Keep up with the rumors, trades and transactions leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft.
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford msised all of last season with a foot injury. A surgery fixed the problem and now Ford is ready to get back on the field and do what he does best, catch passes and return kicks. Here’s the transcript from an interview with Ford in Alameda on Thursday:
Q: Are you 100 percent with the foot?
Ford: Yes, sir. One-hundred percent, ready to go. Ready to start being able to run around there on the field and I’ll definitely be out there participating full-go.
Q: when were you able to start running?
Ford: I’ve been running really well for probably the last month and a half now, ever since me and TP and a few other guys were able to go to Laney College and just toss the ball around out there. I just kind of worked my way into it from running in regular shoes, then eventually when I started upping my rehab, just kind of transitioned into cleats.
Q: How antsy are you?
Ford: Pretty antsy Just got to home back in on everything and just get back out there and get my feet wet, get rolling again?
Q: When was the realization that this can be a good thing, I can get my feet back under me and rehab this thing?
Ford: I think probably as soon as it happened and I got the surgery, and talked to the doctor. He said it was kind of worse then he thought it was. Just kind of getting that reassurance from him made me feel better that I finally got the problem fixed. I was able to just put it behind me and keep rolling.
Q: Layman’s terms, what was the problem?
Ford: It was a Lisfranc. It was just kind of, my joints were just kind of split a little farther apart than what we thought it was. It’s all fixed up now, though.
Q: Talked to Darren rehab, coming back from it . .
Ford: We both had, his just healed a little different than mine.I don’t know why, but I mean, I’m glad his definitely did, I’m glad he didn’t have to go through the surgery process, but it was just one of those things that just kind of happened, he healed and and mine just kind of healed almost all the way but as soon as it got twisted up I knew what was wrong then.
Q: He wasn’t himself last year for whatever reason, and you were out, two playmakers that had done a lot of big things, scored a lot of TDs, how eager are you both to get back out and add that back to the mix?
Ford: We’re definitely both eager to get back out there, because we know how explosive this offense can be, no matter who’s at the helm or who’s running the ball, who’s going to be catching it, we have a whole bunch of weapons on this team right now on both sides of the ball and on special teams so I think just bringing this whole team together now, and bringing everybody here, just kind of gets everybody antsy and ready to go.
Q: Considering so much of staff is new, special teams coordinator, offensive coordinator, how much do you have to prove?
Ford: I don’t want to say starting over, but I know they’re definitely antsy to see me play, because I haven’t really played in front of them. I’m just going to go out there and let the game come to me like I always do and have fun with it.
Q: How fun being back in the room, weight room, etc.
Ford: It’s fun, last year I just kind of stayed away and when they went to practice then I came in to do my rehab and I would leave just because it was hard to come here and see them out there working because I would want to go out there. I mean, eventually, I started coming around just a little bit more, but just to be back in the swing of things kind of makes you feel like you’re back on the team again.
Q: Spending a lot of your time introducing yourself to new teammates?
Ford: It’s weird. It’s kind of weird. Everybody is still feeling each other out within the first week. I think within the next few weeks everybody will start hanging out a little bit more. We don’t’ really see the defense that much except in the morning when we’re eating breakfast, and then special teams. And then they to meetings and we go lift. It’s kind of hard to hang out with now, or bond with ‘em. But eventually, everybody will get to know each other a little better.
Q: How much interaction with Matt Flynn . . . have worked with Terrelle at Laney?
Ford: Matt just got here and so far he’s been putting the offense together and we’ve just gone through formations and walked through plays and stuff like that. Just little things to help us learn the new system because everybody has to learn it. He’s definitely helping in that process, him and Terrelle.
Q: First impressions of Greg Olson as coordinator?
Ford: I like him. He’s going to be a guy who definitely takes some shots downfield and he’s going to stick to his scheme no matter what. I don’t think he’ll let a defense bother anything that he’s going to do, him or our new O-line coach, Sparano, but they’re both fiery guys and I definitely can’t wait to get out there and play for them.
Q: Before foot happened, you were going to return punts . . . still on track?
Ford: Yeah, I definitely plan on doing it. Punt return and kick return.
Q: How much working with Terrelle difference you’ve seen since last summer before you got hurt?
Ford: Just like his whole demeanor, his mechanics, how he’s handling himself, how he’s throwing the ball. You can definitely tell that he wants it, and that’s something that you want out of a young quarterback like that. He’s hungry, he’s waiting for his chance and I think he’ll get his chance to go out there and compete.
Q: Lost so many guys, salary cap issues, under-the-radar free agency . . . national perspective is still rebuilding . . . what about inside that room?
Ford: In our room? . . . I think we’ll be just fine. I think the front office went and got guys that they believe in, that are going to come and play for this organization this year. Just the demeanor, you can just feel a vibe. It’s different, it’s going to be different, but just a vibe that I get from a lot of these players, I can tell they actually want to be here. And that shows up with our attendance and just voluntary workouts. They’re learning a new offense, new defense too, just as well. Everybody’s here that wants to be here and I think that’s going to lead us into some promising things.
