Oakland Raiders preview: Raiders head to Dallas for preseason clash with Cowboys

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) talks with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) after an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — The Raiders travel to Dallas for their final preseason game this week when they take on the Cowboys on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 5:00 p.m. PT at AT&T Stadium. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2013, when both teams met each other in the preseason and on Thanksgiving Day in the regular season.

Both teams will meet each other again this season when Dallas comes to Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on Dec. 17 on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, which will be one of the NFL’s most watched games in 2017.

Last week, the Raiders lost at home to the Los Angeles Rams 24-21 in Oakland’s first home game this preseason.

Quarterback Derek Carr completed 7-of-9 passes for 100 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while posting a quarterback rating of 113.0 in his first action in the 2017 preseason. The game also marked the first time that Carr played at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in an NFL game since breaking his leg on Christmas Eve against the Indianapolis Colts.

Carr looked good and showed no lingering affects from the season-ending injury that derailed the 2016 season for the Silver and Black, a season that saw Oakland finish 12-4 and reach the postseason for the first time since 2002.

Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a dazzling 13-yard touchdown pass where Crabtree shook the defender out of his cleats, and backup tight end Lee Smith hauled in a 19-yard touchdown down the middle of the field from Carr for the quarterback’s first touchdowns in the 2017 season.

Raiders running back and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch finished with 10 yards on two carries. Lynch made his home debut in front of Raider Nation and got the crowd on its feet with a “Beast Mode” like run for five yards on his first carry.

Defensively, Khalil Mack appeared to be in regular season form after recording four tackles (three solo) and a sack in his first action in the preseason, but Oakland’s defense overall still have some holes to fill, most notably at middle linebacker and in the secondary.

But the big story heading into Saturday night’s game in Dallas for Oakland is the return of the their left tackle Donald Penn to the team. Penn was seen on the practice field in Alameda on Wednesday after ending his 26-day holdout in search of a new contract.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area Raiders Insider Scott Bair, the two-time Pro Bowler ended his holdout and re-joined the club on “faith” and “believing the Raiders will work out a higher pay rate” once he returned.

To make room on the active roster for Penn, Oakland waived defensive end Jimmy Bean.

Penn allowed just one sack and 28 total quarterback pressures in 2016, ranking No. 6 among all NFL tackles according to Pro Football Focus. The 11-year veteran is in the final year of a two-year, $11.9 million contract and wanted money that would put him in the top-10 among highest paid left tackles in the game.

Penn is scheduled to make $5.8 million this season, which is pittance compared to other elite left tackles.

Typically in the third week of the preseason, teams will play their starters well into the second half hoping to build more chemistry as the regular season approaches and with Penn missing most of training camp, you’d expect to see him in the lineup Saturday with Carr and the rest of the first-team offense to play catch-up.

Dallas defeated Indianapolis 24-19 last week at AT&T Stadium.

Cowboys starting quarterback Dak Prescott completed 7-of-8 passes for 106 yards, with a 32-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Dez Bryant down the left side line on the game’s opening drive. Bryant finished with two catches for 55 yards in one-half of action.

Star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who hasn’t played in the entire preseason for the Cowboys, is expected to get reps against Oakland according to Dallas head coach Jason Garrett via ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter Todd Archer.

Elliot, the NFL’s rushing leader with 1,631 yards to go along with 15 touchdowns and a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie, was recently suspended by the NFL for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following and has repealed the decision. The hearing is set for Tuesday, Aug. 29.

“I think the biggest thing is just having the mindset of preparing him for Week 1 of the season, and that’s the approach that we’ve taken,” Garrett said via Archer. “He’s got a number of more reps in training camp than he did last year. If you remember, he had the hamstring injury last year and ended up playing in the second-to-last preseason game and got eight, 10, 12 snaps in that ballgame, so that’s the approach that we’ve taken with him, and anything beyond that we’ll take as it comes.”

Both teams will have short turnarounds after Saturday night’s contest, with the Raiders set to play the Seattle Seahawks in Oakland on Thursday, Aug. 31, and the Cowboys traveling to Houston to take on the Texans the same day.

All teams must trim down their rosters from 90- to 53-man by Sept. 2, as mandated by the NFL.

 

 

 

 

Takeaways from Raiders preseason home tilt with Rams

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — Halfway through the preseason, the Raiders are 0-2.

Cause for concern if you’re Raider Nation?

