D.J. Swearinger

Raiders waive D.J. Swearinger, two others in flurry of roster moves

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Raiders waive D.J. Swearinger, two others in flurry of roster moves

Raiders coach Jon Gruden promised to make some changes following three straight blowout losses.

He wasn’t bluffing.

The Raiders waived three players Tuesday, parting ways with safety D.J. Swearninger, linebacker Preston Brown and defensive tackle Terrell McClain as part of a series of roster moves.

Swearinger's the biggest name in the group. The veteran was the primary strong safety, working extensively in the base package and obvious running downs. He had 20 tackles and a pass defensed in four games' work. Brown was here a few weeks but played his first Raiders game Sunday, working 14 snaps. McClain was a rotational interior defensive lineman who had been a Raider since Week 6.

All three were in-season signings working on contracts that weren't guaranteed and, ultimately, didn't work out. 

Tight end Foster Moreau was also placed on injured reserve with a knee injury that will require surgery.

The team also signed running back Rod Smith for positional depth, a possible sign that Josh Jacobs might not be ready to return with a shoulder injury. Time will tell on that front.

The Raiders roster currently sits at 50, meaning there’s another flurry coming soon if the team plans to reach the 53-man maximum. Practice-squad promotions could be coming next, considering a new signing would take time to get up to speed. Players previously lower on the depth chart could get a shot as Gruden tries to shake things up heading down the stretch.

[RELATED: Sunday marks end of an era for longtime Black Hole residents]

He was clearly frustrated by three straight games of terrible play, where the Raiders were outscored 116-33. The Tennessee Titans beat them 42-21 at home, with the defense giving up one long drive after another and 552 yards total offense.

“We’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better, and there will be changes,” Gruden said during his Monday press conference. “There will be changes. What happened yesterday will not happen again. I can’t allow it to happen.”

Cornerback Dylan Mabin also was placed on the practice-squad injured reserve list.

Five Raiders to watch in Week 12: Why Josh Jacobs so vital vs. Jets

Five Raiders to watch in Week 12: Why Josh Jacobs so vital vs. Jets

The Raiders are in a tough spot. They’re rare road favorites Sunday, expected to beat the New York Jets -- who are more talented than you think -- after flying across the country to play a game when most of you are eating breakfast.

Oh, and there’s a massive, AFC West showdown on the horizon.

So, you know, stay focused and all that. Taking care of business is essential for Jon Gruden’s Silver and Black, but it won’t be a stroll through Central Park in Week 12. They’re going to have to earn this one.

Here are five players essential to beating the Jets and extending their already prolonged winning streak.

RB Josh Jacobs

Jacobs is ever-so-close to reaching 1,000 rushing yards. It seems he couldn't care less. The Alabama product shrugs off his entries in the Raiders record book, focusing more on making proper reads and maximizing yardage on a particular play.

He must do so consistently Sunday to produce against a stingy Jets front ranked No. 1 in run defense. That unit plays well collectively, with no clear weakness to exploit. The Raiders offensive line and fullback Alec Ingold must do their part, but Jacobs’ reads and rushing choices will ultimately determine the run game’s success.

If Jacobs gets going against such stout opposition, the Raiders will notch another win. It’s that simple to say, much harder to do.

DL Dion Jordan

The Oregon alum played just 14 snaps last week, rushing from the interior in obvious passing situations. His length, power and athleticism changed the way the defensive front was blocked, providing opportunities for himself and those around him. He did all that but a few days after being signed and eligible to play after a 10-game NFL suspension.

That’s impressive, and the Raiders will want to expand Jordan's role wherever possible as the season continues.

Jordan will be an X-factor in this game and others, and his pairing with either Maxx Crosby or Clelin Ferrell could free the edge rushers to make big plays. He instantly upgrades the Raiders pass rush and is a player other must account for. On Sunday, Jordan could help create havoc against a ho-hum Jets offensive line that can be exploited from the inside.

TE Darren Waller

Opponents work hard to take Waller out of the game plan. That’s easier said than done. Waller’s size, speed and versatility make him an attractive option the Raiders are determined to include, as we’ve seen with high target counts even when he’s blanketed in coverage. Waller said this week an attacking mindset and proper reads are key to the ball coming his way.

The Jets have been tough on tight ends, but Waller must find a way to stay involved to keep the Raiders offense running strong. He knows that and is taking this challenge head-on. Waller is an elite talent and must steadily produce -- even against stout opposition -- to keep the Raiders on their winning track.

