Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 29, 2012
Gordon, Heyward-Bey ruled out against Broncos

The Raiders have ruled receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion, neck strain) and tight end Richard Gordon (hamstring) out for Sunday's game against the Broncos. Gordon was a late addition to the injury report Friday after practice, with a team spokesman saying he was hurt at practice.

Heyward-Bey wasn't going to play anyway -- he's still focused on coming back fully from the concussion. That means more snaps for Derek Hagan, who had a couple of catches on the Raiders' game-winning drive against the Steelers and may start along with Denarius Moore instead of rookie Rod Streater. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said this about Hagan during the week:

"Derek has really taken to the offense pretty well -- Hagan. This week, the last two days, we've had very good practices with the young guys (Streater and fellow rookie Juron Criner), but they are still young guys and I hate to put the burden on a rookie receiver if we don't have to. You'll probably see a rotation with all four of them playing some sort. I've been very impressed with Derek and how quickly he's learned the offense."

Knapp also said that Hagan's experience means, "He'll be able to handle probably releases off press coverage from (Broncos cornerback) Champ Bailey a little more than a rookie because he's handled that in his past."

Hagan has 8 catches for 84 yards on the season. Streater has caught 8 balls for 68 yards and a touchdown. Criner does not have a catch yet.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 28, 2012
Heyward-Bey on concussion: 'I don't remember any of it'

ALAMEDA -- Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said he doesn't remember the hit that knocked him out of Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a concussion and neck strain. Heyward-Bey had to be carted off the field after about 10 minutes and hospitalized following the fourth-quarter hit by Steelers safety Ryan Mundy.

"I don't remember any of it," said Heyward-Bey, who added that his first memory is "Riding off on the cart."

Heyward-Bey was the intended receiver on a Carson Palmer pass when Mundy, coming in to break up the play, caught Heyward-Bey hard across the facemask with the top of his helmet. The replacement refereeing crew did not throw a flag on the play, but the league reportedly hit Mundy with a $21,000 fine for the hit.

September 27, 2012
First practice with Raiders 'felt good,' says Carter

ALAMEDA -- Veteran defensive end Andre Carter said he "felt good" in his first practice with the Raiders Thursday, a day after signing with the team. Carter is coming off of a torn quadriceps suffered at the end of last season.

"They're being smart as far as just slowly working me in from a physical standpoint, because it's been a while, and also just giving me an opportunity to learn the scheme," Carter said. "It's all a matter of baby steps."

Head coach Dennis Allen said it hasn't been determined whether Carter will play Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Allen said Carter "looked pretty good" in practice. When Carter is ready to play, Allen said you'll see him lining up on both the left and right sides.

"We've got the rest of the day. We've got all day tomorrow and Saturday to try to get him ready," Allen said. "So we'll see where he's at."

Carter worked out for the Raiders twice before signing, the first time at their training camp in Alameda. Allen said the Raiders wanted to get a look at Carter then and "weren't ready at that particular time to make any moves. And then when we decided to bring him back, we just wanted to double-check where he was and we liked what we saw."

As for picking up the Raiders' scheme, Carter said he's "getting there."

"Everybody has a different scheme, but I think this scheme in general is pretty simple as far as understanding the terminology and understanding the basis of what they're trying to do," he said.

* Defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee) practiced Thursday after being held out the day before. Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion, neck strain), tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) and cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot) did not practice.

Receiver Rod Streater (poked in eye) and center/guard Alex Parsons (shoulder) were each a full go after being limited on Wednesday.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 27, 2012
Ihenacho signed to practice squad

ALAMEDA -- Linebacker Carl Ihenacho wasn't in the wind for long. The Raiders, who cut Ihenacho from the active roster on Tuesday to make room for linebacker Vic So'oto, signed Ihenacho to their practice squad today. They released defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from the practice squad to clear a spot.

There was no sign of receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion, neck strain), offensive tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) or cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot) when the Raiders began their practice this morning. Defensive end Andre Carter, whom the Raiders signed yesterday, is practicing and wearing No. 97.

Defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who was held out of practice Wednesday (knee), is back on the field. So is tight end Brandon Myers (concussion), who was prohibited from contact yesterday.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 26, 2012
Raiders bolster pass rush with veteran Andre Carter

ALAMEDA -- With a pass rush that has managed three sacks through its first three games, the Raiders today brought in some veteran reinforcements. The Raiders signed Andre Carter, the former Cal star and San Francisco 49ers first-round pick who had 10 sacks last year for the New England Patriots in an injury-shortened season.

Carter, 33, has played in 163 career games with 76 sacks, the eighth-highest sack total among active NFL players. He was named to the Pro Bowl last year as a starter, but suffered a torn quadriceps on Dec. 20 that caused him to miss the final two games of the regular season and the playoffs.

The Raiders brought Carter in for two workouts -- once during training camp in Napa and once at their headquarters in Alameda -- before signing him. Carter said he went through a rigorous rehab schedule to get back into shape after his injury and that while it will likely take a little while to get comfortable in the Raiders' defense, he feels like he could contribute if called upon right away.

"I would hope so," Carter said. "I'd certainly hope so. If I wasn't ready then I wouldn't be here."

Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale, a third-round pick last year, was cut Wednesday to make room on the active roster.

Carter, a Bay Area native who finished his Cal career as the school's all-time leader with 31 sacks, was the seventh overall selection in the 2001 draft by the 49ers and played five seasons in San Francisco and five seasons with the Washington Redskins before signing last year with the Patriots.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 26, 2012
Report: Mundy fined for hit on Heyward-Bey

ALAMEDA -- The website Pro Football Talk is citing ESPN's Adam Schefter in reporting that Steelers safety Ryan Mundy has been fined $21,000 for the helmet-to-helmet hit on Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on Sunday that sent Heyward-Bey to the hospital with a concussion and neck strain.

