3 takeaways after Raiders’ preseason loss to Cowboys

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The Oakland Raiders lost Saturday night’s preseason game to the Dallas Cowboys 24-20.

Like many of Raider Nation would assume, there were many positives on offense, however, major concerns still remain on the defensive side of the football.

Here are The JR Report’s 3 takeaways from Week 3 of the Raiders’ preseason.

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Derek Carr…MVP

Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns in just under a half of play against a Super Bowl contender. His first half included two magnificent pinpoint strikes to Raiders wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Amari Cooper. His incredible play was honestly sub-par for Carr as he started the game out of sync often over throwing his targets.

The former Bulldog had a nearly flawless game against the Rams adding two more touchdowns and 100 yards passing to his preseason statistics.

It seems that Carr hasn’t lost a step since his fibula injury and looks better than he was in 2016. Oakland offensive coordinator Todd Downing has decided to give Carr even greater control of the offense at the line of scrimmage and it looks like it will pay massive dividends.

The new additions of running back Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook provide a running back with elite vision and a big tight end target for Carr. Two things he has not had his entire NFL career.

As a result, the recent additions could help Oakland’s offense ascend to the top in the league. Honestly, it isn’t too far-fetched especially with New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman out for the year and the Atlanta Falcons subject to a Super Bowl hangover.

All in all, Carr is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and has shown everyone throughout the preseason why the Raiders missed him so much during Week 17 and the Wild Card playoffs last season.

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Photo via AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Run defense a pleasant surprise

Going into the third preseason game, it was paramount to see how the Oakland defense could handle Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot and their high-powered offensive line.

It would be Oakland’s first big test for the young linebackers on the ground until the regular season kicks off. To Raider Nation’s surprise, the Raiders linebackers held Elliot to just 18 yards on six carries.

It is possible the story would have been different if the teams played a full game. Maybe Elliot would have worn down the Oakland defense and broken a few runs late, but the Raiders held him in check during the short opportunity.

It is still the preseason, so everything will be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, the Oakland defense showed that they could and have the potential to stop the run. They just need to figure out how to communicate and fill gaps on a consistent basis.

Remember, the Raiders defense was trending in the right direction before Carr got hurt. If they keep that trend the same, then the Oakland defense will be a completely different story in 2017.

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Aug 26, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) on the field before the game against the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback, tight ends continue to wreak havoc

While it was good to see the Raiders stop the run with their first team, they still struggled mightily to cover the tight end and stop Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott looked almost unstoppable at times going 11/14 for 113 yards and one touchdown. Moreover, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten had six catches for 74 yards and one score, all in less than a half of play.

Every season Oakland is letting tight ends slip down the seam for big gains. It was no different last night and will not be any different this season unless Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu has a splendid rookie season. He looked good in his limited time on Saturday, but a preseason game is much different from any live regular season action.

Also, it is hard to forget the Oakland defense made Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff look like an All-Pro, which is hard to do, for the former Cal Bear threw for 160 yards and one touchdown against the Raiders in limited time.

Hopefully, the return of Melifonwu and cornerback Gareon Conley will help suffocate tight ends and move cornerback Sean Smith into a smaller role with Conley taking more reps.

If both rookies can’t stay healthy, Oakland’s pass defense could be worrisome, especially against tight ends.


Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

Final Raiders 53-man roster projection before training camp

As NFL training camps begin to ramp up and with the Oakland Raiders’ less than one week away, 90 players become 53 in one fell swoop in 2017.

While it’s likely that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie still has a couple more moves up his sleeve before this roster is fully fleshed out, a final 53-man roster projection before camp seemed in order.

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QB (3): Derek Carr, EJ Manuel, Connor Cook

Here come’s the spoiler alert — Derek Carr is going to be the starting quarterback for Oakland in 2017.


Read more on Raiders Wire!

11 most important Oakland Raiders defensive players in 2017

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


The Oakland Raiders won 12 games last season, but it was not thanks to their No. 26 ranked defense. They took the bend don’t break mantra seriously often waiting for Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack to save the day by forcing a turnover.

However, they will need to improve mightily on defense this season if they want to build on last year’s success.

Here are the 11 most important Raiders on defense for 2017.

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Photo via Steve Cheng

No. 11 – DT Eddie Vanderdoes

Oakland struggled last season getting any interior pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they racked up just three sacks from the defensive tackle position.

Now, the two players who had those three sacks, former Raiders defensive tackles Dan Williams and Stacy McGee, are now gone.

With that being said, Raiders defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who has shown to have an inside push, will need to be effective to help improve upon last year’s weakness in the middle.

No. 10 – CB Sean Smith

Raiders cornerback Sean Smith was often torched last season for chunk plays, but still, put up an impressive Pro Football Focus player grade of 83.4.

One must not look at the PFF grade and think the position is under lock, however, Smith was not as bad as people thought last season.

