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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

  • The_Civilian_James_Trapp

    The_Judge37 Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:52 am
    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:51 am
    How anyone can watch this season and not see that pass rush is #1, 2 & 3 priority is amazing.
    ——–

    The same way you can watch this season and not see the coaching as a problem.

    ========

    LOL!

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:52 am
    Brutha from anutha mutha!!!!!!!!!!
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    My Brother….
    Got some super duper Kush. Amazing.

  • The_Judge37

    Every year Huff does just enough to make you think he should stick around for next year. Then he ends up taking 7 weeks to hit stride. Just cut him already.

  • DMAC

    Where’s D!ck Seymour’s green beenie at????
    He deserves one 2.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    Trapp’s facemask was before its time..

    Trail-blazer..

  • dr_robert

    blog green beanies for:

    missdick
    priest
    kell
    beech
    sullivan
    fangs

  • DMAC

    Raider O Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:23 am

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:52 am
    Brutha from anutha mutha!!!!!!!!!!
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    My Brother….
    Got some super duper Kush. Amazing.
    ========
    What are you waiting for?????
    Send me my Christmas gift?
    I’ll send you my adress
    Here’s my email……..yeris510@yahoo.com
    I’ll be waiting
    lol

  • DennisAllensVisor

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:24 am
    Where’s D!ck Seymour’s green beenie at????
    He deserves one 2.

    —-

    He deserves a pink slip in his locker “Major Leage” style..

  • The_Judge37

    Forget the green beanies, where’s DA and Co. pink slips?

  • SR Raider

    dr_robert Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:22 am
    didn’t the raiders just have a good game?
    it’s like it went completely unnoticed in here.
    —————

    Zero touchdowns. The only reason the Raiders won any games at all this year is because the other teams played horribly.

    So, yeah it was nice to see the run O and run D work for a change, but we should have seen at least 3 TD’s with the way the Chiefs were playing

  • J Hill

    I want to see a physical safety out there

    ————————————————————-

    I agree with that. I think Huff is better than Branch though. Not even close.

  • hwnrdr

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:24 am
    Where’s D!ck Seymour’s green beenie at????
    He deserves one 2.

    He needs a friggen bill for his non services…at least these last 2 years!

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:51 am
    Mustafa, stop gettin me banned
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    LOL at Preppie getting banned.
    It wasn’t me, but at some point you do need to realize that no one likes a preppie from Mich. You can tolerate a preppie from NY, but no one can tolerate a ghetto preppie.

  • dr_robert

    SR Raider Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:25 am
    dr_robert Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:22 am
    didn’t the raiders just have a good game?
    it’s like it went completely unnoticed in here.
    —————

    Zero touchdowns. The only reason the Raiders won any games at all this year is because the other teams played horribly.

    So, yeah it was nice to see the run O and run D work for a change, but we should have seen at least 3 TD’s with the way the Chiefs were playing
    *************

    take the win. take the improvement in a lot of areas.

  • The_Judge37

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:26 am
    I want to see a physical safety out there

    ————————————————————-

    I agree with that. I think Huff is better than Branch though. Not even close.
    ——-

    Branch sprinting toward a bad angle just looks more dramatic than Huff jogging toward a bad angle.

  • Purvisman/Intrepid// Full Disclosure

    The_Judge37 Says:
    johnnie lee higgins…I heard he had some pretty good endzone dances, too bad we never got to see any of them.
    ======================================================

    C’mon. He housed 3 on PR in ’08. In ’09 he, Chaz, and Murphy looked pretty good. I even liked Watkins, don’t know why. Along with DHB, I felt really good about our wide receivers going into 2010. Shows you what I know.

  • J Hill

    Got some super duper Kush. Amazing.

    ———————————————————–

    Super duper, eh?

    At least that’s what it was called on the menu, huh?

  • dr_robert

    Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:26 am
    I want to see a physical safety out there

    ————————————————————-

    I agree with that. I think Huff is better than Branch though. Not even close.

