NFL Nation: Chimdi Chewka

Ryan Mundy fined for Heyward-Bey hit

September, 26, 2012
Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy was fined $21,000 for a brutal hit on Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Heyward-Bey spent the night in a hospital with neck and concussion issues. He was released the next day and is expected to fully recover. There is no word on when he will be able to play. There was no penalty on the play.

In other AFC West news:

There was a report that Oakland cut second-year offensive lineman Joe Barksdale. However, the Contra Costa Times reports the Raiders said he is still on the roster. Yet, he is not on the practice field. The Oakland Tribune reports Barskdale was brining belongs to his car while practice was in session. This might be a fluid situation. If he is cut, the third-round pick would join fellow 2011 draft picks DeMarcus Van Dyke (cornerback, third round) and Chimdi Chewka (cornerback, fourth round) to be cut since the new regime in Oakland took over.

Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles was named the AFC offensive player of the week after he ran for 233 yards in an overtime win at New Orleans.

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said receiver Dexter McCluster will be limited in practice Wednesday. That is good news, because it looked like he suffered a serious elbow injury Sunday at New Orleans. It is not clear if McCluster can play Sunday, but the injury doesn’t seem serious.

Crennel said tight end Kevin Boss is still out with a concussion that kept him out of Week 3. Also, running back Peyton Hillis won’t practice because of an ankle injury.

Denver cornerback Tracy Porter is practicing Wednesday. He left Sunday’s loss to Houston with a knee injury.

Charles is the only AFC West representative on Mike Sando’s MVP Watch this week. He is No. 10. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers fell off the list after being No. 4 last week. That’s what scoring three points can do to a guy’s candidacy.

The Raiders announced receiver Tori Gurley has been signed to the practice squad. Gurley tweeted Tuesday that he was a Raider.
A huge thanks to the Oakland Raiders’ PR department for sending out a transcript of coach Dennis Allen’s media session on Tuesday morning from the owners meetings. Let’s look at some of the highlights:

On Peyton Manning joining the division: “I think obviously, Peyton is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, so he creates a big challenge for all of us. One of the things, when you look at the quarterbacks in this division, you think about Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, this is one of the better divisions in football as far as the quarterback position goes. So, I think it’s an awesome challenge for all of us in the division. I think every defensive-minded coach in this division is excited about the challenge.

[+] EnlargeDennis Allen
Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesNew Oakland head coach Dennis Allen says the team has a lot of young talent to develop.
My take: Allen makes a good point. This is a strong quarterback division, assuming Palmer gets comfortable in the Raiders’ system, and Matt Cassel makes strides in Kansas City with his big basket of offensive weapons.

On putting his own stamp on the program, and still respecting the past: “I think with every great program in the National Football League, I think you really have to respect the history and tradition within the organization. The Oakland Raiders. It’s one of the most storied franchises in all of sport, not just the NFL. We want to embrace those, embrace the past, and the history of the organization. But yet, we want to do it our way. Reggie and I are going to work together to do it the way we want to do it, and put the best team out on the field we can put out there. You have to embrace the tradition of the Raiders and what Mr. Davis was able to build there. But at the same time, Reggie and I have to do it our way. We’re committed to doing that. Reggie’s done an outstanding job since he’s been there, of putting his own stamp on the organization. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with the players and putting my stamp on the team.”

My take: I love the handle Allen and McKenzie have on this deal. They know the history (McKenzie is a former Raiders player), but they also know they need to be in charge of taking this team in their own direction in the post-Al Davis world. I think they are approaching it the right way.

On Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie: “What you find out about Reggie, he does let the process play out. He’s not going to be swayed in any way by public perception. He’s going to do what he thinks is right for himself, for the organization, and he’s not really going to look back.”

My take: Allen nailed it. Every time I’ve been around McKenzie (dating back 13 years ago in Green Bay), he appeared never to have a worry in the world. He is approaching this job with a calmness that only should help the Oakland organization.

On young players on the roster: “We’ve got some young players on our team that I’m excited about. I’m excited about the receiving corps. I’m excited about Tyvon Branch at the safety position. I’m excited about the opportunity to get to work with Rolando McClain as a middle linebacker. There’s a reason why he was drafted so high. I think Darren McFadden is someone I’m excited about, still a developing player. When you look at our team, we really have some young talent that has a chance to grow. How you can sustain success in this league is to develop young players. That’s critical.”

My take: Yes, the Raiders have taken some major hits in the offseason, but they also have some solid, young talent. That is their chance to be competitive.

On Oakland’s top defensive assets: “Our strongest area, I think defensively, is we’re going to be good up front. I think that’s been a key asset to the team over the last couple years. We’re big, we’re physical up front. And then I think we’ve got team speed all over the field. I think where we need to get is, we have to be able to develop some of the young players, some of the young talent. You look at DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chimdi Chekwa and some of the draft choices last year that we’ve got to develop. Rolando McClain is one of those guys we’ve got to develop. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get to work with those guys. We do have talent. We’ve got to bring them along.”

My take: There is no doubt, the Raiders’ defensive assets are on the front line. It all starts there. Oakland must have good health up front as it continues to develop in the back seven.

On free agency: “Here’s the first thing: There’s good players out there. They really form most of your team. We weren’t able to go out there and make the big splash, the big name, through free agency. We won’t be able to go out and make the big splash, the big name through the draft, because we don’t have a first- or second-round draft choice. What we’ve got to be able to do, we have to find those value picks that fit what we want to do, offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, that allow us to do that. Then, we’ve got to develop of them as coaches.”

