All posts by Shawn Jonas

Oakland Raiders’ Mario Edwards Jr’s Press Conference After First Rookie Mini Camp Practice

May 8, 2015 1:55 PM PT

Alameda, CA. – The past week has been a week of change for Mario Edwards Jr. He was drafted, flown across the country, and today officially began his work on the field with his fellow rookies.
In addition to all of the new experiences that have come his way, Edwards was greeted by a welcome change from his time at Florida State – music during practice.

Edwards Jr. : “That’s one cool thing we didn’t do in college at Florida State,” Edwards Jr. said. “We never played music, except for in the beginning. But to play music and get your mind elsewhere and pump you up during the practice was pretty cool.”

KEN NORTON, JR. IS MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION

Edwards Jr. has only had one practice under Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. but he already likes the intensity the former linebacker is bringing to the table.

Shawn Jonas : I asked Mario what he thought about Ken Norton Jr’s intensity. 

Edwards Jr. : I like him a lot,” Edwards Jr. said. “He’s very vocal and he wants the best out of his players. He’s yelling and screaming because he wants to push you and get every drop out of you that you have in you. I like that type of coach.”

EDWARDS HAS A CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER

After going through the pre-draft process and having every aspect of his game dissected, Edwards Jr. is ready to get to work and just play football.
That being said, he’s not forgetting all of the negative feedback he received throughout the process, and is using that to fuel him going forward.

Edwards Jr. : Just a chip on my shoulder from just naysayers or people that criticized me so much,” Edwards Jr. said. “Really I wanted to prove to myself. I have a chip on myself because I want to be the best that I can be.”

Amari Cooper’s Press Conference After First Rookie Mini Camp Session

May 8, 2015 1:15 PM PT

Alameda, CA. – The number one wide receiver, and fourth player overall in the 2015 NFL Draft,  Amari Cooper participates in his first practice as an Oakland Raider.

The rookie mini camp session was only a day after he arrived in Oakland and the Raiders also announce the signing of the Highly touted receiver out of Alabama to a contract.

He played three seasons at Alabama, appearing in 40 games and making 30 starts. Cooper left Alabama as the school’s most productive receiver in their illustrious history, setting school records with 228 receptions, 3,463 receiving yards and 31 receiving touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 211-pounder also ranks near the top of the SEC’s receiving record books in every major category, finishing third all-time in receptions, second all-time in receiving yards and first in receiving touchdowns while helping the Crimson Tide win the BCS National Championship in 2012.

As a senior, the Miami, Fla., native was awarded the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver. He was also named the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year and finished third in voting for the Heisman Trophy. On his way to being a unanimous first-team All-American selection his senior season, Cooper posted 124 receptions (fourth most by any player from a Power Five Conference in FBS history) for 1,727 receiving yards (Alabama and SEC record) and 16 receiving touchdowns.

It was important for the former Alabama wide receiver to get the business part of the game taken care of so he could put all of his focus on football.

“My agent advised me to do that, so I guess it was important to him,” said Cooper.

Cooper participated in a short press conference after his first rookie mini camp session. 

All Media by Shawn Jonas

Oakland Raiders Set To Release Veteran Wide Receiver James Jones

May 3, 2015 10:28 PM PT

Featured photo By Shawn Jonas

Alameda, California –  Fallon Smith of CSN Bay Area broke the news of the Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has notified veteran wide receiver James Jones that he will be released.

Jones had signed a three-year contract with the Raiders . The move will clear 3.4 million dollars in salary-cap savings and will cost the Raiders no dead money in the move.

The 31 year-old James Jones will be entering his 9th NFL season in 2015. The San Jose, California native signed with the Raiders in 2014 after spending 7 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He attended Gunderson High School and is a San Jose State alum.

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Photo by Shawn Jonas

He played all 16 games with the Raiders and had 73 receptions for 666 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2014. His career totals, 383 receptions for 4,971 yards and 43 touchdowns.

The Raiders have new found depth at the wide receiver position since signing Michael Crabtree in free agency and drafting the highly touted Amari Cooper with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday.

The Raiders depth chart looks something like this Amari Cooper, Rod Streater, Michael Crabtree, Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Kenbrell Thompkins, Seth Roberts, and newly added 7th round draft pick Andre Debose.

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Unofficially, Oakland also signed Freson State wide receiver Josh Harper. Harper reunites with quarterback Derek Carr. They played together for three years and in Carr’s final season Harper caught 79 passes for 1011 yards and 13 touchdowns.  Carr’s other main target at Fresno State, Davante Adams, was drafted by Green Bay in 2014. Harper’s catches went up as a senior due in large part to seeing a larger portion of the passes in 2014 with 131 targets. In improving from 79 to 90 catches his receiving yards also went up to 1097.

Youth is the theme to this offseason moves for the Raiders and the trend continues with tonights release of James Jones. Reggie McKenzie obviously believes he has his franchise quarterback and he is surrounding him with young talent to hopefully build a winner and go on a nice long run.

The Oakland Raiders Selected Kansas Linebacker Ben Heeney in the 5th Round

May 2, 2015 12:00 PM PT

Alameda, California – The Oakland Raiders selected University of Kansas Linebacker Ben Heeney in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Ben Heeney  6 foot tall and 231 pounds. He led Kansas in tackles for the last three seasons topping out his senior year with 127. While Heeney is a undersized he plays fast with good speed.  Aggressive pursuit angles. His switch is always flipped on the field, displaying a motor that never quits and chasing down plays he has no business being involved in. Smart, instinctive player who read/reacts well, breaking down well on the move. Locks onto his target quickly and doesn’t make many mistakes. Physical wrap-up tackler and throws his body around with toughness to take the punishment. Plays pissed off with a chip and violent, competitive nature. Floats well in coverage to jump passes and get his hands on the ball (eight passes defended, four interceptions in his career). Experienced with man coverage responsibilities and was often the only linebacker on the field, rarely leaving the field. Physical downhill blitzer. Try-hard motor and leaves it all out on the field with resilient mentality. Handled adversity with a handful of different coaches in his four seasons at Kansas (9-39 record over that stretch).

Productive Career

Henry Led the Jayhawks in tackles each of the past three seasons, and led the NCAA in solo tackles in 2014 with 7.3 per game

2014 STATISTICS

Tackles      Sacks     Tackles for Loss
127               1.5                       12.0

College Bio

2014 (Sr.): Named Fourth Team All-America by Phil Steele Magazine… Honorable Mention Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year… Selected as a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team honoree by the Associated Press, conference coaches, 247sports.com, ESPN.com, Phil Steele Magazine, Waco Tribune-Herald, FOXSports.com and CBSSports.com… Voted a team captain for the second-straight season… Invited to play in the 2015 East-West Shrine Game following the season… Started all 12 games in 2014… Finished the regular season with 127 tackles, one shy of the conference lead… Led the NCAA and Big 12 in solo tackles with 7.3 per outing…Recorded the 2014 Big 12 single-game high 21 tackles at Texas Tech – 17 of which were solo tackles – marking the second-most in a single game in conference history… Tackled in double digits seven times on the year… Finished his career with 335 total tackles which is eighth best in KU history… He also recorded 35.5 tackles-for-loss in his career which ranks fourth best in the Kansas record book… Opened his senior campaign with a team-high 11 tackles vs. SEMO… Collected 15 tackles, tying a then-career-high, and posted one tackle- for-loss at Duke… Boasted seven solo tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage and a forced fumble against Central Michigan… Totaled 10 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, one quarterback hurry and one fumble recovery against Texas… Posted six tackles and two tackles-for-loss at West Virginia… Logged a game-high 14 tackles and a sack to go with 3.5 tackles for loss against Oklahoma State… Boasted the most single-game tackles at KU since 1979 and a Big 12 Conference season-high, along with a personal-best, 21 total stops along with an interception at Texas Tech… Logged his sixth double-digit tackling effort of 2014 with 10 tackles and carried the ball once for no gain at Baylor… Garnered seven tackles against Iowa State… Led the field with 11 total tackles against TCU… Contributed nine tackles – including one behind the line of scrimmage – forced a fumble and recorded one quarterback hurry at Oklahoma… Provided six tackles, including one in the backfield, at K-state.

