap, and have since the season began. The hybrid linebacker role he worked within this summer isn’t available either, with NaVorro Bowman taking every snap at middle linebacker.

If Melifonwu had been healthy this whole time things might be different, but he can’t make up for so much time missed with a knee injury suffered in the preseason’s third game.

He missed more time before that with an ankle injury. He hasn’t practiced much, and needs time to develop the mental aspects of playing a new position.

He had two run stops on defense, and allowed a 12-yard catch the one time he was targeted.

The Raiders didn’t use many cornerbacks, riding TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald to account for all coverage snaps.

OFFENSE
Quarterback – Derek Carr 63
Running back – Marshawn Lynch 37, Jalen Richard 12, DeAndre Washington 9
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 57, Michael Crabtree 53, Seth Roberts 35, Johnny Holton 7, Cordarelle Patterson 6
Tight end – Jared Cook 53, Lee Smith 30, Clive Walford 12
Offensive line –Kelechi Osemele 63, Rodney Hudson 63, Donald Penn 63, Marshall Newhouse 63, Gabe Jackson 63, Vadal Alexander 3, Jon Feliciano 3

DEFENSE
Defensive line – Khalil Mack 66, Mario Edwards 42, Denico Autry 42, Eddie Vanderdoes 23, Treyvon Hester 23, Justin Ellis 16, James Cowser 3
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 67, Bruce Irvin 64, Cory James 58, Nicholas Morrow 2, Shilique Calhoun 1
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 67, Dexter McDonald 67, Sean Smith 53
Safety – Reggie Nelson 67, Karl Joseph 67, Obi Melifonwu 7, Shalom Luani 2

SPECIAL TEAMS
Keith McGill 21, James Cowser 21, Shalom Luani 18, Erik Harris 17, Marquel Lee 17, Shlique Calhoun 14, Johnny Holton 12, Xavier Woodson-Luster 12, Nicholas Morrow 11, Lee Smith 10, Giorgio Tavecchio 10, Obi Melifonwu 10, Jon Feliciano 9,Marquette King 8, Jon Condo 8, Jalen Richard 8, DeAndre Washington 8 Justin Ellis 6, Clive Walford 6, Karl Joseph 5, Gabe Jackson 5, Vadal Alexander 5, Marshall Newhouse 4, Dexter McDonald 4, TJ Carrie 4, Khalil Mack 4, Treyvon Hester 4, Mario Edwards 3, Eddie Vanderdoes 3, Kelechi Osemele 4, Amari Cooper 1, Jared Cook 1,

DID NOT PLAY
QB EJ Manuel

INACTIVE
CB Gareon Conley, QB Connor Cook, FB Jamize Olawale, OT Jylan Ware, DL Jihad Ward, CB David Amerson, OT David Sharpe

How rookie Brandon Parker earned respect of Raiders vets right away

How rookie Brandon Parker earned respect of Raiders vets right away

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have high hopes for Brandon Parker. They used a third-round pick thinking the athletic tackle can be a long-term solution on the offensive line.

The North Carolina product wasn’t thinking about the future this spring. Parker was focused on learning a new system, working with new position coach Tom Cable and endearing himself to new teammates.

That last goal isn’t always easy, especially on the offensive line. Rookies are tested and pushed early regardless of position. Offensive linemen want to see you stand up for yourself and protect your own. That is, after all, their primary job description.

Parker did that on the first day of last week’s minicamp, pushed back against defensive lineman Fadol Brown in an exchange that evolved into a post-rep scuffle.

Coaches didn’t love it. It distracted from practice and a two-minute drill. Brown was penalized and ejected from practice for fighting. The offense got some extra yards by penalty and kicking a field goal.

The linemen, however, were pleased to see Parker refusing to back down.

"Brandon stood up for himself,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “That was really cool to see. You always want to see that, you worry about a guy’s toughness. He’s a tough kid. He’s been playing well. He’s really intelligent. Really smart.”

Veterans test newbies. Parker made a good impression there.

“That’s a positive impression you want to leave,” Parker said. “You want to show the veterans that you’re not afraid of anything, and they you’ll go to battle with them like they’ll go to battle with you. It’s more a matter of gaining respect than proving you’re the toughest guy out there.”

