Raiders

Vontaze Burfict wants Antonio Brown beef behind him with both on Raiders now

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AP

Vontaze Burfict wants Antonio Brown beef behind him with both on Raiders now

Things might get awkward at the start of Raiders OTAs in May.

That's when new teammates Vontaze Burfict and Antonio Brown will share a locker room for the first time.

Burfict (Cincinnati Bengals) and Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers) played on opposite sides of one of the AFC North's fiercest rivalries, and things came to a head in the 2015 postseason. That's when Burfict knocked Brown out of the playoffs with a dirty, illegal hit to the head, and received a three-game NFL suspension. 

But Burfict, who signed a one-year contract with the Raiders on Tuesday, told reporters in a conference call he isn't concerned about any lingering tension between himself and the talented wide receiver.

"We're on the same team, with one goal. It's all positive, man," Burfict said. "He's a great player, he's gonna be a Hall of Famer one day, and honestly I'm gonna approach him just like I do all my other teammates. I'll introduce myself, all that good stuff. ... There's nothing negative over here, man. We're on the same team, everything's [about] trying to win a championship over here."

The Raiders traded for Brown earlier this month, and he tweeted Tuesday that he had already reached out to Burfict.

That's a marked departure from the ex-Steelers star. When former Pittsburgh teammate Juju Smith-Schuster crushed Burfict with a vicious block, "no one enjoyed [it] more than Brown," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook wrote Tuesday. In the aftermath of Burfict's hit, Brown made his displeasure with the play clear to Cook.

“I feel like guys don’t want to stop me no more,” Brown told Cook in early 2016. “They want to take me out. They want to kill me. They want to steal my dreams. They want to ruin me. They want to end me.”

[RELATED: Why Quinnen Williams remains so humble before NFL draft]

Burfict, for his part, sounded more than ready to bury the hatchet Tuesday. He said he'll keep an open mind when he meets Brown, as well as the rest of his new teammates.

"Honestly, we might [end up being] the closest friends on the team, you know what I mean," Burfict said. "So, just gotta go along with it, and I can't wait to meet him."

If Brown's tweet is any indication, he feels the same way. 

Why Gabe Jackson sees plenty of potential in Raiders offensive line

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AP

Why Gabe Jackson sees plenty of potential in Raiders offensive line

ALAMEDA -- Gabe Jackson was back in action after a long layoff Monday. The Raiders' star right guard hurt his knee during a joint training camp practice with the Los Angeles Rams and hadn’t worked out with the team since.

Just being back with his team was an accomplishment, an important step in his return to action after missing five games. The Raiders left him on the 53-man roster hoping he could be back before midseason.

That should happen. Jackson said he hopes to return Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. If that doesn’t work out, he should be ready for a Week 8 clash with the Houston Texans.

“I feel pretty good,” Jackson said Monday. “I’m excited to be back with my brothers. It has been a long time.”

Jackson went more than nine weeks between practices, a layoff that sent his position into flux. The Raiders tried several at right guard, settling on Denzelle Good as a quality placeholder on an offensive line off to a great start. The Raiders are averaging 4.9 yards per carry and rank fourth in pass-blocking efficiency.

Jackson will pair with longtime running mate Rodney Hudson on the interior and work with Trent Brown on what should be a dominant right side.

The 28-year-old was part of a dominant offensive line in 2016 that was integral to the Raiders' lone trip to the playoffs this decade. He believes this year’s line could compete with that one.

“I think we could be even better,” Jackson said. “If everybody stays the course and grinds it out, I think we could be pretty good.”

This offensive line operates in a different scheme but has executed well to this point. Jackson will energize and fortify the unit, which has been bolstered by Brown’s addition in free agency.

“I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I can say for sure Trent is a beast,” Jackson said. “When he first came here, I knew it would be fun to play with him. Watching the things he has done recently and since he has been here, he’s impressive.”

[RELATED: Raiders' Jones ready to make impact after 'shocking' trade]

Raiders coach Jon Gruden said that Jackson might be in his best shape, certainly over the past two seasons. Jackson did shy away from that compliment. He believes it’s warranted after training hard during this down period.

“I had some time to work on myself,” Jackson said. “There are some things I’m still working on, but I feel like I have gotten better. Now, I’m ready to get back at it and play.”

Zay Jones pushing hard to learn Raiders offense, make instant impact

Zay Jones pushing hard to learn Raiders offense, make instant impact

ALAMEDA -- Zay Jones was an active, engaged member of the Buffalo Bills offense this season, until a Week 5 contest against the Titans. The third-year receiver barely left the sideline that day in Nashville, a setback he considered temporary.

Jones had no idea that would be the last time he suited up for the team that drafted him. The East Carolina product was blindsided by the trade that sent him to the Raiders for a 2021 fifth-round NFL draft pick.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know it was coming,” Jones said. “I didn’t ask to be out of Buffalo, but it’s something that transpired. That’s the nature of the business. I wish those guys the best. I’m happy to be in this locker room and part of a team that really wanted me.”

Make no mistake: The Raiders need Jones to contribute as soon as humanly possible.

The Raiders receiving corps is an offensive weak link, with Tyrell Williams banged up and J.J. Nelson and Ryan Grant cut over injury, effectiveness or both. Williams is the only legitimate, established threat in the group, which has struggled to make dynamic plays downfield.

General manager Mike Mayock was a big Jones fan before the 2017 draft and said so as NFL Network’s premier draft analyst. Jones hasn’t lived up to his second-round draft status, with ho-hum numbers and just a 50 percent completion rate when targeted.

He had a solid year in 2018, with 652 yards and seven touchdowns on 56 catches. But he was targeted just 16 times in five games this season, showing the Bills considered him expendable. The Raiders need him right away and are pushing to prepare him as fast as possible.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden spent his bye week helping prepare Jones, who admittedly had his head spinning during this crash course in a complicated scheme.

“We hit the playbook pretty hard, trying to get me up to speed,” Jones said. “The offense is very complex. There’s a lot that goes into it. Some guys have been here since camp and I’ve been here for a few days. I’m trying to catch up as fast as I can.

“There are some situations where the head spins, but I think I’m getting it down. I just have to keep pressing, stay in the playbook and get to know the quarterbacks.”

Monday’s practice was the first working with Derek Carr and applying what he learned last week.

“I’m still evaluating the team and see how we operate,” Jones said. “I’m just going to control what I can and prepare like crazy to play the Green Bay Packers. It’s a day by day process, and this is Day 1 for me. I think it was trending in the right direction in terms of understanding everything. When the bullets are flying, it’s so much different than it looks on paper.

“…Each quarterback is different in terms of how they speak and their terminology, what they want and expect and how they throw the football. I was just talking with Derek earlier about what he wants and how he operates. It seems like he’s an unbelievable person. It’s about getting with him and understanding his timing. We’ll get that down and go from there.”

[RELATED: Raiders stand pat in power rankings after Week 6 bye]

Carr will be the best quarterback Jones has worked with, as he tries to spark his career just over halfway through his rookie contract.

“I’m coming into a situation where this is a good football team already,” Jones said. “To be just a small piece of it is an honor and a blessing.

“I’m going to give this team everything I have. I’m a playmaker. I’ve made plays in my career. I have put that on tape. Hopefully I can continue to keep making plays for this football team and get them to where they want to be.”