Raiders

Unsuccessful Austin courtship shows Gruden going after top-flight staff

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AP

Unsuccessful Austin courtship shows Gruden going after top-flight staff

The Raiders tried to lure Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to Oakland.

It didn't work. The respected defensive mind ended up becoming Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, NFL Network reported on Monday afternoon. He was deep in talks with the Bengals, but the Raiders went after him anyway. 

The crazy part: New Raiders head coach Jon Gruden didn't have that job title available. Paul Guenther is set to be his DC.

Gruden tried to bring Austin on as an assistant head coach who would work with defensive backs, NFLN reports, the exact position Jon Pagano held under Jack Del Rio’s regime.

Austin ultimately didn't don silver and black. The fact Gruden pushed for him, however, speaks to a larger point.

The Raiders didn’t pay Jon Gruden $100 million and then skimp on everything else. They’re allowing him to assemble a top-flight staff.

Greg Olson is set to be offensive coordinator. Guenther is in line to run the defensive side.

Both guys got four-year contracts, double the industry standard. That's two years in Oakland followed by two years in Las Vegas, where there is no state tax. 

That type of guaranteed money, especially with less of it going to Uncle Sam, goes a long way in Gruden getting assistants he wants.

Austin is a respected defensive mind and was a head-coaching candidate back in 2014. Getting him would've been a coup. 

Armed with the power and funds to make staff hires he sees fit should help assemble a quality staff. 

The Raiders haven’t made announcements regarding assistants, though Olson and Guenther should become official soon. They haven’t said much of anything at all, outside scheduling a Tuesday press conference to formally knight Gruden head coach.

Adding Gruden is the big-ticket item, but allowing him to assemble a quality staff is vital to the on-field product.

Jon Gruden, Raiders seeking solid third option behind Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson

Jon Gruden, Raiders seeking solid third option behind Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson

ALAMEDA -- Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson are locked into the Raiders starting lineup. They have been both dynamic and steady during training camp.

Receivers behind them on the depth chart haven’t been so strong.

Head coach Jon Gruden wants better from those guys.

“Hopefully someone can step up and will clearly emerge as the third receiver,” Gruden said Monday after practice. “… We need somebody to step up in that room this week.”

The Raiders will run a game-like practice week heading into Friday’s exhibition against the Green Bay Packers, and regulars will play an extended stretch.

Game performance could lift someone above the rest. The third receiver typically works in the slot, a spot Ryan Switzer manned during the offseason program and early in camp.

Griff Whalen has taken that spot over the last week.

Martavis Bryant is the most talented receiver, maybe in the entire group, but has been slow to absorb the offense and learn multiple receiver positions. Gruden has called him out on that, and has him working primarily with the second and third units.

There will be a competitive battle for receiver jobs, but it’s expected that Bryant and Switzer will end up taking control of snaps behind Cooper and Nelson. That isn’t guaranteed, however. Gruden wants more consistency and production from his wideouts.

“There has been some good and some, I don’t want to say bad, but there have been some ups and downs typical in training camp,” Nelson said. “Sometimes guys come out of the blocks fast and then slow down. Sometimes start slow and then pick it up. The main thing is being consistent.

“Keep reminding them that you can’t let the roller coaster get to you. You’re going to have good days and bad ones. You’re going to run good routes and bad routes. You have to continue to improve and continue to grind. If you do that, you’ll get the results you want.”

The Raiders need more from the slot, which could be an important role with threats on the outside. The competition there is an important one that quarterback Derek Carr is watching closely.

“Yeah, a couple of them are new, fighting for that spot. A couple have been banged up. So, I think we’re all sitting there excited to see what happens,” Carr said. “They’re all, I think, healthy. We’ll see. I think they’re all mentally ready, physically ready. Hopefully come game time, we can sit there and we can evaluate that spot. Because, obviously it’s important.

"When you have guys like Martavis or [Amari Cooper] Coop or Jordy on the outside, you have Jared [Cook] on the inside, someone is hopefully going to get a good matchup on the other side and in the slot, wherever we put them. We have to figure that out and it’ll be exciting. I’m just excited to watch how that goes this week, preparation-wise and then in the game.”

Watch Marshawn Lynch's tee shot that earned him MVP of Klay Thompson's golf tourney

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AP

Watch Marshawn Lynch's tee shot that earned him MVP of Klay Thompson's golf tourney

Marshawn Lynch is much better at driving a golf cart than he is at driving a golf ball. 

The Raiders running back, of course, famously took an injury cart for a spin in 2006 after a win when he was at Cal. On Sunday, he took to the links, playing alongside Klay Thompson at the Thompson Family Foundation Golf Tournament in San Francisco.

Thompson gave a look at Lynch's "form" on his Instagram story, and the result was not pretty. 

Courtesy: @klaythompson/Instagram

That won't be considered solid, let alone way too solid, by anybody. Thompson told the Bay Area News Group's Mark Medina that he wants to improve his golf game, and it's probably best if he doesn't turn to Lynch for advice.