2013 (Jr.): Selected as an All-Big 12 First Team selection by Phil Steele Magazine and an All-Big 12 Second Team selection by the conference coaches, Associated Press, San Antonio Express-News, Athlon Sports and the Waco Tribune-Herald after he finished fourth in the conference with 8.7 tackles per game and ranked fifth in tackles-for-loss per game with 1.15…Played in 10 games, starting all 10 at MLB…Missed the Oklahoma and Baylor games with an injury… Finished with a team-best 88 total stops, including 11.5 tackles for loss and the first three interceptions of his career… Reached double figures in tackles in six of his 10 games played, including four Big 12 contests… Tallied four tackles, all solos, in KU’s win over South Dakota…Credited with 1.0 sack for a loss of four yards vs. the Coyotes… Turned in a career-best 15 tackles at Rice… Also had 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack and two pass breakups… Had his first career interception to go along with 10 tackles, one pass breakup and 0.5 TFL vs. LA Tech… Led KU with 12 tackles, including seven solos, in the TTU game… Recorded aninterception for the second-straight game…Also had 2.0 TFLs vs. the Red Raiders… Had two tackles at TCU, including 1.0TFL,beforeleavingthegamewithaninjury…Returned from injury vs.Texas collecting a team-high nine tackles… Led KU with 11 tackles, including two TFLs, and a quarterback hurry at Oklahoma State… Had four tackles, including a TFL, plus an interception which he returned 28 yards in KU’s win over West Virginia… Tallied 11 tackles and one quarterback hurry at Iowa State… Led KU with 10 tackles vs. Kansas State, including 1.5 TFLs.

2012 (So.): Garnered All-Big 12 Second Team honors by the league’s coaches as well as the Associated Press and Phil Steele Magazine… Started all 12 games at middle linebacker… Ranked third in the Big 12 in total tackles (112) and tackles per game (9.3)… Also ranked fifth in the league in TFLs (12.0)… His 12 TFLs produced a loss of 31 yards… Also had a sack, a forced fumble and two pass breakups… Had five games with double-digit tackles… Made first career start and collected five tackles against South Dakota State… Recorded 12 stops at Northern Illinois… Made a career-high 14 tackles, including a pair of TFLs and a forced fumble, at Kansas State… Had nine stops, including seven solos, against Oklahoma State… Totaled 13 stops against Texas and added a pass breakup… Recorded 13 tackles, incluing a solo TFL and a quarterback hurry, at Baylor… Made nine tackles, including two TFLs, at Texas Tech… Registered 13 tackles, including one TFL, against Iowa State… Collected a career-best four TFLs, including first sack, along with eight total tackles at West Virginia.

2011 (Fr.): Played in all 12 contests, seeing time on defense as well as special teams… Made collegiate debut against McNeese State, recording two tackles, including one solo stop… Had single tackles against Northern Illinois, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma and Texas… Matched season high with two tackles against Kansas State… One of 10 true freshmen to play in 2011.

High School: Ranked as the 12th-best player in the state of Kansas and the 58th-best outside linebacker in the nation according to Rivals.com… Named to the Wichita Eagle’s Top 11 football team… Named 5A first-team all-state by the Topeka Capital-Journal as a running back… Rushed for 2,083 yards and 39 touchdowns on 246 carries as a senior, setting school records in both yards and touchdowns in a season… Ran for a school-record 333 yards against Salina Central… Defensively recorded 143 career tackles, including 14 for loss… Added four interceptions.
Personal: Born in Overland Park, Kansas… Son of Joe and Mitzi Heeney… Has one brother… Father and two uncles played baseball at KU… Majoring in liberal arts and sciences.

Player Overview CBS Sports

Heeney had virtually no experience at linebacker in high school and didn’t get much instruction there as a freshman, but the new coaching staff saw his potential and he flourished as a three-year starter, leading the Jayhawks in tackles each season. He lacks ideal NFL size and length, but leaves it all on the field and thrives on instincts, playing with a throwback, fierce style. There is a lot to like about Heeney with his play speed and read/react skills to be a hunter, but the body stiffness and average athleticism limit his next level upside.
A three-star LB recruit out of high school, Heeney received only two FBS-level scholarship offers (Kansas and Colorado State), but fortunately one was the Jayhawks, his dream school and where his father and two uncles played baseball. A running back in high school, he didn’t see the field much as a true freshman, but earned the starting MLB job as a sophomore in 2012 and led the team in tackles (112), earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors. Heeney missed two games due to injury (knee) in 2013, but still led the team in stops (88) and again took home Second Team All-Big 12 honors. He had his best statistical season in 2014 as a senior, finishing with 127 total tackles and 12.0 tackles for loss, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors.

STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES CBS Sports

STRENGTHS: Good play speed with fast, aggressive pursuit angles. The switch is always flipped on the field, displaying a motor that never quits and chasing down plays he has no business being involved in. Smart, instinctive player who read/reacts well, breaking down well on the move. Locks onto his target quickly and doesn’t make many mistakes. Physical wrap-up tackler and throws his body around with toughness to take the punishment. Plays pissed off with a chip and violent, competitive nature. Floats well in coverage to jump passes and get his hands on the ball (eight passes defended, four interceptions in his career). Experienced with man coverage responsibilities and was often the only linebacker on the field, rarely leaving the field. Physical downhill blitzer. Try-hard motor and leaves it all out on the field with resilient mentality. Handled adversity with a handful of different coaches in his four seasons at Kansas (9-39 record over that stretch).
Productive career — led the Jayhawks in tackles each of the past three seasons, and led the NCAA in solo tackles in 2014 with 7.3 per game.

WEAKNESSES: Undersized with a maxed-out build and short arms. Limited athlete and tight in space, lacking easy fluidity to quickly recover after false steps. Plays fast, but straight-linish and needs to stop and collect himself changing directions. Hits too high at times and will slide off ballcarriers. Needs to improve his discipline to better balance his nonstop movements with his ball awareness. Overaggressive angles and will misjudge speed of ballcarriers at times. Shows body stiffness in coverage and struggles to find the ball once his back is turned to the line of scrimmage. Needs to improve his technique to better stack-and-shed and work his way through the trash.      -Dane Brugler

Oakland Raiders Q & A Transcript

Q: When did you get the idea the Raiders were interested in you?

Heeney: “Not even, man. That caught me so off guard. I had no idea, but I couldn’t be happier. So happy. No one has really been in contact with me from the Raiders, so it’s kind of caught me off guard. I guess that’s when the best things happen, when you don’t expect them.”

Q: What do you know about this team and this defense?

Heeney: “I don’t know much, to be honest with you. I know that Sal Sunseri is the linebackers coach. I’m very excited to work with him. I know [defensive coordinator] Ken Norton, [Jr.] is just an amazing coach, the defensive coordinator. I just can’t wait to get up there and try to prove myself and become one of the guys.”

Q: Where do you see yourself fitting best in a 4-3 defense?

Heeney: “I think I can play anything. I think I can play Mike, Will – I really think I can play anything and be productive and be a guy that you guys can count on. More than anything, I’m ready to come in and pave my way on special teams and try to be a guy is a four[-unit] special teams starter. I think I can start on every special team right away and eventually work my way up and become a contributing factor on defense.”

