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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 Officially Announce Re-Signing of Defensive Lineman C. J. Wilson

March 30 1:49 PM

Courtesy of The Oakland Raiders Media Relations

Photo By Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have re-signed DL C.J. Wilson, the club announced Monday.

Wilson returns to the Raiders after spending the 2014 campaign with the Silver and Black. In tying a career high with 16 appearances, he started seven games and totaled 34 tackles (22 solo), two sacks and one forced fumble. His career totals include 66 games played with 18 starts, 137 tackles (76 solo), 5.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed.

DSC09640Photo By Shawn Jonas 

The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder joined the Raiders last offseason after spending the previous four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, playing in 50 games for the team. Wilson played a key role on Green Bay’s defensive line during their Super Bowl run in 2010, playing in all four games – including starting Super Bowl XLV – and totaling six tackles (five solo) and one sack.

The Pinetown, N.C., native was originally selected by the Packers in the seventh round (230th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of East Carolina. He finished his four-year career with 192 tackles and 27 sacks and was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009, his junior and senior seasons.

Former 49ers Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson To Visit Patriots On Monday

March 15, 2015 3:15 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

The former 49ers wide receiver Stevie Johnson will visit the Patriots on Monday.

The New England Patriots lost cornerback Darrelle Revis to the New York Jets.  It makes sense that the Patriots would be interested in a receiver who traditionally does well against Revis.

Johnson was cut by the 49ers on Thursday, and he visited the San Diego Chargers on Friday.

The Jets also have interest in Johnson, which makes sense given that his former coach in Buffalo Bills coach is now the offensive coordinator of the Jets.

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder

March 13, 4:21 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

Alameda, California – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Quarterback Christian Ponder, the club announced Friday.

Ponder was originally drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round (12th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft and spent the last four seasons with the Vikings. Ponder was tutored by Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave in Minnesota from 2011-13, when Musgrave served in the same capacity for the Vikings. For his career, Ponder has played in 38 games with 36 starts, throwing for 6,658 yards on 632-of-1,057 passing (59.8 percent), 38 touchdowns, 36 interceptions and a 75.9 passer rating.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder had his best season in 2012 under Musgrave, as he started all 16 games and led Minnesota to a playoff berth. After finishing 3-13 in 2011, Ponder led the Vikings to a 10-6 record in 2012, the biggest single-season turnaround in franchise history. In 2012, Ponder completed 62.1 percent of his passes, completing 300-of-483 passes for 2,935 yards and 18 touchdowns for a passer rating of 81.2.

The Colleyville, Texas, native played in 35 games at Florida State, throwing for 6,872 yards on 596-of-965 (61.8 percent) passing, 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He left FSU ranked among the all-time school leaders in career completions, completion percentage, passing yards and passing touchdowns. As a senior, Ponder was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He was also named Florida State’s offensive MVP as a sophomore in 2008.

Christian Ponder’s contract details were undisclosed.

 

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Carolina Panthers Cornerback James Dockery

March 2013, 2015 3:06 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, California – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent CB James Dockery, the club announced Friday.

Dockery joins the Raiders following stints with the Cleveland Browns (2011) and Carolina Panthers (2012-14). His career totals include 31 games played with two starts, 30 tackles (25 solo) and two passes defensed.

Last season with the Panthers, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder played in seven games and posted 10 tackles (nine solo) after re-signing with the team in October.

The Palm Desert, Califonia, native was originally signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2011. Dockery played in 38 games with 25 starts over four seasons at Oregon State, totaling 106 tackles, six interceptions and 13 passes defensed.

Dockery’s Contract details was undisclosed.

More On James Dockery

Dockery grew up in Palm Desert, California, in a family that bled Silver and Black. His uncle, who passed away in 2002 was such a devout member of Raider Nation that he was buried in a Silver and Black casket and a Raiders blanket now rests on his grave.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Dockery after signing his contract. “It’s very personal for me. It’s not just about football. This is about my family and my community, and just an opportunity for a California kid to come back home. This means a lot.”

After playing four seasons at Oregon State, Dockery went undrafted but was signed by the Cleveland Browns in 2011, playing in 12 games before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012.
He then spent the next three seasons as a Panther, appearing in seven games and posting 10 tackles (nine solo) in 2014.
Dockery’s arrival in Silver and Black also allows him to fulfill another dream, a dream of playing with his favorite player growing up, Charles Woodson.

