Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Steelers

Oakland Raiders Safety Charles Woodson Named Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award Winner

Photo by Shawn Jonas

Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders is the winner of the second annual Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award presented by Mcdonald’s, it was announced today. The award recognizes the NFL player who demonstrates the qualities of outstanding sportsmanship on the playing field, including fair play, respect for opponents and integrity in competition.

The announcement of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award Presented by McDonald’s was made at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special that will air nationally at 9 PM ET/PT tonight on CBS. The award was founded last year in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney, SR.

Woodson will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.

To commemorate the honor, Woodson was presented on-stage “The Art Rooney Trophy,” which represents the important role that sportsmanship plays in the game and how NFL players that demonstrate integrity and honor on the field serve as role models for other players at all levels. The award design was inspired by the upward arc of a football in motion and contains a gold line embedded in glass that represents the path of sportsmanship throughout a career. Etched into the award are the words “integrity,” “honor,” “respect,” and “fairness,” the values that define excellent sportsmanship.

The winner of the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award is determined by a vote of current NFL players. In 2014, the players chose Larry Fitzgeraldof the Arizona Cardinals as the inaugural winner of the Art Rooney Award.

Each NFL team nominated one of its players for the award, which recognizes players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field. A panel of former players from the NFL Legends Community selected eight finalists (four in the AFC; four in the NFC) from the 32 nominees. The panel of Legends Coordinators was comprised of Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Karl Mecklenburg, Leonard Wheeler.

The eight finalists were listed on the Pro Bowl ballot under the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award when players voted on December 18, 2015. From the eight finalists, each team’s players submit a consensus vote of its choice for the winner. As in Pro Bowl voting, a team could not vote for its own player.

The finalists, featuring four players from each conference, were running back JUSTIN FORSETT (Baltimore), running back MATT FORTÉ (Chicago), linebacker LUKE KUECHLY (Carolina), quarterback MATT HASSELBECK (Indianapolis), wide receiver CALVIN JOHNSON (Detroit), cornerback JASON MC COURTY (Tennessee), tackle JOE STALEY (San Francisco) and Woodson.

Press Release Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr Selected For First Pro Bowl

Photo by Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr was named to his first Pro Bowl, the NFL announced Wednesday. Carr, who was originally selected as an alternate for the Pro Bowl, replaces Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who is unable to participate due to injury.

“First, I want to thank God for the opportunity to be able to go to Hawaii,” said Carr. “Secondly, I want to thank my family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches and all of Raider Nation for their support. Third, I want to thank everyone who voted for me and all of the opposing players and coaches that voted for me. That means more to me than they know. Go Raiders!”

Carr’s teammates S Charles Woodson, FB Marcel Reece and DE Khalil Mack were also selected to the NFL’s all-star game, to be played at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium on Jan. 31. In December, RB Latavius Murray and rookie WR Amari Cooper were also named alternates for the Pro Bowl.

One of the NFL’s most dynamic young passers, Carr becomes the first Raiders quarterback to be named to the Pro Bowl since Rich Gannon in 2002 after starting all 16 games. He threw for 3,987 yards on 350-of-573 passing (61.1 percent) with 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a passer rating of 91.1. He also added career-high rushing totals with 33 attempts for 138 yards (4.2 avg.).
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound signal caller finished his sophomore campaign tied for seventh in the NFL in passing touchdowns and 300-yard passing performances with six. Carr also recorded four fourth-quarter comeback drives, five games with a rating of at least 100.0 (5-0 record) and 11 multi-touchdown games, tied for third in the NFL.

Carr was named the Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of the Week twice in 2015 after leading the Raiders on fourth-quarter scoring drives to secure comeback victories. In Week 2 against Baltimore, he threw for a career-high 351 yards and three scores, including the game-winning touchdown pass with 26 seconds remaining. Carr again led a fourth-quarter comeback drive and threw a touchdown pass with 1:21 remaining to defeat the Tennessee Titans on the road in Week 12. Carr tied a single-game high by throwing four touchdowns in back-to-back games in Weeks 8 and 9, against the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively.

The native of Bakersfield, Calif., joined the Raiders in 2014 as the team’s second-round selection (36th overall) in the NFL Draft. He has started all 32 games over his first two NFL seasons, becoming the first offensive player to do so in Raiders franchise history. Carr is the owner of 53 career touchdown passes, the second most ever by a player through his first two NFL seasons.

Press Release Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations

Raiders Fall 35-38 In Pittsburgh; Antonio Brown Breaks Franchise Record

PITTSBURGH, PA.- The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Oakland Raiders 38-35 on an 18-yard field goal with :02 left in the game. The old school rivalry didn’t disappoint. With over 1,000 yards of total offense combined it was a high flying score fest with defenses getting burned nearly every tick of the clock. The Steelers physical defense caused five forced fumbles three were recovered by Pittsburgh. Despite four turnovers the Raiders had it’s opportunities to win the game thanks to Derek Carr and a recently potent Oakland Offense.

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QB Derek Carr

Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr  threw for 301 yards on 24-of-44 passing (54.5 percent) with four touchdowns and one interception, giving him a passer rating of 96.9.

Carr is the second Raider with four 300-yard games through the team’s first eight contests (Rich Gannon in 2002).