Q: The fourth-round pick, Jon Feliciano, said he can play all five positions across the offensive line. You can play all three linebacker positions. Did the Raiders tell you they like your position versatility?

Heeney: “Yeah, definitely. That’s what they said when they first called me. I got off the phone with the GM [Reggie McKenzie], and he just said he’s been watching me and he and Jack Del Rio have been talking, and they really like everything I bring to the table. I just couldn’t be more excited. I’m just really excited to see, when I get up there, how everything is up there.”

Q: Now that you’ve been drafted, is it everything you thought it was going to be?

Heeney: “Man, it’s everything and more. This is what I’ve been working toward since I was in third grade, man. Just having my family and friends around me when it happened, it was so special. Everyone started crying and it’s just what I’ve been working toward since I was in third grade and started playing football. Never in a million years did I think I would be an Oakland Raider, but I couldn’t be more happy to be one.”

Q: From your high school stats, it looks like you were a pretty accomplished running back. Is that what you thought you were going to be later in your career?

Heeney: “I actually thought I’d be a running back in college. I grew up playing running back and also I played defense, but I would get like five touchdowns a game, four touchdowns a game. I was a very good running back, so I thought that was kind of the path I would take, but I got to college and they saw me more as just an athlete and I eventually wound up as just a linebacker, and now that’s what I’m playing. I think I’m just very versatile.”

Q: Did your dad and two uncles all play baseball at Kansas? Did you ever have baseball aspirations?

Heeney: “Yeah, actually, as a little kid, baseball was my best sport – baseball and football. My dad and everyone else always thought I had a chance to play in the major leagues for baseball. It’s always been between baseball and football, but football is my number one love. I like hitting people. I’m excited to be a part of the Raider defense. Man, I’m so excited.”

Q: How did that transition from running back to linebacker take place?

Heeney: “I think they just kind of saw me as an athlete. I’m from Kansas and they already had a bunch of running back, so they recruited me as an athlete-slash-outside linebacker. They thought I’d play like Sam or like a nickel back almost, but it’s just the pieces fell where they fell and I was the best guy for the job at middle linebacker and I became a three-year starter at linebacker. Yeah, man, I just kind of fell into it, I guess.”

Q: How much outside linebacker have you played at Kansas?

Heeney: “Zero. I’ve played middle linebacker for three years.”

Q: Were you a Chiefs fan growing up?

Heeney: “Yeah, man, I was, but I’m not anymore.”

Oakland Raiders Trade Down Select Miami Guard Jon Feliciano

May 2, 2015 10:30 AM PT

Alameda, California – When day three started the Oakland Raiders originally had pick 102, but traded it to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for pick 124th in the fourth round, 161st  fifth round and  242nd seventh round.

When pick 124 came up, the Raiders traded back again four spots to 128 and picked up another seventh round pick (No. 218).

What started the day as a seven-man draft class the Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie turned  into a 10-man draft class.

They finally selected Miami guard Jon Feliciano in the fourth round of the NFL draft, 128th  overall.

The heavy-footed brawler 6-foot-4, 323 pound Feliciano started 13 games for Miami and was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention selecteion.

The Raiders brought Feliciano to compete at the right guard position with  Khalif Barnes and Tony Bergstrom. Coach Jack Del Rio also mentioned the right tackle position  is wide open with  Austin Howard and Menelik Watson competing.  Coach Jack Del Rio has voiced his preference for Barnes to be a swing player available at all positions except center.

Scouting Repport

Feliciano is huge, a hulking man who looks as heavy as his weight suggests. He has a thick lower body and maintains his place against a pass rush. He is a strong run blocker as well, using his size to create lanes for running backs. He doesn’t have great mobility, and might not be a good blocker in space.

College Bio

2014 (Senior): Started season opener at left guard against Louisville…Made second consecutive start of season against FAMU, paving way for 198 rushing yards…Started against Arkansas State, helping lead offense to 488-yard performance…Started against Nebraska and helped offense generate 435 yards…Saw time at both left guard and right tackle in start against Duke, leading way to 426-yard offensive performance….Started at right tackle against Georgia Tech…Started at right tackle against Cincinnati, helping offense finish with 621 total yards…Helped guide offense to 456-yard performance in road win over Virginia Tech…Started at left tackle against North Carolina, paving way for 494 total yards and 295 rushing yards…Helped lead offense to 492-yard performance against Florida State…Made 11th start of season on offensive line against Virginia…Started season finale on offensive line, leading team offense to 421 total yards…Made final start of career in Duck Commander Independence Bowl against South Carolina, helping lead offense to 422 total yards.

2013 (Junior): Started all 13 games along offensive line … Made 11 starts at left guard and two starts at right tackle … Honorable mention All-ACC selection by ACSMA … Helped anchor offensive line that paved way for Hurricanes offense that averaged 425.8 yards of total offense and 33.8 points per game … Earned letter … Graduated from Miami in May 2014.

2012 (Sophomore): Started all 12 games at left guard … Earned All-ACC honorable mention from ACSMA … Anchored O-line that paved way for third-best passing offense (295.4) and fifth-best total offense (440.2) in ACC … Earned letter.

2011 (Redshirt Freshman): Saw action in 10 games and earned eight starts … Suffered injury midseason but returned to start two of team’s final three games … Finished with overall grade of 84 percent … Allowed zero sacks on season … Earned letter.

2010 (True Freshman): Sat out first season at Miami and participated on practice squad, redshirted to retain eligibility.

High School: Three-star recruit and No. 19 offensive guard by Scout.com … Rated three-star prospect by Rivals.com … No. 56 prospect on Bill Buchalter’s Florida Top 100 state list … First-team All-Broward by Sun Sentinel.

Oakland Raiders Q & A Transcript 

Q: Where are you? What’s the scene like when you got the news?

Feliciano: “I’m at my boy’s house in Davie, Fla. I got my family here along with my high school basketball coach, my high school football coaches. We went berserk when we heard my name.”

Q: We’re just finding out some of your back story. You’ve been through so much. What does it mean to you to maybe be able to help your family with an NFL contract?

Feliciano: “Yeah growing up there was a lot of just extra stuff that I had to go through and everyone here at this house right now at this party helped me get through it. That’s why I wanted them around me and to be able to get drafted in the fourth round by such a great organization. It’s a blessing and I’m so happy.”

Q: Did you have much contact with the Raiders before? Did you know that they were interested? It seems like a lot of the players didn’t know and wound up being surprised.

Feliciano: “No, actually me and [offensive line] coach [Mike] Tice, we kicked it off at the combine. He was a great guy and I had a real good time talking with him. This is one of the top spots for me I wanted to go. To hear my name called by them is just unbelievable.”

Q: This team needs a starting right guard. Does that excite you that there is going to be some competition right away and that you may be able to contribute early on?

Feliciano: “Of course. That’s all you want coming in is an opportunity to compete and get better. We have that there at the Raiders and I know everyone is going to go in there and compete and try to get better and that’s going to be awesome.”

Q: Did you play on the right side or the left side at Miami?

Feliciano: “Both. I had time at right guard, right tackle, left tackle, left guard and center sometimes, so I can do whatever.”

Q: Where are you most comfortable?

Feliciano: “I played left guard most of my career, but moving over to right guard is not a big deal.”

Q: Raiders are big with offensive line with position versatility. That sounds like something that is right up your alley.

Feliciano: “That’s something that I pride myself in, being able to play all five positions. It’s going to help me here with the Raiders.”

Q: You said the Raiders were one of the teams you were hoping you might end up with. How come?