“Woodson is just a guy that in my opinion is the best defensive back,” he said. “He’s very versatile, safety, nickel, corner, and that’s somebody that I’ve tried to model my game after. I told him in the weight room today, don’t push me away because I’m going to be trying to soak up a lot of knowledge while I’m here.”

Dockery is looking forward to a fresh start in Oakland, and is excited about getting on the field and putting the pads back on.

“From a football aspect, [the fans] can expect to see someone that’s going to go out there and compete,” he said. “I’ve never been the biggest, strongest or the fastest guy, but I’ve always been one of the most competitive people that you’ll ever come across, and I intend to bring that here.”

He is also eager to begin working with defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., and believes that he and the Raiders are a natural fit.

“I think they’re looking for guys that are high quality, high character, smart football players and I think that’s where I fit,” Dockery said. “I was blessed to be a part of a great defense in Carolina and I’m just looking forward to taking what I did over there and trying to bring that here and get this defense in the Top 10.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Philadelphia Eagles Safety Nate Allen

March 12, 2015 10:25 AM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent S Nate Allen, the club announced Thursday.

Allen joins Oakland following five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in 74 games with 69 starts for the Eagles, earning the starting safety spot as a rookie in 2010, posting 380 tackles (257 solo), 10 interceptions, 28 passes defensed, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He also tallied eight special teams stops.

Last season, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder started 15 games for Philadelphia, recording a team- and career-high four interceptions and tied for the team lead with three fumble recoveries. Allen set a career high with 94 tackles (56 solo) in 2013 and started all 16 games.

The Cape Coral, Florida, native was originally selected by the Eagles in the second round (37th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of South Florida. He played in 48 games for the Bulls from 2006-09, totaling 224 tackles and nine interceptions. He earned All-Big East honors during his senior season after four interceptions.

Nate Allen signed a 4 year / $23,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including a $4,000,000 signing bonus, $11,800,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $5,750,000

More On Nate Allen ( Courtesy of The Oakland Raiders Website)

The veteran safety signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders Thursday after spending the past five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. During his tenure with the Eagles, Allen played in 74 games with 69 starts, posting 380 tackles (257 solo), 10 interceptions, 28 passes defensed, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

“I just fell in love with everything and the direction that the organization is going and the coaching staff they brought in, and the group of guys that we have here,” said Allen after signing his deal. “It’s a great thing and like I’ve been saying, we’re planning on winning now. We’re not trying to rebuild and try to do this or do that, we’re trying to make something happen now, this year.”

After growing up in Cape Coral, Fla., Allen earned a scholarship to play at the University of South Florida, where he played in nine of USF’s 13 games as a freshman.

Allen then became the model of consistency for the Bulls, starting each game for the next three seasons before declaring for the NFL Draft, where he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round (No. 37 overall) of the 2010 draft.

The former Bull enjoyed a successful run in Philadelphia, helping the team secure two playoff berths, as well as recording a team- and career-high four interceptions in 2014.

Allen now sets on his sights on finding success in the Silver and Black in 2015, and is looking forward to refining his game under former All-Pro and current defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson.

“He, Coach Robertson]brings a lot of knowledge just from the little bit that I’ve sat down and talked to him,” Allen said. “Just to be able to work with somebody like that of his caliber, and even [assistant defensive backs coach] Rod Woodson, it’s great. I know they’re going to try to make me the best player I can be and I’m excited about that.”

In addition to Coach Robertson and Coach Woodson, Allen will have the added benefit of playing in the secondary with future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.

“Obviously his resume speaks for himself,” Allen said of his new teammate. “He is who he is, a future Hall of Famer. Just to be able to work alongside a dude like that, I mean I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

With both Allen and Woodson in the defensive secondary, Allen’s versatility will be on full display, as he can play both strong and free safety.

“We’ll figure all that out when the time comes, but like I’ve been saying, however I need to help the team win, I’m going to do it,” he said. I’m going to put the team over myself. Whatever I have to do to help the team win is what I’m going to do.”

Heading into 2015, Allen is excited for a fresh start and looking forward to putting the pads on and getting back to work.

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Saints Linebacker Curtis Lofton

March, 11, 2015 5:06 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed free agent LB Curtis Lofton, the club announced Wednesday.