Scuffles don’t improve your standing with coaches. Studying hard, executing well and flashing athleticism certainly does, especially before the pads come on. That was Parker’s primary objective during the offseason program.

“I think I presented well,” Parker said. “I do a good job retaining information. I didn’t really have a whole lot of mistakes. The first couple days are a whirlwind and a faster pace, but after I got used to it and got my feet wet and started to show the veterans what I can really do, they kind of warmed up to me. It has been a smooth adjustment ever since.”

Parker has had hiccups along the way, including a mistake early in the offseason program. He expected Cable to come up and correct what went wrong. Somebody different came his way quickly.

“I looked back and Donald Penn was there and was one of the first to address me,” Parker said. “Having his experience and (veteran Breno Giacomini) on the team and around to give us technical pointers is great.”

Parker and first-round offensive tackle Kolton Miller received significant work during the offseason program, and were praised for their intelligence and athleticism. There’s plenty of development remaining, but the rookies seem to be off to a good start.

“They’re smart kids. They listen,” center Rodney Hudson said. “They’re learning and working and asking questions, which I think is always important for young guys. To ask questions about where they can do better, and both of those guys do that.”

Watching Geno Atkins has Maurice Hurst excited to earn role in Guenther's defense

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AP

Watching Geno Atkins has Maurice Hurst excited to earn role in Guenther's defense

ALAMEDA – Maurice Hurst is familiar with Paul Guenther’s defensive scheme and his role in it. That knowledge didn’t originate from the Raiders offseason program, or sleepless post-draft nights studying the playbook.

Hurst studied it first at the University of Michigan, focusing on one of planet Earth’s best at his position.

“I’ve been watching Geno Atkins since I was in college,” Hurst said Wednesday. “He’s always someone I’ve had my eye on.”

The veteran Cincinnati Bengal is an elite defensive tackle both stopping the run and pressuring quarterbacks as a three technique, working a scheme Guenther coordinated the last four seasons. Hurst shares similar size, traits and explosiveness off the ball, making Atkins a proper athletic role model. He's a good one, with 61 sacks and six Pro Bowls to his credit.

Time watching Hurst was extremely well spent. The Raiders drafted Hurst in the fifth round – a health issue torpedoed this first-round talent’s draft stock – and paired him with Guenther, who came to Alameda this offseason to coordinate Jon Gruden’s defense.

The Raiders certainly hope Hurst can be like Geno in time, because a dominant interior pass rusher is vital to Guenther’s scheme.

“(Atkins is) strong and he’s fast,” Hurst said. “Those traits translate well in the NFL. He’s able to be very disruptive and get after the quarterback. The three technique is the penetrator of our defense. You have to have someone like Geno to make the defense go. That’s a major part of Coach Guenther's scheme, and why he brought in me and (second-round defensive tackle) P.J. Hall. We have Mario (Edwards). We have a good group of guys who can do what he expects us to do.”

Hurst has immersed himself in Guenther’s scheme since joining the Silver and Black. The Michigan man prides himself on scheme study and proper application in practice, but his head start may have helped. Having an inside man didn’t hurt. Fellow Wolverines defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow was drafted by Cincinnati last season and watched film with Hurst during the offseason.

“I had a pretty good idea of what the defense was like and what coach was expecting,” Hurst said, “from watching film with Ryan and talking to him on FaceTime.”

Hurst likes Guenther’s scheme, and his possible role playing three technique – lining up off the guard’s outside shoulder – for the Raiders.

“It definitely gets me amped up,” Hurst said. “The Bengals, their best player was their three technique. That’s the focal point of their defense, and that’s what Coach Guenther is used to getting, and what he has got his whole time in the NFL (with Atkins). He drafted Geno, and it says something for him drafting me and P.J. I think he expects a lot from us and expects us to fill that role he had with the Bengals.”

Hurst and Hall join Edwards as interior linemen with pass-rush ability. It’s unfair to heap expectations on a rookie and the Raiders won’t, but there’s optimism Hurst will make an instant impact.

He can’t make one right now – he hasn’t put pads on as a Raider – but believes he made a solid first impression during the now concluded offseason program.

“I handle those situations pretty well,” Hurst said. “I try to keep my knowledge of the game up, and I’m always on top of my plays. I’m making sure I always stay true to myself and stay true to the game by working hard and putting in a lot of effort. That’s what can set you apart, being reliable.”