Not really, seeing that the first game of the regular season against the Titans in Nashville isn’t for another month and records don’t carry over from the preseason, but after watching the Raiders lose to the Rams 24-21 at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Saturday night, a few things jumped out at me in the press box relating to the Silver and Black:

Starting quarterback Derek Carr looks healthy, but starting left tackle Donald Penn’s absence looms large

Saturday night marked the first time that Carr was in uniform for the Silver and Black for a home game after sustaining a season-ending leg injury on Christmas Eve against the Indianapolis Colts last season.

Showing no signs of the injury that derailed the Raiders’ chances of winning their first playoff game since 2002, Carr completed 7-of-9 passes for 100 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in three drives for Oakland.

Carr found backup tight end Lee Smith for Oakland’s first score of the game with a 19-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter that gave Oakland an early 7-0 lead, then in the second quarter, Carr hooked up wide receiver Michael Crabtree on a 13-yard, catch-and-run touchdown that saw Crabtree absolutely abuse Rams cornerback Troy Hill with a ridiculous fake out move that left Hill on roller skates.

Fellow wide receiver Amari Cooper may had the highlight of the night when he jumped over two defenders to reel in a 31-yard pass from Carr in the second quarter.

Carr finished with a passer rating of 113.0, but had to move around in the pocket to avoid a bevy of Rams’ pass rushers coming from the left side of the offensive line to complete his passes. When you’re worth $125 million and play the most crucial position in football and the team will only go as far as you, your health is of the utmost concern and it was evident that the Raiders need their wall of an left tackle on the field if Carr is to remain healthy.

Penn has been a no-show during all of training camp in Napa due to wanting a new contract. The 11-year veteran is set to make $5.8 million in the final year of his deal and wants to be paid as a top-10 left tackle.

Some may point out that Penn could be replaced if he decides to stay away, which I don’t buy. Penn may have given up the sack that led to the end of Carr’s MVP-like 2016 season, but he is irreplaceable and the Raiders and Penn need to come to an agreement somewhere if they expect to be a Super Bowl team.

The defense can be leaky

Defensive end Khalil Mack recorded a sack in his first preseason action, but the rest of Raiders’ defense has some work to do.

Rams’ starting quarterback Jared Goff was razor sharp, completing 16-of-20 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown in leading Los Angeles to 17 points in his three drives of work. Goff looked more poised and confident in Year 2 than he did as a rookie last year and showed growth as an NFL quarterback by keeping the Raiders defense on their heels with quick passes and tough runs by starting running back Todd Gurley.

But the real guy that was hurting the Raiders was Rams’ rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

Kupp was a matchup problem for Oakland, especially working in the slot and it showed in catching six balls for 70 yards and a 23-yard touchdown where Goff found Kupp 10-yards ahead of the closest Raider defender. There’s no question that Goff will look for Kupp early and often in games during the regular season.

There were times where you saw Raider defensive backs looked out of position, most notably on the Rams’ final drive of the game and backup quarterback Sean Mannion dropped a 20-yard dime for a touchdown to another promising Rams rookie, wide receiver Josh Reynolds, for the game-winning score leaving reserve cornerback Chris Humes confused.

Mannion finished 15-of-22 for 132 yards after taking over for Goff at halftime.

The battle for the No. 2 quarterback continues, but Cook could have inside track at job

One week, fifth-year quarterback EJ Manuel appeared to be in the driver’s seat to be the No. 2 guy behind Carr after completing 10-of-12 passes for 107 yards and posting a 103.8 passer rating against the Cardinals, Manuel didn’t look near as good against the Rams in front of Raider Nation.

Manuel took over for Carr and was just 3-of-9 for 16 yards with a passer rating of 42.4 in two drives.

Connor Cook may have actually helped his case at being the primary backup behind Carr with his night.

The second-year signal-caller from Michigan State finished the game completing 9-of-15 passes for 81 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown dart to backup wide receiver Johnny Holton to give Oakland a 21-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. Cook completed his final six-straight passes on the 11-play, 65-yard drive for the Silver and Black.

After posting a meager 58.0 passer rating in Arizona, Cook finished with a passer rating of 97.4 against Los Angeles.

Both teams will be in action again next Saturday, Aug. 26 for preseason football, with the Raiders traveling to Dallas, and Los Angeles hosting their in-city rival, the Chargers.

