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Cooper’s 2nd Raiders season has everyone intrigued

Everyone is excited about Amari Cooper’s sophomore campaign. Even the greatest receiver in NFL history. The Raiders’ Cooper made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last season, and one of his fans pulled him aside for a talk in Hawaii in January. “I told him at the Pro Bowl that he was taller than I thought he was and that he is going to do some incredible things,” said former 49er and Raider Jerry Rice, a Hall of Famer. Cooper’s 1,070 yards were the most by a Raiders receiver since Rice in 2002, and even Cooper is fired up about how much more he can do. Oakland veterans hit training camp in Napa on Wednesday, and observers may not recognize Cooper. A precise route runner from childhood, Cooper also had the speed and hops to make tough catches. In his first 11 games, he caught 58 passes for 851 yards and four touchdowns. Cooper had only 14 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the last five games. Sometimes Cooper tried to do too much, and he had 10 dropped passes, second most in the NFL. Rice also had an issue with dropping passes his rookie year. [...] he turned out OK. Part of the relaxation process is Cooper’s growing chemistry with Carr; the two were by far the youngest quarterback-receiver duo at the Pro Bowl. New Raiders cornerback Sean Smith, at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, looks like a linebacker, and he has made sure Cooper is working hard — on keeping his balance from getting knocked over as well — at practice. The Raiders, 7-9 a year ago, are national media darlings heading into training camp, and Cooper will need to do more than help a playoff push. Along with Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack, he will have to lead the way. Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.


For Raiders’ Amerson, maturity rewarded

The popular theory about David Amerson is that Washington blew it by waiving the cornerback last year, and that the Raiders used him in the right scheme, allowing him to blossom.

Amerson himself will tell you that’s not true, and “it wasn’t rocket science” as to why the 2013 second-round pick flamed out in Washington.

Compared to when I was in Washington, instead of going home and playing video games all night and stuff like that, it was a much different approach.

[...] the hard work paid off, first with a starting job in Oakland, then a regular season with 29 broken-up passes, second most among cornerbacks in the NFL, and four interceptions.

[...] it paid off again Tuesday, when he signed a four-year contract extension worth up to $38.4 million.

Amerson had a jump on opponents last year, like on the interception he returned for a touchdown against the Chiefs, because of something as simple as taking notes.

The Raiders took a cheap gamble on an athletic 6-foot-1 cornerback, and it paid off for them as well as for him.

Amerson clicked with the Raiders’ physical defensive scheme, and thanked head coach Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson and assistant defensive backs coach and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson for their help in bringing out Amerson’s best.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie spent up to $84.5 million, with $36.5 million guaranteed, on upgrading the secondary this offseason, signing free agent cornerback Sean Smith, safety Reggie Nelson and extending Amerson.

David Amerson, Raiders Agree to New Contract: Details, Reaction

The Oakland Raiders and cornerback David Amerson agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $38 million, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on July 15. 

ESPN.com added that Amerson will receive $17.5 million in guarantees. However, on Tuesday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk broke down the particulars of the deal, especially as it pertains to guaranteed money:

So here’s what it means. Amerson is guaranteed to receive $5.5 million at signing, with rolling injury-only guarantees of $12 million. That’s a total of $17.5 million in generally (not actually) guaranteed money at signing.

The deal itself has a maximum value of $38.38 million. But $4.5 million is tied directly to Amerson making it to the Pro Bowl on the original ballot in each of the next five years.

Later on Tuesday, the Raiders shared a picture of Amerson officially signing the contract:

After the Washington Redskins waived him prior to Week 3, Amerson played 14 games for the Raiders last season.

It was a disappointing stint with the Redskins, who selected Amerson in the second round of the 2013 draft. In 33 games, he recorded just two interceptions with 111 total tackles.

Head coach Jay Gruden spoke with Mike Jones of the Washington Post about Amerson‘s development after the team cut ties with the cornerback in September:

I think he needs to work on consistency. He does show flashes of being an excellent corner. He’s got the size and he’s got all the measurables for a defensive back. But for whatever reason, they don’t always show on a consistent basis when he’s out there. But we feel good about the cornerback depth that we have and we had to use that roster spot.