    ***********

    branch is the far superior player actually. ask any nfl person.

  • DMAC

    The coaching staff needs beanies as well, filled w/ baby schit.
    They stink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • DennisAllensVisor

    I think we have a Top 5 defense if Giordano wasnt playing.

    :)

  • The_Civilian_James_Trapp

    DKnight007 Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:14 am
    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.

    ==========

    And getting caught up in the Notre Dame hype machine who plays behind a future 1st round NT is not the way to go. This isn’t the 60′s or 70′s or even 80′s. MLB is down the food chain as far as impact players go on Defense.

    If you’re gonna take a MLB top 5 he better be Mr. Everything and that includes speed to burn & size to destroy every lineman in the the league. Someone on another board called him a better version of casey mathews

    Big mistake if these bozos stay and take him.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/Mock-Draft-First-Round-Kansas-City-Chiefs-Luke-Joeckel-Jacksonville-Jaguars-Bjoern-Werner-121812

  • dr_robert

    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:28 am
    I think we have a Top 5 defense if Giordano wasnt playing.

    ************

    ur really trying to get a green beanie aren’t u?

  • J Hill

    Where’s are QB on the D????????

    Bring on Te’o!!!!!!!!!!

    ———————————————————–

    Sadly, your read between the lines decoder might be working.

  • DMAC

    J Hill Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Got some super duper Kush. Amazing.

    ———————————————————–

    Super duper, eh?

    At least that’s what it was called on the menu, huh?
    ======

    J Heezy
    There’s some dope as schit out there.
    Time to step your game up and stop puffing on that booboo.

  • dr_robert

    would u take junior seau in the first round? mike singletary? cuz teo is basically a mix of those two.

  • J Hill

    Branch sprinting toward a bad angle just looks more dramatic than Huff jogging toward a bad angle.

    ————————————————————–

    LOL

  • DennisAllensVisor

    dr_robert Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:29 am
    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:28 am
    I think we have a Top 5 defense if Giordano wasnt playing.

    ************

    ur really trying to get a green beanie aren’t u?

    —-

    LOL.

    He’s epicly bad though.

  • The_Judge37

    Where’s are QB on the D????????
    ——-

    Bring in Tebow to play MLB!!!

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    LOL Mr. Prez.
    That’s your email?

  • DennisAllensVisor

    dr_robert Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:30 am
    would u take junior seau in the first round? mike singletary? cuz teo is basically a mix of those two.

    —-

    I wouldnt take those 2 this year… no.

  • DMAC

    Branch sprinting toward a bad angle just looks more dramatic than Huff jogging toward a bad angle.
    =======

    Real talk tho
    lol

  • DMAC

    Raider O Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    LOL Mr. Prez.
    That’s your email?
    =========

    Yes sirrrr
    I’ll be waiting

  • The_Judge37

    Also Branch shows a lot more passion in throwing his hands up after he bites on the underneath route than Huff or Gio, who just shake their heads at the ground.

  • DJ Johnny

    I don’t know how good Palmer is. How can u really judge the guy based on playing for cinci-freaking-natti and the Raiders the last couple years.

    I think it’s clear that he is NOT “carry a bad team on his back and win anyway” type of good. Even the most zealous of Palmer guys would have to admit that.

    Trouble is, there aren’t many of those type of guys around and available.

  • Purvisman/Intrepid// Full Disclosure

    dr_robert, you catch this?

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:30 am

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Morning/afternoon peoples!
    Que onda Green party!?
    ============

    Well then………

    FK u guys 2 on this chilly morning in da O-A-K

  • DMAC

    Houston could be dope at the DT position.

  • MiamiRaider78

    God damn you PEOPLE!

