Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson is expecting big things from running back Maurice Jones-Drew

Had a sit-down with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson Saturday afternoon along with two other reporters. Olson touched on a wide range of subjects, but one of the things that stood out was his excitement over the performance of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who could be a feature component of the Raiders offense in 2014.
Continue Reading

  • Share/Bookmark

Former Raiders coach John Madden has plenty to say about Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy

49ers beat writer Cam Inman recently spoke to John Madden and asked him about punter Ray Guy, who will be inducted Saturday into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I used small portions of what Madden said in a story which ran in Friday’s Bay Area news Group papers and is currently posted on the insidebayarea.com Web site.

Madden will be the presenter for Guy prior to his induction. Here are Madden’s thoughts on Guy:
Continue Reading

  • Share/Bookmark

Mack lowers the boom, receives props from Allen

Rookie linebacker Khalil Mack flattened tight end Mychal Rivera on a running play Thursday, with Rivera knocked on his backside.
“It was good to see,” coach Dennis Allen said. “I expect him to be able to do that a lot this year.”
Sure enough, on the next play Mack stuffed running back Latavius Murray on a run play up the middle. That’s the kind of bang the Raiders expect from Mack, their first-round draft pick.

– Veteran safety Charles Woodson intercepted quarterback Matt Schaub on back-to-back plays. He returned one for a touchdown.
Allen jumped to Schaub’s defense by pointing out that Schaub “responded well” after the interceptions and has played well overall in camp.
“I know how this whole thing is going to work,” Allen said. “Anytime Schaub throws an interception, everybody is going to want to try to hit the panic button and act like the sky is falling. … I’ll let (others) push the panic button. I’m not going to. He’s still doing a great job.”
Rookie Derek Carr also had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown Thursday. In the end, neither play is much to get worked up over.
If they happen during exhibition games, then it warrants concern.
As Allen said, Schaub had another pretty decent day. On one play, Schaub laid a pass in to wide receiver Denarius Moore on a post route. However, defensive back Chimdi Chekwa was there to break up the play.

– Brandian Ross and Jonathan Dowling also intercepted passes Thursday, and cornerback Taiwan Jones recovered a fumble. The takeaways earned high praise from Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.

– On Woodson’s first interception, he fell to the ground, rolled over, jumped to his feet and ran over to fans where he doled out a slew of high-fives. The fans roared with delight.
He gave the fans even more reason to cheer on the next play, when he returned an interception for a touchdown. He did so with the kind of flair you might expect from Woodson, ever the showman.

– Defensive tackle Antonio Smith missed practice with a groin injury that he suffered Wednesday. Allen said he doesn’t feel as if the injury is related to the sports hernia that Smith had surgery for in the offseason.
Wide receivers Juron Criner (hamstring) and Greg Little (hamstring) and linebackers Kaluka Maiava (hamstring) and Marshall McFadden (hip) also missed practice.

– WR Rod Streater (concussion) practiced at full strength for the first time since he got injured. Guard Austin Howard (back) returned to practice one day after he missed some time.

– TJ Carrie and Denarius Moore have impressed Allen on punt returns so far, Allen said. Rookie George Atkinson III has a ways to go in the return game, however.
“The guy’s explosive, he’s got some talent,” Allen said, “but he’s got to do a better job of hanging on to the ball.”

– Defensive lineman C.J. Wilson practiced for the first time Thursday after he was activated from the non-football injury list.

  • Share/Bookmark

Jones-Drew faces latest challenge head-on

By Steve Corkran
NAPA – Running back Maurice Jones-Drew never had to search for motivation. It came in daily doses from people questioning him because of his stature.
Time and again, the 5-foot-7 Jones-Drew silenced doubters with his play, be it at De La Salle High School, UCLA or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now that he’s with the Raiders, he has found a new source of motivation from those who wonder if he has anything left.
“There’s nothing you can do to please everyone,” Jones-Drew said Thursday after another practice in which he earned praise from teammates and coaches. “People will be humbled sooner or later. If it’s not by me, it will be by somebody else.”
Jones-Drew, 29, led the league in rushing in 2011, and he was atop the chart again in 2012 when he suffered a broken left foot.
The injury limited him to six games and required surgery. Jones-Drew had two screws inserted into his foot, which forced him to relearn how to walk, let alone run.
So, perhaps it’s no surprise that Jones-Drew rushed for only 803 yards and 3.4 yards per carry, or almost 1 yard less than his previous career-low.
With that came doubts about whether Jones-Drew still has what it takes to be an every-down back. He calls such talk “hilarious.”
“I know what I have left,” Jones-Drew said. “I know the work I put in this offseason to get to where I need to get to be able to play at a high level. I stopped worrying about what people were saying.”
There are few things Jones-Drew loves more than a challenge. Tell him he can’t do something, he’ll find a way.
He had plenty of people telling him last season that his best days were behind him. As a result, Jones-Drew embarked upon a workout routine this offseason that confirmed he still has the desire to be the best back.
Jones-Drew vomited after his first few early-spring workouts, he said, which consisted of sprints up a steep hill in Danville.
In the end, he said, the rigorous training helped him heal from numerous injuries he played through last season.
Jones-Drew also faces another challenge. He spent the past five seasons as the unquestioned starter for the Jaguars. In Oakland, he is competing against incumbent starter Darren McFadden for playing time and carries.
“They understand that both of them are going to get an opportunity to play, both of them are going to get touches and they’re competing really hard,” coach Dennis Allen said. “It’s important for both of them. Both of them want to be the starter. They wouldn’t be good football players if they didn’t want that.”

  • Share/Bookmark

City, county officials don’t blame Raiders owner Mark Davis for exploring options with large funding gap for stadium project

Filed for print/web, this version contains reaction from Oakland officials regarding Raiders visit to San Antonio. Staff writer Matthew Artz got reaction from city, county officials.

Raiders owner Mark Davis confirmed a published report of a visit with San Antonio officials, but the extent of his interest in relocating his franchise to Texas is not known.
Continue Reading

  • Share/Bookmark