Raiders

What clicked for Raiders rookie Clelin Ferrell in impressive stretch

What clicked for Raiders rookie Clelin Ferrell in impressive stretch

ALAMEDA – Clelin Ferrell stepped on the scale Thursday morning, looked down at the number below and flashed his signature smile.

The readout was the reason why: 266 pounds.

The Raiders defensive lineman finally was back to his playing weight.

The experience was a lot different after coming back from a week in the United Kingdom dealing with concussion-like symptoms and a stomach flu that made it, shall we say, hard to keep things down.

“When we got back from London, I stepped on a scale and I was 250,” Ferrell said. “I couldn’t believe it, but it wasn’t just the weight. I felt bad and I felt weak.”

Ferrell hasn’t been that light in six years. Getting there wasn’t pretty. Getting back to his playing size and strength took some time, but Ferrell’s return to health was well-timed.

It came accompanied by an on-field epiphany. Or, as defensive coordinator Paul Guenther put it, “the light came on.”

“You can just tell with the look in a guys’ eyes,” Guenther said. “You know when he starts making plays, you can start saying, ‘Hey I’m starting to figure this out.’ It’s the look in the guys’ eyes and the way he’s handling himself.”

Something clicked during a Week 9 victory over Detroit, where he had three huge run stops and three quarterback pressures, including one that flustered Matt Stafford on the final play of the Lions' failed comeback attempt.

Guenther approached the No. 4 overall pick after that win and could tell right away that something was different. He was right, and Ferrell knew exactly why.

“Facing the Detroit Lions was the first game where I felt comfortable with everything that I was asked to do,” Ferrell said. “Before, it was like, ‘I’m comfortable with this and this, not so sure about this over here.’

“I have been asked to do a lot of stuff. The whole practice week leading up to it, I felt really good with everything. I felt comfortable and that I could just go out there and play and put my own flavor on it and freestyle a bit. I really understood my responsibilities and I felt really good.”

That wasn’t a one-off. Ferrell built upon that with a breakout game last week against the LA Chargers, totaling 2.5 sacks, two other quarterback pressures, a batted pass and six run stops. Ferrell paced an all-out assault on quarterback Philip Rivers, where the pass rush made a significant impact on a dramatic win.

Ferrell didn’t say much after the game, answering one question before leaving the Raiders' locker room. Many said the Clemson product needed a game like that, especially after absorbing fan criticism for not producing enough, especially relative to his lofty draft slot.

Ferrell doesn’t care much about numbers. He’s concerned with two things: wins and personal impact. He admitted, in that instance, it was nice to have a good game in ways all can understand.

“When you’re chasing stats, you’re not focusing on what you need to do to win,” Ferrell said. “It’s always good to shut people up a little bit. People can get on your nerves. Not that it’s getting to me, but you hate hearing nonsense, especially when they aren’t that informed. I don’t blame people for that. It is what it is, and I’ve been through this before when I was in college. I’ve always had the spotlight on me. It just comes with the game.”

Lights were always bright at Clemson. That comes with the territory as a perennial championship contender.

The same goes for top-five NFL draft picks, so the scrutiny was sky-high even over such an early portion of his career.

But not from inside the Raiders organization.

The Silver and Black were asking Ferrell to do a ton. He stepped right in as a three-down player, asked to play inside far more than he did in college. That was an adjustment, one he insists he’s comfortable with despite a productive athletic career playing off the edge. He has played several techniques to service defensive line needs, doing some dirty work that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet.

“He does a lot more than just rush the passer,” head coach Jon Gruden said after beating the Chargers. “He made some great plays against the run. It was a signature game for him obviously, but it’s great for him to get some sacks. Maybe some of the people who are counting sacks out there will acknowledge this.”

Ferrell isn’t counting them. He’ll evaluate himself through a different lens.

“The biggest thing for me is wins and losses and whether I feel like I played well,” Ferrell said. “I don’t really care about stats, you know what I mean? Numbers are good but seeing the success I had and the big role I played in two huge wins was really, really good.”

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Continuing this positive trend is the next step, one that renewed health and increased comfort within his role will help achieve.

“He needs to keep it going. Clelin’s coming off his best game,” Guenther said. “I really think the light came on for him in the second half of the Detroit game. Walking off the field with him I was like, ‘I think the light just came on for you. Really.’ And then he went out against the Chargers and played really well, so hopefully he can keep playing at a high level.”

NFL rumors: Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs a game-time decision vs. Titans

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AP

NFL rumors: Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs a game-time decision vs. Titans

Josh Jacobs' pain reportedly might be too much to play through Sunday. 

The Raiders running back posted on Snapchat last week that he fractured his shoulder, and NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday, citing a source, that the rookie out of Alabama is "a true game-time decision" as a result of the injury. 

Jacobs, 21, has run for 1,061 yards on 218 attempts in his record-setting rookie season, surpassing Marcus Allen's first-year rushing mark in Week 9 and crossing the 1,000-yard plateau in last week's blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

[RELATED: Why Waller must shine for Raiders in Week 14 vs. Titans]

The Raiders face a must-win situation Sunday at home against the Tennessee Titans, with Oakland's playoff hopes on life support after back-to-back losses to the New York Jets and the rival Chiefs. Jacobs has been a focal point of the Raiders' offense in his first NFL season, ranking ninth in the league with 236 total touches. 

If Jacobs doesn't play Sunday, he won't be the only big absence in the running game. Starting right tackle Trent Brown will not play at the Coliseum, either.

Raiders-Titans odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

Raiders-Titans odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks for NFL Week 14 game

The Raiders badly need a win Sunday at home against the Titans.

But Vegas and several NFL experts aren't on Oakland's side.

Despite the game being played at the Coliseum, the Raiders are underdogs according to most oddsmakers.

With a win over the Titans, the Raiders will keep their slim playoff hopes alive. A loss gives Jon Gruden's team almost no chance of reaching the postseason.

[RELATED: Five Raiders to watch vs. Titans]

Line

Caesars: Titans -3 (-105)
Consensus: Titans -3 (-106)
Westgate: Titans -2.5 (-120)
Wynn: Titans -2.5 (-120)

Predictions

Paul Gutierrez, ESPN.com: Raiders 23, Titans 21
Turron Davenport, ESPN.com: Titans 24, Raiders 17
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Titans 27, Raiders 13
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Raiders 23, Titans 20
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Titans 27, Raiders 17