Raiders

Speed demon Rico Gafford helps Raiders prep for Ravens' Lamar Jackson

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AP

Speed demon Rico Gafford helps Raiders prep for Ravens' Lamar Jackson

ALAMEDA – Lamar Jackson ran more often in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals than any Raiders rusher has in a game all season.

The Baltimore Ravens rookie's 26 carries for 119 yards isn’t all that unusual under normal circumstances. There is, however, one catch. Jackson’s a quarterback.

That’s the largest carry count by a quarterback since the NFL merger. The yardage total is second in history for a signal-caller.

But the QB wasn’t running for his life. He was running with purpose

That presents one huge problem for the Raiders defense: Containing the first-round Louisville product and Heisman trophy winner in his second career NFL start.

Jackson’s ability to run and throw – despite what some draft experts might say about that second trait – makes him unpredictable. That’s magnified because he has just one professional start. There just isn’t much tape to go on or tendencies to identify.

“[He presents] a lot of challenges, just because you don’t know what plays they are running,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I don’t recognize some of the plays they are running. You got to go back to Louisville and study him there. He’s got magnificent running ability. He’s going to get better and better the more he plays, and we got to respect his passing ability and these receivers. We know a lot about them.”

[RELATED: Jordy Nelson limited in on-field work in practice]

The Ravens will build off what Jackson did against the Bengals, and give the Raiders new and unscouted looks. It’s certainly possible he’ll throw more than the 19 passes he attempted in a win over the Bengals. Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther must be ready for such chess moves.

Tackling Jackson is difficult, even if defenders know what’s coming. He has raw speed in spades. He ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash as Louisville’s pro day, showing that he can be gone in a flash.

The Raiders have someone who can match that pace.

“We got Rico Gafford,” Gruden said, “who runs about 4.2.”

Gafford is a practice-squad receiver and former college cornerback who turned in a 4.22 40-yard dash at Wyoming’s pro day. The Raiders will run Johnny Holton, activated Wednesday from the practice squad, as a Jackson clone as well.

“The best I can tell you,” Gruden said, “is we are going to be very, very creative on how we try to emulate and simulate the Ravens.”

[RELATED: Derek Carr's aim for Raiders' final six games is to mess up NFL draft order]

Gafford will do his best to give Raiders defense proper looks as they try to get used to Sunday’s unique challenge.

“I love running,” Gafford said, via the Las Vegas Review Journal. “That’s the one thing about me: I love running. I’m a track guy. Anyone who knows me can tell you I run. I run a lot, and I run fast. I’m just going to do the best that I can … to be the best Lamar Jackson I can be, other than him.”

NFL rumors: Raiders questioned if Josh Allen 'had enough dog in him'

NFL rumors: Raiders questioned if Josh Allen 'had enough dog in him'

The Raiders have lauded their decision to draft defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick, though it was certainly a surprise to many. 

One of the main reasons it came as a shock was because of who was still on the board, especially edge rusher Josh Allen. The Raiders were dead last in the NFL with a laughable 13 total sacks last season. Allen, who recorded 17 sacks last year as a senior at Kentucky, seemed like a logical fit to help boost an ugly pass rush. 

But The Athletic's Vic Tafur reported Friday that the Raiders had some concerns with Allen, who fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 7.

"Basically I heard that the Raiders weren’t that impressed," Tafur wrote. "I reported pretty early on he wasn’t in play for them at No. 4. I would never question a player’s toughness but there were concerns that he got pushed around a little on some plays at Kentucky and he may not have had enough dog in him for Gruden and Guenther’s liking." 

Allen met with the Raiders on one of his final pre-draft visits. He watched film with general manager Mike Mayock and the two broke down his positives and negatives on the field. 

“We watched some film together, good and bad clips of myself,” Allen said to NBC Sports Bay Area in April. “He taught me and showed me what I can improve on. What I do good, too.”

[RELATED: How Ferrell plans to earn respect in Raiders’ locker room]

Ferrell was a star himself in college as well, but if Allen out-plays him as a rookie, there will be plenty of people questioning the Raiders' pick.

Raiders QB Derek Carr proudly announces birth of third son Deakon

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Raiders QB Derek Carr proudly announces birth of third son Deakon

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on Friday morning announced the birth of his third son, Deakon Derek Carr. 

Here's the first look at baby Deakon. 

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Welcome Deakon Derek Carr! You are so loved!

A post shared by Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) on

With three sons in the fold, Carr is feeling some type of way with his "dad strength," too. 

Not only is Deakon bringing more dad strength to Derek, it sounds like the Carr family might need a new ... car. Yeah, dad strength comes with a better appreciation of dad jokes. 

[RELATED: Carr's throwback trick pass video will excite Raiders fans]

Carr is entering his sixth season with the Raiders. Deakon is joined by brothers Dallas and Deker Carr.