As Mundy tried to break up a fourth-quarter pass for Heyward-Bey in the Raiders' 34-31 win over the Steelers, the top of his helmet caught Heyward-Bey across the facemask. Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious on the play and eventually carted off the field. No flag was thrown.

Heyward-Bey spent the night in the hospital for observation and was released Monday. He is expected to make a full recovery, though it's unclear when he'll be able to return to playing. Head coach Dennis Allen said Monday he didn't think Mundy intended to injure Heyward-Bey on the play.

* Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale was not with the Raiders when they began practicing this morning, though a team spokesman said as the session started that Barksdale is officially still a member of the Raiders' roster. The website "The Sideline View" reported this morning that the Raiders third-round pick from 2011 was waived.

Tight end Brandon Myers, who suffered a concussion late in Sunday's game, was at practice, so he's at least partway through the battery of league concussion tests he needs to pass to be cleared for Sunday.

Cornerback Shawntae Spencer was not at practice. Right tackle Khalif Barnes was on the field watching. New linebacker Vic So'oto, signed yesterday, is practicing and wearing No. 54, as is wide receiver Tori Gurley, wearing No. 19. The Raiders announced this morning they signed Gurley, a free agent, to the practice squad.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 26, 2012
Raiders sign Tori Gurley to practice squad

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders announced they have signed receiver Tori Gurley to the practice squad. Gurley was recently waived from the Minnesota Vikings' practice squad and spent last year on the practice squad of the Green Bay Packers, where current Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie oversaw personnel.

Gurley posted to his Twitter account last night: "I'm officially an Oakland Raider!!! So blessed & thankful to be in the NFL".

Darrius Heyward-Bey's concussion and neck strain leaves the Raiders with four healthy receivers on the active roster. They also have receiver Travionte Session on the practice squad. A spot on the practice squad was already open after the Raiders cut defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga yesterday.

The Raiders have not confirmed whether they cut offensive tackle Joe Barksdale, as was reported this morning on the website "The Sideline View." Barksdale was one of two players taken by the Raiders in the third round of last year's draft and played in all 16 games last season, but has yet to be active through the first three games this year.

The Raiders' other third-round selection last year was cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, who was cut earlier this month.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 25, 2012
Raiders sign linebacker So'oto, waive Ihenacho

The Raiders announced today they signed free agent linebacker Vic So'oto, another former Green Bay Packer, and released Carl Ihenacho to clear a spot on the active roster.

So'oto played in seven games with the Packers last season, recording seven tackles and a sack on defense. Green Bay placed him on injured reserve with an ankle injury on Aug. 31 and waived him Sept. 10.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie came from the Packers, where he worked in personnel. The Raiders last week signed cornerback Brandian Ross from the Packers' practice squad, and corner Pat Lee also played in Green Bay last year.

The Raiders also released defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga from the practice squad. 

September 24, 2012
Allen's message against Steelers: 'Bring the wood'

ALAMEDA -- Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is always cool, calm and collected when talking to reporters and in front of cameras. It looks like he can also be pretty creative when it comes to motivating his players. When the Raiders' locker room was opened to the media today, a handful of lockers held baseball bats engraved with "Raiders vs. Steelers" and, in quotes, "Bring the wood."

Defensive tackle Richard Seymour had mentioned after the Raiders beat the Steelers 34-31 on Sunday, when asked about the defense's two fourth-quarter stops, that the coaches "gave us bats early on in the week and said just keep swinging, and that's what we tried to do - bring the wood, keep swinging. We had to finish better than we did in the past two games and I thought we did that collectively as a team."

Apparently Seymour wasn't talking in metaphor. Linebacker Philip Wheeler expounded on the bats today, saying they were distributed a couple days before the game and didn't only go to defensive players.

"The whole team got the bats," Wheeler said. "That was the theme, man. Coach D.A. was telling us, man, it's going to be one of those fights you've got to swing our bats for 60 minutes, and that's what we did.

"Something good to just motivate us," Wheeler added, "and it was a good motivation."

Indeed, the Raiders trailed the entire game against the Steelers until Sebastian Janikowski's game-winning, 43-yard field goal split the uprights as time expired.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 24, 2012
Allen: Heyward-Bey "in good spirits" today

ALAMEDA -- Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said he saw no intent to harm on the helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey unconscious during Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and that the officials' decision not to throw a flag on the play was a "judgment call."

Heyward-Bey was the intended receiver on a fourth-quarter pass from Carson Palmer when he was hit by Steelers safety Ryan Mundy, whose helmet caught Heyward-Bey across the facemask. Heyward-Bey stayed down on the field for about 10 minutes before being carted off the field and taken to the hospital with a concussion and neck strain. He was released this morning and is expected to make a full recovery.

Asked for his reaction when he watched the play on film, Allen said: "Listen, it's the game of football. I don't think people are trying to go out there and hurt people. I think the safety was playing the game fast and physical. It's a tough game to play when you're making split-second decisions on how you play the game. It's an unfortunate thing that happens in the game, but we move on from it."

After the game, Raiders receiver Derek Hagan and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly were both critical of the fact that no penalty was called.

"Obviously the refs, sometimes they're going to make the calls, sometimes they're not," Hagan said. "I definitely don't want to rip into them, but I really felt like it was one of those calls that should've been made. But they didn't throw the flag, they missed it."

Allen was asked pointedly if he was surprised by the no-call and answered just as pointedly.

"It's a judgment call," he said.

Allen said he talked with Heyward-Bey this morning and that the receiver "sounded tired" but "was in good spirits."

