AFC West: Cooper Carlisle

Reggie McKenzie’s first draft pick in Oakland is facing some spring competition.

The Bay Area News Group reported that Lucas Nix was working ahead of Tony Bergstrom at left guard Tuesday at the Raiders’ organized team activities (OTAs). Of course, it is early, and I’d expect both to compete through the summer at the spot previously occupied by Cooper Carlisle, who has since been released.

That said, it has to be a bit disappointing that Bergstrom, a third-round pick in 2012, is not taking the early lead. Nix was an undrafted free agent signing last year out of Pittsburgh.

The Raiders drafted Bergstrom as a fit for the zone-blocking scheme Oakland used on offense last season -- an unsuccessful approach the team has since scrapped in favor of a more traditional power-blocking scheme. In February, I asked McKenzie, who took over as general manager in 2012, if he was confident Bergstrom could be part of the future. He was firm in his belief that Bergstrom could indeed fit in the new scheme.

Bergstrom failed to make to a push for major playing time as a rookie. Now it appears he will have to fight Nix moving forward.

In another interesting Oakland OTA note, second-year player Christo Bilukidi and free-agent pickup Vance Walker were working with the first unit at defensive tackle. Bilukidi showed flashes as a rookie late in the season. Walker was a productive situational player in Atlanta.

As at many positions in Oakland, the Raiders want to see some players take the next step and grab a lead role at defensive tackle. While it is early, Bilukidi and Walker are getting the chance to show they deserve to start.

In other AFC West notes:

Peyton Manning is enjoying this offseason much more than last, when he was recovering from four neck surgeries and adjusting to life in Denver.

Former No. 3 overall pick Tyson Jackson is impressing the new Kansas City brass at defensive end.

Some bookkeeping reminders: Oakland gets $8 million in salary-cap relief for the Michael Huff cut and San Diego gets $4.5 million relief after cutting Jared Gaither on Saturday. Both teams will primarily use the money to sign draft picks.
Doug MartinMarcio Jose Sanchez/AP PhotoTampa Bay running back Doug Martin shredded Oakland for 251 yards and four touchdowns.

OAKLAND -- It was all there for the Oakland Raiders.

They could have erased an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit. They could have won their second straight home game after being behind by double digits in the second half. They could have won their third straight game and been a real factor in the AFC West and AFC playoff hunt at 4-4.

They could have built an identity of never-say-die and they could have made their home field a terror for opponents to visit. It could have been a season-changing game no one would ever forget.

It almost was a great day in Oakland. Almost never cuts it in the NFL.

At the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Raiders 42-32 in a game in which 57 points were scored in the second half.

The reality is Oakland is now 3-5 and two games behind Denver (5-3) for the top spot in the AFC West. San Diego (4-4) is in second place.

Oakland’s run defense was shredded by Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin, who rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries. Oakland allowed Tampa Bay to register 515 yards of total offense.

The Raiders suffered several injuries, losing running back Darren McFadden and his backup Mike Goodson to ankle injuries. There was no immediate word on how long McFadden will be out, but the team said X-rays were negative.

The injuries to the tailbacks forced Oakland to rely on the pass too much. Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer attempted 61 passes, completing 39 for 414 yards, and he tossed four touchdowns. But Palmer also threw three interceptions, including two in the final three minutes of the game with Oakland desperately trying to rally.

The Raiders almost caught up in the fourth quarter by being patient. Yet, when they got the ball at their own 38-yard line, trailing 35-32 with 2:42 to go, Oakland got anxious and had Palmer air it out. The second play of the drive was a poorly thrown pass that was intercepted. Tampa Bay scored three plays later to seal the game.

That sequence ended what could have been a magical day for Oakland.

From 14:11 to 3:51 remaining in the fourth quarter, Oakland outscored Tampa Bay 22-7 and made it a three-point game after a two-point conversion pass from Palmer to rookie Juron Criner in front of a frenzied crowd.

During that span, everything that needs to happen during wild, unlikely comebacks happened. The Raiders had the Buccaneers on their heels despite the fact Martin had touchdown runs of 45, 67 and 70 yards in the game.

“Everyone in the building knew we had a chance,” Oakland guard Cooper Carlisle said. “We just couldn’t finish it.”

Carlisle and his teammates know how close they were to making something special happen. They know it was a lost opportunity.

“But there’s still a lot of football left,” Carlisle said. “But we we’re nowhere close to where we’d like to be.”

Oakland is probably where it is supposed to be. It looks like a 3-5 team. Halfway through the season, the Raiders are a team that is rebuilding and dealing with a lot of injuries.