Lynch sits again, Carr puts right arm around Mack during National Anthem

Prior to the start of the game, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat down during the National Anthem. Lynch also sat during the National Anthem in Arizona last weekend.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr put his right arm on the shoulder of defensive end Khalil Mack during the National Anthem.

Recently, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (who sat during the National Anthem during Seattle’s 48-17 win over the Chargers last Sunday), called for white football players to join the anthem protest to help change and improve race relations and the general treatment of other human beings.

 

 

 

Donald Penn, Raiders remain at odds over contract

AP File Photo: Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook passes as tackle Donald Penn (72) blocks against the Denver Broncos in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

NAPA, Calif — Donald Penn remains a holdout at Raiders training camp and he doesn’t appear to be budging anytime soon.

Appearing on Inside Training Camp Live, NFL Network’s Michael Silver said he spoke with the 34-year-old Penn and noted that the left tackle is adamant on his intent to remain away from training camp until the Raiders reward him with a new contract that will pay him in the top-10 among left tackles in the league.

“He is holding firm,” said Silver. “He said we are in a holding pattern, basically. This is not something that should be a surprise to the Raiders it’s something that was broached at the combine and they’ve been aware that Donald Penn, and I happen to agree with them, is underpaid based on productivity.”

Penn started all 16 games last season, and has started 48 straight games for Oakland the last three seasons.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Penn allowed just 28 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps in 2016 and surrendering just one sack. But that one sack led to quarterback Derek Carr’s season-ending leg injury.

Silver also spoke with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who compared Penn’s holdout as a family squabble, per Inside Training Camp Live.

“He said, listen, I love Donald Penn, he is a Raider, this is a family dispute. Sometimes in a family you have dispute. McKenzie believes they can work something out,” Silver said. “Reggie McKenzie very confident that something will get done.”

Oakland does have depth at left tackle with veteran Marshall Newhouse and rookie David Sharpe, but are they adequate enough to protect Carr’s blindside in a potential Super Bowl run this season after finishing 12-4 with an AFC Wild Card berth a season ago?

Penn is set to make $5.8 million in the final year of his contract.

Information from the NFL Network was used in this report.

Reports: Donald Penn not reporting to Raiders training camp amid contract dispute

AP File Photo: Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn during an NFL football team activity Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

NAPA–There will be a noticeable absence when the Raiders open up training camp Saturday and its a player that they can’t afford to be without.

Left tackle Donald Penn is not expected to report for Oakland’s first practice as he seeks a new contract from the organization. Penn is set to make $7 million this season, the final year of a two-year $11.9 million deal with Oakland.

News of Penn’s intentions of skipping training camp was first reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport via Twitter.

But at 34-years-old, Penn knows that Father Time is rapidly approaching and wants to get one more big-money contract before he calls it a career. Rapoport noted that Penn is reportedly looking to be paid “among the top-10 left tackles in the league.”

Penn has proven to be extremely durable throughout his 10-year career, starting all 16 games the last nine seasons including 48 straight for Oakland the last three seasons. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Penn allowed just 28 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps last season and giving up just one sack, the sack that snapped the fibula of franchise quarterback Derek Carr on Christmas Eve.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Penn is a brick wall that protects Carr and saw the Raiders dish out lucrative contracts along the offensive line in recent years, inking center Rodney Hudson and right tackle Kelechi Osemele to massive deals.

This past offseason, Oakland rewarded right guard Gabe Jackson with a five-year, $56 million contract extension.

In a phone call with NFL Network’s Willie McGinest on Friday, the two-time Pro Bowler expressed his deserving of a new contract.

“He wants to probably be paid in the top-10. He’s not looking to be the highest paid, the top-5 highest paid. He just wants the respect of what he’s done on the field,” McGinest said during Friday’s addition of NFL Total Access. “Stop looking at his age, he’s like, don’t mention his age, look at my production and what I’ve done. And if I’m in the top-10, then I can probably be comfortable with that.”

Oakland enters the 2017 season with Super Bowl aspirations and look to be one of the league’s top offenses once again, with the additions of running back and hometown product Marshawn Lynch (came out of retirement) and tight end Jared Cook (signed in free agency), to go along with Carr and wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.

Information from the NFL Network was used in this report.