A change of scenery was all that the 24-year-old needed, though, as the Raiders scooped him up and immediately inserted him into their secondary. 

In 14 games, Amerson recorded four interceptions, one touchdown, 25 pass deflections and 57 total tackles for a defense that featured All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack.

Amerson‘s four interceptions were second on the team behind safety Charles Woodson, but his 26 total pass deflections with the Redskins and Raiders tied for first in the NFL with Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The NFL showed his one touchdown, which was a pick-six against Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in Week 17:

Amerson‘s big season was fueled by his unceremonious ending in Washington, as he told Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com:

I wanted to prove myself and make a name for myself, and make a statement for this organization and for me personally. I always had confidence in myself. With everything that happened in Washington, I just knew once I got another chance, I just knew I had to turn it up a notch and take it to the next level.

Amerson‘s rookie deal was set to expire after the 2016 season. He was projected to earn just $880,123 this year, per Spotrac.

Following the retirement of Woodson, though, the Raiders locked up Amerson for the long term to ensure that their secondary has a centerpiece to build around and another promising defensive presence alongside Mack.

         

Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Read more Oakland Raiders news on BleacherReport.com

Raiders give CB Amerson big extension

In a tale of rags to riches, cornerback David Amerson has gone from being waived to getting a huge contract extension in 10 months.

In 14 games for Oakland, 12 of them starts, Amerson broke up 29 passes, which was second-best among cornerbacks in the NFL.

Oakland also signed former Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, who is 6-foot-4, to a four-year contract this offseason.

The Raiders now have a physical duo locked up after changing starting cornerbacks in each of general manager Reggie McKenzie’s first four seasons.

San Diego voters to decide fate of Raiders?

SAN DIEGO — San Diego voters will decide in November on the Chargers’ proposal to raise local hotel taxes for a downtown stadium and convention facility — a vote which might, if approved, open the door for the Raiders to move to the Los Angeles area. The Chargers have been approved by NFL ownership to join the Rams in a stadium being built in Inglewood. Raiders owner Mark Davis has said his preference is to move the team from Oakland to Las Vegas, where a stadium initiative is being considered. The Chargers would contribute $650 million for the stadium portion of the project, using $300 million from the NFL and $350 million from the team, licensing payments, sales of “stadium-builder” ticket options to fans, and other private sources.

Raiders’ rookies find there’s more to learn than playbooks

With that, they were off, the players wiser and more prepared for training camp in a month.

[...] for every other challenge the NFL presents, from finances to health — physical and mental — to expectations dealing with social media and women.

[...] all of a sudden, you have a lot of guys on your roster or on your practice squad that don’t have the information.

The players took a field trip to Sprouts grocery market for tips on healthy eating.

Besides financial advisers, there were fashion advisers from Nordstrom for suggestions on when sweatpants won’t cut it.

Guest speakers included Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Natasha Thomas, Raiders director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales and former NFL players Kirk Morrison and Bucky Brooks.

There was also a bowling night with former Raiders players, as well as an outing to an A’s game.

“It was really helpful that you had a chance to talk to former players,” guard Vadal Alexander said.

Morrison, a former Raiders linebacker (2005-09) turned Fox Sports analyst, had the players mesmerized when he recalled how he wanted validation as a rookie.

Morrison and Brooks also offered tips on how to get that respect from the very first day or meetings or practices at training camp.

Winston made sure players paid extra attention to the health and financial tips.

Sometimes colleges don’t take care of medical procedures like MRI exams and the costs go on the players’ report.

Whether it’s blowing a large of sum of money or dealing with the many women now coming at you, avoiding temptation was a recurring theme all week.

Aldon Smith Arraigned for Violation of Probation: Latest Details, Comments

Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith was arraigned Friday for violating his probation in an incident stemming from a prior conviction. 

CSNBayArea.com reported the news Thursday.

The report cites the Santa Clara County criminal case index as the source of information and also states Smith will argue a motion to suppress evidence. That legal issue stems from an August 2015 incident involving multiple charges including a DUI and hit-and-run.

On Saturday, Hannah Knowles of the Bay Area News Group reported Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, is seeking to have the alleged violation of his probation due to driving while drunk last year dismissed, arguing that the evidence was “collected after he signed a citation promising to appear in court on a later date—and therefore, according to Bentley, after Smith was free to leave police custody.”