The Raiders are also a team that was so close to experiencing a magical moment.
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Darren McFaddenEd Szczepanski/US PresswireThe Raiders are confident Darren McFadden will thrive in their new zone-blocking scheme.
The zone-blocking scheme is under scrutiny in the Raider Nation.

The running attack made famous by the late 1990s Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos teams has been the cause of angst for many Oakland Raiders fans this season, and has put Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Knapp on the hot seat in fans’ minds.

However, after a disastrous first two games, the Raiders showed some signs that they are getting used to the scheme during a 34-31 upset win against Pittsburgh in Week 3. The centerpiece of the scheme, Darren McFadden, finally broke loose with a 64-yard touchdown run, and he finished with 113 yards rushing.

However, besides that one run, McFadden had 49 yards on 17 carries in the game. He has 103 yards on 43 carries on the season other than his big run.

McFadden excelled in the power attack Oakland used the past two seasons. He was in the zone-blocking system of Knapp (who was Oakland's offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008) in his rookie season and had his issues.

Can McFadden succeed in this scheme or are the Raiders going to just hope the speedster pops the occasional long run like he did against Pittsburgh? The Raiders are convinced McFadden and the rest of the offense will thrive in Knapp's system.

"It's fun to watch Darren run. We weren't as worried about the running game as everybody else was,” Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer said after the win against Pittsburgh.

Added Oakland coach Dennis Allen: "We have the right personnel to get it done."

Many people think McFadden is not the typical one-cut-and-go runner that best fits the zone-blocking scheme, and not all of the Raiders' offensive linemen are best suited for the zone-blocking scheme. But the Raiders did bring in guard Mike Brisiel from Houston, which is one of the best zone-blocking teams in the NFL and is where Knapp last coached. Guard Cooper Carlisle and tackle Willie Smith also have experience in the system.

Traditionally, zone-blocking offensive linemen are smaller and more athletic than more power-blocking lineman. Mike Shanahan's Broncos were probably the most famous zone-blocking running team, and Shanahan preferred smaller offensive linemen.

However, one of those former Denver offensive lineman, Mark Schreleth (now an ESPN analyst), doesn’t buy that certain players are not good fits for the zone-blocking schemes.

“I think the Raiders have the pieces for it,” Schreleth said. “People think you need a certain type of a guy for the zone-blocking scheme, but it’s not true. It can work as long as everyone in the offense, that’s all 11 guys, are tied together. That's the key, and it takes time.”

After the second game, Knapp preached patience. He said the team needed to grow into the system. Schreleth is behind Knapp.

“You have to have patience,” Schreleth said. “Every guy on the offense is part of it. It is complicated and it’s not something that just comes overnight. It takes great teamwork, but when it comes it is very effective, and I think Oakland can get there.”

The essence of the zone-blocking schemes is the running back quickly finding the hole and the rest of the offense working in concert to continue to develop the play. Most teams have the zone-blocking scheme as part of their running attack, and many use it as their primary attack.

When it runs correctly, it can wear down defenses. The Denver defense is preparing to face a zone-blocking team for the second straight week. The Broncos played Houston last week. The Texans had 152 yards on 34 carries. Denver linebacker Keith Brooking said defending the zone-blocking scheme is not for the antsy.

“You have to be patient,” Brooking said. “The gaps move quickly, so you have to be sound in your gap responsibility. You have to know where your leverage is, as far as where your help is in the run game, as far as if you’re bringing a safety down, if you’re not. So you really have to be in tune with that. I think more than anything it is just attacking. They want to kind of get you running sideways and then cut downhill, so you have to take the attack to them. First of all, setting the edge of the defense is key, because they’re really good at stretching the perimeter of your defense. You have to set the edge of your defense and then your inside guys have to stay in their gaps and come downhill and attack and get off blocks, because they do a great job of trying to sustain those blocks. The key is once you attack them, you get off of them and make the play.”

Schreleth believes Houston runs the scheme the best in the league right now. He calls the Texans’ running attack a “well-oiled machine.” Knapp was part of it last season, and the Raiders are fully committed to seeing it work now.

After the first two games, there was speculation about whether the Raiders would scrap the attack during the season. The Raiders have scoffed at that. Even though there might be continued growing pains, the Raiders are going to try to make this work. Matt Williamson of ESPN.com believes Oakland’s patience could pay off, partly because McFadden is so special.

