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Kuechly what Raiders thought they had in McClain

The player the Raiders envisioned as the leader of their defense for years will be on full display Sunday, when the Raiders play the Carolina Panthers. Problem is, that player will be the one in the middle of the Panthers defense and not Rolando McClain.
Panthers rookie Luke Kuechly has developed into everything the Raiders hoped for when they selected McClain with the eighth pick of the 2010 NFL draft. Kuechly arrived this season as the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft out of Boston College, and he wasted little time in returning huge dividends.
“He’s all over the place,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He made every play in college and he’s making a ton of them here in the NFL. He’s a really good football player. He’s instinctive; he’s fast; he’s athletic. He plays extremely hard.”
Kuechly leads the Panthers with 139 tackles, including an NFL-best three games in which he posted 15 or more tackles. Meanwhile, McClain likely will be on the sideline, inactive for a second straight game, as the Raiders decide how to proceed with a player that has failed to mature into a reliable player.
“A guy comes in and becomes your star middle linebacker, and he has to step up and become that leader, and that’s exactly what Luke has done for us on the defensive side,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Kuechly in a conference call with Bay Area media. “He has stepped up, become that leader. He understands the responsibility of being the Mike linebacker, the middle linebacker.
“When you’re that guy in the inside that everybody is looking to, Luke has the answers. Part of it has been his upbringing, his training as a football player. He understands the game itself, so that’s another key element that he has going for him. Not only is he a good athlete and a good football player, but he’s a smart football player.”
That’s what the Raiders thought they were getting in McClain, a standout at Alabama. Both won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top collegiate linebacker in their final seasons.
Yet, Kuechly stepped in right away as the starter for the Panthers this season and played as if he still is in college. McClain’s play dipped so much that he was removed from the field in nickel situations after four games this season in favor of rookie Miles Burris and, ultimately, benched altogether in favor of free-agent signee Omar Gaither.
“I don’t know that we have that guy that just steps up and says that, ‘I’m the guy and I’m going to make all the adjustments for you,’ ” Allen said. “We’re still looking for that.”
The Raiders hoped McClain would be that guy. To that end, Allen and other coaches impressed upon McClain in the offseason to become more vocal and take on more of a leadership role.
McClain embraced the idea, to some extent, though he said he isn’t comfortable being vocal the way most middle linebackers tend to be. Allen said it’s imperative that someone on defense take charge.
“That’s big,” Allen said. “You have your quarterback on offense and you need a quarterback on defense because there’s a lot of communication that goes on defensively. Most places that you’re at, the middle linebacker is kind of the guy that does that for you.”
Kuechly said he learned in college the value of communicating. It also helps, he said, that he plays for a head coach that played linebacker and is surrounded by older players.
Even so, he added, becoming a leader is something that comes from the way you play and the way you conduct yourself, not by being a high draft pick and someone that is receiving a boatload of money.
“It’s one of those things where you got to earn respect from the guys around you,” Kuechly said. “At first, you can’t go in and act like you’re the head guy. There’s like a hierarchy, a totem pole that you kind of got to earn the respect of the other guys. If you can kind of do that, it allows you to maybe kind of lead the (defense).”
Kuechly caught the eye of Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer right away when Palmer watched tape of the Panthers games.
“He’s played middle linebacker and he’s played the strong side and the weak side,” Palmer said. “For a rookie to do that, it’s pretty unorthodox. There’s not a lot of rookies that come in and play multiple positions.
“He’s second or third in the league in tackles. To have those kinds of statistics as a rookie is something you don’t see. He has the stats but you turn on the film, he just shows up. He’s all over the place, harassing guys running routes. He’s always around the ball, making tackles and assisting on tackles so he’s a very good pick for them.”