Carr now has 19 touchdown passes on the season, the most by a Raider through eight games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Carr has thrown 11 touchdowns of 20-or-more yards.

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Carr is the third Raider with four touchdown passes in back-to-back games and the first since the 1970 merger (Cotton Davidson in 1964 and Tom Flores in 1963).

Carr entered Week 9 leading the NFL in first-half touchdown passes and tossed two more today to improve his season total to 13 with only one interception (13.0 TD-INT ratio).

Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was having a big day as well throwing to what appeared to be Superman without the cape. Big Ben was 24-of-44 passing for 334 yards and two touchdowns before being knocked out of the game with a foot injury.

Antonio Brown

Wide receiver Antonio Brown had a franchise day he had 17 receptions for 284 yards.  He also added 22yards on the ground.

Running back DeAngelo Williams ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns as the Steelers rolled up 597 yards of total offense.

Cooper and Crabtree Over 45 Receptions, Four Touchdowns

Wide Receivers  Amari Cooper (45) and Michael Crabtree (47) are the first pair of Raiders to be on pace for 90 receptions each through eight games since Charlie Garner and Jerry Rice in 2002.The pair has also combined for nine receiving touchdowns this season, four by Cooper and five by Crabtree.

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WR Michael Crabtree

Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree hauled in seven passes for 108 yards (15.4 avg.) and two touchdowns for his 11th career 100-yard game and third of the season.

He has 100-yard games in back-to-back outings within a regular season for the first time in his career.

Crabtree hauled in two touchdowns in a game for the fifth time in his career and the first time since 2012. He now has five touchdowns on the season and 31 career scores.Crabtree has caught a touchdown pass in three straight games for the second time in his career (2012).

Amari Cooper

Wide Receiver Amari Cooper finished the day with seven receptions for 88 yards (12.6 avg.) and one touchdown.

Cooper set the franchise record for receptions by a rookie, passing Zach Miler (45 in 2007). With his sixth reception, he passed Tim Brown (43 in 1988) for the most by a rookie wide receiver in team history.

Cooper hauled in his fourth receiving touchdown of the season on a 15-yard pass from Carr.

Latavius Murray

Running Back Latavius Murray averaged 5.65 yards per carry on 17 attempts for 96 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter. Murray’s first carry of the game went for 44 yards, his sixth rush of 20-plus yards this season.

Seth Roberts

Wide Receiver Seth Roberts had three crucial catches in the game, totaling 73 yards (24.3 avg.) with a 36-yard long.

All three of Roberts’ catches were for at least 18 yards, and he had a 19-yarder and a 26-yard catch in the fourth quarter.

Jamize Olawale

Fullback Jamize Olawale recorded a career-long 19-yard run for his first career rushing touchdown, bringing the Raiders back within seven points in the fourth quarter.

Clive Walford

Tight End Clive Walford caught his second career touchdown on a 1-yard reception from Carr in the third quarter, tying the game at 21-21. Walford is the 10th tight end in team history to catch at least two touchdowns as a rookie.

David Amerson

Cornerback David Amerson intercepted his first pass as a Raider in the third quarter, giving him three career interceptions. He finished with eight solo tackles, three passes defensed and the one interception with one return yard.
Aldon Smith

Linebacker Aldon Smith got to Ben Roethlisberger on a third-and-10 in the fourth quarter for the team’s first sack of the game, giving him 2.5 sacks this season and 46.5 sacks in his caree

San Jose SaberCats Bring Back David Hyland, Add Two Rookie Lineman

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose SaberCats announced that they have been assigned defensive back David Hyland as well as offensive lineman Dionte Savage and Nick Embernate.

“David has been a valuable player on our team and a big part of our success last year and we are pleased to have him back,” said owner and head coach Darren Arbet. “It is also important to have depth on your offensive line and adding young talent like Dionte and Nick will help us as well.”

Hyland (6-feet, 200 pounds) started 15 games for the SaberCats last season recording 95 total tackles (76 solo), five interceptions, 12 pass breakups and five fumble recoveries. Hyland was named Defensive Player of the Game and Playmaker of the Game at ArenaBowl XXVIII with five tackles, an interception returned for a touchdown and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He was also awarded the AFL Al Lucas Pulse Hero Award for his work in the community.

In 2014, Hyland recorded 36.5 total tackles three interceptions and five pass breakups in eight games as a member of SaberCats. He spend the 2012 and 2013 season as a member of the Utah Blaze.

Hyland began his AFL career with the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz in 2010, where he had 76.5 tackles, eight interceptions and 12 pass breakups as a rookie. The Morehead State Eagle earned First Team All-PFL three times and set a FCS record with 61 pass break ups and a school record with 21 career interceptions.
Savage (6-foot-5, 335 pounds) joins the SaberCats as a rookie out of Oklahoma. Savage started at guard for the Sooners over the past two seasons, earning Big-12 Honorable Mention. Prior to Oklahoma, he played at Arizona Western College, where he earned Second Team All-American honors. Savage spend time with the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent earlier this season.

Embernate (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) also joins the SaberCats as a rookie. A three year starter at guard for San Diego State, he earned First Team All-Mountain West Conference honors in 2012. Embernate signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and spent time with the Toronto Argnoauts of the CFL earlier this year.