"It was a scary situation, and we're blessed and we're fortunate that he's going to be fine," Allen said. "That's part of this game that we play and it's a tough part of the game, but we're happy that Darrius is going to be fine."

Allen didn't speculate on when Heyward-Bey will be able to return -- he must at least be cleared under the league's concussion protocol first -- and with only four healthy receivers remaining on the active roster, Allen said he and general manager Reggie McKenzie would likely discuss later today whether to add another wideout.

Tight end Brandon Myers, who also suffered a concussion late in the Raiders' 34-31 win over the Steelers, "feels fine, no headaches," Allen said.

"He's still got to go through the protocol of passing all the tests," Allen said. "But it didn't seem to be severe."

-- Matt Kawahara

September 24, 2012
Heyward-Bey released from hospital

ALAMEDA -- Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was released this morning from the Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley and is resting at home with a concussion and neck strain, the Raiders announced today. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious and carted off the field during the fourth quarter of the Raiders' 34-31 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. He was injured on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy while reaching for a pass from Carson Palmer.

Heyward-Bey was taken to the hospital, where he stayed overnight for observation.

The Raiders currently have four other receivers on their active roster including rookie Juron Criner, who was inactive Sunday.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 23, 2012
Raiders: Heyward-Bey stable, staying at hospital overnight

OAKLAND -- While trainers tended to a motionless Darrius Heyward-Bey in front of a hushed crowd at Coliseum and players from both the Raiders and Steelers watching anxiously, Raiders punter Shane Lechler said he was looking for movement. He got it as Heyward-Bey was being carted off the field. The Raiders receiver, knocked unconscious on the field on a pass play minutes earlier, raised his right hand.

"You could tell the whole stadium was anticipating it, hoping he was going to do that just to let everybody know," Lechler said.

Heyward-Bey was taken to the Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where a team spokesman said he was stable and would be held overnight for observation. The Raiders announced during the game that Heyward-Bey had a neck injury. After the Raiders beat the Steelers, 34-31, head coach Dennis Allen said Heyward-Bey has a concussion.

Heyward-Bey was the intended receiver on a Carson Palmer pass in the end zone early in the fourth quarter when he was hit by Steelers safety Ryan Mundy. The top of Mundy's helmet appeared to catch Heyward-Bey flush in the facemask. No flag was thrown on the play. Heyward-Bey's head also hit the ground as he went down.

Trainers crowded around Heyward-Bey for about 10 minutes on the field before loading him onto a cart to be taken off the field. Mundy was visibly affected and after the game said, according to the Associated Press: "We don't try to injure people or anything like that. We understand this is people's livelihood. We take that serious."

Allen said that Heyward-Bey "was able to talk a little bit" before being taken off the field and "was able to move his extremities, so that was a good sign."

Down by 10 at that point, the Raiders outscored the Steelers 13-0 the rest of the way for their first win of the season.

"We care about all these players and there's a lot of camaraderie that goes into a football team," Allen said. "You put a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears, into trying to build a championship team, so when one of your guys goes down, especially in a situation like that, it's hard to keep your focus. I thought our guys did an outstanding job of getting their focus back, coming back and executing and winning the game in the fourth quarter."

-- Matt Kawahara

September 23, 2012
Heyward-Bey knocked unconscious, carted off field

OAKLAND -- Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was carted off the field following a hard hit with 14:31 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Raiders' game against the Steelers. The Raiders announced Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious on the play and has been taken to the hospital with a neck injury.

Heyward-Bey was the intended receiver of a pass by Carson Palmer that was broken up by Steelers safety Ryan Mundy. Replays appeared to show the top of Mundy's helmet catching Heyward-Bey on the jaw. As Heyward-Bey went to the ground, his facemask again struck the turf.

Heyward-Bey was down for about 10 minutes while trainers tended to him and Raiders and Steelers players stood and kneeled watching. Trainers immobilized Heyward-Bey and placed him on a cart to be taken off the field. As he was driven off, Heyward-Bey raised his right arm.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 23, 2012
Running game bursts, then silent; Raiders trail 17-14 at half

OAKLAND -- The Raiders have gained 105 yards on offense in the first half against the Steelers -- and 64 of those yards came on one play -- yet they trail the Steelers by a field goal at halftime, 17-14. Darren McFadden broke free for the big gain on his first carry from scrimmage, a play that quarterback Carson Palmer appeared to check to after drawing some movement from the Steelers defensive line with a hard snap count.

The Raiders have been saying all week they felt they just needed to pop a big run or two to jump-start their zone-blocking running game. But that hasn't really been the case so far. McFadden has four yards on his five carries since, and the lack of a consistent running game has contributed to the Raiders going 0-for-4 on third downs.

The Raiders turned a fumble recovery at the Steelers' 30 -- the first turnover they've forced this season -- into a touchdown just before halftime with Palmer finding Darrius Heyward-Bey in the corner of the end zone. Palmer is 6-of-10 for 37 yards. His first pass attempt was intercepted after his intended receiver, Denarius Moore, slipped on the infield dirt here at Coliseum on the Raiders' first play of the game.

Time of possession is skewed way toward the Steelers, who have held the ball for 21 minutes, 36 seconds despite almost no running game (12 carries, 28 yards). Ben Roethlisberger has already thrown 31 passes, completing 22 for 207 yards and a pair of 4-yard touchdown strikes to tight end Heath Miller. Roethlisberger has completed passes to 10 different receivers.