– The Raiders and Panthers had each other on speed dial during the offseason, with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie pulling off two trades.
In one, McKenzie sent wide receiver Louis Murphy to the Panthers for a seventh-round draft pick. In the other, the teams exchanged running back Mike Goodson for offensive tackle Bruce Campbell.
Murphy and Goodson worked out just fine for both teams. Murphy has 21 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown in 14 games, surpassing his totals in all three categories for the Raiders in 2011. Goodson has rushed for 200 yards (6.7-yard average) and caught 15 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown.
“Louis Murphy has done a great job for us, he really has,” Rivera said. “He’s really helped us in terms of our deep ball threat. When Brandon LaFell went down with an injury, he stepped in and became our No. 2 receiver and he has been a good vertical threat. He’s made a couple clutch catches for us the last few weeks. It’s good to have him here.”
Rivera said the Panthers liked Goodson. It just became a matter of numbers, with Goodson being the odd man out in a crowded backfield.
“Our problem was we had too many running backs,” Rivera said. “We brought in a fullback/running back and we had DeAngelo (Williams) and we had Jonathan Stewart. So, rather than release a guy outright, we tried to get something for him. We feel pretty good about what Bruce Campbell’s done for us since he’s been here. We felt both teams made out well.”
Goodson said he is fired up about playing the Panthers, yet he’s also trying to maintain his composure.
“I am looking forward to it,” Goodson said. “It’s a pretty big deal. That’s my old team and where I used to be for so long. They decided to trade me here, so I’m excited to take my new team and go back against those guys.”
Campbell was a fourth-round draft pick of the Raiders in 2010. He struggled settling in at a position during his two years in Oakland, bouncing around from guard to tackle and also battling injuries.
The Panthers jumped at the chance to acquire a player with impressive size, speed and strength, even if Campbell is a raw prospect.
“He’s coming along very well,” Rivera said. “We have him working strictly as a left tackle. The unfortunate thing for him right now is, he is behind Jordan Gross. We told him, ‘Hey, you have an opportunity to take a step back, learn the techniques, learn how to play the position the way we need it to be played.’ There is no pressure on him right now. He’s looked good, he’s done some really nice things for us, he had a nice training camp for us and things look bright as we go into the future.”

– The Carolina game is Oakland’s final shot at beating an NFC team this season. They already lost to the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the NFC South. The Panthers are 5-9, but they are in the midst of a three-game win streak.

– Count quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey as two more that think the Raiders aren’t in need of a major overhaul, just another year in the offensive and defensive systems.
Heyward-Bey said the pieces are in place on offense, especially when the Raiders get back receiver Jacoby Ford from his foot injury next season.
“Oh, yeah,” Heyward-Bey said. “I’m here, so I feel like I’m probably a good piece. We definitely have the pieces here. The thing about football is, you always feel like you can get better. So, I know Reggie (McKenzie) and D.A. are going to try to do that on both sides of the ball.”
Heyward-Bey is in his fourth NFL season. He said he has been in a different offense every season. The prospect of playing in the same system from one year to the next is enticing.
“That would be nice,” Heyward-Bey said. “It would be real nice.”
Palmer said offensive coordinator Greg Knapp warned the players that there would be growing pains but, given patience, things eventually would click.
“A second year will do wonders, obviously,” Palmer said, “and with free agency and the draft and adding players here and there, you’re only going to get better.”

– Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater is the seventh undrafted rookie since 2000 to catch as many as 33 passes his first season.
The six others are: Dominic Rhodes (34 in 2001), Selvin Young (35, 2007); Davone Bess (54, 2008), Blair White (36, 2010), Keiland Williams (39, 2010) and Doug Baldwin (51, 2011).

– Allen said Denarius Moore and Phillip Adams are among those working on fielding punts this week. Adams is returning from his second concussion, Moore is returning from a game in which he struggled with his decision-making on punt returns. Matt Giordano is another option.

– Goodson, kicker Sebastain Janikowski and the defense received game balls for their play in a 15-0 victory over the Chiefs last Sunday.
Janikowski declined an interview request. Goodson called the honor “huge.”
Allen said it’s at the point where he expects Janikowski to make every field-goal attempt. Why not? Janikowski is 29 of 32 this season, with his misses from 51, 61 and 64 yards.
“Yes, I do,” Allen said. “I think he does too. I don’t really care where he kicks it from. When you have a great player, that’s what you expect and that’s what he expects. It’s more important that that’s what he expects. So it’s a comforting feeling for me knowing that when we get across the 50, I feel confident being able to put him in the game and feel like we can make the kick and get three points.”