Press Release Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

San Francisco 49ers Transcripts: Offensive Coordinator Geep Chryst and Defense Coordinator Eric Mangini

Offensive Coordinator Geep Chryst
Press Conference 
San Francisco 49ers

Opening comments:
“It’s great to be here. Week 1 of the regular season, there’s a lot of juice throughout the league and in our locker room. But, can’t wait to play Monday night. That’s about all I have to say, but I know you probably have some questions.”

How has the offensive line starting to come together now that OL Jordan Devey’s set at right guard?
“Yeah, you know, that work up in Denver was really good work for us. We were trying to find those final combinations. But, since that game, I think we’ve locked in. The padded practices are real important for the linemen. If you lined up those linemen together and start to develop some chemistry, I think that’s what we’re seeing. So, we were valuing the practices, not just the good work we had up in Denver, but then coming back here and working with ourselves has really been good. And I think we’re kind of getting that chemistry you want to see going into Week 1.”

You had padded practices last week, what Wednesday before and then Friday?
“Yeah. And we’re trying to work that in because what happens, normally, is you’re trying to find the final 53 in the fourth preseason game. So, we probably worked a little harder, knowing going to Denver, we probably didn’t play some of those guys as much in the game itself up in Denver because we had gotten some good work, a padded day, even though we had shorts on it was a padded day and then an unpadded day and then carrying that momentum into Week 4 of the preseason. A lot of the guys went through a normal week even though it was a short week. So, trying to back-end the Denver week with the fourth preseason game, I think we’ve picked up right where we left off right now knowing that it’s a Monday night game and we still have some work to do this week.”

How have you seen TE Vernon Davis, pretty motivated to bounce back from a tough year? We see him over on the side working with tight ends coach Tony Sparano, how has that relationship been with those two?
“Yeah, it’s been a great relationship with Vernon and Tony and we love all of our tight ends. But, Vernon, been here now the fifth season and you see Vernon and you realize just what we think an anomaly the previous year was. And that happens, especially to veterans. And I think he’s come out from the first day of offseason all the way through and there’s been a nice chemistry. We have chemistry between linemen, chemistry between receivers and the quarterbacks, but we’re also seeing some chemistry between the coaches that have been brought on board and then those position players. And that’s really exciting to see. Those of you that have been out there, we’ve gotten a lot out of the practice segments. The individual portion of practice, there’s a lot of work going on. There’s more gadgets on the field in terms of receivers running through what looks like thoroughbred hoops. But, at the end of the day, we’ve gotten a lot of work out of that and we hope some of that will pay off on Monday night.”

Do you expect the Vikings to test your offensive line in different ways to make sure they’re all on the same page?
“Yeah, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. You can test them by personnel. They’ve got some good young people playing defense and then [Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer] Zim’s scheme has been always very sound. He’s been around a long time. He’s got that nice blend of being a tough disciplinarian yet they still enjoy playing for him and playing hard. So, you try to fit your plays into the scheme that it’s going to be knowing that you can forecast maybe some of the things that they’ve done in the past to try to put their best foot forward on opening night.”

You said in training camp you thought you had the right offensive linemen there but time will tell. You ended up making two trades for offensive linemen. What do you feel now? Do you feel like–?
“Yeah. You pull the scope back and you realize that there was going to be some replacement of the people who were there from previous years. And we’ve done that. For example, [former C] Johnathan Goodwin, we did a nice job with [C] Daniel Kilgore coming in. He’s injured, so we’ve got to keep finding that combination. And again, going back to the value of having pads on for those linemen to work as a cohesive unit. I think we’ve gotten a lot out of that. But, you have to probe the different combinations. You saw that throughout, not just within the games, but even during practices. Those of you that have been out there, you saw just how much we were trying to probe to find the right combination and right now as we stand here, we’re healthy which is important and we’re developing some good chemistry. And I think those are really good things to bank on going into the game.”

Apologies to the beat writers, a RB Jarryd Hayne question. How have you found him dealing with the attention for a player who has still got a lot to prove?
“You know, it’s been a remarkable journey since he first got here. He’s so good at handling the ball in flight. We remember maybe fielding a punt or catching a pass, but then during the game itself, you know, they come at you with different angles then maybe what he’s used to. It’s been quite remarkable for him to be that comfortable so quickly. So, it’s been a remarkable journey. I’m glad you can check it out for yourself because it’s been remarkable.”

Are there any management issues with you given that he’s still got a lot to prove and is getting so much attention as a rookie? Has it been a challenge for you?
“What’s been great is [head coach] Jim Tomsula’s background in NFL Europe. I think that the European player, he’s worked with a lot of projects. We had [former 49ers DL] Lawrence Okoye. I would think right now, there’s no language barrier. Sometimes when you’re working with foreign players, if it was a language barrier, then communicating is hard. But, even though we have football terminology, I think that’s been a major plus is that other than an accent every now and then, there is no language barrier.”

Did you see enough just in the last week when he was healthy for WR Bruce Ellington to be the number three guy?
“You could tell right, the fourth preseason game we wanted to get him in. We actually tried to call some plays in the second half of the Denver game, trying to see where he was at because he’s a dynamic player when he’s out there and when he got out there the first third down, it wasn’t exactly called to be a touchdown, it was called to move the chains but he did it on his own. Again, as an example of someone where you don’t want to jump to too many conclusions after the first day of training camp or in the offseason. But, it seems like where we stand right now, he’s at a good spot and confident and healthy.”

