Raiders fullback Marcel Reece, whose four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs ended Monday, paid an even stiffer penalty the same day when the club released him.
Reece, 31, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, played in seven seasons with the team and spent parts of two seasons on the practice squad.
Because of the suspension, he sat out the final game of 2015 and the first three games this season.
In training camp, Reece also worked out at tight end, but the Raiders appear set there with Lee Smith, Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera.
Quarterback Derek Carr tweeted: My brother. @CelReece45 thank you for showing us what it looks like to be Raiders.
In his career, Reece had 205 receptions for 2,015 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for another 844 yards and three TDs.
A wide receiver at the University of Washington, Reece joined the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
Strong safety Karl Joseph and middle linebacker Cory James, both rookies, played well in their first NFL starts, Del Rio said.
Defensive end Khalil Mack, off to a slow start, had two tackles but no sacks.
General manager Reggie McKenzie provided high praise for the 31-year-old veteran in a statement on the team’s official site:
I want to thank Marcel as a player and as a person for all that he has given to the Oakland Raiders. What he has meant to the organization and to me over the past few years is hard to put into words, but his actions, both on and off the field, speak louder than any words can. This was a tough decision. Not enough can be said about Marcel’s commitment to his teammates and his pride in the Raiders, and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.
Raiders owner Mark Davis would also issue a statement regarding Reece’s release, via Scott Bair of CSN California:
Today is a sad day for the Raider family and entire Raider Nation. My father once said that I would have a tough time running this organization because I was too close to the players, and that rings true today. [Marcel] Reese has been a pillar of the organization for nine years and was the glue that held us together during a tough transition after my father’s passing. He helped put us on the upward path we are on today and his leadership will be sorely missed. The motto, ‘Once a Raider, Always a Raider,’ has never been more appropriate. When Marcel finishes his playing career, there will always be a spot for him within the Raider organization. Until then, I wish only the best for Marcel and his entire family.
Reece had been suspended four games for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing drugs, although he served one of those games at the tail end of last season. He was eligible to return for the team’s Week 4 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Jamize Olawale has served as the fullback in Reece’s absence and will seemingly remain in that role going forward.
The former undrafted free agent had been one of the most productive fullbacks in the NFL, excelling as a runner, receiver and blocker since joining the Raiders in 2009.
In the past six years, the versatile player has tallied 844 rushing yards with three touchdowns as well as 2,015 receiving yards on 205 catches with 12 touchdowns. He went to three Pro Bowls over the last four years and would have gone to his fourth last February if not for his suspension.
Bill Williamson of All22.com noted the surprise that came with the team’s decision:
On the other hand, Oakland has fared well without him this season, getting out to a 2-1 start thanks in part to a strong run game. The squad leads the NFL with an average of 5.9 rushing yards per attempt and is second in the league with 148.3 rushing yards per game.
Running backs Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington all have over 100 rushing yards already on the season. Olawale has 41 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
Read more Oakland Raiders news on BleacherReport.com
Raiders’ Seth Roberts again plays a sweet song in Nashville
NASHVILLE — Seth Roberts wishes the Raiders could play in Tennessee every week.
Roberts dropped a sure-thing pass on the Raiders’ opening drive, which didn’t ultimately hurt, because Latavius Murray ran for a 22-yard touchdown.
On the Raiders’ final drive of the half, Derek Carr saw him open but didn’t go to him.
Roberts caught the ball, got Brice McCain all turned around and ran 19 yards for a touchdown.
In 2015, on a rainy late-November day, Roberts caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner with 1:21 to play.
Roberts — who had two catches for 27 yards Sunday — locked up a spot again as the No. 3 receiver this summer in training camp.
