760

Butler making strong case for more playing time

Wide receiver Brice Butler appears poised to make another sizable leap, one year after he overcame long odds and made the Raiders roster despite being a seventh-round draft pick.
Butler caught 11 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns in Oakland’s first three exhibition games. For perspective, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes combined for 13 for 175 yards and no touchdowns.
“Last year, was very similar; he showed up in the preseason games,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s done that again this year. He’s made progress and he’s in a better spot now than he was a year ago at this time.”
Butler was just another guy last season, doing enough to make the 53-man roster and earn some playing time early in the season.
He caught nine passes for 103 yards and no touchdowns in 10 games. None of his receptions came after Oakland’s sixth game.
“Last year, I hit a wall, mentally and physically,” Butler said. “And, obviously, you could see, my game dropped.”
Second-year quarterback Matt McGloin traveled a similar path as Butler. He signed as an undrafted free agent, opened eyes with his determined play, made the roster and enjoyed some highs and lows.
“There were periods where I struggled,” McGloin said. “That’s just part of being a rookie. Obviously, there are no excuses. We’re not rookies anymore, so you have to continue to progress. Brice really understands that, and he’s brought it every day to practice.”
Streater and Moore are the incumbent starters. However, neither has a stronghold on a starting spot this season. James Jones and Holmes also figure to get meaningful playing time. Butler has inserted himself into the conversation.
It’s not uncommon for players who shine in exhibition games to fade away once the regular season begins and the more experienced players eat up the playing time.
“If you move down the depth chart,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said, “it’s hard to maintain that focus for a rookie player that comes in out of college that is used to playing all the time.”
Yet, Butler is confident that he has a better grasp on what it takes to be a consistent player.
For that, he credits offseason workouts with standout NFL receivers Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green, among others, in Atlanta.
“I would say the talent has always been there,” Butler said, “but mentally … just picking their brains and figuring out what they think, how they think, how they run routes, the tricks of the trade. I just got better mentally.”
McGloin and Butler connected for a game-deciding, 19-yard touchdown against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 15. They added 19- and 28-yard touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers last Friday night.
“As a quarterback, the most important thing in a wide receiver is trust, and I 100 -percent know I can trust Brice to be in the right spots and trust him with throwing the ball and letting him go get it.”

– Presumptive starting quarterback Matt Schaub didn’t practice for the third straight day because of a sore right elbow. Rookie Derek Carr worked with the first-team offense.
Allen said Schaub made some throws off to the side Tuesday, while being monitored by an athletic trainer. Schaub won’t play Thursday night.
Olson said he is hopeful that Schaub is just experiencing the effects from throwing so many passes during training camp, not unlike a baseball player during spring training.

– The Raiders pared their roster to 75 players in advance of the league-mandated deadline by making moves with eight players.
Of note, the Raiders placed cornerback DJ Hayden on the physically unable to perform list, which means their 2013 first-round draft pick will miss at least the first five regular-season games while he recovers from a foot injury.
Hayden missed the Raiders final eight games last season, his rookie year, with a groin injury. He suffered his foot injury during an offseason workout and hasn’t practiced since.
Allen said he is confident that Hayden will be at full strength upon his return. Chimdi Chekwa, Neiko Thorpe and TJ Carrie are competing for the third cornerback spot in Hayden’s absence.

– The Raiders also waived receiver Juron Criner, a fifth-round draft pick in 2012 who failed to make much of an impact.
In other moves: veteran quarterback Trent Edwards was released; receiver Greg Jenkins, safety Larry Asante and running back Kory Sheets were waived/injured; guard Lucas Nix was waived/failed physical; and tight end Nick Kasa was placed on injured reserve.
The Raiders have until Saturday afternoon to trim their roster to 53. Between now and that time, they host the Seattle Seahawks in their exhibition finale, which gives Allen and his staff one more chance to see their players in a game setting.

– Linebacker Sio Moore practiced Tuesday for the first time since he suffered a neck injury against the Packers.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski practiced for the first time since he injured his right quadriceps last week. He won’t kick Thursday night, Allen said.
Therefore, the Raiders signed Cal product Giorgio Tavecchio to handle kicking duties. He replaces kicker Kevin Goessling, who got released.

– Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and Allen said playing against the Seahawks is going to pay dividends down the road, given all three of the Seattle quarterbacks are adept at running the read-option.
In particular, Allen said, seeing the read-option will help the Raiders defense prepare for their regular-season opener against the New York Jets and quarterback Geno Smith.
Allen said former Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor looks every bit as athletic and dynamic as he did for the Raiders the past three seasons, two of which Allen coached.