Early on Roethlisberger went hard after Michael Huff, the Raiders' safety who started at cornerback with both season-opening starters out. The Steelers have had success a couple of times with quick passes to the receiver on Huff's side and Huff giving a big cushion. Huff left the game briefly on the Steelers' first drive after he appeared to hurt his leg running into a Pittsburgh receiver near the line of scrimmage, but returned after just one play.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 23, 2012
Bergstrom active, Criner and Pryor not dressing

OAKLAND -- With right tackle Khalif Barnes and fellow offensive linemen Joe Barksdale and Lucas Nix all inactive today for the Raiders, rookie and top draft pick Tony Bergstrom will be active for the first time this season today against the Steelers. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said Bergstrom, who is listed as the backup left guard, has been working in at tackle in practice, so he figures to be the backup tackle today with Barnes out and Willie Smith in line to start at right guard.

Receiver Juron Criner is inactive, meaning the Raiders will dress only four receivers -- Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Derek Hagan. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor isn't active, so Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau won't have to worry about any wildcat running plays involving Pryor (LeBeau reportedly said this week, in the spirit of being prepared for everything, that he wasn't ruling out the Raiders running the wildcat formation this week).

Recently signed cornerback Brandian Ross is active. Injured cornerback Shawntae Spencer and defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi are the Raiders' other two inactive players.

Inactive for the Steelers are quarterback Charlie Batch, running back Rashard Mendenhall, safety Troy Polamalu, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, linebacker Adrian Robinsonnose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, offensive tackle Mike Adams and linebacker James Harrison.

Meanwhile, here's the preview stuff from this morning's paper, including our story on the Raiders readying for the elusive Ben Roethlisberger and game plan with keys to the game and the matchup to watch.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 21, 2012
Raiders will see Steelers minus Polamalu, Harrison

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders will not have to account for two of the Pittsburgh Steelers' top defensive players on Sunday, as safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and linebacker James Harrison (knee) have been ruled out. Harrison has not played this season and Polamalu was injured in the Steelers' season opener against Denver. Without them, the Steelers held the New York Jets last week to 219 yards and 10 points.

"We've got to prepare for the scheme and we've got to understand where those guys are going to fit within the scheme," Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. "They've got very capable backups, they played well last week."

Ryan Mundy will likely start at safety in place of Polamalu with Chris Carter, who has started both games this season, replacing Harrison. The Steelers will also be without running back Rashard Mendenhall, who is recovering from knee surgery but was listed all week as a full participant in practices.

The Raiders have ruled out tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) and cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot). Players designated as questionable are David Ausberry (shoulder), Coye Francies (concussion), Mike Goodson (hamstring), Sebastian Janikowski (left groin), Taiwan Jones (ribs), Rolando McClain (concussion, ankle), Alex Parsons (shoulder) and Richard Seymour (knee).

McClain was limited in practice today. Allen said he's at "pretty much the same place" that long snapper Jon Condo in the league concussion protocol at this point last week. Condo was cleared to play at Miami. Goodson did not practice today.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 20, 2012
McClain, Francies back at practice

ALAMEDA -- Linebacker Rolando McClain is back at practice this morning, so he has passed the necessary concussion tests, which is a good sign for his availability Sunday against the Steelers. Cornerback Coye Francies, who was also held out yesterday with a concussion, is back in as well.

Cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot) and right tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) were not on the practice field this morning. Michael Huff continued to take reps at corner, and Willie Smith at tackle.

In Pittsburgh, safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and linebacker James Harrison (knee) both were held out of practice yesterday, and it's being reported that the chances of the two of them playing Sunday aren't looking good, though that can certainly change. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked yesterday how having a bye next week might influence his decision on whether to bring a player back from injury this week and answered: "It doesn't."

-- Matt Kawahara

September 19, 2012
McClain held out of practice with concussion

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders held starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain out of practice today with a concussion. McClain will have to be medically cleared under league protocol to return, calling into question his availability for the Raiders' game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Head coach Dennis Allen said the Raiders suspected McClain might be concussed after Sunday's game at Miami.

"It was something we thought might have been the case after the game, but it didn't seem like it was a major one," Allen said. "Seemed like a minor deal and so it's kind of a precautionary deal that we're going through the whole process to make sure he's fine."

McClain, who played the entirety of the Raiders' 35-13 loss to the Dolphins, said he felt funny during the game but couldn't pinpoint the play on which he was injured.

"It was more in the game where I felt like, well, dang, I don't feel like myself," McClain said. "It's one of the more scary injuries. With an ankle, you know what's wrong. But when it's in your head, you don't know."

September 19, 2012
Raiders sign cornerback to active roster

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have signed cornerback Brandian Ross from the Green Bay Packers' practice squad to their active roster. With starters Ron Bartell (shoulder) and Shawntae Spencer (foot) both injured, the only other two cornerbacks who played a defensive snap for the Raiders in their 35-13 loss to Miami were Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson. Phillip Adams and Coye Francies saw the field only on special teams.

The Raiders had an open spot on the active roster, so no corresponding move is necessary. Ross spent all of last season on the Packers' practice squad after they signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Youngstown State in 2011. He was on the Packers' active roster to start this season but was inactive for their season opener and waived on Sept. 10.

The Raiders also officially announced the signings of defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga to the practice squad. Owusu-Ansah was a fourth-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2010. The Raiders had signed Meatoga to the practice squad on Sept. 3 and waived him Sept. 12.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 19, 2012
Tomlin: Van Dyke an 'awesome surprise' for Steelers

ALAMEDA -- Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said this morning that cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke has been an "awesome surprise" for the Steelers since they signed Van Dyke on Sept. 7. The Raiders had cut Van Dyke -- their third-round pick in 2011 -- four days earlier after an inconsistent training camp.

"He's done a nice job for us, man," Tomlin said on a conference call. "He's provided some quality plays for us just in two ballgames. He downed a punt in Denver on the 1-yard line. He prevented a ball from getting downed on the 1-yard line. For us last week he blew up a punt returner that created a turnover. He's been an awesome surprise for us in (special) teams, and really just beginning the process of acclimating himself to the defense. And hopefully once he learns what to do he can be an asset for us there as well."