Here’s the complete list of opponents, dates, times and TV for the Raiders 2013 regular-season schedule:
Sept. 8 — at Colts, 10 a.m., CBS
Sept. 15 – vs. Jaguars, 1: 25 p.m., CBS
Sept. 23 — at Broncos, 5:40 p.m., ESPN
Sept. 29 – vs. Redskins, 1:25 p.m., Fox
Oct. 6 – vs. Chargers, 1:25 p.m., CBS
Oct. 13 — at Chiefs, 10 a.m., CBS
Oct. 20 — Bye
Oct. 27 – vs. Steelers, 1:05 p.m., CBS
Nov. 3 — vs. Eagles, 1:05 p.m., Fox
Nov. 10 – at Giants, 10 a.m., CBS
Nov. 17 – at Texans, 10 a.m., CBS
Nov. 24 — vs. Titans, 1:05 p.m., CBS
Nov. 28 – at Cowboys, 1:30 p.m., CBS
Dec. 8 – at Jets, 10 a.m., CBS
Dec. 15 — vs. Chiefs, 1:05 p.m., CBS
Dec. 22 – at Chargers, 1:25 p.m., CBS
Dec. 29 — vs. Broncos, 1:25 p.m., CBS
The Raiders kick off their 2013 regular-season schedule with a game against the Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck on the road Sept. 8.
Their lone prime-time game takes place Sept. 23, when they travel to Denver for a game against quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Monday Night Football.
The soft spot in Oakland’s schedule comes after six games, when they have a bye followed by back-to-back home games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, respectively.
Things get much tougher afterward, thanks to four road games in a five-game span, including a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Raiders first regular-season home game is Sept. 15, when the Jacksonville Jaguars trek to the Coliseum for the second straight season.
Raiders fans get a look at Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III on Sept. 29 and Manning on Dec. 29 in the regular-season finale.
Quarterback Carson Palmer blocked Terrelle Pryor’s path to the playing field in Pryor’s first two NFL seasons. Now that Palmer is gone, Pryor is doing everything he can to show that he is worthy of being the Raiders starter in 2013 and beyond.
“I’m trying to find a way to get better every day, through mechanics, through being sharper on pinpoint accuracy,” Pryor said Thursday in Alameda, where he took a break from the team’s offseason workout program. “I take those things serious to get better and just for the team overall. I haven’t taken a break and probably won’t.”
Pryor is regarded as one of the hardest workers on the Raiders roster. As evidence, he routinely gathers some of his receivers and works out with them at Laney College in Oakland on off days.
He also has spent considerable time during this offseason working with quarterback coaches in an attempt to refine his footwork, reads and accuracy.
It’s all part of Pryor’s quest to go from a third-round pick in the 2011 supplemental draft to a starter in the NFL.
The Raiders traded Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this month. At the same time, they traded for sixth-year quarterback Matt Flynn.
Yet, coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie are hesitant to anoint Flynn the unquestioned starter, even though they invested two draft picks and $6.5 million in Flynn for 2013.
“Whether Carson was going to be here or not, it doesn’t matter,” Pryor said. “I have to battle.”
Allen and McKenzie said there’s an “open competition” at quarterback, which makes sense given Flynn started only two games his first five seasons and Pryor one.
Pryor is taking those words to heart.
“Like coach says, ‘Cream rises to the top, no matter what. No matter what the position, everyone is going to battle.’ … We need to compete. By competing, you bring out the best in everybody.”
Jared Veldheer always was easy to spot in a crowd, at 6-foot-8, 325 pounds, even amongst his peers on the field in an NFL game. And that was before the Raiders left offensive tackle embarked upon a new workout regime and altered his diet this offseason.
Veldheer since has added five pounds and considerable muscle tone, something he shared on a Twitter picture earlier this year.
“It’s funny how that picture kind of exploded,” Veldheer said by phone as he prepared for the start of the Raiders offseason workout program in Alameda.
The picture shows Veldheer, 25, posing in a gym right after he finished lifting dumbbells. His bulging biceps prompted many to liken Veldheer to The Incredible Hulk.
Veldheer said he is surprised by how much attention he received for that picture. Ultimately, he wants to be recognized for his play as the blind-side tackle for the Raiders.
To that end, Veldheer always seeks ways to improve his strength, mobility, speed and blocking technique. This offseason, that meant following strength coach Mark Ehnis’ advice in the weight room and at the dining table.
“I feel a huge energy boost,” Veldheer said. “That’s gotten me ready quicker for the next workout. I’m just feeling good and I’ve been hitting some of the best weights that I’ve hit here, pretty much in my life. … I’m excited to get to use it all on the field.”
All the while, Veldheer was careful not to get so muscle-bound that it cut down on the mobility and flexibility he needs to succeed on the football field.
“That can happen if you’re not working on the right stuff, for sure, but I’ve been working on a lot of good stuff, a lot of mobility work and proper technique within the lifting,” Veldheer said. “I feel like I’m more mobile than I’ve been. I’m able to move lower. I feel like I’m at my quickest, too.”
Veldheer has started every game the past two seasons and 43 in of 48 in his three NFL seasons.
At times, he has played on a level commensurate with the game’s top left tackles. Yet, he’s never satisfied.