Feliciano: “Just because my relationship with coach Tice. He’s a great guy. Me and him really hit it off at the combine. They have [defensive line coach] Jethro Franklin on their staff and I was with him for four years at Miami, so just being able to be with people that I know. Plus, Clive [Walford] just got drafted there yesterday. I know it’s going to be so amazing to be able to play with him again.”

Q: Have you gotten a chance to talk with him already?

Feliciano: “I haven’t yet. I tried to call him but he’s probably just as busy as I am right now.”

Q: Have they told you that right guard is pretty much where they have you planned for?

Feliciano: “No, they haven’t really said anything. They just said to be ready and just enjoy the moment right now.”

Q: At what point did you feel the NFL was a real possibility for you?
Feliciano: “Growing up I always dreamt of playing in the NFL. Probably when I got to college it became feasible to follow my dreams and play in the NFL.”

Q: What is your weight at right now and what do you think is ideal for you?

Feliciano: “Right now I’m at 325, 327. That will probably be my plan weight.”

Q: I know Mike Tice likes big, tough guys. Is that what he told you?
Feliciano: “I fit what Raiders players are supposed to be like. It’s awesome for me to come to the Raiders.”

Q: What do we need to know about Clive Walford?

Feliciano: “He’s tough and he’s going to bring it every day. I think he’s going to score a lot of touchdowns for us.”

Offensive Line Coach Mike Tice Got His Guy

Mike Tice likes his guards big, physical and quick, and that’s precisely what he got in fourth round selection, Jon Feliciano.

“Our guys are going to have to be able to run,” Tice said Saturday after the Raiders selected Feliciano. “They’re going to have to be able to pull. Jon pulls well already, so that’s good. I’m excited to add him to the mix. It’s going to be good for our room.”

Listed at 6’5” and tipping the scales at 325 pounds, the former Miami Hurricane figures to fit the mold of a Mike Tice-lineman, and will compete for playing time on the right side of the offensive line.
Tice is looking forward to spending time with the Davie, Fla., native and the feeling is mutual.

The pair met at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., and after speaking with Tice, Feliciano put the Raiders on the short list of teams he wanted to play for.

“Me and offensive line Coach Mike Tice, we kicked it off at the combine,” Feliciano said during a conference after his selection. “He was a great guy and I had a real good time talking with him. This is one of the top spots for me I wanted to go. To hear my name called by them is just unbelievable.”

Feliciano’s selection adds depth and competition along the Raiders offensive line, and Tice is pleased to have another student to mentor.

“I’m very pleased with Jon,” he said. “I think it’s a good pick for us.”

Oakland Raiders Selected Tight End Clive Walford In The Third Round

May 1,  2015 6:52 PM PT

Alameda, California – The Oakland Raiders selected University of Miami (Fla.) TE Clive Walford in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Walford is a dual-threat tight end with a basketball background with  huge upside. He dominated the Senior Bowl, showing athleticism, a feel for space and a big catch radius. Walford is a very good move-blocker who can seal off the edge with an angle block and does well getting off his initial assignment to get to the second level.

He effectively uses his 34-inch arms to lock out defenders and is a tough player at the point of attack. He’s a three-down tight end with the versatility to play in-line, in motion or flexed into the slot. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see an NFL team use Walford in the backfield at times if it doesn’t carry a fullback.

2014 STATISTICS

Receptions: 44
Receiving Yards: 676
Touchdowns: 7

College Bio:

2014 (Senior): Has established himself as one of country’s premier tight ends in final year…Started in season opener at Louisville, recording three catches for 38 yards…Hauled in team’s first touchdown of season, two-yard catch in back of endzone…Registered long catch of 31 yards against Cardinals…Caught two passes against FAMU for 31 yards, including long of 16…Recorded three passes, including second touchdown of season, totaling 57 yards against Arkansas State…Led team with seven catches against Nebraska, finished with 80 yards and one touchdown…Caught two passes for 23 yards in start against Duke…Totaled 37 yards on two receptions in start against Georgia Tech…Led team with four catches in start against Cincinnati, finishing with 40 yards and one touchdown…Had team-high totals of six catches, 89 yards and two receiving touchdowns in start against North Carolina…Had game-high totals of four catches and 127 yards, including 61-yard touchdown catch, in start against Florida State…Recorded game-high totals of 105 yards on seven catches in start against Virginia…Totaled 49 receiving yards on four catches in start against Pittsburgh, including long of 31 yards.

2013 (Junior): Played in all 13 games, making 12 starts at tight end … Finished season with 454 receiving yards and two TDs on 34 catches … Ranked second on team in receptions … Opened season with three catches for 34 yards and TD in win over FAU … Added 50 yards on two catches, including season-long 36-yard grab, in win over Savannah State … Second TD of season came in home win over Georgia Tech … Had 4 receptions in three straight games – four for 33 yards vs. Wake Forest, four for 46 yards at Florida State and five for 23 yards vs. Virginia Tech … Streak of 27 consecutive games with at least one reception snapped in home win vs. Virginia … First game without catch since Oct. 22, 2011, vs. Georgia Tech … Had two catches for 40 yards at Pitt, including 32-yarder … Eclipsed 1,000-yard mark for career in bowl game vs. Louisville … Hauled in four passes for 82 yards vs. Louisville in Russell Athletic Bowl … Earned letter.

2012 (Sophomore): Played in all 12 games, making five starts … Enjoyed career season as second-year TE, finishing third on team with 451 yards on 25 catches and tied for team lead with four receiving TDs … One of only two Hurricanes to catch at least one pass in all 12 games … Scored team’s lone TD at Kansas State, finishing with three grabs for 61 yards … Had two catches for 56 yards in win over Virginia Tech … Closed season with 3 TDs in final three games … Had 13 yards and TD on two catches in road loss at Virginia … Hauled in career-high 135 receiving yards and TD on three catches in home win over USF … Finished one yard shy of second 100-yard game at Duke, catching four passes for 99 yards and TD … Earned letter.
2011 (Redshirt Freshman): Played in all 12 games and earned eight starts, emerging as team’s primary target at tight end … Registered at least one catch in 10 of team’s 12 games … Finished fourth on team in catches (18) and yards (172) … Led Hurricanes with four catches and career-best 66 yards against then-No. 21 Virginia Tech … Also recorded career-long 25-yard reception againt Hokies … Scored career-first touchdown against Florida State … Earned letter.
2010 (True Freshman): Sat out first season at Miami, redshirted to retain eligibility.

Oakland Raiders Q & A Transcript

Q: Did you have any expectations about where you would fall in the draft? Were you surprised either in a good way or a bad way?
Walford: “I really didn’t have any preference. I thought was going to go more in the second but that didn’t work out. I’m not tripping. It is what it is.”

Q: Have you had any contact with the Raiders in the pre-draft process?

Walford: “Yeah at the combine and at the Senior Bowl. I talked to the Raiders a lot.”

Q: What would you say your strengths are as a player?

Walford: “I can hop for the ball. I’m a great pass-catcher. I’m a great run-blocker. I’m just a dual-threat tight end.”

Q: Are there NFL tight ends who you have followed or who you might model yourself after at all?

Walford: “Yeah of course. Rob Gronkowski from the Patriots.”

Q: Why would you say that your senior season went so well? You were obviously pretty productive.

Walford: “Just maturity, and becoming a legitimate leader and just focusing more.”

Q: Who have you talked to here with the Raiders so far?

Walford: “I talked to the offensive coordinator [Bill Musgrave], the GM [Reggie McKenzie], and I think the tight ends coach [Bobby Johnson], if I’m not mistaken.”

Q: What did Bill Musgrave tell you about your role here?