Raiders beat heat, Titans to move to 2-1 NASHVILLE — The Raiders’ defense had surprisingly held up for most of the day, but faster than you walk to another honky-tonk here, the Titans came to life. The Raiders, who led 17-3 at halftime, held off the Titans — despite five dropped passes — in staggering 91-degree heat for a 17-10 win at Nissan Stadium on Sunday. Last season, the Raiders were given an extra play after a bogus defensive-holding call, and Seth Roberts caught a game-winning touchdown pass with 1:21 left in a 24-21 win. In the final minute Sunday, there were two calls against the Titans and one that booing fans thought should have been called against the Raiders. Tackle Taylor Lewan was called for a late block after a 19-yard Tajae Sharpe catch that would have put the Titans at the Raiders’ 3-yard line. Two plays later, Andre Johnson was called for offensive pass interference when he pushed off cornerback TJ Carrie. [...] on fourth down, Carrie made a lot of contact with receiver Harry Douglas in the left side of the end zone but no flags flew as the ball did, harmlessly past them both. On the other end of the depth chart, the Raiders’ big free-agent signings made contributions. Linebacker Bruce Irvin had a forced fumble, safety Reggie Nelson recovered that loose ball in the second quarter (leading to a field goal) and had an interception, and cornerback Sean Smith had an interception in the fourth quarter. After Nelson’s fumble recovery, Carr hit tight end Clive Walford for a 24-yard touchdown strike down the middle, but Donald Penn was called for holding. Replays showed that linebacker Brian Orakpo had hooked his arm under Penn’s armpit and Penn was trying to separate from him. [...] a minute into the fourth quarter, Amari Cooper broke open deep but Carr missed him as his pass carried to the back of the end zone. Slowly bouncing back from his benching in the season opener, the cornerback had an interception. Set the NFL record with his 53rd field goal of 50 yards or more.
After his defense was torched by the Saints and the Falcons in the first two games, he knew the 15-points-a-game Titans were a good opponent against which to throw rookies Karl Joseph and Cory James into the fire. Joseph, a safety, and James, an inside linebacker, got their first starts, and they responded, sharing the team lead with six solo tackles. Joseph, the team’s first-round pick, was playing on defense for the first time, after being on the field only for special teams the first two weeks. Joseph cramped up at halftime and missed the Titans’ one touchdown drive before returning. Sebastian Janikowski made a 52-yard field goal in the second quarter to become the NFL’s all-time leader in field goals of 50 yards or more (53). Janikowski has 500 career field-goal attempts in the regular season and postseason combined. Watson on ‘hiatus’: Right tackle Menelik Watson left the game in the second quarter with a lower leg injury, then tweeted that he was “on hiatus” for a while. Left tackle Donald Penn moved to the right side to close out that game, and then Austin Howard returned from an ankle injury to play every snap at right tackle in Week 2. The Raiders dealt with the heat — Derek Carr called it “a cold Fresno day” — with a little help from their security unit, which held up white material on the sideline to provide some shade.
Raiders’ explosive offense hopes to pick up struggling defense
Even if the receiver can’t bring the ball down, there is always a chance at a pass interference call.
Funny thing, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr — who takes the league’s No. 1 offense into Nissan Stadium on Sunday — once did a study on this.
“You find out that there’s a lot of pass interference calls,” he said, smiling.
[...] the rest of its defensive players.
The Raiders rank last in the league in yards per game, yards per play (8!), passing yards per game and first downs allowed and yet are 1-1, thanks to their offense.
“I don’t think we started as fast as we wanted to these first couple of games,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said.
Carr has been sharp, completing 70 percent of his passes for 618 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Guys are taking time before they get here to spend their time in the playbook and game plan and those things, and that’s good to see.
The (Falcons last week) played a soft zone most of the day and stayed on top of the deep opportunities.
Spotlight on: S Karl Joseph — The first-round pick makes his defensive debut, after having played only on special teams the first two games.
Coach Jack Del Rio said he’s “excited” to see Joseph play, as are fans.
Joseph was coming off knee surgery when the Raiders drafted him, and the safety has also been working on his eye skills, as far as looking at the right things pre-snap and making adjustments after.
Raiders — Tackles Austin Howard (ankle) and Matt McCants (knee) are out.
RT Menelik Watson (groin), C Rodney Hudson (knee), G Gabe Jackson (knee), CB David Amerson (concussion), DL Jihad Ward (hip) and RB Taiwan Jones (concussion) are listed as questionable but practiced Friday and are expected to play.
Titans — TE Delanie Walker (hamstring), WR Kendall Wright (hamstring) and LB Derrick Morgan (hamstring) are questionable.
Raiders cornerback Amerson cleared to play
The Raiders could have used the smell of fresh biscuits instead of smelling salts on Amerson, because a return to Nashville this weekend is just what the doctor ordered for him and the rest of the shell-shocked defense.
Amerson, 24, said he has had three concussions and is ready to match wits with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota again.