“I have no worries that McFadden can and will adapt to the scheme,” Williamson said. “I do think their offensive line is still a work in progress, but overall, the linemen move well enough to pull it off. It just might take some time.”
AFC hidden treasures: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

The Oakland offensive line has been a negative influence on the team in recent years. I don’t see it being a problem anymore.

I think this unit is still a work in progress and it is still far from elite, but it’s not a problem.

I really like young center Stefen Wisniewski and left tackle Jared Veldheer. The Raiders added solid guard Mike Brisiel from Houston. He is excellent in the zone-blocking scheme the Raiders are going back to, and he is a tough player. These are three strong pieces to the line. They are all athletic and tough. They will battle all day long.

Guard Cooper Carlisle is also adept in the zone-blocking scheme. At right tackle, Khalif Barnes will try to hold off second-year player Joe Barksdale.

Again, this isn’t a great unit, but there are some solid pieces and I don’t think the Raiders are overly worried about this being a problem area.
We are continuing our divisional position ranking with the offensive linemen. Overall, it is a young group with many players who have potential to move up in future years.

1. Eric Winston, T, Kansas City: Arguably the best right tackle in the NFL. The Chiefs scored major with this free-agent signing.

2. Ryan Clady, T, Denver: Clady’s sack and penalty numbers are up, but he is still an above-average player who should benefit from playing with Peyton Manning.

3. Nick Hardwick, C, San Diego: A strong, reliable player whom the Chargers absolutely had to re-sign.

4. Chris Kuper, G, Denver: Ask any scout about underrated players and Kuper is probably on every list.

5. Jared Veldheer, T, Oakland: The list is getting difficult here. I’m going with Veldheer as the second-best left tackle based on potential. It’s sky-high.

6. Jared Gaither, T, San Diego: If healthy, he can be dominant -- as he showed with the Chargers late last season.

7. Branden Albert, T, Kansas City: Solid, not spectacular, but you can do a lot worse and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs gave him an extension this season..

8. Stefen Wisniewski, C, Oakland: I like this second-year guard-turned-center a lot. A future star.

9. Mike Brisiel, G, Oakland: Tough, gritty player who is perfect for the zone-blocking offense.

10. Louis Vasquez, G, San Diego: A quiet, solid contributor.

11. Jeromey Clary, T, San Diego: A lot of Chargers fans don’t like him, but he gets the job done.

12. Jon Asamoah, G, Kansas City: This second-year starter looks solid.

13. Ryan Lilja, G, Kansas City: A tough vet who is probably entering his final season as a starter in Kansas City.

14. J.D. Walton, C, Denver: A tough, young starter who still needs to find consistency.

15. Zane Beadles, G, Denver: He has potential, but still needs to grow.

16. Orlando Franklin, T, Denver: He struggled some as a rookie, but there is big potential there.

17. Cooper Carlisle, G, Oakland: He keeps hanging around. The end may be near, but he can zone-block.

18. Rodney Hudson, C, Kansas City: He is poised to start for the first time, taking over for Casey Wiegmann. He could be very good.

19. Tyronne Green, G, San Diego: He is taking over for the great Kris Dielman, who retired. Green has been good as an injury replacement in the past.

20. Khalif Barnes, T, Oakland: He could lose his job to Joe Barksdale if he slips.

Raiders odds and ends

March, 22, 2012
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Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie talked to reporters during Stanford’s pro day on Thursday.

McKenzie dropped several nuggets:

Oakland's plan is indeed to move Stefen Wisniewski from left guard to center. That became apparent when the Raiders re-signed guard Cooper Carlisle. He is expected to play left guard and newly signed Mike Brisiel will be the right guard. McKenzie left open the possibility that the team could yet bring in a center — but I’d expect Wisniewski to be the center and for him to do well there.

McKenzie said the Raiders have less than $4 million in salary-cap room. But because Oakland still needs another player or two — and must account for its rookie class — there always could be some more restructured deals.

McKenzie said the Raiders need an outside linebacker. Oakland hopes to get No. 97 as a compensatory draft pick for several free-agent losses in 2011 and that’s where it could look. Manny Lawson, who can play defensive end and linebacker, has also caught the Raiders’ eye.

It sounds like McKenzie is starting to focus on the draft and is looking at free agency to add depth in a few spots. It seems that other than outside linebacker, the Raiders feel pretty set with their starting lineup.

McKenzie indicated that the team will address the backup situations at quarterback and running back at a later date. I would like to see the Raiders upgrade at tight end. Brandon Myers or David Ausberry will likely vie to start at this point.

In other AFC West news:

Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher signed his restricted-free-agent tender.