My take: It’s the right attitude. He has no other choice.

On whether the Raiders will play a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme: “No, we haven’t decided any of that yet. We’re still going through the process of acquiring talent, looking into who we’re going to have on the team next year. Once we get through the draft, we’ll have a better feel [for] what we want to do there.”

My take: I think Allen has to be already leaning toward a particular scheme. I don’t think there are many players who will be available at No. 95 who can sway his opinion on whether to run a 4-3 or a 3-4. The existing talent is flexible enough to play both schemes, and I think we will see, as Allen has said in the past, Oakland use multiple sets.

2011 AFC West draft rewind

February, 14, 2012
As each team in the AFC West prepares for the NFL scouting combine next week, let’s review the AFC West 2011 draft classes:


First pick: Linebacker Von Miller , No. 2 overall

Total picks: Nine

Stars: Miller was the shining star of this class. He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and he looks like he will be a dominant pass-rusher for years to come. Right tackle Orlando Franklin, a second-round pick, performed well as a starter and safety Quinton Carter really came on toward the end of the season. Carter was a fourth-round pick.

Dud: There is concern over safety Rahim Moore who regressed as the season went on. The second-round pick was not nearly as far along as Carter at the end of the season. Moore is a hard worker and there is hope for him, but the Broncos expected more from him.

Good start for Elway era: This was the first draft class under new Denver leader John Elway. The Broncos made some good draft decisions and the process seemed very organized. It was the first sign that Elway was prepared for his new role.

What’s the future of this class? This was a good class. Third-round pick Nate Irving will compete to start at middle linebacker and the Broncos are excited about tight ends Julius Thomas (fourth round) and Virgil Green (seventh round). Regardless of what happens with the rest of this class, Miller himself makes this group a winner.


First pick: Receiver Jon Baldwin, No. 26

Total picks: Nine

Star: The player who created the most excitement was third-round pick Justin Houston at linebacker. He had first-round talent, but character issues dropped him to no. 70 overall. He was a playmaker, had 5.5 sacks and looks like he can be a major star.

Duds: Baldwin wasn’t terrible, but he was a disappointment because he suffered a broken thumb in a camp fight with veteran Thomas Jones. Baldwin didn’t debut until October. He showed flashes and I think he will be a fine player, but he hurt the team by fighting with Jones. It was a terrible start to his career.

Character questions? Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli had a reputation for steering clear of players with character issues. He changed course by taking Baldwin and Houston because of their draft value. It worked with Houston but the Baldwin fight raised more concerns. It will be interesting to see if Pioli takes any chances this year.

What’s the future of this class? I like it. Third-round pick Allen Bailey has a real chance to shine at defensive end and second-round pick Rodney Hudson may have a chance to start at either guard or center this season. Fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi had a chance to be the backup quarterback this year. It was a good group.


First pick: Guard Stefen Wisniewski, No. 48

Total picks: Eight

Stars: Wisniewski and fifth-round pick Denarius Moore at wide receiver. Wisniewski looked like an eight-year veteran. The nephew of former Raiders’ star offensive lineman and assistant offensive line coach Steve Wisniewski was born to be a Raider and he looks like a future star. He’s bright, athletic and he has a mean streak. Moore opened eyes in camp and made a lot of plays during the season. There were plays when he simply took over and he ended up with 33 catches for 618 yards and five touchdowns. I wouldn’t be shocked if he doubles those totals in 2012.

Duds: It would be unfair to call the Raiders' third-round picks -- cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke and offensive lineman Joseph Barksdale (who Oakland traded its 2012 second-round pick to get) -- duds. But neither player made any real impact. They are projects and they have a chance to be good in the future, but they just weren’t standouts as rookies.

End of an era: This was the final draft selected by the legendary Al Davis. I have a feeling Moore may be Davis’ final gift to the Raider Nation.

What’s the future of this class? If Van Dyke, Barksdale, defensive back Chimdi Chekwa and running back Taiwan Jones can become major role players, this will be a great class. If not, Wisniewski and Moore will carry a class that didn’t feature a first-round pick. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor technically wasn’t part of the Raiders’ 2011 class because he was taken in the supplemental draft later in the summer. Drafting him cost Oakland a third-round pick in 2012. He was a rookie last season and it will be interesting to see how he develops. He was a Davis pick and the new regime may or may not like him. Either way, he is still a project.


First pick: Defensive end Corey Liuget, No. 18.

Total picks: Eight

Stars: Liuget wasn’t great in a class that featured several impact defensive players. But he did look like somebody who will make an impact down the road. Third-round pick, receiver Vincent Brown, also showed nice progress. I think he could end up having a very solid career.

Duds: Second-round pick Marcus Gilchrist struggled at cornerback when he started. Still, his future is not lost. He could be moved to safety or perhaps he could be a nickel. The Chargers waived running back Jordan Todman. The team hoped the sixth-round pick could become the next Darren Sproles. Todman is now with Minnesota.

Back to the future? The Chargers surprisingly took Liuget even though many observers thought that San Diego would take an offensive lineman or a pass-rusher. Now, a year later, the Chargers are looking at offensive linemen and pass-rushers with the No. 18 pick.

What’s the future of this class? I think the other three classes in the division all have better potential. I’m not sure if this will ever be a great class, but Liuget and Brown can really help it. Linebacker Jonas Mouton (second round) missed the entire season with an injury. He will get a chance to play this season.


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