Two NFL sources told ESPN.com the Raiders moved away from Richardson. Oakland gave Richardson $600,000 in guaranteed money this offseason after Indianapolis cut him. Richardson, 25, was the No. 3 overall draft pick by Cleveland in 2012.
Richardson missed the first portion of Raiders training camp because he was dealing with pneumonia. He didn't run well this preseason, finishing with 19 yards on five carries in a 30-23 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
Arizona gained 11 yards and a first down on two runs and a pass. Quarterback Carson Palmer stayed upright. Arizona looked like it was on its way to another offensive outpouring.
Then on the Cardinals' fourth play from scrimmage, right guard Jonathan Cooper got beat by Oakland defensive end Denico Autry, which ignited a chain of events that led to the offense crashing down. Autry then bulldozed Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, who nearly fell into Palmer, who had to tuck the ball for a moment to avoid getting hit and losing it. Palmer then missed the opening to hit Larry Fitzgerald, which led to an interception.
And it didn't stop there.
Palmer was sacked three times and threw two interceptions in the first half before backup Drew Stanton replaced him in the third quarter. After weeks of promising practices with air-tight pockets and pinpoint accuracy, the Cardinals' offense looked scattered. The tackles -- both Jared Veldheer on the left side and Bradley Sowell on the right -- were consistently beat, which led to Palmer getting hit 14 times in the first half.
It's not good news for Palmer and his owners, but it is just the preseason. The team had concerns about keeping Palmer upright and healthy this season all through the offseason. As we saw last year, Palmer is the key to making this talented offense run.
Raiders beat writer Bill Williamson: Rookie tight end Clive Walford wowed coaches in offseason workouts, although he has been hampered by a hamstring injury much of training camp. He showed strong field-stretching capabilities. He is a favorite to start early in the season and he could rack up impressive numbers as a rookie.
Rookie tight ends rarely make much of a fantasy impact, but if he can get healthy and win the starting job, he will see a lot of playing time in an offense that is likely to be trailing a majority of the time.
Latavius Murray only has 82 professional carries, but he’s inspired great confidence in the Raiders coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, for one, has become a fan over the last six months. They’ve seen the tools required for success during the offseason program and the preseason. Murray doesn’t need many game reps to validate those sentiments, cemented by the third-year pro’s willingness to work on becoming a well-rounded back.
"He’s made very positive impressions,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said after Thursday’s practice. “He has been working a lot on his hands so he can be a good receiver out of the backfield, because we don’t want a guy that’s going to be a liability when we go to throw the ball. He’s really been working on that. Of course, he’s got the body and the ability to really be a good player at this level.”
Murray has found a way to turn small opportunities into big gains, by bouncing into a new rushing lane at as moments notice.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if those cuts are directly correlated to his vision,” Musgrave said. “He’s got great vision. Not just because he’s tall, even if he was 5-8. I think he’d have really good vision. He can anticipate things and jump through those cracks, almost before they open.”
On Roy Helu Jr.: “Roy brings a lot of experience. He’s had a lot of production there with the Redskins, and so glad to have him back out healthy. He’s been out a couple days. Hopefully, he can stay healthy.
“If he stays healthy. If he is available, we’re very willing to give him his opportunities (to be more than a third-down back).”
Murray rushed 82 times for 424 yards (a 5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns, including an incredible four-carry, 112-yard, two-TD performance against the Chiefs in Week 12. He still averaged a solid (if unspectacular) 4.0 YPC when that game is excluded. With good size (6'2, 223 lbs) and great speed (4.38 40-yard dash), Murray has all the physical tools to succeed at the position. He even showed solid hands with 17 receptions on 23 targets. According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, a Raiders source said that Murray is “freak” and has a chance to have “a huge year” in 2015. Helu may eat into Murray's third-down work, so don't expect Murray to be a three-down back.
Nobody has separated themselves yet and it remains a question of how good and effective this Cowboys running game by committee can be.
Joseph Randle has shown flashes early in his career that he can be a difference-making player in the league, and is eager to prove he can handle the load. The Cowboys have raved how mature and professionally Randle has handled himself so far in camp on the field.
“He’s been on point with not only his run stuff, but his pass-game stuff,” running backs coach Gary Brown said. “I always try to tell him … ‘who are you without the ball? I know what you can do with it, what can you do without it?’