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Steve Corkran

  • burn_209

    The line isn’t as bad as the scheme. Greg Knapp is the reason the offense is so bad. No amount of players will fix that. The guy is just garbage everywhere he has went. Why he was brought back is beyond me

  • J Hill

    I think MM34 has played well. He’s flashed in a positive way more than not.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    burn_209 Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:54 am
    Hellsbells Says:
    December 19th, 2012 at 4:01 pm
    Or the tackle from A&M, move Veldheer to the right side.
    ————–

    Or we could leave our potential pro bowl LT at LT. Like seriously people? You can’t be this stupid.

    —-

    I think Veldheer has kind of lost that “potential pro bowl” label at this point.

    Has struggled in pass protection.

  • Gdog

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I saw Pryor throw one pass like “Uncle Rico” behind the knees of DHB

    ————————————————————

    Now the pass was “behind” DHB????

    And the legend just kepps on growing, lol.

    >>>>

    I just watched it again… my mistake. It was a wounded duck in front of DHB at his ankles.

    Do you dispute that it was at his ankles? I have the coaches film replay of it from the back endzone.

  • DMAC

    Ross looks like he can tackle. Wonder if he played any safety?
    Huff has got to go, if he doesn’t restructure.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:56 am
    I think MM34 has played well. He’s flashed in a positive way more than not.

    —-

    I agree, I just dont think he can cover.

    But I hope he proves me wrong.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:57 am
    Ross looks like he can tackle. Wonder if he played any safety?
    Huff has got to go, if he doesn’t restructure.

    —-

    Well he got some snaps at Safety when Branch was hurt a couple games back.. Denver game I think..

  • Al_is_theraiders

    only thing adams is good at is getting concussions mctool…just like spencer getting hurt just like bartell too..

  • dr_robert

    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:33 am
    I like how the debates always turn into personal insults when people have nothing rational or intelligent to say or any sort of rebuttle.
    **************

    shut up stupid face.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Get Wylie back!

  • burn_209

    I think Veldheer has kind of lost that “potential pro bowl” label at this point.

    Has struggled in pass protection.

    —————-
    But bad enough to move him over to the other side and put a rookie in his place? Yea I don’t think so lol

  • DennisAllensVisor

    Texans 12-2
    Broncos 11-3
    Patriots 10-4
    Ravens 9-5
    Colts 9-5
    Bengals 8-6
    Raiders 7-7
    Steelers 7-7

    Bengals finish with PITT & BAL

    We finish with CAR & SD…

    The “WHAT IF” game…

    #Palmers3Picks

  • DMAC

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I think MM34 has played well. He’s flashed in a positive way more than not.
    =========

    Pass that schit J Hizzle!!!!!!!!

  • http://raiders.com Seymour Bush

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:54 am

    How anyone can watch this season and not see that pass rush is #1, 2 & 3 priority is amazing.

    ————————————————————

    I don’t know, man.

    OL has to be 1a, 2a, and 3a then.

    We need a RT and OG BADLY!
    ========================================

    We certainly need all these things. But Pass rush in my mind has to be top priority. Andre Carter has helped there is no doubt and the offensive line has certainly played better. While RT is going to become a HUGE need in the next years Barnes has been good enough that we can focus on other positions right now. At least thats jmho.

  • Al_is_theraiders

    is that year 5 of ten? last i saw we were 4-10….soon to be 4-12

  • The Big Banana

    Call me crazy, but I have to wonder what our offense would have looked like if not for McFadden’s lack of vision in the ZBS. We’ve seen Goodson be fairly successful, and knowing that a good run game begets better pass protection which improves the passing game (nothing earth shattering here)…you just have to wonder.

    That doesn’t mean I’m giving Krapp a pass. On the contrary, the coaches should have seen this early on and traded DMAC before the season while his stock was higher if they were hellbent on the ZBS, which they are.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    burn_209 Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:02 am
    I think Veldheer has kind of lost that “potential pro bowl” label at this point.

    Has struggled in pass protection.

    —————-
    But bad enough to move him over to the other side and put a rookie in his place? Yea I don’t think so lol

    —-

    The point he’s making is you dont take a RT top 5.