Lofton joins the Raiders after spending the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. A defensive team captain the past two years, Lofton led the team in tackles in each of his two seasons with the Saints. His career totals include 112 games played with 111 starts, 1,058 tackles (689 solo), seven sacks, 11 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, seven interceptions and 38 passes defensed. He has exceeded 100 tackles each season and led his team in stops the last six seasons.

Before joining the Saints, Lofton spent four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2011, the 6-foot, 241-pounder recorded a career-high 147 tackles (87 solo), and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week following a Week 17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which he led the team with 14 stops (eight solo) and had a 26-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

Lofton has also played in five career postseason games, totaling 45 tackles (27 solo) and one sack.

A native of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, Lofton was originally selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round (37th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. Lofton played in 39 games at Oklahoma with 19 starts, including four starts at middle linebacker. He recorded 197 tackles (117 solo), one sack, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three interceptions. His performance as a senior in 2007 earned him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and consensus All-American and All-Big 12 Conference honors.

Curtis Lofton signed a 3 year / $18,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including $6,500,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $6,000,000.

The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A

Q: Did this develop pretty quickly over the last 24 hours or so?

Lofton: “Yeah, there was an interest on both sides and it got done really quickly.”

Q: Did they talk to you about what your role would be here and if you would be playing in the middle?

Lofton: “I think my role here is I’m going to be the middle linebacker and kind of the quarterback of the defense. Kind of help these young guys get lined up. Take charge and they brought me here to win.”

Q: What impressions do you have of Sio Moore and Khalil Mack?

Lofton: “I’ve seen some film of them, but I haven’t really seen enough to give you guys what I think of them just yet. I think I’d rather meet them and be around them before I start giving my opinion of them.”

Q: Was there something in talking to Ken Norton, Jr. and Jack Del Rio that attracted you to this defensive scheme?

Lofton: “I think the No. 1 thing that attracted me to the Raiders is just the passion, the energy, just the positive feeling that we’re going to get this thing turned around. Why not win now? Another cool thing about it is Coach Del Rio was a linebacker, played linebacker, Ken Norton Jr., he played linebacker, and then linebackers coach coach Sal Sunseri, they all played linebacker. So, they’re going to see it how I see it and I think they can help me take my game to the next level.”

Q: Is it difficult to separate the business side from a city and a town that you grew to love in New Orleans?

Lofton: “Yeah, it sucks getting cut. It sucks getting released. At the same time, like I said, there are a lot of things to look forward to. My future coming here, being a part of this. These great fans and the great history here. I cherish my time there but, walking outside and seeing the scenery and this weather, it’s tough to be disappointed about being here.”

Q: I’m sure you knock on wood when you hear people talking about your consecutive games played and all of that, but is your durability and availability a point of pride for you?

Lofton: “That’s definitely my pride. There have been times when I didn’t think I was going to be able to play and I found it within to play. I think I’ve got this burning force inside of me that loves to compete, and I feel like anytime I’m on the field, I give my team a great chance to win. So I always try to be out there regardless, and plus, I always put my team above my own needs and my own health. That’s how I’ve always been and that’s how I’ll always be.”

Q: Dan Williams said Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck were around to talk to him. To come to a team with two veterans of that kind of credibility in this league, how appealing is that?
Lofton: “I got to sit down and have dinner with Tuck last night, and it’s definitely appealing. He made a great case for here. I’ve got a ton of respect for him in this game. He told me, he said, ‘We’re missing a middle backer. We need you to be that guy.’ I thought about it and I signed up today, so I’m ready.”

Q: The Raiders have been connected to DeMarco Murray for about 24 hours, and you went to college with him. Will you play the role of recruiter now that you’re with the Raiders.

Lofton: “Man, I think you can’t have too many good players on one team, or too many good Sooners, that were former Sooners on one team. I reached out to DeMarco. I think he has a lot on his plate right now and I would love for him to be a part of this team. Man, it would be awesome to get him.”

Q: So you did reach out to Murray?

Lofton: “Yes, I did.”

Q: In terms of the responsibility of being the middle linebacker and knowing the scheme, are you going to try to sink your teeth into this playbook and try to get as immersed as possible in the time you have?