– Tarver raved about Thorpe for his work ethic, mind-set and attitude.
“(It’s) impressive that he locks in,” Tarver said. “He says, ‘OK, I’m going to do what the coach says.’ And that’s what he does. And he competes his butt off. He competes his butt off every day in practice and so far in the games. So when you do that, you’ve got a chance and he just keeps getting better. … When a young man makes the choice in his head and doesn’t look back, that’s exciting and that’s what Neiko’s doing right now.”

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2,492

Updated game story, with quotes

GREEN BAY, Wisc. – It would seem that there’s only so much longer that Raiders coach Dennis Allen can keep up the pretense about his team’s lingering issues not being such a big deal. More evidence to the contrary mounted Friday night with yet another shaky performance.
For the third straight game, the Raiders defense struggled out of the gate and the offense struggled, period, as the Green Bay Packers cruised to a 31-21 victory at Lambeau Field.
“It was a good opportunity for us to measure ourselves to see exactly where we’re at,” Allen said. “We’re obviously not there yet as a football team. We’re going to continue to work. We’re going to get there.”
If so, one has to wonder how long it’s going to take at this rate.
“We better be close to being ready for the regular season here shortly,” quarterback Matt Schaub said.
The regular season starts Sept. 7. The Raiders play one more exhibition game, Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Allen and Schaub said they aren’t sure how much, if any, the starters are going to play that game. Therefore, the Packers game might have been the last game action for Schaub and the other front-line players until they play the New York Jets in the opener.
Friday’s loss goes away once the regular season starts. It’s unknown how long it’s going to take for the Raiders to get back projected starters Sio Moore, Nick Roach and Tarell Brown from the injuries they suffered Friday.
Moore’s injury appears to be the most serious of the three, given he left field on a stretcher after he hurt his neck early in the second quarter. He later got transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
“It’s always a scary situation, especially when a player says (it’s his) neck,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “You hear them say it on the field. I’ve seen it a couple times, and it never gets any easier. I don’t think anyone wants to play after that.”
Roach and Brown left the game with concussions in the first half and never returned.
Allen said Moore was diagnosed with a neck strain. Moore was released from the hospital and rejoined the team after the game. Allen said he assumed that Moore was cleared to fly home with the team.
The Raiders matched the Packers through the first four drives, with each team scoring a touchdown on their first possession and then punting on their three successive series.
The Packers superior offensive talent prevailed from there, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers punctuated back-to-back scoring drives with touchdown passes.
Oakland’s offense misfired for most of the night with the starters on the field. The Raiders netted 60 yards on their first five drives. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew accounted for 40 of those on his touchdown run in the first quarter.
Schaub completed his first three passes. He spent the rest of the first half trying to find a rhythm that never arrived.
Schaub completed 5 of 11 passes for 17 yards on his first six drives. It wasn’t until the Packers starters exited that Schaub moved the ball with much consistency.
“We’ve got to improve ourselves in the passing game,” Allen said. “That’s a full-time team effort. That’s not about one individual.”
Schaub agreed. He said it’s imperative that everyone look within and find a way to get better.
There were some positives for the Raiders, Allen said. In particular, rookie linebacker Khalil Mack turned in his best outing after two so-so showings.
Mack recorded an interception of Matt Flynn in the second quarter. He also generated pressure on Rodgers a few times and notched five tackles.
“I’ve been saying all along that he’s going to be a factor for us and he’s going to be an explosive player for us, and we saw some of that (Friday),” Allen said.
Mack said it’s a matter of being patient and remaining confident.
“I’m getting comfortable in my role,” Mack said. “I stuck my head in there and made a few plays.”
But the overall team concerns remain, even as the season nears and time to fix the problems dwindles.
So does the unbridled optimism.
“We’re ready to take a jump,” Woodson said. “I feel really good about what we did, especially defensively.”

– The Raiders committed seven penalties for 54 yards in the first half, when the starters dominated the playing time. Through three games, they have been penalized 29 times for 243 yards.

– Raiders running back Kory Sheets suffered an Achilles injury midway through the third quarter on a play on which he fumbled. He was helped from the field. Right offensive tackle Menelik Watson left the game with a hip flexor.

– Rookie quarterback Derek Carr (concussion) and fullback Marcel Reece (foot) suited up and warmed up before the game. Reece played, while Carr watched.