S D.J. Swearinger

The veteran safety led the Raiders in tackles last week against the Cincinnati Bengals just days after signing. He was primarily active on first and second down, with Curtis Riley entering in obvious passing situations. Riley has struggled in those scenarios, and it will be interesting to see if Swearinger becomes a three-down player in this game or down the road.

We know for certain Swearinger can be an impactful run defender and intimidator in the middle. We know how badly he wants to succeed and help the Raiders' playoff push after a month-plus away from football. He has immense talent that must be harnessed and deployed appropriately. The Raiders must keep this defense going strong against quarterback Sam Darnold and rusher Le’Veon Bell, players far more dangerous than their stats suggest.

[RELATED: Mullen showing star potential amid Raiders' playoff push]

WR Hunter Renfrow

Third-and-Renfrow. It’s not just a fun thing say. Quarterback Derek Carr often looks to Renfrow as a chains mover, someone reliable in tense moments. The fifth-round pick has seen more targets in recent weeks, especially when the Raiders are in a bind. He has come through time and again when others are covered, being the safety blanket Carr has longed for from the slot.

He needs to continue his productive run and find soft spots in zones, especially with safety Jamal Adams roaming free and often rushing the passer. That can leave the Jets exposed and vulnerable to quick passes and runs after the catch, both of which are Renfrow’s forte. Steady production from him when other options are shut down or with the Jets focused on the run will be key to the Raiders producing consistently enough to win Sunday.

D.J. Swearinger ready for Raiders opportunity thanks to fresh perspective

D.J. Swearinger ready for Raiders opportunity thanks to fresh perspective

ALAMEDA – D.J. Swearinger has worn the No. 36 forever, from his college days into his seventh NFL season. Players get attached to their number and the veteran safety was no different, especially after a decade-plus wearing the same digits.

It was available and given to him upon signing with the Raiders on Nov. 9, but he quickly requested a change.

Swearinger wanted No. 21 and got it. This wasn’t just a number switch. It was a symbolic attempt to start fresh with a new team after bouncing around the league more than he’d like.

“My grandmother was the first to suggest it. She said that I had reinvented myself over the last month I have been off [after getting cut by Arizona],” Swearinger said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “A few of my homeboys told me the same thing. After that, I talked to my parents about it and they agreed. The only number I felt like I could get into would be 21 because I grew up watching Sean Taylor and Deion Sanders as well. Those were the two guys who inspired me to get that number.”

Taylor, in particular, was a role model, an all-gas-no-brakes intimidator that Swearinger believes he can be when playing his best.

Swearinger had to find the proper mindset to find that level of play. That was his goal after the Cardinals cut him early this season. He didn’t rush to find a new gig. He went home to his family and did some soul searching, doing everything possible to get right and be ready for his next opportunity.

“It was different, but it was extremely helpful. I got to look at life from a different perspective,” Swearinger said. “I had a chance to get my mind, body and spirit right. I spent a lot of time with my family and I spent a lot of time reading. That’s something I haven’t done in the past, that I wanted to do. I picked up on a couple books that helped me, and I did some mental counseling as well.

“Being away from the game, I was trying to figure it out and help the man and the football player. It helped me a lot. I look at things from a different perspective now, and I think it will only help me and my future.”

[RELATED: Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' journey amid inactive stretch]

It’s clear from our conversation that Swearinger values this opportunity more than most. He loves working for Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, a coach he believes has the same insatiable desire to win above all else.

“I always wanted to play with a high-energy coach who has the same passion for the game that I have,’ Swearinger said. “It was a perfect fit for me.”

That’s clear after one game. He dove into the scheme – it helped that there were plenty of similarities between the Raiders and Cardinals systems – and was proficient enough to lead the team in tackles eight days later. He hasn’t reveled in that moment, choosing instead to delve deeper into the system while preparing to contribute to this Raiders playoff push. Swearing is hellbent on making the postseason, with a drive and hunger that, he says, some have found off-putting in previous stops. Swearinger believes he has found the proper mindset to help this team thrive.

“That has been the knock against me over the past few years,” Swearinger said. “I have been so hungry on each team that I’ve been on that I have been trying to change the culture in a sense, to be hungry and get the guys to be hungry to win. At the end of the day, a lot of guys play this game just for the money. I play this thing for the love of the game and to go to the playoffs and hoist the Lombardi Trophy one day, with my kids in my arms. That’s the vision and the focus.

“Sometimes, guys don’t see it the same way. In other places I have been, they didn’t see it that way. I think a lot of the guys here see it that way. They have that vision and desire to go deep in the playoffs and make a run. There’s something special here, with a special team and a special coach. We’re going to do our best to make that run.”