San Diego free-agent linebacker Everette Brown signed with the Lions. He was used little last year and the Chargers had no plans to bring him back.
The Raiders have re-signed right tackle Khalif Barnes. He started all 16 games in Oakland last season. The team may opt to give second-year player Joe Barksdale a chance to start. Barnes will provide excellent depth and insurance if that ends up being the case.

NFL Network reports the Raiders brought in former Packers defensive back Patrick Lee on a one-year deal. He played for new Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie with the Packers. This move was strictly a depth and a special-teams signing.

The Colts have signed Oakland free-agent center Samson Satele. He was expected to return to Oakland. The Raiders are expected to move left guard Stefen Wisniewski to center and play former right guard Cooper Carlisle at left guard. Newly signed Mike Brisiel will play guard. Former Colts’ center Jeff Saturday is visiting Denver this week andmay be reunited with Peyton Manning.

In other AFC West news:

ESPNChicago.com is reporting Denver is visiting with former Chicago backup quarterback Caleb Hanie. The Colorado State product likely would be the No. 3 quarterback in Denver.

Former Kansas City receiver Joe Horn said the Chiefs had a bounty program when he was there and he said every NFL team has a program. I would be shocked if the NFL investigated the Chiefs based on Horn’s comments. He played for the Chiefs from 1996-99.
It appears Stefen Wisniewski is going to move to center in Oakland for his second season.

Nothing is official, but there are indications the Oakland Raiders will use former right guard Cooper Carlisle at left guard and use newly signed Mike Brisiel at right guard. That would enable the Raiders to move Wisniewski from left guard to center. He had a strong season as a rookie at left guard, but the Raiders drafted him in the second round last year the plan was to use him at center.

Carlisle was re-signed Monday after being a salary-cap dump last week. If Wisniewski is in fact moving to center, Matt Williamson of Scouts thinks it will work.

“No doubt about it,” Williamson said. “I didn’t think he was quite as good as a rookie as many made him out to be, but I also don’t have any worry that he will be a legitimate NFL starting center.”

The Raiders are expected to use the zone-blocking scheme and he thinks a interior line of Wisniewski, Brisiel and Carlisle could be a serviceable group.

“I can’t argue too much with the moves and they all are mobile and fit the new blocking scheme,” Williamson said.
When the Oakland Raiders cut guard Cooper Carlisle last week in a salary-cap move, they told his agent they wanted him back.

They stuck to their word and have re-signed Carlisle.

It will be interesting to see what they are going to do with him. He is a right guard as is newly signed Mike Brisiel. One of them could be moved to left guard and the Raiders could make second-year standout left guard Stefen Wisniewski a center. That was the original plan when they draft him.

If not, Carlisle gives Oakland good depth on the line.

UPDATE: A source close to the situation said that, while plans can change, there is a strong chance Carlisle will move to left guard and enable Wisniewski to move to center. I think that would be a smart move. Carlisle is a solid pro and Wisniewski may be better suited at center. In Brisiel, Carlisle and WIsniewski, the Raiders would have a strong interior line.

Nothing is official, but it seems like that may be way the Raiders are leaning.

In other AFC West news:

If Oakland doesn’t sign Matt Leinart to be its backup quarterback, John Johnson or Dennis Dixon could also make sense.

Cincinnati is visiting with Denver free-agent defensive lineman Derrick Harvey. He is not expected to be back with the Broncos.
We have our first reported visit by the Oakland Raiders as they clear cap room to pursue free agents.

The Houston Chronicle reports Texans’ guard Mike Brisiel is visiting Oakland. It makes total sense. Former Houston offensive line coach Frank Pollack has taken over as the Raiders’ offensive line coach and former Houston quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp is Oakland’s offensive coordinator.

The Raiders will move back to a zone-blocking scheme, and Brisiel is skilled in that area. Brisiel has started 47 games in six NFL seasons. He’s been a part-time starter the past three seasons after starting all 16 games in 2008.

He would be a candidate to start in Oakland. The Raiders cut Cooper Carlisle in a salary-cap move Wednesday. He could potentially come back at a lesser price, but he will look at other options.

Another name to keep on eye an in Oakland is St. Louis cornerback Ronald Bartell. The Raiders badly need cornerbacks and he is on the team’s list.
The Oakland Raiders pulled the plug by jettisoning two veterans, guard Cooper Carlisle and defensive tackle John Henderson.