Walford: “He really didn’t say anything about my role. He just asked me if I’m ready to be a Raider, and I told him I’m ready.”

Q: Do you see the role of the tight end as diminishing in the NFL, or do you think you can be on the field for a lot of snaps?

Walford: “I mean, I don’t know. I’m going to go out to Oakland and just compete. I’m not looking to go start right away. I’m going out there to learn from the veterans and take some of their advice, but you know I’m going to compete at the same time. If I win that starting spot, then that’s all on God.”

Q: How much special teams background do you have?
Walford: “I played kick return in college. I played punt block. I played field goal.”

Q: Miami has a pretty good tradition of tight ends. Is that what attracted you to go there?

Walford: “We’ve got a great line of them, from Bubba Franks, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow, you name them. That’s what we do, we build tight ends. Standish Dobard is up next, a young tight end coming out of Miami.”

GM Reggie McKenzies Comments on Clive Walford

“We see him as a complete tight end,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “He’s not just a blocker or a receiver. He has the strength to block a defensive lineman or he can flex out and go catch a pass. He’s the total package when you’re looking at a tight end.”

Walford said he models his game from New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski.

McKenzie chose a Raider who he reminded him of.

“How about Raymond Chester,” he said with a laugh.

 

 

 

Oakland Raiders Select Mario Edwards Jr. Out Of Florida State In The Second Round 35th Overall

Alameda,  California – With the third pick in the second round, 35th overall, The Oakland Raiders Select Mario Edwards Jr.
Mario Edwards Jr. 
Defensive Line
Florida State
6- foot-3
279 pounds
 College career: Edwards was the No. 1 prospect out of high school, and played three seasons at Florida State. He registered 89 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, eight sacks and three forced fumbles over his career. He was a first-team All-ACC and a second team All-American as a junior.
Edwards Jr. is considered a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defensive system that the Raiders use.  His versatility may be the best aspect of his game. He can be used as an interior rusher, especially after Antonio Smith was cut.  He flourishes in stopping the running game. The Raiders plan to keep his weight around 280-285 lbs. which leads me to believe he will also used as a defensive end.  With the versatility of Khalil Mack and now Mario Edwards they could use both in a multitude of ways to keep offenses and opposing quarterbacks guessing.
NFL Scouting Report
OVERVIEW
Started 13 games and selected first-team All-ACC in 2014. Did not play against N.C. State after suffering a concussion the previous game (vs. Clemson). Selected third-team All-ACC in 2013 and missed two games with a hand injury. Had a sack in the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn. Only true freshman to start on defense in 2012 after replacing injured Tank Carradine. Rated No. 1 prospect in nation out of high school and was selected USA Today Defensive Player of the Year. His father, Mario, Sr., was a heralded cornerback at FSU and won a national championship in 1999-2000. His father also played in the NFL for five years after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys (sixth round) in 2000.
Analysis
STRENGTHS: Scheme versatile. Can play base end or defensive tackle in a 4-3 (depending on weight) or as a 3-4 defensive end. Has thick bubble and legs. Comes off snap with decent power. Can brace and anchor at point of attack. Flashes upper-body strength to press and lock out tackles. Above-average closing burst as tackle. Strength to leverage and toss blockers when motivated.
WEAKNESSES: Ineffective as pass rusher. Played some stand-up defensive end in college and showed no explosiveness off snap. Play speed and fire go missing from pass rush. Hand usage is hit or miss and appears to lack power with hands. Inconsistent getting arm extension, limiting ability to control and dominate a snap. Too involved in hand fighting and plays through a straw, losing sight of ball carrier.
DRAFT PROJECTION Rounds 3-4
BOTTOM LINE He’s a 3-4 defensive end or a 4-3 defensive tackle who has to make a living playing the run. Edwards failed to reach expectations while at Florida State and ended his career as a core defender rather than dominant force. His “level of ability” is higher than his current level of play and could continue to be the case unless he finds more passion and effort from snap to snap.
Oakland Raiders Q & A Transcript
Q: Did you grow up a Cowboys fan because of your dad? Who did you root for growing up?
Edwards Jr.: “I definitely was a Cowboys fan because my dad played, but I’m excited that Oakland chose me.”
Q: Were you in the same recruiting class as Menelik Watson at Florida State? Did you come in together?
Edwards Jr.: “No we didn’t come in together. Menelik came and had one year left. He was older than me.”
Q: Did you guys overlap one year?
Edwards Jr.: “Yeah we were there one year. I was there with him one year.”
Q: How much do you weigh right now? I had read that you are about 272 ppund, at least it was that way at your pro day.
Edwards Jr.: “Right. I’m at 277 right now.”
Q: Were you surprised that the Raiders called? Did you know that they were in on you? Was there interest expressed at the combine?
Edwards Jr.: “My first time I had talked to them was yesterday and then I talked to them again this morning and then my agent called me about four or five minutes before they were on the clock and let me know I was moving out West.”
Q: Are you excited to be reunited with Raiders linebackers coach Sal Sunseri?
Edwards Jr.: “Definitely man, my two years when he was there were great. I learned so much from him and we developed a great relationship and now to go back and play under him again is definitely an honor.”
Q: What’s the weight range that you feel comfortable playing at, because I know you’ve played different positions?
Edwards Jr.: “Talking to them, they like me at the 280-285 weight range, so that’s pretty easy to stay at.”
Q: Do they want you as an end then at that weight?
Edwards Jr.: “They want me as a Leo and to rush and then mismatch on the inside and do things like that as well.”
Q: Did you get caught up in all the pre-draft criticisms about your effort, desire and weight and how do you answer all those criticisms?
Edwards Jr.: “Not really. If they really understood that coming into FSU there was never a set weight for me to be at. The whole motto or the whole goal was as long as you can run and do what we ask you to do I don’t care what your weight is. And I’ve even asked [Florida State Head] Coach Jimbo Fisher to what was just too high of a weight and he replied, if you’re 310, 312 then they have to deal with you being at 310, 312. Don’t worry about the weight just play. It was never a structured weight for me to be at. Then again it was in my sophomore year when we were playing just two quarters and we were done when I was 280-287 and then I also have where my following junior year I’m 310 and I’m playing 70-75 plays a game. We played 14 games and out of eight or nine of them I didn’t step foot off the field. Even if I was 277 right now, nobody can go 100 percent 77 plays straight and be effective. If they really understood how it was set up and that there was really no weight limit for me, then they would understand how things turned out.”
Q: When you come out of high school as a top recruit, do you think that the bar is set so high that if you statically fall anywhere short of that then you are going to hear about it?
Edwards Jr.: “I mean that’s just the world that we live in today. I feel like if I would have controlled my weight my three years that I could have lived up to what my rankings were. However I can’t put myself behind the eight ball. I took full responsibility for that. I understand how it works.”
Q: What do you think of this role, as the Leo position can have a bunch of different responsibilities?
Edwards Jr.: “I’m excited to play anything, honestly. Whatever they want me to play, whatever fits best. I’m not just focusing on one specific thing, whether it’s pass rushing or anything like that. I’m trying to be a complete player. I’m trying to go out there and be great in the run and be great in the pass and go out there and contribute to the team.”
Q: You’ve played in a lot of big college games at Florida State. What kind of an advantage, if any, does that give you over some other prospects?
Edwards Jr.: “We may have played a few other better players, but I was [inaudible]. I don’t think it gives me any advantage over anyone else, because now if they’ve made it to the NFL, that means that they’re good as well. Every game, every week is going to be like a national championship game, because now it’s the cream of the crop. Everybody is good. Everybody is great. Everybody is big, strong and fast, so now you have to go separate yourself from them.”
Q: What was the scene like when you got the news today? Where were you and who was with you?
Edwards Jr.: “I was in Ocean Springs, Miss., with my grandma there, my aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, immediate family. Man, it was great. My whole house shook when they called me name on TV. We were definitely excited.”
Q: How many people do you think were there total?
Edwards Jr.: “Maybe about 20 to 22 people. Not many.”
Q: Your dad said you were a little overconfident coming out of high school. Do you think that was true?
Edwards Jr.: “I could say some of that was true. Coming out, No. 1 in in the nation and all that stuff, you have people saying you’re this and that, and all you’ve got to do is this and this and that. You kind of relax and take the foot off the pedal a little bit. But now, knowing that was the wrong thing to do, because once you get comfortable, as my dad said, you either get worse or you get better. There’s no in between. Me taking my foot off the gas pedal definitely caused me to gain weight and become worse. I just say that me getting a little too comfortable and complacent with where I was ranked kind of had its toll on me coming in overweight.”
Q: When did that light come on for you, when you realized you weren’t giving it what you needed to?
Edwards Jr.: “I would kind of say it came on when I first started in the Orange Bowl my freshman year. Coming into my sophomore year, I played at 280 to 287. Then my junior year, I came in at 310. I would say probably my freshman year. I got up to 310, but I was still a 500-plus squatter, 450-plus bencher, and still running 17 or 18 miles per hour. So it wasn’t that I couldn’t perform, I just couldn’t perform for a long time.”
Q: A lot of scouts think you helped yourself at your pro day. Did it feel like that to you?
Edwards Jr.: “Definitely. I felt like I had a decent enough grade coming out and I knew that if I could do great in my – first of all, getting my weight down and controlling it for a long period of time, from Oregon until now standing in the 270-280 range – then on top of my combine and pro day workout, I felt like I could have helped myself tremendously in the draft.”
College Bio

