As quickly as the rumors grew of the Oakland Raiders’ interest in surprise free agent safety George Iloka, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther played rumor killer on Tuesday.
“I’ve been really kind of concentrated on getting ready for this ball game, and really evaluating the guys we have at safety,” Guenther said after practice. “I like our safety group, I mean we’ve got a lot of different kind of abilities back there: guys who can cover, guys who can hit, and guys who can play the middle of the field. So I’m really focused on getting those guys better.”
And yahtzee! Iloka signed with another former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator — Mike Zimmer — who know captains the Minnesota Vikings (for the veteran minimum, no less!).
From distance, the safety position appears to be of greater need. After all, the Raiders are without high draft pick Obi Melifonwu who remains sidelined with an undisclosed lower body ailment.
“No, I don’t [know when he’ll come back]. He’s still being evaluated,” said exasperated head coach Jon Gruden.
The Raiders did add another piece to their secondary on Wednesday — Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “Another cornerback!?” some have asked with eyebrows raised. Yes, indeed, another corner. Oakland is hellbent on cornering the market while thoroughly satisfied with the safety position.
Let’s take a quick glance at the positions:
Corner: Rashaan Melvin; Gareon Conley; Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie; Daryl Worley; Nick Nelson; Leon Hall; Shareece Wright; Antonio Hamilton; Dexter McDonald; Antwaun Davis and Raysean Pringle.
Safeties: Marcus Gilchrist; Karl Joseph; Reggie Nelson; Erik Harris; Obi Melifonwu; Shalom Luani; Dallin Leavitt and Quincy Mauger.
Both those spots will be halved, no doubt, but it appears the emergence of Erik “Dirty” Harris as a viable option at the safety position rendered it an afterthought. Corner, however … Perhaps the addition of DRC allows the Raiders to primarily stick with CBs at the spots (Gilchrist did practice at slot corner).
Either way, secondary was a primary concern in Oakland and the team looks like it satiated its hunger to add more corners.
Let’s hit the Quick Slants as fast as the Raiders lost interest in Iloka:
- Reports surfaced the disinterest in Iloka stems from financial reasons. It’s conceivable Iloka asked the Raiders for the same deal Gilchrist (1-year, roughly $4 million) received. And when the Raiders scoffed, he joined another familiar face in Minnesota for considerably less.
- Arden Key was a revelation in camp practices leaving tackles on skates. Against the Rams, we saw a rookie play as a rookie. None of the spin moves or toolbox that showed up in camp. Maybe coaches told him to go pure bull rush and save the moves for Week 1?
- The Raiders need to consider taking a quarterback next offseason’s draft. Connor Cook and EJ Manuel are even-keel in terms of performance and abilities. Time to add some new young blood at the position.
- A groin injury is keeping rookie kicker Eddy Pineiro from kicking. The team doesn’t seem to think it’s a serious injury. But I will say this, groin issues have derailed Cairo Santos’ promising young career.
Quote(s) Of Note:
“Seth [Roberts] has been out now for nine, 10 days. Martavis has been in and out of here. It’s been tough. I think just someone has to come out here and string four or five really good days together and showcase their stuff. Make some plays. With and without the ball.”
— Raiders head coach Jon Gruden on the wide receiver position
“The way it’s set up is for everyone to play any spot. That way, [Gruden] does it that way to make it easier on the quarterback. ‘Hey, if you get this look verses this, get to this.’ And they all have to know what to do. He knows where the matchup is and like I said before, I feel like it’s like a trained robot for Coach Gruden. He builds a system in such a way that all of the other guys have to learn everything else.”
— Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on the wide receivers