The moves should give Oakland decent breathing room in its salary cap and it should soon be able to start pursuing some free agents. The team is also expected to cut linebacker Kamerion Wimbley within the next 72 hours unless he restructures his deal. But, Wimbley has not been interested in a pay cut.

Carlisle’s agent, Frank Murtha, said there is a chance the Raiders could bring Carlisle back. He is a solid zone-blocking guard, and the Raiders are returning to that scheme. However, Carlisle will entertain other offers in the meantime.

Because they had to cut six players for salary-cap reasons, the Raiders have more holes to fill than expected. The team desperately needs to get in on the cornerback market and it may need to add some offensive linemen as well.

Henderson was cut after failing his physical. The Raiders shocked the league last year when they gave the rotational player a two-year, $8 million deal. The aging Henderson was valuable against the run, but his health has been an issue.

These moves will help kick start Oakland’s foray into free agency, although the team is expected to be bargain hunters anyway.

Chiefs jump on Stanford Routt visit

February, 13, 2012
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NFL.com reports cornerback Stanford Routt will visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday. The Oakland Raiders cut Routt on Thursday. ESPNDallas first reported the Chiefs’ interest in Routt last Friday.

Routt was in Buffalo on Monday for his first visit since becoming the best available free agent on the open market. He has several other visits planned and the process could take some time to develop. If the Chiefs, who have more than $62 million in salary-cap room, sign Routt, it will be an indication they are not interested in signing Brandon Carr, who is going to be one of the better free-agent cornerbacks available on the market. The Chiefs could be looking at Routt to compare what he wants to what Carr is looking for in a deal.

Like Carr, Routt would be a good fit with Kansas City No. 1 cornerback Brandon Flowers. Routt was better as the No. 2 cornerback to Nnamdi Asomugha before he became the lead cornerback last season when the Raiders chose to give Routt a big contract instead of Asomugha. Oakland’s new leadership cut Routt last week.

Meanwhile, Oakland guard Cooper Carlisle is considered a candidate to be salary-cap causality. However, there are indications the Raiders will consider keeping him. New Oakland offensive line coach Frank Pollack tried to recruit him to Houston few years ago as a free agent and Carlisle is a natural fit for the zone-blocking scheme Pollack coaches.

Jack Bicknell Jr. will reportedly be the Chiefs’ offensive line coach. He was the Giants’ assistant offensive line coach.
New Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie isn’t wasting much time shaping his roster and his first move was to cut cornerback Stanford Routt, one of the team’s better defensive players. It might have been necessary as McKenzie reshapes the team’s salary cap.

The Raiders signed Routt to a three-year, $31.5 million deal, with $20 million in guaranteed money, last February, essentially choosing Routt over Nnamdi Asomugha, who is considered one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. Asomugha walked to the Eagles as a free agent.

[+] EnlargeStanford Routt
AP Photo/Greg TrottStanford Routt's big contract was among the first casualties under new Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie.
Routt’s deal was later restructured to five years and $54.5 million, with the $20 million in guarantees — of which $10 million was reportedly to kick in this year.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that this move will cost Oakland $2.2 million in salary-cap space in 2012. The exact cap figure has yet to be figured, but the Raiders will have to make other moves.

This move might be an indication that Oakland is going to be aggressive in making cuts. It will have to go get help in several years in free agency – beginning with possibly two cornerbacks — and it has free-agent priorities in running back Michael Bush and safety Tyvon Branch. One of those two will likely be given the franchise tag.

You have to wonder what other high-dollar Raiders could be on the chopping block. Among those who have signed big recent contracts are defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and defensive back Michael Huff. Other players who could be candidates for restructuring or to be cut to save cap room include defensive tackle John Henderson, linebacker Aaron Curry and guard Cooper Carlisle.

Many around the NFL scoffed at Routt's big contract — and it is clear McKenzie is in that camp.

Routt is a decent player, but he is probably best suited to be a No. 2 cornerback. He was better playing alongside Asomugha than he was as the team's No. 1 corner. Routt was solid in coverage, but was penalized 17 times and gave up eight touchdowns, tied for the second-highest total in the NFL last season.

Still, the release of Routt is risky because the Raiders now don’t have any reliable cornerbacks on the roster. They hope to develop young players DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa; perhaps Huff will be moved to cornerback. The Raiders have a small draft class, so most of their additions at the position will probably come through free agency.

Among the top cornerbacks available in free agency (depending on who is given the franchise tag) will be Atlanta’s Brent Grimes, Tennessee’s Cortland Finnegan and Kansas City’s Brandon Carr. A name to keep an eye on is New Orleans’ Tracy Porter, who played under new coach Dennis Allen in New Orleans.

