Oakland Raiders: Kory Sheets

The Oakland Raiders had no comment to ESPN.com on a report that recently signed running back Kory Sheets “had been granted an absolute discharge Monday after being charged with possession of marijuana near Estevan” in Canada, the Leader-Post reported Wednesday.

A Raiders spokesperson did confirm, however, that Sheets had been at the team facility in Alameda, Calif., participating in the team’s voluntary offseason workout program.

Sheets was reportedly arrested on March 7 after being pulled over for speeding.

Per the Leader-Post: “According to a report in the Estevan Mercury, the arresting constable noticed an odour of marijuana while approaching Sheets’ vehicle. When asked about the odour, Sheets produced two joints and a small canister, which amounted to 6.4 grams of marijuana.

“The constable noted that Sheets showed signs of drug impairment and a field sobriety test led to a 24-hour suspension of Sheets’ licence ... Sheets was released on $500 bond.”

Sheets’ agent, though, told the Leader-Post, “The court record is there and he received an absolute discharge which means there is no criminal record and the matter is at an end.”

Sheets, who signed with the Raiders on Feb. 12, was the CFL’s Grey Cup MVP for the Saskatchewan Roughriders after rushing for a Grey Cup-record 197 yards with two touchdowns against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Nov. 24.

Saying he had to supplement his income because he didn't receive a signing bonus with the Raiders, Sheets, 29, had been working as a driver’s assistant for Fast Trucking Service in Canada before joining the Raiders for workouts.

The biggest question regarding the Oakland Raiders signing free-agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew to a three-year contract on Friday is this: How exactly do they plan to use him in their retooled offense? As the bellcow? In tandem? As insurance?

Jones-Drew said he was told by the Raiders he was coming in to compete.

"We have different running abilities," he said in a conference call Friday. "But the competition is what's going to make us better. We'll push each other."

He joins a crowded if somewhat unsettled backfield.

Since being the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2008, Darren McFadden has been the Raiders' starter ... when healthy. And Oakland re-signed him to an incentive-laden deal to do just that in 2014, even though he has missed 19 of the Raiders' previous 41 games and has never played more than 13 games in a season.

The Raiders are also high on Latavius Murray, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury after being drafted in the sixth round. Plus, they signed Canadian Football League Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets, and the Raiders still have Jeremy Stewart on the roster.

Or, as Murray tweeted:

Jones-Drew, a diminutive three-time Pro Bowler who has a lot of mileage on his powerful legs, has had health issues himself of late. It just so happens that in the past two seasons, those injuries occurred in Oakland.

In 2012, after holding out in the preseason, the 5-foot-8, 205-pound Jones-Drew broke his left foot on the Jaguars' second play from scrimmage against the Raiders in Week 7 and did not play another down all season. He underwent what he termed "major" surgery that offseason.

Last season, Jones-Drew sprained his left ankle on a touchdown-saving flying tackle by Charles Woodson in the first quarter of the Week 2 game.

"It was a hell of a tackle," Jones-Drew said, "there's nothing I can say."

Jones-Drew, 29, missed the rest of that game but played the rest of the season, rushing for 803 yards while averaging a career-low 3.4 yards per carry. His previous low was his 4.2 in 2008.

"I feel like I have a ton left in the tank," he said, and maybe splitting time with McFadden would keep both off the injury report. Or perhaps it limits their efficiency and productivity in smaller-than-usual roles.

Whatever the case may be, Jones-Drew grew up in the East Bay a fan of the Raiders, prepped at high school powerhouse De La Salle and has lived in the Bay Area every offseason since Jacksonville selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft out of UCLA. Playing home games in front of his grandmother now, he said, would be a bonus.

Jones-Drew said the other teams that reached out to him wanted him to join them in a mentor role, or as a backup.

"But the Raiders," he said, "gave me an opportunity to compete.

"It just feels like home."
Three-time Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew is scheduled to make a free-agent visit with the Oakland Raiders on Friday, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.

Some might see it as a curious development, in that the Raiders’ current biggest needs are on the interior of the defensive line and at cornerback.

But the bowling ball-like Jones-Drew, who grew up near Oakland and went to high school at powerhouse De La Salle, would also bring explosiveness to the running game ... so long as he stays healthy.

He missed 10 games in 2012 and one last season, after a flying tackle by the Raiders’ Charles Woodson, and is coming off a career-low 3.4 yards per carry average with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He rushed for 803 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.

Still, the Raiders do have questions at running back as they re-signed the oft-injured -- but just as tantalizing and teasing -- Darren McFadden, who has averaged 3.3 yards per carry the past two seasons. They are hoping for big things from Latavius Murray, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury after being a sixth-round draft pick. Oakland also signed Kory Sheets, the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup MVP.

