By Steve Corkran
Thursday, October 24th, 2013 at 4:38 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Yes, one-third of the Raiders 2012 draft class no longer is on the roster. But, to be fair, coach Dennis Allen said, the Raiders didn’t make the first of their six selections until the tail end of the third round, when they used a compensatory selection on offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom.
Bergstrom, wide receiver Juron Criner, defensive end Jack Crawford and Burris still are on the roster. They outlasted defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi and linebacker Nathan Stupar, both of whom were waived — Stupar at the end of training camp last year and Bilukidi on Wednesday
Furthermore, Allen said, the Raiders bolstered their haul from last year with the signings of undrafted free agents Lucas Nix and Rod Streater, both of whom are starters right now.
As for what happened with Bilukidi, Allen simply said that Bilukidi wasn’t developing as well as the Raiders hoped and it made more sense to use the roster spot on linebacker Martez Wilson, who appears to have more potential to play a big role in the Raiders defense and special teams.
Wilson was claimed off waivers from the New Orleans Saints, and his arrival here coincided with the Raiders canning Bilukidi.
The Raiders got an extended look at what Bilukidi has to offer. Now it’s time to take a look at Wilson, Allen said.
“Big guy, athletic,” Allen said of what the Raiders liked about Wilson. “He can really run. He did some good things there with the Saints. He did some good things on special teams. He’s got some rush ability, and he’s a good guy as far as a coverage linebacker. We thought he was a guy that we wanted to get in here and take a look at and see what he can do.”
Allen and cornerback Tracy Porter have a pretty fair idea what Wilson can do, given they all were with the Saints in 2011, when Allen was the Saints defensive backs coach.
“Great signing,” Porter said. “A very versatile guy that can do a lot for us and fit right in with the defense. I’m excited about having him and the things that he brings to the defense and what he’s going to provide for us.”
Wilson said, on the one hand, it was disappointing that the Saints no longer wanted him, but, on the other hand, it’s nice that the Raiders wanted him so badly.
“It’s been great so far,” Wilson said. “The coaches seem very excited. The players have been very warm welcoming. From here, it’s just go on forward, they expect of me to execute and expecting me to do things they know I could do. I feel like they’ll allow me to do it and I continue to show them in practice. Man, I’m just excited and ready to ball out.”
– Allen said he doesn’t envision Wilson being able to help the Raiders this Sunday against the Steelers, simply because Wilson hasn’t been around the Raiders long enough to know the special teams and defensive schemes well enough.
– Allen is “hoping” that linebacker Miles Burris will be cleared to practice next week.
Burris is on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. Once he returns to practice, the Raiders have 21 days to decide whether to activate Burris to the 53-man roster, place him on season-ending injured reserve or release him.
The latter option doesn’t seem likely at all, given the way Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver spoke of Burris.
“We’ve been trying to acquire as many players as we can, one, that love football and, two, that can be position flexible, set an edge in the run game, use your hands to get off of blocks, cover a back or a tight end when they need to,” Tarver said. “Miles showed last year that he can do a lot of those things, so he’s in the mix.”
If Burris keeps progressing, the Raiders soon could be blessed with their most linebacker depth in years: — Burris, Kevin Burnett, Sio Moore, Nick Roach, Kaluka Maiava, Wilson and, perhaps, one other.
– The Raiders and 49ers are tied for 31st (last) in the league in average passing yards per game at 191.7. That stat is somewhat misleading, of course, given the Raiders and 49ers are so adept at running the ball and they sport mobile quarterbacks that aren’t afraid to pull down the ball and take off running.
– Maiava (hamstring) returned to practice Thursday after missing one day. He was limited in practice today, which makes him questionable for Sunday’s game.
– Here’s offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s take on what to expect from wide receiver Jacoby Ford moving forward.
“He hadn’t been healthy,” Olson said. “About three weeks ago I started to see the explosive Jacoby that maybe some of you had seen. So we still continue to try and keep him involved in certain packages.”
Ford caught seven passes for 55 yards and rushed three times for 8 yards in Oakland’s first six games. He missed all of last season with a foot injury that required surgery.
– The 49ers and Seahawks, as well as other teams, are fond of signing players from other teams in hopes of gleaning insight into how to game plan against that player’s former team.
No telling if that’s why the Steelers signed former Raiders Richard Gordon and George Winn in recent weeks. Even if that’s the case, Allen doesn’t think there’s much to that line of thinking.
“We’ve got enough that we could throw enough at them,” Allen said. “Sometimes that’s a little overrated. I’m sure with certain guys there’s a lot of information that you could gather but I’m not really concerned with that.”
– Allen reiterated the stance he first trotted out after Sebastian Janikowski’s first missed field-goal attempt this season: Janikowski is fine and there’s nothing to get worked up about.
“He’s going to be fine,” Allen said. “Everybody goes through a little bit of a rough patch. He obviously has. With the expectations that we have of him, and we all have pretty high expectations, that every time he trots out there he’s going to kick it through the uprights.
“It’s just been a situation where he’s gotta be mentally strong. He’s gotta continue to battle through it, and he will. When you look up at the end of the year I think all of us will be pleased with the results that we’ve seen out of him.”
Janikowski missed four field-goal attempts in the Raiders firs six games. He missed only three all last season.