“We want to be complete football players. We don’t just want to be runners. Guys who are just runners don’t last in the league very long. We can get anybody to go out here and just run. We want guys who can catch the ball, pass protect, protect the football, do the things that are necessary to make an offense run.”
Darren McFadden, meanwhile, has shown the burst that made him the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft. He said he feels he is past the hamstring issues that slowed him most of camp. McFadden showed last season he can get through an entire season healthy, albeit in a more limited role with the Oakland Raiders. He had 155 carries last season, fewer than 10 a game.
Based on Brown's comments, it sounds as if Randle is handling himself well in practice. We believe he's the team's best option as a primary runner, but as long as McFadden is healthy, he'll get some touches.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:54pm
The Oakland Raiders got back three key players from injury Wednesday.
Third-down running back Roy Helu (hamstring) returned to practice Wednesday as Oakland begins preparing for Sunday’s home preseason game against Arizona.
Helu, who signed as a free agent from Washington, has missed all but a couple of days of training camp. He is expected to be a key contributor on offense.
The Vikings were in the shotgun or pistol about 65 percent of the time after Teddy Bridgewater took over as the starting QB in Week 4 last season -- the 13th-most in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- and their 565 shotgun snaps in that time were only 210 less than they had in 2012 and 2013 combined.
Adrian Peterson, of course, was in the backfield both of those seasons, and has yet to play his first game with Bridgewater at quarterback. In those two seasons, Peterson ran just 40 times out of the shotgun, or one fewer than Christian Ponder. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon, on the other hand, logged a combined 114 carries out of the shotgun last season.
"I think the things we're doing out of the shotgun, he's very comfortable with, and getting more comfortable," Turner said. "We're going to give him a good dose of the things he does best and has done best his entire career. We're going to try to spread the field a little bit and do some things to give him more space."
There's little doubt the offense will require something of an adjustment for Peterson, who's made a career out of lining up seven yards deep in the backfield and hitting the line of scrimmage with a healthy fury, the story said. But between the Vikings having enough of Peterson's staples in the playbook and giving the running back enough practice snaps to adjust, offensive coordinator Norv Turner thinks Peterson will be fine with an offense that's a little more spread out. It should only help Peterson as long as Bridgewater and the receivers and prove to be a legit passing threat. It will be a lot for defenses to account for.
The hype machine has yet to start cranking for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson. When it comes to the team's offensive skill positions, running back Adrian Peterson, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a handful of other receivers have all generated more discussion than Johnson.
However, Johnson's 10-yard touchdown catch in a preseason win over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday served as a subtle reminder of what he brings to Minnesota's offense.
"You talk about that touchdown catch he had today with the defensive back all over his shoulders," Bridgewater said, per ESPN's Ben Goessling. "Charles, he’s a big, physical guy. He helps out in the run game with his blocking for the running backs and it showed tonight in the passing game in just the first half -- not even the entire first half, but the first quarter. He showed that he’s going to be big for us this year."
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Johnson hides in a cast of receivers that includes Mike Wallace, Cordarrelle Patterson and rookie sensation Stefon Diggs, among others. He is listed as the starting "WR2," opposite Wallace, on the Vikings' preseason depth chart, the story said. Johnson is 34th on our WR list and hasn't really been that big of a secret in drafts this season. Teams are taking him in the middle rounds because he's got a lot of positive press since the end of last season.
Charles Johnson isn't one of the three Vikings-drafted receivers on the roster, nor is he the prized offseason acquisition.
But since Johnson was plucked off the Cleveland Browns' practice squad nearly a year ago, he's been one of Teddy Bridgewater's favorite targets in a receiver room that has been recently bolstered with developing young talent, like fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs, and a new face in Mike Wallace.
"Charles continues to make plays," coach Mike Zimmer said. "Catches the ball, runs good routes. The touchdown he caught, I thought the guy was grabbing the heck out of him the whole way."
After the Vikings jettisoned Jerome Simpson last fall, Johnson joined the Vikings after spending the 2013 season rehabbing a torn ACL under then-Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Less than two months later, Johnson became the Vikings' starting split end over 29th-overall pick Cordarrelle Patterson and turned 25 catches into 415 yards as Bridgewater's go-to target in the rookie quarterback's best stretch of play in December, the story added. We see potential for Johnson and think he could at least put up low-end WR3 numbers, like he did from Week 11 on last year when he finished as WR31 in that span. We rank him 39th on our WR list, and he's getting some mid-round draft attention.