Van Dyke's contributions in Pittsburgh have been entirely on special teams, as he has yet to play a defensive snap for the Steelers this season. Still, that won't thrill Raiders fans in light of the suddenly thin cornerback situation in Oakland. Starters Ron Bartell (shoulder) and Shawntae Spencer (foot) are both injured -- Bartell ineligible to play until Nov. 11 under the league's new short-term injured reserve -- and after Spencer went down against Miami on Sunday, backups Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson struggled.

According to a Twitter posting by his agent this morning, defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah has signed with the Raiders to the practice squad. Owusu-Ansah played in seven games with the Jaguars and Cowboys last year. The Raiders had one open spot on the practice squad. They announced yesterday they had cut long snapper Nick Guess from the practice squad and re-signed defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 15, 2012
Ford's season over, Condo likely out against Dolphins

Jacoby Ford will not play this season after the Raiders today placed the speedy receiver and kick returner on season-ending injured reserve. Ford had surgery Tuesday to address a Lisfranc injury in his left foot that he aggravated during the preseason. The Raiders had hoped Ford, who also missed six games last year with the injury, would be able to avoid surgery, but decided last week that he was not recovering as they had hoped.

The Raiders also elected to place cornerback Ron Bartell on the league's new short-term injured reserve, meaning Bartell, who fractured his left shoulder blade in the season opener Monday night and is not expected to need surgery, remains eligible to return later this season. Each team is allowed to use the new IR rule on one player. Bartell will be eligible to return to practice Oct. 27 and to play Nov. 11 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Long snapper Nick Guess and cornerback Coye Francies were promoted from the practice squad, the Raiders announced in a news release. That most likely means concussed long snapper Jon Condo will not be medically cleared in time to play against the Miami Dolphins tomorrow. Guess, a first-year player out of Tennessee, was signed earlier this week as a contingency plan for Condo and will be making his NFL debut.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 14, 2012
Injury report: Condo questionable, making the trip

ALAMEDA -- Concussed long snapper Jon Condo returned to practice today and was set to travel with the team to Miami. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Dolphins, and said he's working his way toward being medically cleared to play.

"They said it's like four tests and I've passed two of them so far," Condo said. "It's a process. I'm making the trip and that's really all I know."

Head coach Dennis Allen said that Nick Guess, signed to the practice squad this week, is also making the trip in case Condo isn't cleared. Allen said Condo's availability will likely be determined Saturday.

Condo said he watched film of the play on which he got hurt and saw that teammate Brandon Myers accidentally kneed him in the back of the head after a punt. He also saw his "face going into the dirt," and wasn't sure which impact caused the concussion.

He felt for Travis Goethel, the backup linebacker who was thrust into long snapping duty for the first time since high school and struggled mightily. Goethel rolled multiple snaps to punter Shane Lechler, and Lechler had an attempt blocked when he moved closer to the line of scrimmage following the first bounced snap.

"I mean, it's just something you don't want to see at all," Condo said. "It was tough. I have the utmost respect for Travis going in there in that situation. It happened. You can't go back and change. Just learn from it and go on to the next game."

* Jacoby Ford (foot) and Ron Bartell (shoulder) are the only Raiders players ruled out for the Miami game. Condo, offensive lineman Alex Parsons (shoulder), receiver Juron Criner (ankle), running back Taiwan Jones (ribs) and linebacker Rolando McClain (ankle) are all listed on the team's injury report as questionable.

Tight end David Ausberry (shoulder), kicker Sebastian Janikowski (left groin), safety Mike Mitchell (ribs), receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring), tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee) are listed as probable.

For the Dolphins, defensive end Tony McDaniel (knee) and running back Daniel Thomas (concussion) are out, receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring) is doubtful, and linebacker Jonathan Freeny (thumb) and defensive end Randy Starks (groin) are probable.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 14, 2012
Wisniewski 'probably' will start at center in Miami

ALAMEDA -- Stefen Wisniewski said it's going to be "super-important" for the Raiders to establish more of a running game Sunday at Miami than they did in their season opener against the Chargers, when they recorded just 45 rushing yards -- including a negative total in the second half.

"We really kind of build our offense around being able to run the ball, then come play-action and pass off of that," Wisniewski said. "If you get rid of the run you become one-dimensional, and that's what kind of happened in the second half last game. We were just throwing the ball all the time and that's not what we want to do. We want to be balanced."

It looks like Wisniewski himself will be able to help with that. Wisniewski will likely start at center Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, head coach Dennis Allen said today, after performing well with the first-team offense in practice this week and appearing recovered from the calf injury that caused him to miss the last three weeks of the preseason. Wisniewski was active for the opener Monday night but didn't play.

"We'll probably go with Wiz," Allen said. "He's back healthy and he executed this week in practice. So I think he's prepared and ready to go."

Allen said he was also waiting to see how Alex Parsons responded to a shoulder injury he has battled this week. Parsons, the Raiders' starting center in their opener, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

Wisniewski said he felt healthy last week but was on board with the coaches' decision to hold him out while he got up to speed with the offense. Aside from the first two weeks of training camp - before the Aug. 13 calf injury - he hasn't had much practice time and is still honing "a lot of little things," such as making line calls and jelling with his guards in blocking schemes.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 13, 2012
Who's at center? Raiders still weighing options

ALAMEDA -- When the Raiders' first-team offense broke its first huddle at practice this morning, it was with Stefen Wisniewski at center. But Alex Parsons is getting reps with the starters too, head coach Dennis Allen said today, and it's still undecided who will be snapping the ball to Carson Palmer when the Raiders play the Dolphins on Sunday.