    But if there is a cant miss LT, you take him and slide Veldheer over.

    Veldheer could be one of the best RT’s easily.

  • J Hill

    Do you dispute that it was at his ankles?

    ———————————————————–

    I just thought it was funny how the propoganda was unfolding.

    The pass landed past DHB. It was out in front of him, not at his feet. Yes, the pass was low but it should have been since the DB was all over half arssing DHB.

    DHB came out of his route really half arssed. Like he did on that first pass from Palmer.

    With all that said, Palmer should be the starter.

  • dr_robert

    REALLIONAIREB Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:41 am
    Dr_robert Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:23 am
    REALLIONAIREB Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:21 am
    So the jets have bench Sanchez and will start Tebow? No…but Maceroy(SpellCheck) cuz they are officially out of the playoffs,to see what they have in their young guy at QB…Now can someone please for the love of God tell me why our Raiders haven’t figure this out???
    *************

    cuz they finally have decided sanchez sucks and will never start him again, that’s why. sanzhez and tebow will both be released. that’s how u do it. we have next year’s qb on the roster and he is justifiably playing most of the snaps.

    ——————————————————————————

    I’m not a Palmer hater by no means,but the season is done! And to be honesty Palmer has fell off as of late,idk his 3rd down percentage is but I kno through the 1st 3 quarters I kno it’s not good.Now in the 4th quarter he lights it up(WhenTheGameHasAlreadyBeenDecided)so why not give TP a few starts,I mean this team will move forward year after year Palmer will be gone in the next 2-3 years now if TP looks horrible cut him or change his position if he looks good bring Palmer to start next year and let TP continue to learn (AllieAronRogers)but if u cut him not knowin what he can do and he goes some where and be productive that will be another failure for this new regime cuz they have did nothing but fail when it comes down to picking coaches and players with the exception of Wheeler & Burris and his play as fell of as of late!!!
    ***********

    well, u just don’t really care about trying out the #3 qb when u already know who ur qb is for the next 2 or 3 seasons. he’s NOT A PRIORITY!

  • http://raiders.com Seymour Bush

    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I think Veldheer has kind of lost that “potential pro bowl” label at this point.

    Has struggled in pass protection.
    ========================================

    Veldheer has had one bad game, but he has played pretty darn well all year.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    The rule change next year might have a critical impact on the ZBS.

    So there might not be a choice in keeping it.

  • J Hill

    Huff has got to go, if he doesn’t restructure.

    ————————————————————

    Is that how we are going to reward him for stepping in at Corner?

    Ouch!

  • dr_robert

    DA has said “huff is a free safety”.

  • hwnrdr

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:08 am
    Huff has got to go, if he doesn’t restructure.

    ————————————————————

    Is that how we are going to reward him for stepping in at Corner?

    Ouch!

    Agreed!

  • J Hill

    Pass that schit J Hizzle!!!!!!!!

    ————————————————————

    No

  • papertiger418

    The title of this post is probably an allusion to the Dennis Green press conference meltdown.

    To paraphrase: He [Keuchly] is who they [The Raiders] thought he [Romac] were

    If you’re going to crown Kuechly, Cork, then crown him! The Raiders let him off the hook by not drafting him.

    I like the parallel because both cases exhibit the same kind of helpless rage and frustration at having an inept team.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    Huff & Branch are our safeties next season, no question.

  • Al_is_theraiders

    lol…i love it!

  • J Hill

    Was Keuchly a 260lb 3-4 ILB in college?

  • DennisAllensVisor

    The big question is can Shaughnessy develop into a Justin Smith type DE in a 3-4..

    He has the frame..

  • dr_robert

    i would love a picture of mcclain in his green beanie. in a way, it would relieve me of all my anger at him.

  • dr_robert

    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:13 am
    The big question is can Shaughnessy develop into a Justin Smith type DE in a 3-4..

    He has the frame..
    *************
    well, he’s been replaced in the rotation by carter, so……..

  • R8ER MIKE

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:55 am
    ODB!!!!!