WR Torrey Smith seems unconcerned that they didn’t hook up on a lot of passes in the preseason, with QB Colin Kaepernick. Is that your take too? I mean, they hit a lot in practice.
“Yeah. I would have to say over the long haul of training camp, games and practices blend together. And so, we saw enough from the offseason, the OTA’s, the mini-camps and the practices themselves including the practice yesterday, where there’s enough connections that you’re not losing sleep over that.”

Are you getting along with C Nick Easton?
“No problems there.”

When you guys were scouting him, did you look at him as a guard as well? Is he capable of playing that?
“Yeah. We all know what the numbers look like on game day, right? You have a big group of 90 that dwindles down, but then you’re only going to have probably seven, it’s a luxury to have eight dressed up. So, you’re always looking for someone that can be that swing guy, the person that has the ability. So, we worked hard last year, for example, with [C] Marcus Martin so that he could pull the ball and play center and also play guard. That versatility, position versatility, is really important and any of the guys coming in, including [OL] Ian [Silberman]. We were out there, for those of you that remember watching we had that one training camp practice where we were rolling the ball back there. But, we just have to stay with developing him as a center even though that’s not part of his background. It’s just the versatility, and hopefully though practices and reps and over the span of an entire season, everyone becomes comfortable with it.”

In basketball, coaches likes to say it’s important to get a big man involved early, get him touches early.
“Sure.”

Does the same principle apply to Vernon Davis?
“I think Vernon’s very unique in that way in that for a big man, he does run. And there’s another basketball analogy that’s reward the big man for running the floor. So, Vernon, I think it’s important to get everyone going early. And the easiest way to do that is to get first downs so that you get more plays and you string some plays together in a drive. So, I think you’re conscious of everyone’s role on game day. And then within the game plan, can you spread it out, not just for Vernon, but what is Bruce Ellington’s role in the game plan? Or what is [WR] Anquan’s [Boldin] role? Or Torrey’s role? And if you feel like you’ve got a balanced call sheet going into a game, you feel like everyone has ownership within that game plan.”

Could you imagine how tough that was for him last year dealing with some injuries and not being utilized maybe the way he–?
“Yeah, and any athlete, you talk to athletes, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. And I think there’s never the perfect season where everything just falls into place. So, the challenges are kind of playing through some of the sticky points to a season and for the most part, the people who are good athletes play through all of that. And every now and then, they do get stuck and you’ve got to make sure to just stay with the plan and move forward. And so, we’re moving forward off of that and there’s been a lot of plays that have been made throughout the course of this training camp that, you know, the past is the past.”

What kind of differences have you noticed out of RB Carlos Hyde the rookie to Carlos Hyde the number one back replacing someone like former 49ers and current Indianapolis Colts RB Frank Gore?
“First off, he’s had a great rhythm to things. So, you come in as a rookie, you’re not quite sure what’s around the next bend. I think he took full advantage of the offseason here to put himself in a good spot conditioning-wise. I see him working out so hard with [director of human performance Mark Uyeyama] Uye and in the weight room, and then working on the practice field. There’s just a comfort level. You’re no longer a rookie, you see that, take a Marcus Martin, that draft class of people who are coming back for their second go around. They’re looking at some of the rookies and realizing what it was like. But, we really see a lot of growth from Carlos both physically and then within the playbook.”

But, was rhythm maybe an issue for him last year in the sense that he was a much different runner than Frank?
“Yeah, and again, you want to have a little bit of a piece of a game plan for everybody. But, when it’s game day, no one wants to come out of a huddle on game day. But, you want to mix people in. So, there’s always a balance associated with that where right now, he knows he’s in the huddle and he doesn’t want to come out. So, he wants to make the plays. So, I think it’s a different role for him and something that he’s excited and looking forward to and has worked hard to be in that spot right there.”

What’s your assessment of QB Blaine Gabbert’s preseason performance?
“You know, the last time we talked, a couple of things we wanted to look at, we wanted to look at the O-Line as a rotation, we talked about Jarryd a lot and how phenomenal he was just picking up this game. And then we talked and it was really a serious effort to try to get Blaine what he was doing on the practice field, and I thought he had it, I don’t know what else he could have done in the preseason games to give himself more confidence and to give us more confidence. And that’s always a great feeling going into the season.”

Defensive Coordinator Eric Mangini
Press Conference

Opening comments:
“Good morning everybody, how are you doing? We are just pushing forward on our installation, our situational defenses. Got through walk-thru, we’ve got another good day of practice today. I thought yesterday went well, and just moving the plan along.”

How do you kind of account for what you think the Vikings will do on Monday night?
“I’ll tell you, the first game of the season, to me, is always one of the toughest because you’ve had a whole offseason, they’ve had a whole offseason. What you show in the preseason isn’t necessarily what you’re going to do or what you’re going to get and you don’t know what things they like from their OTAs, from training camp, things along those lines. Then you add an element like [Vikings RB] Adrian Peterson, who is a special player. And, what’s the balance going to be? Run? Pass? How are those things going to play out with Adrian back there?”