Lofton: “I think that I’ve been given some tools that will help me get into the book, this playbook, and start learning, and I’ll do that. But some of it, too, is just you have to walk it. You have to get a good feel for it. You’ve got to be around the guys, see how you’re going to play things. Coaches are still getting things together, so I feel like I’m definitely going to immerse myself as much as possible and learn the little bit they gave me and knock that out, so when I come back, I’ve got a jumpstart. But I’ve always been a fast learner.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Washington Redskins Running Back Roy Helu Jr.

March 11, 2015 4:06 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Running Back  Roy Helu, Jr., the club announced Wednesday.

Helu, Jr. has spent the previous four seasons with the Washington Redskins. He appeared in 48 games with five starts over his tenure with Washington, rushing for 1,132 yards on 255 carries (4.4 avg.) and seven touchdowns. Proving a versatile pass catcher out of the backfield, Helu, Jr. has added 1,152 receiving yards on 129 receptions (8.9 avg.) and three touchdowns. Since 2011, his 8.9 yards per catch rank seventh in the NFL amongst all running backs.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2011, rushing for 640 yards and adding another 379 receiving yards. For his efforts, he was named to the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie Team. Last season, Helu, Jr. set a career high with 477 receiving yards, an 11.4 receiving average and two receiving touchdowns. He led all Washington running backs in receiving yards in 2011 and 2013-14.

A native of nearby Danville, California, Helu, Jr. was originally selected by the Redskins in the fourth round (105th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Nebraska. He played in 48 career games for the Cornhuskers from 2007-10, making 28 starts and totaling 578 rushes for 3,404 rushing yards (5.9 avg.) and 28 touchdowns. He attended San Ramon Valley High School in nearby Danville, Calif., where he earned All-East Bay League honors in each of his final two seasons.

Roy Helu signed a 2 year / $4,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including an annual average salary of $2,000,000.

The Oakland Raiders Conference Call Q & A

Q: How appealing is it to come back home to play in the Bay Area?

Helu Jr.: “It’s appealing, it’s very appealing. We were just visiting here a week ago, almost exactly, and there’s the weather that is totally different. We don’t get snow here in the Bay Area like we did in Washington, so that’s a big attraction. But it’s appealing, really, just to return to familiarity, and with my family being in close proximity, their support and their support of my family with my wife and our kids. There was a lot of appeal to come back.”

Q: Did you talk to Jack Del Rio or Bill Musgrave about how you can contribute here?

Helu Jr.: “Yeah, not so much into all those details, but more so into the offense that will be run, the vision, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself again and landing here was another, I consider, a very unique opportunity. Coach Musgrave has an offensive background that seems to blend with a couple [styles] like a traditional offense and some spread. It was pretty appealing and it will be interesting to see how everything comes together once we get the team together here.”

Q: When you get drafted by a team run by Mike Shanahan, people tend to see you as a zone runner, yet the Raiders are talking about running a power scheme. How do you think your skillset fits into that?

Helu Jr.: “I’m attracted to a gap scheme as well. There is something that was really exciting about a power scheme whenever we would really run it out in Washington, whether it be from the gun or whether it be under center. That matched my ability and passion for running with patience, and what happens is when you run in a wide zone scheme, because the tempo is so fast, you really have to readjust what patience looks like. So I think whatever we will go to, but primarily if it’s gap or zone, zone I’ll be familiar with and gap, I have a desire to run as well.”

Q: You seemed to blossom as a pass receiver last year. Is that something you’ve been refining since you got in the league?

Helu Jr.: “Yeah, God blessed me with that skillset of good hand-eye coordinator. So that’s really planned out since I’ve been in high school by Coach Dave Kravitz, who has seen them all and identified that – he and my dad primarily when I was in sophomore in high school. A lot of my tape that was sent out had to do with the passing game and the screen game, which landed me at Nebraska. But I wasn’t nearly as good, to make it simple, as a pass receiver until I started really refining and sharpening my hands and my eyes, my hand-eye coordination, within these last couple years.”

Q: Coming to a team without a winning season since 2002, all of the free agents we have talked to have discussed the positive vibe around the building. What is it about what you are hearing from the coaches that makes you think you’re going to be a part of turning something around here?