The Raiders could use another big game from Amerson to help get them past shoddy performances the first two weeks, allowing a league-worst 808 passing yards.
Besides Amerson, starting right tackle Menelik Watson (groin), center Rodney Hudson (knee), guard Gabe Jackson (knee) and defensive end Jihad Ward (hip) all practiced Friday, after being limited Thursday. …
Tackle Austin Howard, who played every snap in place of Watson last Sunday, was out again with his sprained ankle.
The players’ and coaches’ wives collected the shoes, in conjunction with the Order of Malta Clinic’s free exams by podiatrists. …
Punter Marquette King was fined $18,231 for a horse-collar tackle on Falcons punt returner Eric Weems last Sunday.
Ken Norton Jr. can’t explain Raiders’ struggling defense
Ken Norton Jr. took the stand, er podium, Thursday and pleaded guilty to the Raiders’ defense being terrible the first two games.
[...] the defensive coordinator plans on himself, the players and even head coach Jack Del Rio being exonerated as the season progresses.
Norton expects to call plays Sunday in Nashville, a week after Del Rio took over the duties late in the fourth quarter of a 35-28 loss to Atlanta.
The whole staff, we sit in there and we go over the game plan, over the plays.
Norton didn’t have a lot of answers as to why the Raiders (1-1) have allowed 1,035 yards, an NFL record for the first two games.
Two newcomers — safety Karl Joseph and inside linebacker Cory James, both rookies — will see some action.
Joseph, the team’s first-round pick, had offseason knee surgery but played in the preseason before sitting out on defense the first two games.
Opposing receivers — especially tight ends — are running free, and it’s not because the Raiders are getting outmuscled or outrun.
Cornerback David Amerson said the Raiders need to “play chess against chess.”
Vic Tafur’s Week 3 NFL picks
49ers at Seahawks (-9): Russell Wilson is hurting and not moving around well.
Raiders at Titans (-2): Oakland’s defense can’t get worse.
Broncos at Bengals (-3): Denver lost one of the most underrated players in the league in DeMarcus Ware.
Cardinals at Bills (-4): There is no reason to back Buffalo after the way it performed last week.
Ravens (-1) at Jaguars:
Browns at Dolphins (-10): Cleveland is starting its fifth quarterback in the past five games, dating to 2015 when you include Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis.DOLPHINS
Washington at Giants (-5): Dreaded Norman/Beckham matchup.
Lions at Packers (-7): We were loving our Packers Super Bowl pick as their underrated defense is even better than we thought.
[...] the Bachelorette dude kidnapped his brother and is playing QB for Green Bay.PACKERS
Vikings at Panthers (-7): Minnesota keeps losing players and keeps winning.
Rams at Bucs (-6): Jeff Fisher is a charming guy.
Carson Wentz looked sharp against a beat-up Chicago defense Monday night, and now there are Ben Roethlisberger comparisons being made.
Chargers at Colts (-2.5): Andrew Luck will look across the field and see himself in seven years, in Philip Rivers.
Bears at Cowboys (-7): I am stubborn and I will keep going against Dallas’ defense and rookie QB until there aren’t any pigs left for Jerry Jones to shoot out of his helicopter.BEARS
Falcons at Saints (-3): I have seen these teams live the first two weeks, so I know exactly which way to go, once I flip a coin.
Raiders defense wary of Titans’ Delanie Walker, other tight ends
Niners fans aren’t the only ones who miss tight end Delanie Walker.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio wishes Walker were still in Santa Clara and not in Tennessee waiting for his linebackers to arrive Sunday.
Del Rio’s defense allowed 180 yards on 10 catches Sunday to three Atlanta tight ends named Jacob Tamme, Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo.
[...] covering tight ends has been an issue going back to last season, with the exception of the brief time linebacker Neiron Ball was healthy.
[...] they have to deal with Walker, who had 94 catches for 1,088 yards and six touchdowns last season and sometimes lines up in the slot.
“He’s fast, he’s physical,” Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota said in a conference call.
To have someone like that, whether it’s as a safety blanket or someone that can really get open and cause matchup problems makes my job as quarterback a whole lot easier.
Tennessee head coach Mike Mularkey has faced the Raiders twice in the past year, once in preseason last month, and said he is not buying what the game video is telling him.