How hard is it to game plan going against two burners on the outside, you have Vikings WR Charles Johnson and you have Vikings WR Mike Wallace who can basically just clear out, opening the middle for Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph, so how do you, how tough is it to game plan for something like that?
“Yeah, and you’ve got a really special running back. You’ve got a quarterback that can run and do different things that create problems outside of what you normally get. There are a lot of different things that you have to try to get in place because you’re first answer may not be your best answer and you’ve got to work on a couple of counters. So, as the game goes on and you go into the plan thinking it’s going to unfold one way and it doesn’t, having the ability to refer back to, ‘Hey, remember when we did this or this,’ and be able to not only put that in on the sideline, but also execute it.”

Have you decided on who’s going to start at cornerback and where are you in that process?
“Well, we’ll let the week play out. All of those guys are working at it and some of it is how they practice, but it’s also how well they deal with the game plan and understand the game plan. So, we’re evaluating that as we go and then we’ll work it out at the end of the week.”

It seems like those guys have different skills sets. Would it make sense to decided playing time based on matchups?
“Well, there’s a component to that. The other thing that you get is you see a significant amount of 11 personnel. Not just from Minnesota, but from all teams, so that’s when you get in your substituted defenses where multiple guys can play. You can look at it from a matchup perspective and I’ve done that quite a bit over the years, where you put certain guys on certain guys. Sometimes I’d say it’s a really good approach and other times you really want to go left and right, depending on how they are building the formations, how they’re building the passing game, what the threats are, because even though that player has a specific set that you’d like to matchup on, those routes that you’re getting aren’t consistent with where it’d be a big edge.”

WR Torrey Smith said the other day that he was surprised to find out that CB Keith Reaser and CB Kenneth Acker both had missed last year due to injury because they were both so good and so polished when he arrived. Did you have the same reaction that they didn’t really seem like guys who are feeling their way along this offseason that they just kind of jumped into it with two feet?
“Well, I’ve liked that about, not just those guys, but when you look at the rookies, guys like [S] Jaquiski [Tartt] or [DL] Arik [Armstead] or [LB] Eli [Harold]. Those guys have all approached it the same way. You don’t get the sense from any of them that it’s too big for them. You don’t get a sense that they’re in awe of it. If anything, you feel their excitement. You feel their excitement about the opportunity that they have and the challenges that they’re going to have and that’s what you look for. The last thing you want as a coach is to have a guy that you’re comforting through the first game. So, I’ve liked that and young guys have a nice quality about them, because sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know and that’s a good thing.”

How has LB Ahmad Brooks looked after being away for a week?
“He’s looked good. Ahmad has looked really good. And Ahmad is a guy that throughout the spring, throughout camp, really been impressed with his work ethic, his toughness, his consistency, his approach in the classroom. All those things have been outstanding, outstanding.”

You would expect no restrictions on him, he can play?
“No, I don’t expect any restrictions on Ahmad at all and Ahmad’s built in versatility where he can go left, he can go right, he can move around. Ahmad can be anywhere.”

Did you see him take some, you know, new approaches to his fitness, to his eating or did he share any of that with you over what he did during the offseason?
“I should probably talk to him about his fitness and eating, I could use some of those tips. We hadn’t talked much about that. Its, and again, even though I’ve been here the past couple of years, the relationship you build with guys on the other side is a little bit different. I’ve talked to [TE] Vernon [Davis] probably ad nauseum about his eating and fitness. He’s got a good regimen going. But, we haven’t done a lot of that. We talked more in lines of the importance of it and it wasn’t a conversation that had to be revisited because he’s been so proactive with all that stuff.”

Is there any, was there any awkwardness there with Ahmad being gone for that time and then being welcomed back? Because he was kind of in limbo for a while, how did you kind of plan for that in that time?
“Well, it’s going back to what I said initially with the first game, there are so many different plans that you have in place and really our planning has changed pretty dramatically throughout the course of the spring and training camp, where changes have taken place and one system, plan, idea, core group of things that you liked looks totally different. And then, you push the next one forward and something changes and you have a different group then you change again. And, going into this game, now you have to have a ton of different things prepared because you don’t know what you’re going to get, I mean, you have an idea. You try to eliminate as many variables as you can, but you just don’t know.”

One of those big changes was former 49ers and current Oakland Raiders LB Aldon Smith. Obviously, you only had him for this offseason, but today he signed with the raiders up the freeway here a little bit. Any reaction to him getting on with his career?
“Yeah, I’m really happy for him. There’s another guy that I had a great experience with. Loved the way he was working, approaching things. I’m really happy for him and I’m cheering for him to do great things.”

Can you talk about how you see LB NaVorro Bowman approaching this game and whether this has kind of played up to a dream scenario for you, just he’s come in all the way through this healthy and is ready to go Week 1?
“Yeah, that’s exciting. We’ve worked with him and he’s worked with us in terms of how much, the approach. And a lot of that for a guy who goes through a major injury, there is a learning process, there is a building confidence process because the first few times you make a certain movement, you react, you’re not thinking, it’s a measured movements. Things can, sounds can be made that you’re not used or that you worry about and it’s just part of the healing process that comes with it and you just try to get the best plan and everybody is a part of that plan.”