Entered Florida State as the nation’s No. 1 recruit and lived up to the billing as he developed into an All-ACC First Team selection and All-American as a junior in 2014…appeared in 36 games with 26 starts in his career and had 89 tackles, 23 TFLs and eight sacks.

2014: Versatile second-year starter led the Seminoles with 11 tackles for loss in 13 games, while playing defensive end, defensive tackle and Jack linebacker…also played fullback in some jumbo goal-line packages…All-ACC First Team selection by the coaches and media and two-time ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week…collected Sports Illustrated All-America Second Team accolades…established season-high marks in tackles (44), pass break-ups (5) and forced fumbles (2)…ranked second on the team with three sacks…registered new career-highs with nine tackles against Virginia, including four for losses; also forced a fumble to win second ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honor…forced a fumble on FSU’s first defensive play and finished with three TFLs versus Wake Forest…able to play on the inside and on the edge on FSU’s defensive line…his 23 career tackles for loss was four shy of FSU’s all-time top 20…appeared on the Bednarik, Nagurski and Lombardi Watch Lists.

2013: Seminoles starter at the right end and a key contributor to the nation’s third-ranked total defense (281.4 ypg) and No. 1 scor- ing defense (12.1 ppg)…the sophomore was named one of the top defensive linemen in the conference by both the coaches and the media…in his second season in Tallahassee made 11 starts and appeared in 12 games, making 28 tackles…became a major force when it came to splash plays in 2013 with two fumble recover- ies, a forced fumble, 9.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, an interception and a TD return…recovered a fumble and returned it 37 yards for a touch- down at Clemson…had a monster performance in the BCS National Championship Game, totaling a career-high 3.0 tackles for loss in- cluding a sack… had six tackles against Auburn…recorded 2.0 TFLs and 1.0 sacks on four total tackles against Miami…intercepted a pass and made two tackles, including 0.5 sacks, at Wake Forest… had three tackles and then-career-highs with 2.0 TFL, an eight- yard sack and a forced fumble at Florida…posted three tackles in the season opener at Pitt…finished with four tackles and 1.0 tackles for loss against Nevada…made one tackle – a 3-yard loss – and broke up a pass against Idaho.

2012: Appeared in 11 games and made his first career start in the ACC Championship Game replacing Cornellius Carradine…the only

ally…five-stars from Rivals, Scout and 247Sports…unanimously ranked No. 1 at his position whether it be defensive end or de- fensive tackle…the top player coming out of the state of Texas… Scout said it is hard to find a player as big and explosive as Ed- wards…of his 72 tackles as a senior 32 were for a loss including 11 sacks…named the state of Texas Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year as a junior by the Associated Press…recorded 127 tackles, 50 tackles for loss and 18 sacks leading Denton Ryan to a state runner-up finish…recorded 69 tackles and three sacks as a fresh- man on top of catching 17 passes for 361 yards and three TDs…his high school coach raved about his work ethic as he and his father, former FSU star Mario Edwards, work out together at 6 a.m. each morning…Edwards wears the same number (15) as his dad did at FSU…chose Florida State over Texas, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, among others.

true freshman to register a start for FSU on the defensive side of the ball…came into the ACC Championship with seven tackles on the season and doubled that number in one game, register- ing seven versus the Yellow Jackets, including a tackle for loss… made three tackles and registered his first pass break-up against Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl in his second career start… recorded his first career sack on the road in a win over Maryland… was projected to redshirt in 2012, but was forced into action due to the loss of Brandon Jenkins in week one and then into the start- ing line-up after losing Carradine in week 12.

 

The Oakland Raiders Select Alabama Wide Receiver Amari Cooper Fourth-Overall In The 2015 NFL Draft

April 31, 2015 9:58 PM PT

Alameda, California– With the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders selected WR Amari Cooper (Alabama). The 2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner and Hesiman Trophy finalist joins the Silver and Black after a three-year career with the Crimson Tide (2012-14), totaling 228 receptions for 3,463 yards (15.2 avg.) with 31 TDs. Here is some more information on the Raiders’ first-round selection, as well as a closer look at some highlights from Cooper’s illustrious collegiate career.

In three years at Alabama, Cooper emerged as one of the nation’s most explosive and polished receivers. Below is a look at his offensive totals at Alabama.

RECEIVING

Year      School       Games     Rec     Yds       Avg    TD

2012   Alabama       14             59    1,000    16.9   11

2013   Alabama       12             45      736     16.4      4     

2014   Alabama       14          124    1,727   13.9     16

 TOTALS                       40          228    3,463   15.2    31

AWARDS

2014 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner — Nation’s top wide receiver –

2014 Unanimous All-American and Preseason All-American

2014 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-SEC
Third in 2014 Heisman Voting (1,023 points)

2012 Consensus All-American (FWAA, Sporting News, CBSSports.com, CollegeFootballNews.com and Scout.com)

2012 SEC All-Freshman (selected by coaches)

TITLES

Two-time SEC Champion (2012, 2014) – BCS National Champion (20

He had 228 catches for 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns in three seasons. That includes a standout junior season where he had an NCAA best 1,724 receiving yards.
Here is a brief look at where Cooper’s offensive exploits ranked among his peers in the SEC and NCAA, along with some other notables from his Alabama career:

Receiving Touchdowns

• Ranks first in SEC annals (since 1956) with 31 career TDs
• Finished first in the SEC, and second in the NCAA, with 16 TDs in

2014
• Second in the SEC with 11 TDs as a freshman in 2012, an Alabama freshman record

Receptions

• Ranks third in SEC history (since ‘56) with 228 career receptions
• Topped the SEC and NCAA in 2014 with 124 receptions, setting the

SEC record
• In 2012, finished with 59 cathces, second all-time among Alabama

freshmen

Receiving Yards

• Second all-time in SEC history (since ‘56) with 3,463 yards
• Led the SEC, finishing second in the NCAA, with 1,727 yards in 2014 • His 1,000-yard season in 2012 was good for fifth in the SEC that season, and the third-best yardage total among Alabama freshman

Jack Del Rio, ” Polished”

“The repetitions that he’s had playing the position, running the route tree and doing all the things that he’s done to develop himself, makes him a guy that has that label of being polished,” Del Rio said. “That’s why. He’s earned it.