"We're going to watch them again at practice tomorrow and then we'll make a decision," Allen said.

When training camp started it seemed this was Wisniewski's job to lose. But his recovery from offseason labrum surgery and then a calf injury suffered in the first preseason game limited the number of reps he took in camp, and Parsons stepped in. Wisniewski was active for the opener Monday night but didn't play.

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said today that Wisniewski "might be a little bit better of a run blocker, and Alex has a little more experience in pass protection." The great equalizer is their experience at the position -- or lack thereof. Parsons was on the practice squad last year. Wisniewski had a standout season at left guard, but the injuries threw a wrench in his move to center.

"Because of that, we're getting a feel for, OK, who's moving faster, who's understanding the scheme faster," Knapp said. "We really put a burden on our centers in the run game to target us right. They do the audibling, if you will, so we don't have to audible as a quarterback to change plays out. And so we're getting a little bit of growth going on with those two guys at that position, along with the ability to play center. It's very equal."

* Allen said there is "probably a strong possibility" that receiver Jacoby Ford will be placed on season-ending injured reserve after undergoing left foot surgery this week for a Lisfranc injury -- not the new short-term IR that would make him eligible to return to practice after six weeks.

* Linebacker Rolando McClain (ankle) and running back Taiwan Jones (ribs) were both limited in practice today after being held out Wednesday. Allen said he is "real hopeful" both will be able to play against the Dolphins.

* Long snapper Jon Condo (concussion) was "feeling a lot better today" and will travel to Miami with the team, Allen said, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will play. Condo needs to be medically cleared to return. Allen said the Raiders intend to wait as long as possible before making a decision on Condo.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 13, 2012
McFadden built to carry load, says Reggie Bush

ALAMEDA -- Head coach Dennis Allen has said the Raiders want to be smart about how much they use Darren McFadden in the wake of McFadden's 13-catch, 15-carry game against the Chargers. For some perspective, Dolphins running back Reggie Bush was asked Wednesday morning if he believes any back in the league can shoulder that kind of workload -- 30 targets (McFadden was thrown to 18 times) or more -- from week to week. His answer:

"I don't know. I'm not sure. I know that's a lot of carries and obviously in the old days ... that was nothing. They carried twice as much as that. But I think if anybody can, (McFadden is) the type of guy that can do it. I know he's had some nicks here and there the past few years, but he's a tough guy, and I think if anybody can do it, you look to a guy like McFadden."

September 12, 2012
McClain, Jones on Raiders' injury report

ALAMEDA -- Linebacker Rolando McClain tweaked his ankle in the second half of the Raiders' loss to the Chargers on Monday night, and it was sore enough to keep him out of practice today. Head coach Dennis Allen termed McClain "day-to-day," and McClain was vague when asked when he expects to be back.

"We shall see. We'll see," he said. "It's not as bad as last year, but we'll see."

Also not practicing today for the Raiders were running back Taiwan Jones (ribs) and long snapper Jon Condo (concussion), along with receiver Jacoby Ford (foot) and cornerback Ron Bartell (shoulder), who will both be out for a while. Receivers Juron Criner (ankle) and Denarius Moore (hamstring), center Alex Parsons (shoulder) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee) were listed on the team's injury report as limited in practice.

For the Miami Dolphins, running back Daniel Thomas (concussion) and defensive end Tony McDaniel (knee) were held out of practice today, while receiver Anthony Armstrong (hamstring), linebacker Jonathan Freeny (thumb) and defensive end Randy Starks (groin) were limited.

September 12, 2012
Raiders sign long snapper to practice squad

ALAMEDA -- Head coach Dennis Allen promised the Raiders would be better prepared this week if concussed long snapper Jon Condo isn't cleared in time to play against the Dolphins. The Raiders just announced they have signed long snapper Nick Guess to the practice squad. Guess, a first-year player who was cut by the Chargers in camp, started at long snapper the final 25 games of his college career at Tennessee.

It figures the Raiders will wait as long as possible this week for Condo, who must be medically cleared before he can return to the field and wasn't seen at practice this morning. The Raiders also announced they signed a defensive lineman, Brandon Bair, to the practice squad. Defensive tackle Vaughan Meatoga and linebacker Nathan Stupar were released to clear the spots. Earlier this morning the Raiders cut receiver Brandon Carswell from the practice squad and signed cornerback Coye Francies.

Incidentally, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin had his conference call with Bay Area reporters this morning and was asked about how much work his backup long snappers get in practice. (The Raiders' backup, Travis Goethel, said after struggling in the role Monday night that his was very sparing). Here was his answer:

"We have some guys that work at that on a continual basis," Philbin said. "In practice, if (regular long snapper) John Denney is going to get 90 to 95 percent of the quote-unquote live work, we'll always have a second guy ready to roll to the best of our ability. Obviously he's probably not going to be as good as John Denney or he'd be doing that job. You always have to have a Plan B in place."

-- Matt Kawahara

September 12, 2012
Report: Bartell has broken shoulder blade

After finding out yesterday they'll be without receiver Jacoby Ford for a "significant amount of time" as Ford recovers from foot surgery, it appears there's more bad news for the Raiders on the injury front. ESPN is reporting that starting cornerback Ron Bartell has a broken left shoulder blade and could be back within six weeks if surgery is not needed.

Bartell, whom the Raiders signed as part of their cornerback overhaul after he missed the final 15 games of last season with a neck injury, left their 22-14 loss to the Chargers on Monday night in the first half. He'll likely be replaced by Pat Lee, who took his place against the Chargers and has started one of his 33 career games. Head coach Dennis Allen said his impression of Lee after Monday's game was that "overall he held up OK."