– Matt McGloin connected with receiver Brice Butler for 19- and 28-yard touchdowns late in the game. They also hooked up for a 19-yard touchdown against the Lions in the previous game.

– Kicker Sebastian Janikowski didn’t play because of a sore right quadriceps. Kevin Goessling replaced Janikowski.

– Janikowski, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, offensive tackle Matt McCants, guard Lucas Nix, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, cornerbacks Taiwan Jones, DJ Hayden and Chimdi Chekwa and tight ends David Ausberry and Nick Kasa were scratched from the lineup before the game.

– For 15 players, this marked their final game with the Raiders. The first mandatory roster cutdown is Tuesday. Teams are obligated to pare their rosters to no more than 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. The deadline for teams to set their 53-man roster is Aug. 30.

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506

Packers 31, Raiders 21

GREEN BAY, Wisc. – For the third straight game, the Raiders defense struggled out of the gate and the offense struggled, period, as the Green Bay Packers cruised to a 31-21 victory at Lambeau Field.
The loss goes away once the regular season starts. It’s unknown how long it’s going to take for the Raiders to get back projected starters Sio Moore, Nick Roach and Tarell Brown from the injuries they suffered Friday.
Moore’s injury appears to be the most serious of the three, given he left field on a stretcher after he hurt his neck early in the second quarter. He later got transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
Roach and Brown left the game with concussions in the first half and never returned.
Moore got hurt when he pursued a ball carrier and collided with a Packers blocker near the line of scrimmage.
Moore lay face down on the ground near midfield for several minutes while medical personnel from both teams tended to him.
Eventually, Moore’s head was secured to a body board, while he still donned his helmet. Moore gave fans a thumbs up as he was wheeled off the field. Fans responded with a hearty applause.
Moore is competing against Miles Burris for the starting job that Moore earned last season.
The Raiders matched the Packers through the first four drives, with each team scoring a touchdown on their first possession and then punting on their three successive series.
The Packers superior offensive talent prevailed from there, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers punctuated back-to-back scoring drives with touchdown passes.
Oakland’s offense misfired for most of the night with the starters on the field. The Raiders netted 60 yards on their first five drives. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew accounted for 40 of those on his touchdown run in the first quarter.
Raiders starting quarterback Matt Schaub completed his first three passes. He spent the rest of the first half trying to find a rhythm that never arrived.
Schaub completed 5 of 11 passes for 17 yards on his first six drives. It wasn’t until the Packers starters exited that Schaub moved the ball with much consistency.
Allen allowed Schaub to play into the third quarter, or long after Rodgers exited the game for the Packers.
The Raiders night was typified in one two-play sequence. Rookie cornerback TJ Carrie broke up a third-down pass for receiver Jordy Nelson in the end zone, only to have Rodgers come right back to Nelson on fourth-and-three for a touchdown against Carrie.
There were some positives for the Raiders. In particular, rookie linebacker Khalil Mack turned in his best outing after two so-so showings.
Mack recorded an interception of Matt Flynn in the second quarter. He also generated pressure on Rodgers a few times and notched five tackles.
But the overall team concerns remain, even as the season nears and time to fix the problems dwindles.
Friday’s game served to drive home that point.

– The Raiders committed seven penalties for 54 yards in the first half, when the starters dominated the playing time.

– Raiders running back Kory Sheets suffered an ankle injury midway through the third quarter on a play on which he fumbled. He was helped from the field.

– Rookie quarterback Derek Carr (concussion) and fullback Marcel Reece (foot) suited up and warmed up before the game. Reece played, while Carr watched.

– Matt McGloin connected with receiver Brice Butler for 19- and 28-yard touchdowns late in the game. They also hooked up for a 19-yard touchdown against the Lions in the previous game.

– Kicker Sebastian Janikowski didn’t play because of a sore right quadriceps. Kevin Goessling replaced Janikowski.

– Janikowski, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, offensive tackle Matt McCants, guard Lucas Nix, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, cornerbacks Taiwan Jones, DJ Hayden and Chimdi Chekwa and tight ends David Ausberry and Nick Kasa were scratched from the lineup before the game.

– For 15 players, this marked their final game with the Raiders. The first mandatory roster cutdown is Tuesday. Teams are obligated to pare their rosters to no more than 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. The deadline for teams to set their 53-man roster is Aug. 30.

– Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie spent 18 seasons with the Packers as part of their front office. He joined the Raiders in 2012.