“It’s rare when you find guys that come into the league and they have that kind of polish on them coming out. Typically, guys have something they haven’t done. He has pretty much done all those things. He knows how to get off press. He knows how to attack defenses, find the soft spots and run the full complement of the route tree. So that sets him apart in terms of the rest of this (draft) class.”

Jack Del Rio answers a question about if you ink Amari Cooper in as a starter from day one.

“I think the way we like to do things is to come in and earn your role and compete,” Del Rio said. “But the expectation level should be high for a young man that comes in that is selected that high in the draft. But he’ll need to prove it on the field and earn it. That’s how, really, it is with everybody. There certainly is a high expectation that goes along with somebody selected that high.”

 

General Manager Reggie McKenzies Comments:

“Cooper was high on our board from the start,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “Honestly, it didn’t matter about the position. It was about the player. We thought we had a chance to get a really good player.

“It’s nice when it goes hand in hand, when you have a player that fits one of your needs. It was great when that fell into place.”

Raiders only meeting with Amari Cooper was at the combine. They didn’t bring him in for a workout. They learned about Cooper by talking to people around the Wide Receiver.   They also had some inside knowledge of the player. Linebackers coach Sal Suneri’s son Vinny was a defensive at Alabama with Cooper from 2012-13.

He’s a character player supremely focused on football, but McKenzie also lauded Cooper’s on-field ability, which the Raiders have studied for some time.

“It seems like he can run a route with his eyes closed,” McKenzie said. “He’s exceptionally quick. He’s fast and he understands the game. You can tell the guy’s been playing football and playing that position all his life. You can tell that. He’s an extremely hard worker and you don’t hear any negatives about this guy, so it’s no wonder he’s as good as he is because the intangibles outside of his skill set are extremely high.”

“When Cooper was there, we were excited,” McKenzie said. “We had an idea of kind of how the draft would go, but when Cooper was officially there, it wasn’t a whole lot of debate.”

 

Amari Cooper’s Conference call Q & A

Q: Considering the Raiders weren’t one of the teams that brought you in for a visit, how shocked were you to hear your name called when they were on the clock?

Cooper: “I wasn’t that shocked. I kind of knew they liked me.”

Q: How did you get that feeling that they liked you?

Cooper: “Just talking to them at the combine.”

Q: You were targeted 170-something times last year. As an NFL rookie, you might not be targeted that many times. Is that going to be frustrating for you?

Cooper: “No. I’m just going to work as hard as I can and whatever results yield from that, I’ll be fine with it.”

Q: People talk about how polished you are. What are some of the things that you think you still need to work on most?

Cooper: “Just being consistent in my performance. Looking the ball all the way through every single time, so that I can catch the ball as many times as it’s thrown to me. High-pointing the ball every time. Just the small things to make me a better player.”

Q: Do you know anything about Derek Carr?

Cooper: “From what I’ve heard, he’s a really great, young quarterback. To be honest, I didn’t watch many NFL games last year. What I’ve heard, he’s a really good quarterback and I can’t wait to build a rapport with him.”

Q: How much did Lane Kiffin help you to develop to the player you are?

Cooper: “He wanted to see every player reach their fullest potential. He harped on the small things with me, like looking the ball all the way through and high-pointing the ball so that I can be the best player that I can be.”

Q: How did you develop your approach? Where did that come from?

Cooper: “Just being diligent and conscientious as a receiver. Just trying to be the best I can be. I think for the most part, it’s come because I’ve played this position all my life. Usually when you get a wide receiver at the college level, they haven’t played wide receiver their whole life.”

Q: How young were you when you started playing wide receiver?
Cooper: “Third grade. From the time I started playing football, I’ve always played the same position.”

Q: How did you choose to play wide receiver in the third grade?

Cooper: “I didn’t choose it. I wanted to play running back because when you’re young, all teams really do is run the ball. We had two great running backs, one was the coach’s son and the other one was really good, but they knew I was a great athlete, too, and they used me at receiver.”

Q: One thing that you are better at than most prospects is your route-running. How much of that have you focused on?

Cooper: “I’m a wide receiver. There are only two ways you can get open at wide receiver, your releases and the top of your route. The whole route-running process is really important. I just focused on it and try to be the best that I can at it so I can create as much separation I can for my quarterback.”

Q: Did you watch any specific wide receiver on film to pattern yourself after?

Cooper: “When I started playing wide receiver at a very young age, my coaches tried to teach me how to run a route. I was already good at it because I had been doing it already in my backyard, I just didn’t know what the routes were called. I was pretty good at cutting so it came pretty natural and pretty easy.”

Q: What’s your experience level with California and the Bay Area?

Cooper: “I’ve been there twice just recently. I went there for a Nike shoot and for [ESPN’s] Sports Science. My first time being there was in the past month.”

Q: So, in fourth or fifth grade, you’re in your backyard running routes?

Cooper: “No it was before that. It was when I was like five or six before I started playing organized football. Me and my friends were in the backyard just playing football.”

Q: So you’d just run the routes and they’d throw to you?

Cooper: “Yeah, we would just play against each other. We’d try to guard each other. We had to find ways to get open, that’s what I mean when I say I was already running routes. I was just finding ways to get open. When I had to run a slant route or a comeback route, which the coach called it, I was already familiar with running and getting open so it came easy.”

Q: Would you say it was perfecting your route running that led to your breakout season last year?

Cooper: “It was a combination of different things. I think my mindset is probably the most important thing. Being able to stay positive through whatever injury I had or whatever situation I was going through and focusing on the best player I can be and the best teammate I can be.”

Q: What drew you to football as a kid?

Cooper: “Probably this place called The Barnyard, it was my after school program.”

What They Are Saying

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The Sacramento Republic FC Falls To Real Monarch SLC 1-0

4/29 8:58 PM PT 

Match Recap: Real Monarchs SLC 1, Sacramento Republic FC 0

Sacramento Republic FC loses 1-0 in tight match against Real Monarchs SLC. Republic FC drops back-to-back matches for just the second time in the history of the franchise.

Republic FC started the match as the aggressor getting their first strong look on goal in just the fourth minute. Defender Derek Foran played a ball up the right side of the field where Emrah Klimenta and David Estrada play the ball back and forth setting up a shot that was blocked away by a Monarchs defender.

The Monarchs would control the last 15 minutes of the half testing Republic FC goalkeeper Patrick McLain multiple times. The best chance of the half for the Monarchs was in the 35th minute when midfielder Fito Ovalle hit a strong through ball toward the feet of Max Rauhofer who had snuck behind the defense, but McLain was able to slide in a take the ball away. The half ended scoreless.

Republic FC looked strong again coming out of the locker room, getting their best chance on goal in the 53rd minute. Klimenta took the ball down the right side before sending a low cross into the box. The cross was meant for Estrada who was streaking toward the middle but Estrada and a defender collided allowing the ball to slide to a wide-open Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez struck a low shot toward the right corner of the goal but Real Monarchs goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez was able to save the shot.

The Monarchs would break the tie in the 67th minute. A long cross by John Stertzer was blocked away right to the waiting feet of Fito Ovalle, who took a strong shot toward the left side of the goal. Forward Max Rauhofer then deflected the shot into the goal putting Real Monarchs up 1-0.