Helu Jr.: “They are sold into turning this around as if it’s been their life goal and vision to actually have this opportunity to do so. I don’t know if many coaches are ambitious to get the job in Oakland, because of what you just said – since 2002. But I guess for me, what was glaring, as I already mentioned, was just the passion that they have for the vision that they have. Honestly, what I have bought into and I believe to be true is that what is going to make a difference is this offensive scheme that we’re going to be a part of. And that’s what – when I talked on the phone with coach Musgrave, our offensive coordinator – when he talked to me about some of the things that we’re going to do here in Oakland offensively and especially with Derek Carr and how that fits his skillset, I was in. I was pretty sold on it. So it’s not just, ‘Hey, we’re coming in to a situation where it’s been a losing culture, tradition, et cetera, and we’re going to continue with doing these certain things that have been here.’ I think the offense that’s going to be established here will be something that I guess has not been seen much prior to their arrival, if that all makes sense.”

Q: There is talk the Raiders might be in the mix for running back DeMarco Murray, somebody you’ve seen a couple of times a year. As a running back, would you welcome bringing another great running back in?

Helu Jr.: “Yes, and I say that confidently, because first off, I enjoy competition and I know that bringing DeMarco here will bring everybody’s game up in our running back group. Secondly, I don’t think there is any hindrance in bringing any very good player into an organization, especially where you want to start winning. So those two coupled together, I have no problem with other players being brought in. Obviously, I want to be a contributor to the offense and that’s my passion and my desire, but I’m not making the judgment calls on all those, and I’m content with that.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Seattle Seahawks Linebacker Malcolm Smith

March 11, 2015 3:42 PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Linebacker Malcolm Smith, the club announced Wednesday.

Smith joins the Raiders following four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, helping Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances the last two years. In helping the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, Smith was named the game’s MVP after recording nine tackles (five solo), one fumble recovery and a 69-yard interception returned for a touchdown.

Over his four years in Seattle, the 6-foot, 226-pounder played in 57 games with 16 starts, totaling 105 tackles (68 solo), two sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed. He has also played in eight postseason games with eight starts, posting 27 tackles (16 solo), one fumble recovery, two interceptions and two passes defensed.

Last season, Smith played in 14 games with five starts for Seattle, posting 33 tackles (24 solo), two forced fumbles and one pass defensed.

A native of Northridge, California, Smith was originally selected by the Seahawks in the seventh round (242nd overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of USC. Playing three seasons under Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., who was the linebackers coach at USC from 2004-09, Smith played in 47 games over four seasons, recording 174 tackles, one sack and two interceptions.

Malcolm Smith signed a 2 year / $7,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including a $2,000,000 signing bonus, $3,750,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $3,500,000.

The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A

Q: How much did having Ken Norton, Jr. here attract you to come play for the Raiders?

Smith: “It was a big part. It wasn’t the most important thing, but it was definitely a bonus and being familiar with him and his style and the things he wants to do. I feel like I can help him as well as help the team.”

Q: Was there any hesitation about going from one team that has had a lot of success over recent years to one that has not?

Smith: “It’s something that you think about, making that move. It’s something you have to consider, but I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to impart some of the things that I’ve learned on the team and hopefully encourage some guys around me, and we can get the most out of each other and turn this thing around.”

Q: Have they explained to you exactly what your role is going to be, if you will play in the middle some or focus on the outside?

Smith: “It hasn’t been really clear, but they’ve given me some ideas. The thought is to get the best guys on the field and I’m going to absolutely do my best to compete and get out there and whether that’s the middle or wherever else.”

Q: How did this whole thing come together, was it a long time coming or was it recent?

Smith: “Well, free agency just started a couple days ago, but I didn’t know what to expect going into the whole process. It kind of just happened and I’m happy the way it has turned out.”

Q: How big of a factor was coming to play for Ken Norton Jr.?

Smith: “It’s not the biggest factor but it’s definitely an awesome plus. I know his style, I know kind of the way he wants things to be done and I should know the system pretty well. I feel like it’s going to be an opportunity for me to show my skill.”

Q: How do you think you’ll be used?

Smith: “Honestly, I just want to find a way on the field. However that takes, I’m willing to do whatever and I’m going to do whatever for us to be a better team.”

Q: How would you describe your season last year and was it difficult coming from being Super Bowl MVP to playing as a reserve?

Smith: “I was a reserve in the Super Bowl, so you can only make as many plays as you get opportunities and that day I was fortunate enough to get a lot of opportunities. I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunities. I can only dictate with my play, so, that’s what I plan on doing.”

The Oakland Raiders Sign Former Arizona Cardinals Defensive Tackle Dan Williams

March 11 3:11PM PT

Shawn Jonas

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed unrestricted free agent Defensive Tackle Dan Williams, the club announced Wednesday.