This move doesn’t hurt Routt, 28, much. He was paid an enormous amount last season and now becomes one of the better cornerbacks available. Plus he gets jump on free agency, free to sign with a team at any time.

He could help all three of the other teams in the AFC West as a No. 2 cornerback, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Denver, Kansas City and San Diego all look at him.

Breaking down Raiders-Seahawks

September, 3, 2011
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Here are some thoughts from the Raiders’ 20-3 loss at Seattle on Friday night:

A rough preseason for the AFC West is over. The division won a total of four games, which was the lowest combined total of any division in the NFL. Oakland and Kansas City both went 0-4, joining Atlanta as the only winless teams in the league.

My thoughts on Oakland’s winless preseason? No biggie. No biggie at all. Again, I’m the wrong guy if you’re looking for a dose of preseason panic.

I was surprised that the starters played a lot. It seems many coaches changed their philosophy -- the fourth preseason game is traditionally a game when the starters stand on the sideline in a ball cap -- because of the lost time due to the lockout.

Quarterback Jason Campbell put in another nice performance. He completed 8 of 11 passes. He was strong all preseason.

It looks like Kyle Boller is going to be the backup ahead of Trent Edwards. Boller played much more than Edwards on Friday night.

The following group appears to be Oakland’s starting offensive line: Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Samson Satele, Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes. This has been the starting group for weeks and expect to see it in Denver. I like Veldheer and Wisniewski on the left side, but the rest of the group is a little worrisome.

I’m not surprised Terrelle Pryor didn’t play. I know Oakland coach Hue Jackson said he would last week, but Jackson was far less committal this week. It is clear Pryor wasn’t ready to play. That’s understandable. He been in the system for a week. I don’t look at it as a bad sign that Pryor was kept on the sideline.

Oakland’s poor defensive effort continued. The struggling Seattle offense gained 377 yards. It will be interesting to see if this Oakland defense will be ready when the team opens at Denver in nine days.

Veteran receiver Derek Hagan had 224 receiving yards in the preseason, which was the second most in the league. Expect him to be in Oakland’s rotation.
It’s not exactly the onslaught, but there is movement in the AFC West.
  • The San Diego Union Tribune reports the Chargers signed right tackle Jeromey Clary for four years, $20 million. Clary was a target of the Chargers, who have plenty of cap room. The Chargers have several free agents and are working on keeping targets Eric Weddle and Kevin Burnett. Clary is an underrated part of a strong offensive line. Keeping him means continuity for a strong offensive line.
  • In Kansas City, center Casey Wiegmann reportedly has signed for one year. This has been expected. His agent Joe Linta, told me last week that Wiegmann, 38, wanted to play one more year in Kansas City. The Chiefs have long wanted him back. Wiegmann is an anchor to a strong offensive line. He is a leader on and off the field. Wiegmann will groom second-round pick Rodney Hudson, who can also play guard.
  • The Raiders brought back former Denver first-round pick Jarvis Moss. He is strictly a backup. The Raiders have plenty of high-profile free agents, but keeping Moss is just for depth reasons.
  • Meanwhile, keep an eye on Seattle free agent Brandon Mebane in Denver. If the Seahawks don’t re-sign him, he could fit with the Broncos.
  • I continue to hear linebacker Nick Barnett would love to play in San Diego. I’m sure the Chargers would have interest in him at inside linebacker. Barnett has been told by Green Bay he’ll either be cut or traded soon.
  • Oakland guard Cooper Carlisle was at the Raiders’ facility Tuesday. There has been reports that he could be cut as Oakland tries to get under the salary cap. Oakland has been working on contract restructuring to get under the salary cap.
  • Ohio State has made a decision that could help Terrelle Pryor get a spot in the supplemental draft. There had been questions whether or not he’d be eligible. Pryor has been connected to Oakland.
  • San Diego also brought back tight end Randy McMichael for one year. He is a favorite of head coach Norv Turner. McMichael is a solid backup receiver and an underrated blocker. He is good insurance if starter Antonio Gates has another injury-filled season. McMichael, 32, had 20 catches for the Chargers in 2010.
  • Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson said the Broncos were in on him before he re-upped with the Panthers. Johnson played for Broncos coach John Fox in Carolina. I hear the Broncos are clearing cap room and want to be players for key defenders.
  • Kansas City backup receiver Terrence Cooper reportedly is coming back to the team. I don’t think that will keep the Chiefs from looking for more receiver help.

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