He’s such a key figure, not necessarily on the defense but on the team, do you sense or do you notice other players sort of reacting, when he makes a play does it kind of lift up the rest of his, the guys around him?
“Yeah, the group as a whole is very supportive of each other and another thing that you always look for in this situation is how guys respond to each other and you can see it on tape. A guy makes a play, there are a bunch of guys over there congratulating him. It’s not about, ‘Hey, I need to get mine. I need my plays. I need my sacks. I need my tackles.’ It’s we need to be successful and guys are excited about other teammates success and that, to me, isn’t always an easy thing to get. It isn’t always an easy thing to build. It’s organic. You can try to push that along but as I watched, have watched the guys and seen how they respond to each other, they like each other. They care about each other. They don’t want to let each other down and I respect that and really like that.”

The Vikings offensive line, obviously, has a few moving parts, more so than you would usually, do you try to test them to make sure they are all on the same page?
“Yeah, you’d love to test anything that’s different but we have a lot of moving parts and a lot of different things as well. And, they’ve got a moving part that came in that really is a huge test with Adrian. And then, the things that he can do, whether he has perfect blocking or whether he has no blocking, he can create yards after contact. He can create holes that aren’t there. He can bring the ball all the way backside even though he’s pressed the wall front side. He tests the integrity of your front and there are plenty of examples on tape where things have broken down and he generates something that really a lot of backs can’t generate. And, he’s a guy that gets stronger as the game goes on. It’s not like he shoots his gun early in the game and then slows down. He builds, builds tempo and I’m sure Minnesota’s going through the same process. They’ve got new guys working together, communicating together. In the offensive line, there’s a lot of communication but we all deal with that, you deal with it in secondary. And, they’ve been working with each other for a little while now and I’m sure they pushed that comfort level up.”

In the preseason, we saw Jaquiski working in maybe playing some linebacker in some certain sub-packages. How much of a luxury is that to have a guy who physically can probably fill in the run game but also has the speed maybe to cover some players in the modern NFL?
“Yeah, you’re always looking for that. In substituted defenses, you want to get as much speed as you can out there, but you don’t want to get so little that they just run the ball and you can’t do anything about that. And, [DB] Jimmie Ward’s done a nice job too. He’s a guy that had missed a bunch of time and missed some more time, but has come back and gotten stronger and stronger as we’ve gone on through this preseason, so I’m excited about him as well. Both of those guys, it’s amazing they played high school football together. I don’t know what that record was but that team should be pretty good.”

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers coaches’ headsets weren’t working properly last night in New England and that sort of thing happens a lot there. You coached there and against them, any comment?
“No. I have nothing to add to that.”

Press Release Courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers Media Relations

John Madden Remembers Ken Stabler; Q & A Media Conference Call Transcript

John Madden On The Passing Of Ken Stabler

Opening statement from Coach Madden: “Yesterday was a very sad day with the passing of Ken Stabler. It was a shock to all of us. You think that Kenny is one of those guys that whatever you throw in front of him, it’s not going to get him down. Then, when you hear Kenny Stabler died, it’s like a kick in the gut. You think of the good times and the memories, all of the games and all of the practices and all of the meetings. No matter what you throw in front of him, he enjoyed it. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile. He was one of the greatest competitors ever. When you think of the Raiders and you think of the Raiders of the 70s, Ken Stabler has to be right on top. He was just, of all the people you coach, and I coached a lot of great ones and a lot of Hall of Famers, he’s one of the guys that is really at the top of the class.”

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Madden Remembers Ken “The Snake” Stabler Q & A

Q: Can you think of a logical reason that Ken Stabler is not in the Hall of Fame?

Madden: “No. If you just look at how he played and what kind of quarterback he was, he’s a Hall of Fame quarterback. I think what happens is we get so caught up today in statistics and then comparing statistics. You can’t do that with different eras. For example, when we threw a medium range pass it was 17 yards deep. Now a medium range pass would be 8-10 yards. We didn’t have any of those smokescreens or when you split it out and throw one yard passes, or throw passes behind the line of scrimmage. I’m not saying that’s wrong, that’s the way they play today. But then you look at his stats and his completions and interceptions, the deeper you throw, the more you’re going to have but the more big plays you’re going to have. Then you compare those to the players today and it’s not fair. That’s the only thing that I can think of. If you were to look at Kenny Stabler as an Oakland Raider… we had great rivalries with the Miami Dolphins, who were one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were also one of the best in the history of the NFL. Terry Bradshaw is in the Hall of Fame and Bob Griese is in the Hall of Fame, and look at Kenny’s record when he played those teams.”

Q: In the last few years there, after the Super Bowl, could you talk about how the tension between Al Davis and Ken Stabler?

Madden: “Not really. There was nothing there. That’s not a thing. I’ll tell you, we won the Super Bowl in the 1976 season, which was ’77. The best team, to me, in the history of the Oakland Raiders was the next year, was ‘77, the year after we won a Super Bowl. We went back, we beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs and they didn’t have Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, and that was one of the things they said. The next year, early in the season, we went back and we played Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh and we beat them there. That was the hardest fought, hardest played game that I can remember. It was also the height of the Raiders. I don’t think there was a ever a team before that or after that who was better than the Raiders. Having said that, we had a lot of injuries in that game. We struggled. We lost the Championship that year to Denver. There was nothing there after the Super Bowl because I thought we were better after the Super Bowl than we were the Super Bowl year. Although the Super Bowl year we only lost one game.”

Q: You were with the organization when they drafted Ken. Can you remember the circumstances?