It’s a common sight to see Veldheer working on his technique and working out long after his teammates have exited the practice field.
“He’s the steady-Eddie guy,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Veldheer last season. “You don’t really notice him and then, all of a sudden, you look up and you say, ‘Hey, he’s had a pretty nice day.’ ”
It won’t be hard to miss Veldheer this season judging by the recent picture.
“It (reflects) the work that I’ve put in,” Veldheer said. “It’s nice when people can respect that. At the end of the day, it’s not about the picture. It’s about trying to get better and getting stronger, faster and working on the drills I need to get better on the football field.”
The Raiders kick off their exhibition season with a home game against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. They play the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. in the SuperDome. The Raiders conclude their exhibition season with a road game against the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. The date and time for the Raiders exhibition game against the Chicago Bears has yet to be determined, though it will be played between the Saints and Seahawks games.
Asked Jon Gruden on a conference call about Reggie McKenzie’s philosophy of identifying high-character players and the whether any of the athletes he had on his ESPN shows fit that criteria, and here was his response:
The league pushed back the release of the 2013 schedule from today to Thursday. Therefore, we won’t know when the Raiders play their regular-season games until Thursday at 5 p.m. PDT. Continue Reading
Raiders owner Mark Davis realizes his team is in the midst of a complete makeover and that it’s going to take time. Just the same, he isn’t accepting the fact that the Raiders can’t make some noise before the roots take hold.
Davis said in an exclusive with Bay Area News Group on Monday that he is adamant that the Raiders build a foundation that is going to help the Raiders be a perennial Super Bowl-caliber team.
Doing so entails building through the NFL draft, Davis said, and using free agency as a means to fill in the gaps, not as some sort of panacea.
Davis points to the 49ers as a model for the way he envisions general manager Reggie McKenzie constructing the Raiders.
“You have to have a very solid team and then you can plug one or two guys in,” Davis said. “I hate to use the example of the team across the bay, but they’re in a position now where they have such a good core that they’re able to just pick up a guy here or a guy there.
“They’re able to bring in a Nnamdi Asomugha or somebody that could possibly help them. If he doesn’t (work out), it doesn’t really destroy their chemistry badly because they’re not counting on Nnamdi to do anything (great), but to augment them.”
The core of the 49ers roster comprises players selected in the draft, with free-agent signees such as defensive lineman Justin Smith, strong safety Donte Whitner and wide receiver Mario Manningham bolstering the lineup.
The 49ers have twice as many picks as the Raiders in this year’s draft, which begins next Thursday.
The Raiders own the rights to the No. 3 pick. However, they are without second- and fifth-round selections as a result of trades for quarterback Carson Palmer and linebacker Aaron Curry in 2011.
McKenzie has said from the day he was hired in 2012 that he covets draft picks and views them as the key to building a successful team.
The other key to a Raiders turnaround, Davis said, lays in their ability to get their salary cap to the point where they have enough money to re-sign their own players and a handful of free agents each season.
To that end, McKenzie used last offseason and this offseason to purge what he deemed “out-of-whack” contracts.
That process is complete, though at considerable expense. Severing ties with the likes of Stanford Routt, Kamerion Wimbley, Palmer, Richard Seymour, Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rolando McClain forced the Raiders to account for almost $50 million of their $123 million salary cap this season on players no longer on the roster.
“It’s something that was necessary,” Davis said. “It was clearly evident. We needed to do some more restructuring. All the way down to the brass bolts. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
When the Raiders emerge from their funk remains to be seen. They last made the playoffs in 2002, when they advanced to the Super Bowl. They haven’t won more than eight games in a season the past 10 years.
Davis said he wasn’t expecting the Raiders to win the Super Bowl last season, the first for McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen. He also isn’t sure how much longer it’s going to take for Raiders to get to the point where they are a Super Bowl contender.
“My philosophy is, making the playoffs is great and all that, it’s great for the fans and everything, but winning the Super Bowl is the only goal,” Davis said. “Otherwise, I’ve said it all my life, if you don’t win the Super Bowl, then you’re just like one of the other 30 teams.”
The Raiders won the last of their three Super Bowls in the 1983 season. Davis said he is hell-bent upon bringing more Super Bowl titles to Oakland in the coming years.
“In my lifetime, we’ve had three successful seasons,” Davis said. “That’s the absolute truth. That’s the way I live my life. That’s the way we live our lives. What we’re trying to build is a team that is going to go after Super Bowls. It can’t just be a one-shot deal.”
Davis said he is content with McKenzie and Allen and that he intends to be patient enough to let them see through the process of rebuilding the Raiders.
“The process of building a foundation is going to take place this year, next year, the following year,” Davis said. “It’s not just going to be a quick fix, ‘OK, hey, we’re back and this is great.’ It’s going to take awhile.”
And that’s what Davis expected when he hired McKenzie as the team’s first full-fledged general manager. McKenzie, in turn, hired Allen to succeed Hue Jackson.
“I hired Reggie knowing what the process was going to be,” Davis said. “I have no problem with where it’s going so far on the player personnel side. That’s where his expertise is. … Who knows? We could be really competitive this year. I’m not writing the season off.”