Smith was the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft and spent his first four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. The aforementioned misstep from last August triggered his release from the 49ers, though, and also led to the full calendar-year suspension he’s serving.

The 26-year-old appeared in nine games for the Raiders last season, making seven starts and recording 28 combined tackles, three passes defensed and 3.5 sacks.

Oakland is sticking with Smith through his yearlong ban, which ends in November. The team signed him to a two-year contract in April. Once his suspension is up, Smith can apply for reinstatement, but the NFL isn’t guaranteed to let him return to the gridiron.

The Raiders should still have a strong pass rush without Smith—who has recorded as many as 19.5 sacks in a single season (2012)—thanks to the presence of rising star Khalil Mack. The dynamic defensive end racked up 15 sacks last year.

Read more Oakland Raiders news on BleacherReport.com

Williams lends kids a hand with Team Tackle

Raiders defensive tackle Dan Williams, who wrote one of my favorite stories last year about his late father (http://www.theplayerstribune.com/dan-williams-raiders-dad/), is working with the American Diabetes Foundation on their Team Tackle camps. “I just wanted to help inform people of how to live a healthy lifestyle,” Williams said. Team tackle is getting “to kids early” and sending them to summer camps across the country (https://hello.pledgeling.com/CampChampion?loc=keymatch). The camp targets children with type 1 diabetes and those who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Kids learn nutrition, fitness and diabetes management skills, “give them a good head start on how to deal with it,” Williams said. William loved all the free agent moves, but singled out the signing of left guard Kelechi Osemele. Oakland lost Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck to retirement, but coach Jack Del Rio has been pleased with how players have filled the leadership void.

Del Rio keeps faith in corner Hayden

Even for 2013 first-round pick DJ Hayden.

Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio said “it’s never too late” and that the cornerback has made some strides this offseason.

Del Rio thinks Hayden’s skill set allows him to hold his own against slot receivers in the nickel package.

Hayden has dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness his first three seasons, and in May, the Raiders declined the fifth-year team option available to first-round picks.

Fifth-round pick (running back) DeAndre Washington and undrafted free-agent receivers Joe Hansley and Jaydon Mickens all got kicked to this week.

“We value him as a punt returner,” Seely said.

Safety Reggie Nelson, defensive lineman Denico Autry and running back Roy Helu Jr. were not on the field with injuries, and tight end Clive Walford, linebacker Neiron Ball, cornerback Thorpe and safety Karl Joseph watched and got some work on the side.

Del Rio said he is planning on all players being healthy and ready to practice when training camp opens July 28.

Former Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio hit a 55-yard field goal to end practice 15 minutes early.

Players rang out cries of “Giorgio!” as they stormed the kicker, and then sped out of the parking lot to their vacation destinations.

Raiders’ James Cowser making the most of his opportunity

The speed of the game in the NFL is going to have little to do with whether former Southern Utah defensive end James Cowser makes the Raiders’ roster.

What’s blown away the undrafted rookie is how much time and energy the veterans put in at the team’s facility in Alameda.

Cowser also had an FCS-record 80 tackles for a loss, topping former Idaho State and likely future Pro Football Hall of Famer Jared Allen’s mark.

Cowser also worked out with defensive tackle Justin Ellis during the offseason, as they share an agent.

Cowser couldn’t be happier after the initial, fleeting “disappointment” over not getting picked in the NFL draft.

“I turned it off as teams started calling to sign me toward the end,” Cowser said.

Fifteen teams made offers, and Cowser hit it off with Raiders defensive assistant Sam Anno.

“The drops are different, guys are bigger, they set up differently,” said Cowser, who is getting a lot of work at outside linebacker as well.

There are a lot more levels of rushing, not just going around the quarterback, like I could get away with in college.

Cowser also will have to improve his strength and taking on players at the point of attack.

Cowser went on a mission to Hong Kong in 2009 on behalf of the Church of Latter-day Saints, and won’t miss the Chinese restaurants in Cedar City, Utah.

Oakland Chinatown restaurants will be seeing a lot of a long-haired guy in a Raiders shirt.

Going over his notes from coaches and teammates, smiling ear to ear.