Raiders

Three things you need to know after Raiders' 30-17 loss to Ravens

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USATSI

Three things you need to know after Raiders' 30-17 loss to Ravens

OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 30-17 loss to the Ravens in Week 5 on Sunday:

1. Raiders aren’t rebounding well

The Raiders have lost three straight games, and looked terrible doing it. They’ve started slow, struggled on third down offensively and defensively. Perceived strengths now look suspect, and the Raiders are reeling after failing to the Ravens Sunday afternoon.

The biggest takeaway: The Raiders haven’t responded well to adversity.

They were beat soundly by Washington in Week 3. They didn’t get off the mat against Denver in Week 4. They fell behind early against Baltimore and never recovered.

That leaves the Raiders in a rough spot, below .500 for the first time since 2015. They deserve to be there after a brutal stretch of play.

“It hurts, but Coach Jack said it best. You get what you earn,” strong safety Karl Joseph said. “We’ve earned 2-3. We have to dig ourselves out.”

2. Turnover drought continues

The 2016 Raiders defense wasn’t great. They allowed too many yards, too many points for Raider Nation’s liking. They made up for last year’s shortcomings by performing well under pressure.

They were solid in the fourth quarter and tallied 30 takeaways across all periods.

They can’t fall back on that early this season. The Raiders are struggling to create turnovers.

They have two defensive takeaways in five games now – two more came on special teams – and no interceptions to speak of. By contrast, the Ravens have nine.

The Raiders had a plus-16 turnover ratio last season. This year, they’re even.

That makes it especially hard to overcome slow starts, without the big plays required to turn on a dime.

“You have to be more opportunistic in practice, going after the ball,” Bruce Irvin said. “It starts there. You develop the second nature when you continuously do it in practice. It translates to Sunday. Be more aware of trying to get the ball in practice translates on Sunday.”

3. EJ Manuel a solid secondary option

Starting quarterback Derek Carr pushed to play Sunday, exactly a week after suffering a transverse process fracture in his back. That didn’t happen.

The Raiders started backup EJ Manuel, who was decent in extended action. He completed 13-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s loss. He extended drives with his legs, and came up big on several third downs.

“EJ pulled his heart out of his chest, especially on a few of those scrambles, getting the ball to playmakers to make plays,” tight end Jared Cook said. “He had one heck of a game, in my opinion.”

He ultimately didn’t score enough to erase a 21-3 lead, but certainly inspired confidence should he be called upon again.

He might not. Carr’s expected to play next week against the Los Angeles Chargers, and would take every snap thereafter if he remains healthy.

“I thought he did a pretty solid job as a backup guy coming into a tough situation and handled himself well,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Made a couple of third downs. Kept the drive, couple of key third downs and took them down to their lake to get within a score. We’ve got to do more defensively to get him more opportunities.”

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.”