Saturday, August 22, 2015, 1:18pm
Perhaps Derek Carrier won’t be the Redskins’ savior at the tight end position. But he does have some NFL experience under his belt, something that all but two members of the injury-ravaged tight end corps of the Redskins lack.
General manager Scot McCloughan said that he likes tough football players and based on this one, very small sample size of work, a 22-yard catch over the middle against the Bears on Sunday night football last year, it looks like he fits the bill there.
In terms of snap counts, Carrier was the 49ers No. 2 tight end last year. He played 356 snaps at tight end, second to Vernon Davis’ 830. It should also be noted that Carrier played 168 snaps on special teams. With special teams stalwarts Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen and Adam Hayward all out for the year with injuries, the Redskins need some experienced special teams help. It is likely that Carrier will provide that.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 2:57pm
What was your reaction when the Raiders drafted Amari Cooper?
Derek Carr: Excitement. I knew we were going to get a good player with the No. 4. We were going to get someone good, and we did. I was very excited to see Amari come to this team.
What does he bring to this offense that was missing last year?
Carr: He’s really good in and out his breaks. He has good command of his route tree. He’s going to be a productive player for us.
What are your expectations for Cooper in Year 1? Do you think he can have an impact.
Carr: I think my expectations of him are the same as he has for himself. I just want to see him come in, compete and make plays, and I think we will see him do that.
The Raiders were hurting for WR help and seem to have helped Carr and the offense by signing Michael Crabtree and drafting Cooper. Cooper already ranks as a low-end WR2 on our list, an area you haven't often seen Raiders ranked in the recent past. Crabtree is having a nice camp and that should only help Cooper, who we project for a line of 75-1,042-6
Sunday, August 16, 2015, 3:52pm
Streater opened camp on the non-football illness list, with coach Jack Del Rio offering no specific reasons for his absence.
Streater is working with the first and second team offense’s in a non-padded practice, the team’s first since an 18-3 win over the St. Louis Rams in Friday’s exhibition opener.
Fisher previously had strongly hinted that Gurley would not play in the preseason. But for those paying attention as the Rams warmed up against the Oakland Raiders on Friday night, Gurley looked closer to a return than ever.
Fisher was asked to confirm that he never considered playing Gurley in the preseason opener.
"Correct," Fisher told reporters. "Nor am I going to play him next week or the week after. I'm not going to play him for at least the rest of preseason. But the warmup benefit is certainly part of his rehab, and it's really good experience for him."
While Gurley continues to make progress in his rehab, the Rams are sticking to their plan not to hurry him back from the injury.
Gurley, who is still recovering from a torn left ACL suffered last November at Georgia, was dressed in his full uniform, went through pregame warmups with his teammates and looking the part of a player on the verge of a return sooner than later. Then, as expected, Gurley didn't play against the Raiders. Fisher said it was good for Gurley to go through the warmup as part of his rehab. It looks like the Rams are in no hurry to give Gurley a full workload to the start of the season so this news is a bit of a hit to his fantasy value. It looks like Tre Mason could get a bump up, but at some point this season it's hard to imagine Mason and Gurley won't at least split carries. Gurley is still the long term value while Mason's short term value may get an extension.
Some Raiders notes from beat writer Jerry McDonald:
• Once the preseason begins, it should be one series and out for Derek Carr.
The Raiders simply can’t afford a third quarterback flip-flop in three years, and the only way this happens is if Carr gets hurt. It’s impossible to know how good Carr will be, but he’s light years ahead of Christian Ponder and Matt McGloin, who look to be in a dead-heat to be the backup.
Really interested to see Taiwan Jones in a game situation. Back at running back, he’s had some sensational moments in camp. But beware - speed backs can dominate in non-tackling situations (see Darren McFadden, any year).
• Michael Crabtree has caught everything in sight and seems to have an immediate connection with Carr. Amari Cooper, despite the odd snaps when he looks like a rookie, is even-money to be a legit playmaker in his first season.
After that, it’s a jumble. Rod Streater is out with an illness the club has yet to diagnose. Andre Holmes has had his moments, but so has 6-foot-5 Kris Durham, third-year player Brice Butler and Kenbrell Thompkins. Plus anyone who can excel on special teams.
Many felt it was a good bet Murray would be the lead back and it doesn't seem like Richardson, or anyone else, will pass him. Helu appears like he'll get his normal third-down role like he had with the Redskins. Crabtree has had a good camp to this point and looks like a nice signing. Meanwhile Cooper seems to be up and down.
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