Williams joins Oakland following a five-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals, where he played in 70 games with 40 starts. He totaled 116 tackles (63 solo), two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and seven passes defensed.

Last season, the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder played in a career-high 16 games and started nine contests, setting a career high with 45 tackles as the Cardinals made the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Memphis, Tenn., native was originally selected by Arizona in the first round (26th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Tennessee. Williams started 32-of-45 games for the Volunteers and recorded 160 tackles and seven sacks. As a senior in 2009, he earned Associated Press All-SEC first-team honors after recording 70 tackles.

Dan Williams signed a 4 year / $25,000,000 contract with the Oakland Raiders, including $15,200,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $6,250,000.

The Oakland Raiders Media Conference Call Q & A

Q: You have a reputation as a guy who stops the run and you’re coming to a team that hasn’t been in the top half of the NFL in defending the run in more than 10 years. Is that your understanding of why they want you here?

Williams: “Well, not only for that, but to also help push the pocket a little bit more and try to get pressure on the quarterback also. I sometimes think that you can’t always justify how much pressure you get to the quarterback. A lot of times I did put pressure on the quarterback, but he just threw the ball before I got there or it was an incomplete pass. They definitely said they want me to push the pocket, but definitely we need to stop the run and just try to make the team more dimensional.”

Q: Is it correct that you were primarily a nose in the 3-4 in Arizona?

Williams: “Yeah. That’s how they used me, but a little bit last year, I moved around. I played some three-technique inside, sometimes outside, five-technique depending on who is playing and what front we were in. I think towards, especially last year, I got to show off a little bit more of my versatility and I just couldn’t be just a regular two-gap nose tackle.”

Q: What was it about the Raiders that attracted you to come here?

Williams: “I came here yesterday, I got to meet the coaches. I got to meet the G.M. Reggie McKenzie, the head coach Jack Del Rio and the defensive coaches, they really factored into my decision. Just talking to them and the way that they believe they can turn the team around. The biggest thing is it kind of reminded me how when [Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians first got there in Arizona two years ago, excited, they believe in the players that they have here and the players they are going to add. They believe we can turn this thing around and we can do it in a hurry. Once I got to sit down and talk to defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, that was pretty much the biggest factor in my decision. I think it will be a really good fit for myself and also I think I can definitely help out the Raiders, help turn things around.”

Q: When did this all come together?

Williams: “It was yesterday. I came in, my agent, I just told him what I like and he just told me in his opinion he just thought that my first visit should be to the Raiders. He told me that probably with the things that I told him I was looking for, he told me to just take my first visit out here. I came out here yesterday and met the coaches and like I said before, met everybody, even got a chance to meet Justin Tuck and today I got to meet Charles Woodson. Meeting those guys and those guys have won Super Bowls and reading their energy and dedication and how much they really want to turn things around in Oakland. Today, I just decided, I definitely want to be a part of this.”

Q: How big of a deal is that when guys like Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck are telling you that they want you on their team?

Williams: “A lot. Those guys won World Championships. From being on a different team, guys of that caliber, you obviously respect their game. When a guy has a ring on his finger, he definitely has done something and has been through things that I have never done. You always are ready to listen to someone who has been somewhere where you want to be. I know some other players too, of course Ricky Lumpkin, he played here last year and we were really close, I met him in Arizona. I got to meet a few more players here today, just out here working out. I just thought that I feel like I can fit in in the locker room here.”

Q: What did you learn from your experience in Arizona that you can bring to the Raiders?

Williams: “I think the biggest thing is the fact that I can now speak on how things can turn around quickly the quicker that you buy into the coaching system. The year before we were 5-11 and then B.A. Arians came in and he had those guys come in and everybody started believing and buying into what they were trying to do. We switched around from being 5-11 to 10-6. Last year we improved to even better, 11-5, and made it to the playoffs. A lot depends on buying in and just seeing if everyone does it we can definitely have great results. If we ever have an issue like that, I can probably, from experience, speak on that because I’ve seen what has happened when a new head coach comes in and everyone buys in. It doesn’t have to be a rebuilding year or we only one two games last year, let’s win five. We’ve got a new coach, we’ve got new people, a new system, let’s win right away instead of waiting two or three years or something. Just trying to change the mindset a little bit and just trying to get off to a good start.”