– Raiders wide receiver James Jones spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Packers. He signed with the Raiders during the offseason.

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1,019

Carr, Reece not among Raiders scratched for Packers game

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr has been cleared enough to resume practice. However, coach Dennis Allen likely isn’t about to take any chances with the next in line to the throne, so don’t expect to see Carr play in tonight’s exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers.
Carr suffered the concussion in Oakland’s game against the Detroit Lions last Friday night at the Coliseum, when he got tackled from behind and landed upon by defensive end Larry Webster.
He isn’t among the nine Raiders players scratched from tonight’s game. Even so, that doesn’t mean that he is going to play. In fact, it’s unlikely that Carr will play at all, with Matt Schaub and Matt McGloin getting the bulk of the reps.
Carr got to his feet after the hit by Webster and pointed to his midsection, as if to say he hurt his ribs. Afterward, Allen said it was the concussion that forced Carr from the rest of that game.
The nine players that are scratched tonight: Defensive tackle Justin Ellis, offensive tackle Matt McCants, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, cornerbacks DJ Hayden, Taiwan Jones and Chimdi Chekwa, guard Lucas Nix and tight ends David Ausberry and Nick Kasa.
Remember, the third exhibition game is the one that coaches tend to use as the dress rehearsal for the regular season, with projected starters playing little, if at all, in the exhibition finale.
Fullback Marcel Reece also is active for tonight’s game, even though he missed some practice time with a sore foot earlier this week.

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1,770

Carr suffers concussion, makes waves with solid play

Before long, few are going to remember that the Raiders beat the Detroit Lions in an exhibition game at the Coliseum on Friday night. How well rookie quarterback Derek Carr played is going to linger.
Carr played well enough during extended action to stoke the flames about whether he or Matt Schaub is the better option to be the Raiders starting quarterback this season.
“He was better this game,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Carr, the team’s second-round draft pick in May. “He made some improvement. … Overall, he took a step forward.”
Health-wise, Carr took a step backward when he suffered a concussion and a rib injury in the fourth quarter of his second NFL game. Lions defensive end Larry Webster landed on Carr with all his weight, and Carr pointed to his midsection when he picked himself up off the ground.
Allen said the concussion was the reason Carr got removed from the game. There is no word on the severity of Carr’s concussion or whether he broke any ribs.
It’s interesting to note that Carr played the entire 2012 season at Fresno State with a sports hernia.
Carr was at his locker after the game, but he wasn’t permitted to speak with the media because of his concussion.
“Carr’s looking real good,” wide receiver Brice Butler said. “He’s coming into his own. This was his first game at home. I know he wanted to go out there and do his thing, and he did.”
Carr completed 9 of 16 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. On the scoring drive, he completed all six of his passes for 76 yards.
Projected starter Schaub’s four drives yielded one touchdown. That came after a Lions penalty on a field-goal attempt kept alive a stalled drive. He looked sharp on his first drive, which ended when his pass into tight coverage got tipped into the air and intercepted.
“Overall, he did well,” Allen said of Schaub. “The touchdown drive he took us down there on was a heck of a drive.”
Last Saturday, Allen said he wasn’t inclined to give Carr any playing time with the first-team offense.
Against the Lions, Allen changed his mind early in the second quarter.
“No, I wasn’t surprised,” Schaub said of the move. “He did well. He stepped in and made some plays.”
Last season, the Raiders put their weight behind Matt Flynn as the presumptive starter. Terrelle Pryor beat out Flynn during training camp, and Flynn got cut early in the season.
Ultimately, undrafted rookie Matt McGloin supplanted Pryor as the starter. On Friday night, McGloin replaced Carr once he got injured and guided the Raiders to a game-deciding touchdown with six seconds left.
Allen said Carr was slated to come out of the game after he finished the drive on which he got injured.
Now it’s unknown how long Carr will be sidelined. However, once he returns it’s a certainty that the debate is going to kick into high gear.

In other news, running back Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a finger injury, safety Tyvon Branch hurt an ankle and offensive tackle Matt McCants and tight end Scott Simonson suffered concussions.
Rookie Khalil Mack recorded two sacks, including one sack — against Lions No. 3 quarterback Kellen Moore. Yet, Allen isn’t too concerned.
“There wasn’t a lot of production from the standpoint of (tackles), … but Khalil Mack is going to be just fine,” Allen said.
Allen said that Andre Holmes didn’t play much until the second half because he wanted to take a look at James Jones and Denarius Moore with the starting offense.

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