    Had a dream that DA went to another team and won a Super Bowl…New Orleans. I kept on trying to tell him that he proved everyone on the blog wrong because they didn’t believe. LOL

  • DMAC

    The_Judge37 Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Also Branch shows a lot more passion in throwing his hands up after he bites on the underneath route than Huff or Gio, who just shake their heads at the ground.
    ==========

    Almost all the way true, but Gio would probably be lying on the ground faking his injury after getting shook.
    lol

  • DMAC

    MiamiRaider78 Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:37 am

    God damn you PEOPLE!

    Had a dream that DA went to another team and won a Super Bowl…New Orleans. I kept on trying to tell him that he proved everyone on the blog wrong because they didn’t believe. LOL
    =========

    Thats some heavy schit ur puffing on Miami.
    Pass that schit!!!!!!!!!

  • LondonAl

    REALLIONAIREB Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:44 am
    LondonAl Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:41 am
    LondonAl Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:08 am
    Mistic1 Tha Supavillain Says:
    December 19th, 2012 at 10:45 am
    The Big Banana Says:
    And why again did we not just roll with Pryor? This game meant nothing and was a perfect opportunity to see what he could do on a real game. Smh at this staff.
    ===========

    pure selfishness on the part of allen

    pulling a tom cable and hoping to pad his pathetic win total instead of evaluating young tp6 and giving him valuable development time in game.

    this is treasonous
    ==================================
    Since when has it been treasonous to win a football game? Since when has it been treasonous to beat the hated Chiefs? I am not exactly a happy bunny with this season’s showing but come on man and get some perspective. We play to win. Nothing else to say.
    Go Raiders!

    ————————————-

    So are you saying TP wldnt have or our young players wld have played to lose?
    ===================
    That is not what I am saying. some here think DA acted in a way harmful to the Raiders by not playing Pryor. I am saying that DA’s job is to win football games. Period. I am tired of all the hate just because we win a game and don’t go to the top of the list when the draft happens. As Al Davis used to say “Just win baby!”

  • DJ Johnny

    820.DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:28 am
    I think we have a Top 5 defense if Giordano wasnt playing.

    Gio reminds me of Schweigert…for the obvious reasons of course. Although I don’t imagine Gio being dragged 20 yd’s to the endzone like good ole’ Stu.

    Gio would simply bail out and roll over holding his leg and writhing in pain.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    If you listen closely, you can hear Giordano on the ground in pain..

    Oh nevermind, now he’s up.

  • The_Judge37

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:37 am
    The_Judge37 Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Also Branch shows a lot more passion in throwing his hands up after he bites on the underneath route than Huff or Gio, who just shake their heads at the ground.
    ==========

    Almost all the way true, but Gio would probably be lying on the ground faking his injury after getting shook.
    —-

    And i thought only Darrell Revis got injured after getting burned for TD’s

  • DMAC

    CP3 is just serviceable. Not spectacular, not great, not garbage, just serviceable.

  • dr_robert

    Purvisman/Intrepid// Full Disclosure Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:34 am
    dr_robert, you catch this?

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:30 am

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Morning/afternoon peoples!
    Que onda Green party!?
    ============

    Well then………

    FK u guys 2 on this chilly morning in da O-A-K
    **********

    he needs a hug.

  • DennisAllensVisor

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:40 am
    CP3 is just serviceable. Not spectacular, not great, not garbage, just serviceable.

    —-

    And you dont pay 12 million plus for serviceable..

  • Al_is_theraiders

    DA svcks even when he was giving bonuses…

  • hwnrdr

    Thank you London Al!

  • DMAC

    DennisAllensVisor Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    DMAC Says:
    December 20th, 2012 at 10:40 am
    CP3 is just serviceable. Not spectacular, not great, not garbage, just serviceable.

    —-

    And you dont pay 12 million plus for serviceable..
    =========

    Exactly!

  • DJ Johnny

    I am excited about this game with Carolina.

    Mistic has thrown in all his chips betting on Cam Newton to humiliate us. Great fan huh? Always Raiders first and foremost; but seriously it will be interesting to see if the shutout was just a fluke against a horrible team or if there is some kind of turning the corner type of deal going on.