 

NFL Playoffs: Raiders have tough road ahead in Houston

Oakland Raiders tackle Donald Penn lies on the turf with an injury in the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

HOUSTON, TX — Already having to deal with the loss of starting quarterback Derek Carr after the signal-caller broke his fibula in Week 16 at home against the visiting Indianapolis Colts, the Silver and Black were dealt a major blow as starting left tackle Donald Penn was ruled out for Saturday’s AFC Wild-Card playoff game against the Houston Texas at NRG Stadium.

Penn was hurt in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 24-6 loss at Denver in the regular season finale. Even though Penn returned to the game, he didn’t look the same and struggled to move on the snap.

With the loss of the Penn, starting right tackle Menelik Watson will move to left tackle, while durable lineman Austin Howard is expected to slide into Watson’s spot at right tackle.

Penn will miss his first game after starting 155 consecutive games in his career.

Penn, along with left guard Keleche Osemele and center Rodney Hudson were named to the AFC Pro Bowl team as the nucleus of a Raiders’ offensive line that allowed a league-low 18 sacks during the regular season.

Any quarterback would relish at the opportunity to play behind that type of protection, especially rookie Connor Cook, who will become the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to make his first career start in the playoffs.

But Penn is the one offensive lineman that Oakland could ill-afford to lose because of his great play in both the running and passing games. Oakland just mustered 57 yards rushing against the Broncos.

Oakland faces a Houston defense that finished No. 1 in the league in total defense and according to Pro Football Focus, ranks int he top-five in the league in both the blitz and pressures per cbssports.com.

Playing the majority of the season without wrecking ball defensive end J.J. Watt, still Houston’s linebackers Whitney Mercilus (7.5) and Benardrick McKinney (5.0), along with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (6.0) combine for 18.5 of Houston’s 31 sacks during the regular season.

McKinney leads Houston with 129 tackles, while Clowney was named to his first AFC Pro Bowl team.

Cook will  have the tough task of leading a Raiders team that finished 12-4, earning the franchise their first playoff berth since 2002 where Oakland made a trip to the Super Bowl, but don’t expect Cook to be rattled.

Cook did admit that he was “nervous” when he replaced backup quarterback Matt McGloin during Oakland’s loss at Denver, as he completed 14-of-21 passes for 150 yards, a touchdown and an interception in relief. McGloin hurt his shoulder in the second quarter and remained on the sideline for the remainder of the game.

Oakland did sign former practice squad quarterback Garrett Gilbert during the week to the team and is expected to serve as Cook’s backup Saturday.

If Cook can get the time to showcase his strong arm behind a reshuffled, but still stout offensive line, he’ll have two 1,000-yard receivers to throw to who can make plays in second-year standout Amari Cooper (83 catches, 1,153 yards, and 5 TDs) and Michael Crabtree (89 catches, 1,003 yards, and 8 TDs).

The last time that the Silver and Black won a road playoff game in the Wild-Card round: Dec. 28, 1980 when Jim Plunkett tossed two touchdowns to lead Oakland past former Raider great and Hall of Famer Ken Stabler’s Houston Oilers 27-7 at the now closed Houston Astrodome.

In addition to Houston finishing with the league’s top defense, Houston finished behind Denver in passing yards allowed, surrendering just 201.6 yards per game during the regular season.

Houston’s starting strong safety Quintin Demps finished second in the NFL with six interceptions combined that with 55 tackles is the anchor of the secondary.

There is no question that Houston’s defense led by defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel who is one of the greats calling defenses in history, will come to play at 3:35 p.m. CT (1:35 p.m. PT for us West Coasters), but Houston’s quarterback situation is just as suspect as Oakland’s.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler is back in the starting lineup for the Texans after quarterback Tom Savage suffered a concussion in Houston’s 24-17 loss at Tennessee to close out the regular season.

Houston (9-7) already wrapped up the AFC South and the No. 4-seed.

Savage didn’t pass the NFL’s concussion protocol, meaning journeyman quarterback Brandon Weeden will serve as Osweiler’s backup.

During a Week 15 matchup at home against Jacksonville, Osweiler threw two first half interceptions that led to a 20-8 lead for the Jaguars and the boo-birds started to cascade down  from the home crowd before Savage replaced and ineffective Osweiler (6-of-11 for 48 yards), to the delight of the Texan crowd.

Savage completed 23-of-36 passes for 260 yards helping Houston come from behind with a 21-20 victory, prompting head coach Bill O’Brien to name Savage the starter for the remainder of the season, benching Osweiler.

