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Raiders say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to Brandon Jones
SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 08: Brandon Jones #81 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Tennessee Titans during an NFL game on November 8, 2009 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Evidently, the Raiders have met with San Francisco 49ers cast-off Brandon Jones, who had signed a 5-year $16.5 million contract with the team across the Bay in February of 2009. The deal had a guaranteed price tag of $5.4 million. Unfortunately for the Niners, Jones Fractured his shoulder last year and only ended up playing in eight games and registering one catch.

Brandon Jones has also had a string of injuries early this year; a sprained ankle to end OTA’s and he missed ten days of training camp with a strained hamstring. Jones also battled injuries when he was with the Tennessee Titans, including a torn ACL in 2005 and a groin injury in 2007. He finished both of those seasons on the Titans’ IR. In the end, the Raiders opted not to sign Jones and he signed with the Seahawks. It is a good thing too because the last thing the Raiders need right now is another wide receiver with injury issues.

That’s why they passed on Jones and let Seattle sign him. They would have only considered signing Jones as an insurance policy for their own injury prone receiver– Chaz Schilens. The team may open the season without the services of Schilens because it appears he could need to have arthroscopic knee surgery. I have a question for Chaz Schilens: Got Milk? The Raiders wide receiver has proven he is a threat when he is on the field and probably has the best hands on the team sans Zach Miller. But Schilens has also proven himself to be injury prone and although he felt his foot was at 100 percent following a clean-up surgery earlier this year, it turns out that has been giving him problems lately also. 

Hungry Defense

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Richard Seymour #92 and Tommy Kelly #93 of the Oakland Raiders shake hands after a big play during their game against the San Diego Chargers on September 14, 2009 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Two preseason games in a row the Raiders have registered five first half sacks of opposing quarterbacks. Their 12 sacks in two games is the top mark in the league right now followed by the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers who each have 11. Their three interceptions are tied for sixth in the league and their one of only five defenses that has registered a touchdown (Jerome Boyd at Dallas). They are ranked eighth overall in yardage allowed per game and they are tied for sixth place in points per game allowing an average of 13 points per game.

Normally you could say this can be attributed to this being only the end of the week 2 preseason games, but when you look at the other top defenses in the league like Baltimore, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Carolina, and San Diego, you start to think that it could mean more than that.

“We’re just winning one-on-ones,” said converted nose tackle Tommy Kelly. “Coach really stresses winning one-on-one battles because you’re not really going to get that many chances to go against somebody one-on-one. We need to win at least 70 or 80 percent of those.”

So far so good and by the look of things now it could get even better when the Raiders get their full starting defense on the field all together against the Tennessee Titans on September 12th.

Veterans Could be in Trouble

Nov 9, 2008; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Sam Williams (54) during the Raiders 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

Often times, players are drafted on the basis that they are a good fit for a certain system. During the past few years, the Raiders have had certain players, like Isaiah Ekejiuba and Sam Williams, primarily on the basis that they are a good fit in their special teams system. However, earlier this year, the Raiders cut ties with Ekejiuba and Sam Williams could be the next to see the door after the performance of Slade Norris on Saturday night.

The bottom line is this: the Raiders have upgraded their linebackers so much that last year’s starters Thomas Howard and Ricky Brown may see their most extensive time in special teams’ packages. Add that to the fact that the coaches are very high on Travis Goethel and somebody like Williams, who is dealing with a concussion right now, suddenly becomes expendable.

Johnnie Lee Higgins is another who could be on the chopping block. The Raiders acquired Nick Miller as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and he has been nothing short of impressive. You know they must really like the guy to keep him on the active roster for almost the entire season last year only to have him end up on IR. In the fourth round of the 2010 draft, they picked Jacoby Ford, the burner out of Clemson and they really like him also. In fact, Cable expressed his opinion about Ford in his conference call with reporters after the Chicago Bears game.

“It was nice to see Jacoby Ford being able to contribute the other night,” said Cable. “He did some nice things against a couple of tough coverage looks and had discipline to run the routes right and run them at their depth and all that and then caught the football.”

The recent injury news about Schilens may keep Higgins in the mix, especially when you consider that with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Schilens out, Higgins started Saturday night. But the Raiders now have a lot of depth in the return game as well as at wide receiver. The question is going to be: Do they really need Higgins anymore?

Update on Fullbacks

Jul 31, 2009; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) at training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Photo via Newscom

Tom Cable also told reporters that he is impressed with the progress that has been made by Marcel Reece. “He’s improving definitely,” Cable said. “Even if you take away the screen play to him he made a nice run on, I just like where he’s going as a blocker. He’s becoming more and more physical with each game. He certainly understands now what we’re asking him to do. He’s been good in pass protection. I think he’s improving and that’s good to see.”

Cable singled out Manase Tonga as well, “He has shown some things being physical and assert himself that way and caught the ball well the other night.”

With the recent outcry of Luke Lawton, it looks like Reece and Tonga may have taken the lead in the race. Cable also mentioned Lawton’s return in the conference call, but referred to him as “competition”. Lawton recently told reporters that he does not think the Raiders plans include him this year as he has not been getting good repetitions since returning from a concussion suffered early in training camp. Chane Moline got some time as a tailback on Saturday, but Cable said that move is not permanent, but was only to keep the backs fresh.

Go Watch the Game

Did you know that TFDS now sells Raiders tickets? Go watch the defiantly dominant defense and the obstacle overcoming offense when they play against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday at 6pm. CLICK HERE  to find out more about Darkside Tickets.

On November 20th, 2010, the Raiders will host a co-ed flag football tournament at their Alameda practice facilities in accordance with the 2010 NFL FLAG Regional Tournament. Champions of each division at all eight Regionals will qualify for theNFL FLAGTournament of Champions to be held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports on February 26, 2011.Click here for more info on that.

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