Jones-Drew, 29, was a first-team All-Pro in 2011 after leading the league with 1,606 yards rushing. He played for current Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson when Olson was the Jaguars’ assistant head coach/QB coach in 2012.
As strange as it seemed for the Oakland Raiders to re-marry oft-injured running back Darren McFadden while allowing Rashad Jennings to leave for the New York Giants, it is interesting to hear McFadden's take on why he chose to return.

Especially since he apparently had other, higher-paying offers on the table.

"We did have real interest from four or five other teams -- one offered more money," McFadden's agent, Ian Greengross, told the Bay Area News Group. "Darren wanted to stay a Raider. He felt like he still had something to prove in silver and black."

Indeed, and many would see McFadden's stance as refreshing, given he chose not to chase the money as he re-signed with Oakland on a one-year, $4-million deal, with $2.25 million of it in incentives and $100,000 guaranteed.

Since being drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in 2008, McFadden's potential has outweighed his production as he has missed 19 of the Raiders' last 41 games, 29 in his six-year career, due to injuries.

Plus, McFadden has averaged 3.3 yards per carry (career lows) in each of the past two seasons after going for a career-high 5.4 yards per carry in a truncated 2011.

McFadden, who has never played more than 13 games in a season, presumably would be atop a depth chart at tail back that includes Latavius Murray, Jeremy Stewart and CFL Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets.
Might the Oakland Raiders actually be entertaining the thought of re-signing oft-injured running back Darren McFadden?

According to a tweet from NFL.com's Gil Brandt, McFadden's agent will meet with the Raiders this weekend to "discuss re-signing" with the team that initialy took the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up No. 4 overall in 2008.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said last month, though, that he thought McFadden and his agent would test the market to see what his value was as a free agent.

"And that's the thing," McKenzie said, "when you're talking about the games that he's missed, he has no idea, and when I say 'he' I'm talking about his agent, [he] has no idea what his market value will be and I couldn't tell you what the other 31 teams think, and his agent is leaning toward trying to figure out what that is. So, we'll see."

McFadden has never played more than 13 games in a season and has missed 19 of the Raiders' last 41 games. Over the past two seasons, he has averaged just 3.29 yards per carry.

Still, he will be 27 years old on Aug. 27 and when he's right, he's nice, as evidenced by his 2010 season when he rushed for 1,157 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and seven touchdowns in 13 games. But that was with Hue Jackson as the Raiders' offensive coordinator and Jackson is now the O.C. in Cincinnati.

McKenzie said he wants to re-sign the hard-running Rashad Jennings, who rushed for 733 yards last year, and his 2.20 yards per carry after first contact average ranked second in the NFL. Plus, Oakland will have 2013 draft pick Latavius Murray, who spent last year on injured reserve, and the Raiders also just signed Canadian Football League Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets.
Kory Sheets, the reigning Canadian Football League Grey Cup MVP and newest member of the Oakland Raiders, insists he is a different running back than the last time his name dotted an NFL roster.

“I'm a more complete player,” Sheets told ESPN radio affiliate 95.7 The Game on Friday. “Now I'm a lot more patient runner and a lot better blocker than I was back then.”

Sheets, who signed with the Raiders on Wednesday, initially came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Purdue in 2009, signing with the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad. The Miami Dolphins signed him to their active squad later in the season and he appeared in two games and had one carry for 5 yards. He was on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad in 2011 before heading north for two seasons with the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In two years there, the 5-foot-11, 208-pound Sheets rushed for a total of 2,875 yards, on 516 carries, while averaging 5.6 yards per carry and he scored 23 rushing touchdowns. He also had 86 receptions for 781 yards and two TDs.

“I started out fourth on the depth chart,” Sheets said. “I went up there and earned a starting role and basically had great success and never looked back.”

He rushed for a Grey Cup-record 197 yards, on 20 carries, with two touchdowns in Saskatchewan's 45-23 defeat of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last November.

With two of the Raiders' tailbacks unrestricted free agents -- Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings and 2013 draft pick Latavius Murray spending last year in injured reserve -- Oakland has questions at running back. And while Sheets said nothing was discussed about making him a featured back, there will be an opportunity to compete.

“I'm a runner, basically, when I get the ball in my hand it's a non-stop thing,” Sheets said. “You never know what you're really going to get when a man's trying to tackle me. It could be a stiff arm or I could try to run through a guy or shake him.”

Raiders Twitter Mailbag

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
Let’s get right to the mailbag, shall we?