    What up brotherrrrrr?!!!(Hulkster)

    ****************
    same ole same ole….
    finished my Christmas shopping…. trees for everyone!!

  • DKnight007

    Hmm interesting. I think most MLB/ILB’s are under 6’2 and in this league anyhow.

    Having low center of gravity is a good thing IMO. Easier to move laterally and stay low and make more consistent tackles.

    Now people saying Te’o is too short makes zero sense.

    Getting caught up in HWS measurables guys is not the way to go. You should know this by now.

    It’s all about getting legit FOOTBALL players first.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Give McFelldown a green beanie too…

  • DennisAllensVisor

    dr_robert Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:14 am
    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:13 am
    The big question is can Shaughnessy develop into a Justin Smith type DE in a 3-4..

    He has the frame..
    *************
    well, he’s been replaced in the rotation by carter, so……..

    —-

    That’s because he has lost any ability to rush the passer he had, from a 4-3 DE’s spot.

    I think he could be a solid 3-4 DE.

  • Raider-in-PA

    But if there is a cant miss LT, you take him
    ————————-
    …and hope he isnt another Gallery… Al took that bonehead over Larry Fitzgerald…

    I just hope ol Reg is better at scouting rookies than Mr. Davis (RIP) was in his final years…

  • DennisAllensVisor

    If you can get legit pass rushers in the 2-7 rounds than Te’o is in play.

    I just dont think he makes much of an impact on a defense that cant keep lineman from getting to the LBs..

    Ray Lewis demanded they draft Ngata because he was being blocked all day…

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    R8ER MIKE Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:49 am
    lol O. maybe they know a good thing when it hums !!!
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    LMAO
    Ughh…..
    Threw up in mouth.

  • J Hill

    Houston and Bryant should be our 3-4 DEs.

    No brainer.

    They are both 4-3 LDEs though.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    Raider-in-PA Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:18 am
    But if there is a cant miss LT, you take him
    ————————-
    …and hope he isnt another Gallery… Al took that bonehead over Larry Fitzgerald…

    I just hope ol Reg is better at scouting rookies than Mr. Davis (RIP) was in his final years…

    —-

    For sure.

  • DMAC

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Huff has got to go, if he doesn’t restructure.

    ————————————————————

    Is that how we are going to reward him for stepping in at Corner?

    Ouch!
    ==========

    Huff belongs at safety and sadly he isn’t very good there either. Dude is waaaaaay 2 in consistent. No one is scared when they cross the middle.
    I want to see a physical safety out there who isn’t dragging peoples down and finally making the tackle 10 yds down the field.
    And I’m the one who wears the Huff jersey to all the games.
    Just keeping it real.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:18 am
    Houston and Bryant should be our 3-4 DEs.

    No brainer.

    They are both 4-3 LDEs though.

    —-

    Agreed.

    Just think Matt can make that transition as well..

  • Gdog

    The pass landed past DHB. It was out in front of him, not at his feet. Yes, the pass was low but it should have been since the DB was all over half arssing DHB.

    >>>>>

    It almost hit him on the foot. I just watched it frame by frame from the endzone. What view are YOU using?

  • DMAC

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Pass that schit J Hizzle!!!!!!!!

    ————————————————————

    No
    ========

    I don’t smoke that booboo any ways.
    lol

  • http://raiders.com Seymour Bush

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Give McFelldown a green beanie too…
    ========================================

    And a kick out the door…

  • The_Judge37

    Raider-in-PA Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:18 am
    But if there is a cant miss LT, you take him
    ————————-
    …and hope he isnt another Gallery… Al took that bonehead over Larry Fitzgerald…

    I just hope ol Reg is better at scouting rookies than Mr. Davis (RIP) was in his final years…
    ——-

    I think that may have been the one Year Al went with the Logical scouts Blue Chip pick instead of his Size, Speed deal. If he followed that, he would’ve have considered T-Rex arms for LT.

  • dr_robert

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:15 am
    Give McFelldown a green beanie too…

    **********

    didn’t he just have a good game?

    didn’t the raiders just have a good game?

    it’s like it went completely unnoticed in here.

  • DMAC

    Where’s are QB on the D????????

    Bring on Te’o!!!!!!!!!!

  • DMAC

    Te’o!!!!!