Madden: “Yeah I do. It was ironic. We drafted another quarterback in the first round, Edlridge Dickey. We were kind of choosing between the two. We had Kenny Stabler rated as the number one pick. So, we took Eldridge Dickey from Tennessee State and then in the next round, the second round, and Kenny Stabler is still there. So we said he’s too good of a player to leave on the board in the second round so we took him. We ended up with two of them. What we didn’t know, and scouting back then isn’t what it is today, is that he had injured his knee and that he needed surgery. We brought him in and then he had to have the surgery so he missed that whole first year. He missed the second year so he really didn’t start playing for the Raiders until the third year that we drafted him.”

Q: Did you ever come to Alabama to visit with Coach Bryant to talk about Ken?

Madden: “Yeah I talked to Coach Bryant about him a lot. I had the greatest respect for Bear Bryant and his quarterbacks. I had George Blanda, who played for Coach Bryant at Kentucky. George would always talk about Coach Bryant, this and that. He was a well-disciplined, well-trained quarterback. Then I had great respect for Joe Namath. I thought, if we can get a quarterback that’s like George Blanda and like Joe Namath on our team, that’s going to be a pretty good deal. Eventually, we did.”

Q: You mentioned yesterday in your statement that you trusted Ken because he was ‘cooler’ under pressure than you. How would you describe his demeanor? How did you balance each other?

Madden: “He helped me because the hotter the game, the hotter I got and Kenny was truly just the opposite, the hotter the game, the cooler he became. We’re playing Baltimore in a playoff game in Baltimore and it was one of the real great games in NFL history, the kind that got lost because it wasn’t a championship game or a Super Bowl game. It went six periods. The end of regulation, we’re tied, and we go another period and then we’re tied and then we’re going into another period. We had a timeout and it’s our ball. We’re just crossing midfield. I’m talking to Kenny during the timeout and he has his helmet cocked back and he’s looking up at the stands and I’m saying let’s do this, let’s do this. Then, he says, ‘you know what, John?’ and I thought, ‘oh great, he has a play.’ So I asked him ‘what?’ and he said ‘these fans are getting their money’s worth today.’ That’s the way he was. I was going all over the board on what we should do, and he was just cool, looking up into the stands. In the Super Bowl against Minnesota, the first couple of drives we got stopped and had to kick field goals. I was all upset about not being able to finish and score. Kenny put his hand on my shoulder and said ‘don’t worry about that, John, there’s plenty more where that came from.” It did affect me. I thought, when he said that, he’s right. I felt a heck of a lot better about it. It was the whole team. That’s what he gave to the team. He would throw a bad pass and it didn’t bother him. He would forget it and go on to the next one. He’d throw a low pass into the dirt and he’d move on to the next play. He didn’t let things affect him. He was always positive. In those days, the quarterback called the plays. There was a lot to that, too. Sometimes we forget how smart Kenny Stabler was. He was a brilliant quarterback with a brilliant football mind. He would set things up. There’s a thing that they don’t even judge anymore, called field general. Ken Stabler was a true field general. The offensive players really believed and followed him. Anything that came out of his mouth, they totally believed.”

On The Field Reports’ Shawn Jonas Asks John Madden: 

Q: Could you tell us a story or a quote on things that Kenny would say postgame, after the win or loss?

Madden: “We didn’t have a lot of losses. After the game, he wasn’t one to say a lot. He didn’t give speeches before the game and he didn’t give speeches after the game. He just enjoyed it. He enjoyed football. He enjoyed practice, he enjoyed playing. He enjoyed every part of it. He enjoyed living. After the game, he was just thinking of the next thing. His leadership was brought about the way he presented himself, held himself, and the esteem his teammates held him in.”

Q: Did he say anything after the Holy Roller game?

Madden: “No. I think after that Holy Roller game, you think of Kenny Stabler and you think about how he was involved in more name games than anyone. We were all in shock after that game. We had used our last timeout and we called a play and the last thing I said to Kenny when we went out, I said ‘no matter what happens, the ball has to come out of your hands. We cannot take a sack,’ because the game would have been over. So, he knows that. He’s thinking that and he starts to scramble, he starts to get tackled, he knows he has to get rid of the ball and he does. The rest is history. After that, it was just kind of shock. The day or two after that, then it kind of became like oh yeah, that was a play we work on, we knew what we were doing, and all that bologna. The bologna didn’t follow right after the game.
Q: Thinking back on the character that was Kenny Stabler, was there ever a moment where, knowing he was that kind of free spirited character that you were afraid he’d get that phone call that night before a game. Do you have any stories of that?

Madden: “No. No, because he wasn’t that way. That was, at the time when I was with him, that was overplayed and overrated, and that wasn’t the way he was. I made a deal with him and I don’t know if it would work today, but I made a deal with him that I won’t mess with him in the offseason. I didn’t have one of those things where you have him come in for minicamp, OTAs and all that stuff. I just let him go. I said the offseason is yours, but the tradeoff is you give me the season. The season is mine. And you know I mean anything that I say that we have to do during the season is done. We had meetings before practice, we had meetings after practice, we had meetings at night, and he was always there, he was always attentive, and like I said, he was a brilliant guy, and the stories about him that came out later, to me, the Kenny Stabler, that I know, the stories were vastly exaggerated.
There’s one story, I don’t know if anyone remembers this, someone was talking to his mother about Kenny, and saying, you know, he’s this and he’s that he’s wild and he stays up all night and he does all these things and his mother says, ‘You’re not talking about Kenny, you’re talking about his daddy.’ And I always thought of that quote and I always thought that there’s quite a bit of truth in that.”