A couple things from practice this morning:

* The Raiders announced they cut receiver Brandon Carswell and signed cornerback Coye Francies to the practice squad. Francies was cut last week when the Raiders signed receiver Derek Hagan.

* Linebacker Rolando McClain and running back Taiwan Jones were on the field this morning but not practicing. Allen hadn't mentioned either coming out of the Chargers game with injury. Jones hardly played in the game, but Allen said that was because he had some early problems securing the ball on a kickoff and reverse.

* Stefen Wisniewski was the first center working with the first-team offense.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 11, 2012
Allen: Ford to have foot surgery

ALAMEDA -- Receiver Jacoby Ford is scheduled to have surgery on his troublesome left foot this afternoon, head coach Dennis Allen said, and is expected to be out for "a significant amount of time."

Ford missed six games toward the end of last season due to the injured foot and re-aggravated the injury in the Raiders' second preseason game Aug. 17 at Arizona. He hasn't practiced since. Allen said the foot was simply not responding as hoped.

"After visiting with the foot specialist in Carolina, everybody thought that given a little bit of time (Ford) could come back from it," Allen said. "After giving it some time and re-evaluating, everybody, the medical people, felt like surgery was probably the best thing for him."

Allen said he and general manager Reggie McKenzie will discuss whether they need to bring up a receiver from the practice squad. Right now Brandon Carswell and Travionte Session are the two receivers on the practice squad.

The Raiders have four five receivers on the roster besides Ford -- Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rod Streater, Juron Criner, Derek Hagan and Denarius Moore. Allen said he's "very hopeful" Moore will play this week against Miami.

-- Matt Kawahara

September 11, 2012
Palmer: Matchups dictated throws to McFadden

by Matt Kawahara

OAKLAND -- Darren McFadden couldn't remember the last time a team used him more times in the passing game than in the running game.

"Might be a first time for me," McFadden said.

In the Raiders' 22-14 loss to the Chargers on Monday night, McFadden carried 15 times for 32 yards and caught 13 passes for 86 yards. He set a new single-game record for catches by a Raiders running back, and fell one shy of the franchise record for receptions in a game -- by any player. McFadden was also the intended receiver on five passes that fell incomplete. That adds up to 33 of the 69 plays run by the Raiders' offense going through McFadden.

September 11, 2012
Raiders, Reece reach extension

Despite lining up in a variety of positions Monday night -- in the backfield, flanking quarterback Carson Palmer, out wide -- Marcel Reece had just three touches against the Chargers. It was a similar story in the preseason, when Reece was seldom targeted. But that doesn't mean the versatile fullback isn't in the Raiders' long-term plans.

The Raiders announced today they've finalized a contract extension with Reece, the terms of which were not disclosed. Reece had a career-high 27 catches for 301 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games last year, when he was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

In 31 career games with the Raiders since they signed him in 2008 as an undrafted free agent, Reece has 56 catches for 674 yards and 48 carries for 234 yards.

Reece missed some early offseason workouts this year before signing his exclusive rights tender in hopes he and the Raiders could reach a long-term deal. The 26-year-old has said he wants to be a "Raider for life."

September 11, 2012
'Backup plan' falls through as snapping woes hurt Raiders

by Matt Kawahara

OAKLAND -- Maybe no position in sports requires such specialized yet anonymous perfection as the football long snapper. He's only noticed when he messes up. And on Monday night, put in the difficult position of stepping in on a moment's notice for an injured Jon Condo, the Raiders' Travis Goethel was definitely noticed.

Condo exited the Raiders' 22-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers early in the second quarter with a head injury suffered on punt coverage. That meant the Raiders had to turn to their Plan B -- Goethel, the backup middle linebacker, who said he last snapped in a game in high school.

"Nobody has a backup snapper," quarterback Carson Palmer later said. "We've got a backup plan, but nobody has a backup snapper."

September 10, 2012
Raiders trail at halftime, 10-6

OAKLAND -- Sebastian Janikowski hit a 19-yard field goal seconds before the first half ended to send the Raiders into halftime down four. The snap was a little high, but very manageable for holder Shane Lechler. It was delivered by backup linebacker Travis Goethel.

Jon Condo had to leave the game in the second quarter with an undisclosed head injury, leading to the question of who's the Raiders' backup long snapper. Apparently it's Goethel, who was practicing snapping on the sideline when the Raiders got the ball back with 3:10 left in the half and passed his first test.

The Raiders' offense has moved the ball in the first half but had a couple drive stalls due to mistakes. Rookie receiver Rod Streater fumbled on his first catch on the Raiders' first drive. A tricky reverse play on their third drive went for a loss of 25 yards after Marcel Reece's pitch bounced off Taiwan Jones' facemask.

The defense forced a three-and-out on the Chargers' first drive, with end Matt Shaughnessy sacking Philip Rivers on third down. But they hurt themselves with penalties in the second quarter. Two offsides penalties on tackle Tommy Kelly gave the Chargers first downs on their third drive, a 13-play, 90-yard drive that lasted 8:06 and resulted in a 6-yard touchdown pass to receiver Malcom Floyd.

Cornerback Ron Bartell has had a rough first game as a Raider. He was beaten in the first half for pass plays of 46 and 23 yards, and then left the game in the second quarter with an elbow injury. He's questionable to return. Pat Lee stepped in for him.

September 10, 2012
Moore, Pryor among Raiders' inactives

OAKLAND -- Carson Palmer won't have Jacoby Ford or Denarius Moore to throw to tonight against the Chargers. Both receivers are among the seven inactive players for the Raiders in their season opener tonight. Moore was out running on the field a few hours before kickoff, so if that was to test whether his hamstring felt good enough to play, it apparently did not.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor is also inactive, so don't expect any exotic play-calling looking to take advantage of Pryor's running ability. And at center, Alex Parsons -- not Stefen Wisniewski -- has been announced as the Raiders' starter on a list of roster moves just distributed by the team.