As long as Oakland can find a productive nickel corner to matchup with the smaller and quicker players, then Smith will be just fine serving a significant role in the defense.

 

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Photo via USA Today Sports Images

 

No. 9 – DE Mario Edwards Jr.

Without Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith, Oakland doesn’t have an elite pass rusher to compliment Mack. Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin is solid, but he isn’t a dominant pass rushing force.

Therefore, Oakland would benefit mightily if Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has a bounceback season. He can help stop the run early, but, most importantly, can assist the pass rush by sliding inside to free the outside up for Mack and Irvin.

No. 8 – S Reggie Nelson

Raiders safety Reggie Nelson had another impressive season hauling in five interceptions.

With Oakland’s defense expected to be improved, but not elite, Nelson’s presence will tell me very important. They will need him to continue to force turnovers and also be a veteran presence with a large number of defensive rookies coming into the fold in 2017.

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Photo via Eric Risberg / AP Photo

No. 7 – LB Bruce Irvin

Currently, Irvin is the second best pass rusher on the team behind Mack and is vital to the team’s success.

The more pressure he creates, the harder it is for teams to double and triple-team Mack. The less double teams Mack has to face, the easier it will be for Mack to wreak havoc.

No. 6 – S Karl Joseph

Oakland’s defense struggled against the run last year ranking No. 23 in the NFL.

With no middle linebacker replacement in sight, there could be a lot of free running backs hitting the second level in 2017. Therefore, it is essential for Raiders safety Karl Joseph to be the hard hitting and sure-tackling safety that he is known to be.

If he isn’t, then a lot of running backs will be taken their second-level runs to the end zone.

(No. 5- No. 1 next page)

Oakland Raider rookies Conley, Cioffi show of their futbol skills

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The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


A few Oakland Raiders’ rookies, who were there to help at Raiders coach Ken Norton Jr.’s football camp, showed off their soccer skills during downtime at the camp.

The two showing off their foot skills did not include former soccer star and now Raiders safety Shalom Luani, but it was Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley (trying to) and Raiders safety Anthony Cioffi.

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It started off with Cioffi juggling the football in a slow motion video. He then swiftly kicks the ball to fellow teammate Conley who isn’t able to control the touch and boots it away.

Conley didn’t get much of an opportunity to showcase his skills, but in that short period of time, they were far from satisfactory.

Luckily for Raider Nation, Conley will not be focusing his talents on soccer and instead will be playing cornerback for Oakland, something that he is far more talented at.

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Raiders’ Ken Norton on secondary: ‘Lots of guys who are very good’

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The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


The Oakland Raiders secondary last season was amongst the worst in the league giving up 257.5 passing yards per game (No. 24), a big reason for them using their first round draft pick on Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley.

When asked about Conley, Raiders coach Ken Norton Jr. mentioned that “Conley is one of the guys out there really competing,” via Oakland’s press release. However, there is no guarantee that he will get a starting position in the slot, for “there are a lot of guys who are very good” competing against Conley for the starting nickel position.

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Last year, it was apparent Oakland did not have the talent nor the scheme necessary to be good in the back-end of the defense. Now, they added talent with Conley and get to have Raiders cornerback Sean Smith entering his second season with the team. Hopefully, the second season under Norton will help Smith improve with more knowledge of the defense.

Overall, it is good to see and hear that Oakland has a talented secondary. All they need to do now is put it together on the field by competing during each rep at practice. If they do that, the defense will be drastically improved en route to another playoff berth and lengthy postseason run.

WATCH: Raiders rookies hack around golf balls on links

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The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


The Oakland Raiders rookie class took some time off to play a round of golf. The group included Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley, defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, tackle David Sharpe and tackle Jylan Ware.

It was a relaxing round with music being played, some dancing on the greens and some casual trash talking, which can be watched in the video below.

As for the round of golf, there were many whiffed shots and missed two-foot putts displaying a lack of overall skill.

Even Ware had to qualify his poor play by saying “I’m terrible at golf. I’m too strong,” and blamed his massive offensive linemen frame for his lackluster skills on the links.

Anyways, it was good to see them out having a good time, but hopefully, their skills on the football field will look drastically different from on the course.

Raiders 53-man roster projection 1.0: Defense

The article can be found on the Raiders Wire!


With the bulk of NFL free agency over and the Oakland Raiders already putting their rookie NFL draft selections to work the 2017, the time for depth chart evaluation is already in full swing.

Here is a look at the first 53-man roster projection of the offseason for the Raiders.

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Photo via KYLE TERADA-USA TODAY SPORTS

Interior Defenders (8)

Defensive tackles: Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes, Treyvon Hester, Darius Latham

Defensive ends: Mario Edwards Jr., Jihad Ward, Denico Autry, Branden Jackson

The Raiders have a young defensive line that should yield many interesting training camp battles this offseason.

Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. will be returning after missing the majority of last season due to a hip injury, and is expected to make a major impact stopping the run and also freeing up holes for Oakland pass rushers to roam free.

Meanwhile, fellow Raiders defensive end Jihad Ward bulked up this offseason, Justin Ellis and Denico Autry should both see some decent run in 2017 on the interior and edges respectively.

Raiders rookie defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes should find himself competing for snaps against Ellis, fellow rookie DT Treyvon Hester and Darius Latham this season — with each making the roster out of training camp.

(edge defenders)

Raiders minicamp: Conley wears former Charles Woodson jersey number

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The article can be found on the Raiders Wire!


As of a few hours ago, the Oakland Raiders rookie minicamp is officially underway and new Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley is wearing one of Raiders legendary defensive back Charles Woodson’s old numbers.

Conley took to the field sporting the No. 2, Charles Woodson’s number at Michigan in college, as well as during his second stint in Oakland before he bought his original No. 24 jersey back.

If his jersey choice is any indication of his confidence level, then the Raiders should be in good hands at the cornerback position for the near future with Conley.

Conley was on the field immediately as the team’s starting nickel cornerback already on Day 1 of practice, per the Bay Area News Group’s Jimmy Durkin.

Even though Conley played for Woodson’s biggest rival, Ohio State, any sort of resemblance to the future Pro Football Hall of Famer would be great news for Oakland this upcoming season.

As for the number selection causing any sort of friction, Raider Nation doesn’t retire numbers as the team, fans and organization are family.


The article can be found on the Raiders Wire!

Mel Kiper Jr. gives Raiders draft a preposterous ‘C’ grade

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The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


After whiffing on all of his mock drafts for the Silver and Black, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. gave Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie a ‘C’ draft grade for his efforts in Philadelphia this weekend.

To begin his dissent from McKenzie’s draft class, Kiper began in on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley.

“This is obviously a really difficult class to be assessing, given all that was swirling around Gareon Conley going into the draft, and without much time to gather information. I really just need to remove him from the equation here. On ability, he’s a top-15 player, and the Raiders obviously feel comfortable with what they know of his off-field situation. But that situation really transcends a discussion of player value. I do think the Raiders could have taken a few other players in that spot and felt good about it.”

Conley has no charges filed against him, multiple witness statements which back his position that he did not assault the alleged female victim and a passed polygraph test that he astutely sent to the Raiders (along with all other NFL teams) on draft day.

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Photo via Brynn Anderson / AP Images

Shortly thereafter, Kiper goes on to critique Oakland’s second and third round selections, stating that former Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu’s tape “doesn’t quite live up” to his combine marks and calling former UCLA nose tackle Eddie Vanderdoes a “puzzler” in the third round.

What’s confusing about the first part of Kiper’s analysis is the fact that if Melifonwu “lived up to his combine marks” on tape, he would arguably be the best draft prospect in the past decade.

In respect to Kiper’s position on Vanderdoes, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio thinks his best football is still ahead of him. Moreover, Vanderdoes’ freshman tape was some of the best in the country prior to his ACL tear in 2015.

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Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Kiper wraps up his analysis of McKenzie’s later selections saying former Florida offensive tackle David Sharpe will provide depth along the offensive line, calling former Wake Forest linebacker Marquel Lee “a bit of a reach,” stating that former Washington State safety Shalom Luani has “a chance to stick” before circling back to Conley.

“The Conley situation clouds this, and I would have liked for them to get an inside linebacker,” Kiper concluded.

It did come down to a middle linebacker in former Vanderbilt standout Zach Cunningham and Melifonwu at pick No. 56, however, Kiper completely misunderstood the point of the draft — which was to stop a defense that gave up 60 explosive plays one year ago from being exposed again.

As such, Melifonwu gives Oakland a true tight-end stopper, Lee offers a very rangy and athletic interior linebacker presence and McKenzie keenly attacked this draft by stacking a secondary and both lines at vital positions.

Given that Kiper has so many draft classes to analyze, perhaps he wasn’t afforded the time to understand the context of McKenzie’s selections. A fact that means we give his draft grade of C for the Raiders, a big fat F.


The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!

Raiders draft recap and grade: B+

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The Oakland Raiders made nine selections in the 2017 NFL draft. Here is a recap of each pick and a grade for general manager Reggie McKenzie’s draft.

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Photo via Jeremy Birmingham/Land of 10

Round 1, Pick 24 (No. 24 overall) – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

Former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley was a projected top 10-15 pick and Oakland was able to land him at No. 24 making him a great value pick.

If he is cleared of the alleged rape accusation, as he is expected too, then this pick will be a great one.

Conley can provide major relief in the secondary by playing in the slot until he takes over for either starting cornerback David Amerson or Sean Smith in the future.

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