Republic FC battled hard to get an equalizer but in the 87th minute the Monarchs looked like they might double their lead. Substitute forward Emery Welshman beat the defense down the pitch and got a one-on-one opportunity with McLain who again was up to the challenge. McLain deflected the shot into the air and then saved the ensuing rebound shot to keep Republic FC in the game.

Republic FC had their best chance at an equalizer in the 89th minute when defender Agustin Cazarez sent a cross to the back post. Klimenta got up over the defender at the back post and was able to nod the ball down toward goal but Fernandez was there to save the ball, keeping the score 1-0.

“I don’t know what it was, we were just flat tonight,” said Republic FC goalkeeper McLain following the match. “The next 10 days will be a good time for us to reflect on ourselves and figure things out as a team.”

Republic FC had to finish the match without starting defender Foran, who was subbed out in the 51st minute following a hard foul in the middle of the field. Midfielder Ivan Mirković also left the match early in the 66th minute following a collision with a Monarchs player. Until being subbed out Mirković had played every minute of Republic FC’s USL season.

This is the first and only time since April 2014 that Republic FC has lost back-to-back matches. Republic FC will have a chance to break this streak when they return home to face Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Saturday, May 9. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Bonney Field.

Real Monarchs SLC 1:0 Sacramento Republic FC
USL Match
Bonney Field – Sacramento, CA
April 29, 2015 – Attendance: 2,477

Scoring Summary: SLC – Max Rauhofer (Fito Ovalle) 67.

Misconduct Summary: SLC – Max Rauhofer (caution) 51; SRFC – Justin Braun (caution) 56, Max Alvarez (caution) 65.

Sacramento Republic FC – Patrick McLain; Emrah Klimenta, Nemanja Vuković, Derek Foran (Alfonso Motagalvan 51), Agustin Cazarez; Ivan Mirković (Zev Taublieb 66), Octavio Guzman (Gabe Gonzalez 81), Rodrigo Lopez, David Estrada (Joaquin Rivas 70); Justin Braun, Thomas Stewart (Max Alvarez 62).

Subs Not Used: Dominik Jakubek, Gilberto.

Stats: Shots: 6, Shots on Goal: 3, Saves: 5, Fouls: 10, Corner Kicks: 4, Offside: 3.

Real Monarchs SLC – Lalo Fernandez; Jordan Murrell, Phanuel Kavita, Emilio Orozco, Riley McGovern; Fito Ovalle, Ricardo Velazco (Lucas Baldin 78), Alec Sundly (John Stertzer 66); Maikon Orellana (Emery Welshman 72), Max Rauhofer (Coco Navarro 83), Eti Tavares (Darian Copeland 89).

Subs Not Used: Victor Rodriguez, Garrett Losee.

Stats: Shots: 15, Shots on Goal: 6, Saves: 3, Fouls: 14, Corner Kicks: 2, Offside: 3.

San Jose SaberCats Dominate Division Rival Portland Thunder 64-45 To Remain Undefeated (5-0,1-0)

April 25, 2015 11:23 PM PT

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIAThe San Jose SaberCats (5-0, 1-0) defeated the Portland Thunder (2-3, 1-1) 64-45, Saturday Night at the SAP Center, in front of 7,125 fans on “Feed the Community Night”.

The SaberCats went up early and poured it on often, but needed to hold off a late rally by the Thunder to remain unbeaten. With the defense continuing to be the backbone for San Jose, the offense was able to take advantage of great field position and blown coverage by Portland to jump out to a commanding 37-6 lead with three minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Quarterback Erik Meyer found receiver Darius Reynolds early in the first quarter, as Reynolds fought his way through a pass interference call, for a 20-yard touchdown catch. Meyer completed 20-of-30 passes for 283 yards and followed his eight touchdown passes last week with seven against the Thunder on Saturday.

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DSC05350Photos by Shawn Jonas

An immediate impact since joining the team two weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Storm, SaberCats receiver D.J. Stephens continued to shine. Stephens led the SaberCats with 10 receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns, including deep routes for scores of 35 and 43 yards.

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Photo by Shawn Jonas

“Any one of our receivers can up 100-plus yards any week,” said receiver Reggie Gray. “We just go out there and play to the best of our abilities and take turns.”

With no regard for his safety, Thunder wide receiver Perez Ashford hauled in a 13-yard touchdown reception while flipping over the boards to cut the San Jose lead to 10, at 16-6 as the first quarter came to an end. Ashford was a bright spot for the Thunder, grabbing six receptions for 78 yards and the one touchdown.

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Photos by Shawn Jonas

Pacing the league-leading defense for San Jose was defensive back Ken Fontenette. Fontenette, the team’s leading tackler, added an interception off of an errant Kyle Rowley pass intended for Howard in the second quarter, leading to a nine-yard touchdown reception by Gray. Continuing their defensive prowess, David Hyland also had an interception in the fourth quarter, as the SaberCats defense prevented the Thunder offense from connecting on four of its five third down conversions.

“In order to be one of the best defensives in the league you have to play physical,” said Fontenette. “Rowley makes his reads really quick. We knew if we could anticipate the routes they run, he would throw it to a spot and we could make a play on the ball.”

In the second quarter, Thunder receiver Jamar Howard fell over the wall into the crowd injuring himself and was unable to return to action. The league leader in touchdown receptions (13), finished with two receptions for 25 yards.

Acquired earlier this week, Portland’s Jared Perry grabbed a 26-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone, his first of the season. His score made it 37-12. Perry, the 2012 AFL Rookie of the Year, finished with six receptions for 54 yards and the touchdown.

With less than a minute remaining in the first half, Quincy Butler intercepted a Meyer pass to give Portland great field position. The Thunder were able to benefit from the turnover, and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by John Martinez, bringing the SaberCats lead to 44-19 at halftime.

Portland came out strong in the third quarter, first on an eight yard touchdown reception by V’Keon Lacey, and again on the ensuing kickoff when Osagie Odiase, a rookie out of Sacramento State University, recovered the fumble in the end zone to bring Portland’s deficit to 51-32 at the end of the third quarter. Lacey hauled in eight receptions for 77 yards and led the Thunder with two touchdowns.

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Photos by Shawn Jonas

 For the second straight week, “Big Play” Reggie Gray ran back a kickoff for a touchdown, this time for 56-yards. He had his second receiving touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter, an 11-yard strike from Meyer to put San Jose ahead, 58-32. Gray finished with 70 receiving yards and three total touchdowns.

“We all can be number one guys on team but we all come together on this team and make it a cohesive unit,” said Gray.

San Jose is off to its best start since starting 4-0 in 2002, when they won the first franchise ArenaBowl Championship. The SaberCats will travel to Arizona next Saturday May 2nd, in a National Conference showdown with the Rattlers.

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Photo By Shawn Jonas

Offensive Player of the Game- SJ WR D.J. Stephens
Defensive Player of the Game- SJ DB Ken Fontenette
J Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game- SJ WR D.J. Stephens
Cutters Catch of the Game- SJ WR D.J. Stephens 43-yard touchdown
AFL Highlight of the Game- SJ WR Reggie Gray kickoff return for a touchdown

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Photos by Shawn Jonas

Game Recap: Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media relations

ABOUT THE SAN JOSE SABERCATS

The ArenaBowl XVI, XVIII and XXI champion San Jose SaberCats finished their 19th season in the AFL with a Pacific Division Title after making their return in 2011. Fans and sponsors can go to sanjosesabercats.com or call 408-673-3400 to sign up to receive the latest news and updates about the SaberCats, as well as to purchase 2015 season tickets. Make sure to follow the SaberCats on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news on the team.
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