Q: How aware would you say you were of the severity of Stabler’s cancer, how advanced it was, and what do you think it says about him that he made it such, that he kept to himself, that so many of his former teammates didn’t have any idea?

Madden: “Yeah, I was unaware. I was not aware of that he had cancer, and I didn’t. That was a big part of the shock, but if you know Kenny Stabler that’s Kenny Stabler. We used to have a thing. Kenny Stabler never went into the training room. And he didn’t want any of his teammates to ever see him getting treatment. He never went in the training room. He wouldn’t be seen in there, he wouldn’t step in there. So, I thought, well this is ridiculous because he would take a little beating during these games too, and he needed treatment. So I would talk to him about it and he just didn’t want to go in the training [room]. So I said, well you know, let’s do it at night, so you know when everyone leaves. And you know George Anderson our trainer would come back at like nine o’clock at night and that’s when he got his treatment. But, he didn’t want any of his teammates to ever see him in the training room getting treatment. And I think that probably followed him through life.”

Q: I was just hoping you could tell us kind of a story, maybe not on the field, but about Ken Stabler that kind of epitomized who he was as a person?

Madden: “Well, you know the thing was, he was always, always ready to help in any way he could. And, when he would go out he was always polite. I mean he was a real southern gentleman, you know. And, he was, we would have post game parties and he would be around and he’d make a point to talk to all the coach’s, all the coach’s wives, and treat them like they were really something. He really treated people with respect and then, the other side of him, like I said, he enjoyed life. He would rather tell a joke or tell a story or hear a joke or hear a story then anything that’s real serious. But, when he had to be serious he’d get down and be as serious as anyone. And, when that wasn’t needed he was just going to enjoy the moment.”

Q: Many players recall the immaculate reception game. What do you remember about it?

Madden: “Yeah, I’ll never forget that game. He did. He came in off the bench and the Steelers didn’t know a lot about Stabler at that time, and they gave him a little room to his left in there pass rush, and he ran, and he ran for a touchdown, and that put us ahead. So that set up the immaculate reception. Now, the Steelers were behind, time was running out, it was a fourth down play, the immaculate reception was, and the last play, last ditch effort, and then that happened. So, he set up the situation that put them behind, that made them get into that mode to make that drive.”

Q: Did you ever wonder if the dynasty would have been different if they didn’t win that game?

Madden: “No, it wouldn’t have been different. I mean, they lost the next week, I think, but that was just the start of their dynasty. I think they probably realized then that, that they had put together a pretty good team, a very good coaching staff and they were ready to make their move. I think that was a thing. I don’t think that they realized that this is the start of the dynasty, but this is definitely our turnaround in the playoffs, going in the right direction now. And, we’re not going to be the same old Steelers.”

Q: What do you credit his, just innate ability to throw the football and get the ball to open receivers?

Madden: “You know that was what he had and do it quickly. I mean he had a thing that would always set in his mind from the time he saw something until the ball left his hand, was the quickest mechanism that I’ve ever seen. And, I don’t know how you measure that or I don’t know exactly what that is, but I mean some guys see it, then they’re going to step, then they’re going to throw, and then it’s too late. I mean he sees it, boom. It would come out and then, you say with great accuracy and that’s what a quarterback has to have. When Kenny Stabler came to us that’s what he had. He didn’t have the strongest arm, but he had a very accurate arm, and he knew where to go with the ball and he could see and read quickly, and then when he read something, and saw and it read it quickly, the ball would be out of his hands. And the thing that I always liked about him, is, I made a statement yesterday, that up until this day, if I had you know, one drive, or we had to make a drive to win the game, I’d want Kenny Stabler as a quarterback. And you just think of, in those situations, and in those drives when he would, when he gets in his drop, in his drop back, and his drop and that back foot would set, then he would stand straight up. I mean, he would get, I don’t know if you ever remembered this or would have seen this, he would get taller. He would make himself taller in the pocket. There’s some guys that tend to make themselves smaller in the pocket, Kenny Stabler would go back and then he would rise. You just think, that’s the way he played. The bigger the situation I’m going to get back, I’m going to get to the head of my drop and I’m going to step and I’m going to rise and then I’m going to rise to the occasion, and that’s what he did. And then, like you say, he just had great accuracy. To me, that was a natural thing more than a taught thing.”

The Oakland Raiders Release Lamar Woodley After One Season

March 5, 2014

Shawn Jonas

As expected, the Raiders have released defensive end LaMarr Woodley on Thursday, per the team’s official website.

Woodley suffered a torn bicep muscle in Week 7 against the Cardinals and was place on season ending IR on October 25, 2014.

The 30 year old Woodley spent his first seven seasons with the Steelers before signing a two-year contract with the Raiders last offseason. He had just five tackles last season with the Raiders, and 304 tackles (57 sacks) through eight seasons in the league. He was scheduled to make $3.85 million with a salary cap hit of $5.1875 million.

Photo by Shawn Jonas