Here's the full list of the Raiders' inactives:

QB Terrelle Pryor
WR Jacoby FOrd
WR Denarius Moore
OL Tony Bergstrom
T Joe Barksdale
OL Lucas Nix
DE Jack Crawford

And for the Chargers:

RB Ryan Mathews
SS Brandon Taylor
ILB Jonas Mouton
DT Antonio Garay
T Jared Gaither
TE Ladarius Green

September 3, 2012
Allen still 'hopeful' Raiders will have Ford, Moore for opener

ALAMEDA -- Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said today he remains "hopeful" that receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford and center Stefen Wisniewski will all be available to play in the season opener. Wisniewski, who has been battling a calf injury, was limited in practice this morning but "moved around pretty good," Allen said.

Ford (foot) and Moore (hamstring) did not practice. Allen said Moore has had no problems running the past couple of days. Ford has not started running since he stopped wearing a protective boot on his left foot. Both have the benefit this week of an extra day of practice -- and thereby rehab -- since the Raiders open on Monday night against the Chargers.

Rookie receiver Juron Criner also was favoring his ankle during practice. The last thing that group needs is another injury, but Allen said of Criner: "I don't really think it's a big deal. He was able to get out and run around pretty well yesterday. Little bit more sore today, but it's a long time until Monday night, so I think we'll be fine there."

Allen said recently signed defensive back Phillip Adams may be used to return punts right now. Adams, brought in Saturday after the Seahawks waived him the day before, has returned four punts in his NFL career, all with the 49ers in 2010. He said he returned some for Seattle this preseason, though, as well as in college at South Carolina State, and that he likes the job.

"He's done it before and has had a little bit of success doing it, so he'll be one guy we could put back there," Allen said. "Then obviously when we get Denarius and Jacoby back, that gives us a couple other options."

September 3, 2012
McClain feeling healthy, focused entering season

ALAMEDA -- Talking to reporters for the first time since the beginning of training camp, Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain said he feels healthy going into his third NFL season and that he has heard nothing about the possibility of a suspension from the league stemming from his off-the-field legal issues.

McClain, the Raiders' starting middle linebacker, was sentenced in May to 180 days in jail after being found guilty in municipal court in Alabama of third-degree assault, reckless endangerment, menacing and wrongful discharge of a firearm. He is appealing the conviction in circuit court and awaiting a jury trial.

"I don't think I've ever had a talk of anything about a suspension," McClain said Monday when asked if staying focused on the field has been a challenge during the preseason. "I haven't heard it. I guess it's all speculation."

September 3, 2012
Raiders sign veteran CB Hanson

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have signed recently released veteran cornerback Joselio Hanson and cut DeMarcus Van Dyke to make room on the 53-man roster, meaning the Raiders now have no active cornerbacks who return from last season.

Hanson (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) played the last seven seasons with the Eagles and has played in 104 career games with 19 starts. Before that he played his rookie season with the 49ers, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech in 2003.

September 3, 2012
Raiders fill out practice squad

The Raiders announced Sunday night they have set their eight-man practice squad, signing four players including cornerback Chimdi Chekwa and center Colin Miller, whom the Raiders waived from their 53-man roster over the weekend.

Also signed to the practice squad were defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga and running back Jeremy Stewart. Meatoga had been in camp with the Bengals after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Hawaii. Stewart, who was in camp with the Jets, was an undrafted free agent from Stanford.

Here's the full practice squad:

LB Kaelin Burnett
WR Brandon Carswell
CB Chimdi Chekwa
DT Vaughn Meatoga
C Colin Miller
WR Travionte Session
RB Jeremy Stewart
LB Nathan Stupar

September 1, 2012
Raiders sign three free agents

A day after paring it down to 53 players, the Raiders are continuing to shape their roster, announcing they signed free agent defensive back Phillip Adams, linebacker Keenan Clayton and offensive tackle Willie Smith. To clear spots for those players on the active roster, the Raiders waived cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Bryan McCann and waived/injured defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie.

Adams has played in 22 career games for the 49ers, Patriots and Seahawks since the 49ers drafted him in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. Clayton was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 2010 and played in 21 games for Philadelphia. Smith, undrafted in 2011, played in four games including three starts for Washington last year.

Chekwa played in four games for the Raiders as a rookie last season, starting one, and started training camp as a second-team corner. McCann came into Thursday's preseason finale to return punts after Roscoe Parrish, who was cut Friday, fumbled two punts, so the fact the Raiders found him expendable could mean Denarius Moore is close to returning -- or that the Raiders are just going in another direction on punt returns.

September 1, 2012
Stupar among four signed to Raiders' practice squad

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen noted to reporters Friday that, during the previous day's preseason loss to Seattle, rookie linebacker Nathan Stupar "played and acted like he wanted to try to get a spot on this roster." Stupar didn't survive the 53-man roster cuts, but he was one of the first players the Raiders signed to their practice squad.

The Raiders began building their eight-player practice squad today by announcing the signing of four players whom they cut yesterday. They are Stupar, linebacker Kaelin Burnett and receivers Brandon Carswell and Travionte Session.

Stupar, the lone Raiders draft pick who didn't make the 53-man roster, had 11 tackles and a sack against the Seahawks to end his first training camp on a high note. He was behind Rolando McClain and Travis Goethel at middle linebacker, though, and with the Raiders keeping just five linebackers on the active roster yesterday Stupar was left off.

With only three outside linebackers on the active roster right now -- Miles Burris, Philip Wheeler and Carl Ihenacho -- the Raiders added Burnett to the practice squad. Burnett, Carswell and Session were all undrafted free agents.

About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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