The Texans were embarrassed last season in the playoffs, getting thumped 30-0 at home thanks to quarterback Brian Hoyer’s five turnovers. Hoyer’s performance (15-of-34/136 yards/4 INTs) was the cyanide pill that Houston swallowed ending their season.

After signing a four-year $72 million ($37 million guaranteed) contract in the offseason with Houston after four years in Denver as the so-called heir apparent to future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, Osweiler was an average quarterback throwing for 2,957 yard, 15 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions with a 72.2 passer rating.

It’ll be interesting to see how Osweiler, who threw for 253 yards on 21-of-40 passes and a touchdown against the Titans after Savage left the game with the concussion, performs in his first start since his benching.

Houston will look to get super talented wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins more involved in the passing game. Hopkins led Houston with 78 catches for 954 yards and was tied with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz for the team lead in touchdown catches with four.

Running back Lamar Miller will see a lot of action against the Raiders, after missing Houston’s final two games of the regular season with a nagging ankle injury. The Texans didn’t list the 1,000-yard rusher on their injury report.

In the first matchup against the two teams (a 27-20 Raiders’ victory in Mexico City), Oakland had trouble stopping  Miller, who rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries, including a 1-yard score.

Oakland’s defense, led by defensive end Khalil Mack, will have to get in the face of Osweiler on dropbacks and stop Miller from turning 2-yard runs into 5-to-7-yard runs to have a realistic shot at advancing to the Divisional Round and a trip to either New England or Kansas City next weekend.

Mack, who is the unquestioned engine that powers the Raiders’ defense, is key and must perform for the Silver and Black. Mack was named to the Associated Press’ All-Pro First Team for his 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, and one interception (a pick-6 no less).

With all that being said: with no Carr, no Penn, a third-string rookie quarterback making NFL history with his first career start coming in a playoff game, and a reshuffled offensive line, the Raiders have the deck stacked high against them to pull out a victory.

Prediction?

Raiders over Houston, 23-21, behind a Sebastian Janikowski game-winning field goal with time expiring. Cook will drive Oakland into field goal range.

Call me crazy, but that’s why the first weekend of the NFL Playoffs are “wild” for a reason because someone who people least expect make a name for themselves on this stage.

Cook could be that player for Oakland.

 

Carr, Cooper, and Mack among seven Raiders selected to Pro Bowl

Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, right, pressures San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — Quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and defensive end Khalil Mack headline seven Raiders (the most since 1991) selected to the AFC team for the 2017 Pro Bowl, the league announced Tuesday.

The 2017 Pro Bowl will be held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, Jan. 29. Oakland’s seven players selected were the most selected from one team, with the Atlanta Falcons second with six players selected to the NFC squad.

Oakland (11-3), who clinched their first trip to the playoffs since 2002 with a 19-16 win in San Diego Sunday, hope that none of their players play in the NFL’s All-Star Game as they could be preparing to play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LI on Sunday, Feb. 5 in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium.

Carr is having  career-year and is one of the favorites for the NFL’s MVP Award, throwing for 3,705 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. The third-year signal caller has a 95.2 passer rating while engineering the NFL’s third-ranked scoring offense at 26.9 points per game.

Cooper is just finding his way in the league in only his second season out of Alabama, surpassing the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the second straight season with 1,038 receiving yards this year. Cooper recorded 1,070 receiving yards in his rookie season last year.

Mack, who had his streak of consecutive games with at least one sack snapped at eight in San Diego, is tied for fourth in the league with 11 sacks. No matter what sports page or blog you read, or sports talk show you watch and listen to, Mack’s name is mentioned as a strong candidate to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Left tackle Donald Penn, left guard Kelechi Osemele, and center Rodney Hudson were selected from the AFC’s best offensive line that has only gotten Carr sacked a league-low 15 times this season. This is Penn’s second Pro Bowl nod, while this is the first selection for both Hudson and Osemele.

Safety Reggie Nelson  earned his second straight nod with his team-leading four interceptions.

The Raiders sent six players to last year’s game, with Mack, safety Charles Woodson, and fullback Marcel Reece being voted on the first ballot before Carr, Cooper, and running back Latavius Murray were selected as alternates.

The Silver and Black host the Indianapolis Colts (7-7) on Christmas Eve in Oakland’s final regular season home game.