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McFadden, Goodson have sprained ankles for Raiders

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McFadden, Goodson have sprained ankles for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders have been struggling to run the ball with a healthy Darren McFadden for most of this season.

Now that McFadden and backup Mike Goodson are both dealing with high ankle sprains that put their status in doubt for this week, the Raiders could have even more concerns.

Coach Dennis Allen said X-rays and an MRI on McFadden came back negative and Goodson was undergoing an MRI on Monday. He said the team would have to see how both players respond and he would not rule them out yet for when the Raiders (3-5) play in Baltimore against the Ravens (6-2) on Sunday.

McFadden hurt his right ankle on the first or second carry of the game and tried to play through it before leaving for good just before halftime. McFadden had just seven carries for 17 yards and caught two passes for no yards in the loss.

``Darren wanted to be back out there, so that wasn't a case where you risk any further injury,'' Allen said. ``Darren is a competitor, he wanted to be back out there, so we put him back out there. Then came in at halftime, he just wasn't going to be able to do it, so we kept him out the rest of the game.''

McFadden was one of the most dynamic backs in the league the past two seasons when healthy. But he missed 19 games over his first four seasons - including nine last season - with foot, toe, shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries.

While he has been healthy so far this year, he has been far from effective, rushing for just 455 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. His 3.3 yards per carry average is sixth-worst in the league and the lowest for a Raiders player since Pete Banaszak's 3.2 average in 1976.

Goodson has shown flashes at tailback with 111 yards on 17 carries and 14 catches for 173 yards but might not be able to go.

That leaves Taiwan Jones as the only healthy halfback on the roster. Jones has one carry and one reception all season and has been limited by injuries and ball-security issues.

``That's obviously something that he's got to improve on,'' Allen said. ``He's got to make sure that he can protect the football and he's got to make sure that he understands what his assignments are. As we get more comfortable with those things, he'll earn more playing time.''

Allen said the team would look at bringing in a running back this week as insurance. The Raiders also could give more time to versatile fullback Marcel Reece, who had eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Seven of those catches came after McFadden got hurt.

He also has 48 rushes for 234 yards in his career.

``Obviously with the health of our backs right now, he becomes more of an option there at the tailback position, but Marcel, he's provided some options for us,'' Allen said. ``We've used him in a lot of different ways. Now every week he doesn't catch the ball for 100 yards or rush for a 100 yards, but he's very much a part of our offense and vital to our offense.

Along with possibly signing a running back, the Raiders have roster decisions to make on injured cornerback Ron Bartell and linebacker Aaron Curry.

Bartell has been on short-term injured reserve since breaking his left shoulder blade in the season opener. He practiced all last week and would be eligible to play against the Ravens if the Raiders decide to activate him.

``It's tough to get back,'' Bartell said. ``But I definitely feel a lot better, a lot more confident. I've got another week to get prepared, and that's what I plan on doing and we'll make that decision on Saturday.''

The Raiders have to make a decision on Curry even sooner. He has been on the physically unable to perform list all season with injured knees. If he is not activated before Wednesday's practice, he would either have to be cut or placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Also, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was resting at home Monday after spending the night the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. He did not play in the second half and will need to undergo further tests before he is able to resume practicing.

NOTES: S Matt Giordano, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, wanted to return but was held out as a precaution. ... Injured CB Shawntae Spencer (right foot) will run on the field Tuesday to see how he is progressing and could practice Wednesday. ... RT Khalif Barnes (groin) will be back at practice Wednesday for the first time since Week 2 and Allen said the staff has discussed starting rookie Tony Bergstrom at right tackle in place of the struggling Willie Smith. ... Allen said there have been no discussions about bringing back CB Stanford Routt, who was waived by Kansas City on Monday.

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NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

The annual NFL Combine kicks of Wednesday in Indianapolis. Whatever happens there -- receivers run fast, quarterbacks flash arm strength, defenders lack pop -- projections will change and in some cases significantly. Therefore here's my last look at the situation before all the sprints and lifts via mock draft 4.0 plus some other thoughts below.

* League sources offered up names of several prospects currently ranked all over the big boards with the chance to make a big splash during the combine. They include:

Alabama TE O.J. Howard -- Everybody already knows the 6-foot-6 Howard is a two-way monster. His Senior Bowl dominance certainly confirmed that. Rocking the Combine could alter his mid-to-late first round projection into 10-13 range where teams like New Orleans, Cleveland and Arizona have TE needs. Call me crazy, but if Howard is there when the Redskins pick at 17, I can imagine Washington thinkng long and hard about two-TE sets wth Jordan Reed. 

Oklahoma DT Charles Walker -- The Redskins have shown interest in Walker, according to a league source, though his draft range is all over the map. The interior force's redshirt junior season ended early due to a concussion followed by a decision to leave the Sooners early with draft preparation in mind. Was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a junior thanks to six sacks. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Walker ninth among defensive tackles while WalterFootball.com projects the 304-pounder as a Day 2 pick.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>

Pittsburgh OT Adam Bisnowaty -- Considered underrated despite starting four seasons for the Panthers. The left tackle helped key a resurgent season for the Panthers. Lack of wow prospects at the position means the order outside of Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin), Cam Robinson (Alabama) and Garrett Bolles (Utah) is in flux.

Ashland TE Adam Shaheen -- The D2 prospect is early candidate for the "Who is that guy?" award. Expect raves about Shaheen's size and athleticism. CBS Sports already has Day 2 projection on the 6-foot-6, 277-pounder who can run routes like a wide receiever. Could he move all the way into round 1?

Tulsa WR Keevan Lucas -- What the 5-foot-10 receiver lacks in height he makes up for with speed and production. Caught 81 passes for 1,180 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season with the Golden Hurricanes. Certain analytics show Lucas' production stood out  and put him in the same statistical company as future NFL receivers Stefon Diggs and Marqise Lee. Day 3 sleeper.

Other to watch: QB Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech), TE David Nkoju (Miami, Fl.), DT Ryan Glasgow (Michigan), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)

* Look at Scot McCloughan's draft history and one theme emerges: The man likes seniors, especially in round one. Brandon Scherff and Josh Doctson were both four-year players. The bulk of first round selections during his time at Seattle and San Francisco. That doesn't mean McCloughan will go that way with the 17th overall pick; Of the top 19 ranked prospects according to ESPN analyst Todd McShay, 14 are underclassmen. But keep a close on seniors with early round projections like Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Temple inside linebacker Haason Reddick, Indiana guard Dan Feeney, LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White, Washington wide receiver John Ross and Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>

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Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

Report: Ravens mulling cutting Dennis Pitta to create more cap space

A decision on whether to cut or keep Dennis Pitta is one of many issues facing the Ravens this offseason.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Ravens “may balk” at the $5.5 million salary Pitta is due next season. That makes sense, considering Pitta was just 28th in the NFL among tight ends in yards per catch (8.5) despite leading all tight ends with 86 catches. Pitta only had two touchdown catches, and there is concern he no longer has the speed to make explosive plays after two major hip surgeries.

Free agency begins March 9, but cutting Pitta with a June 1 designation would create the most cap space for the Ravens - $5.5 million.

However, if the Ravens release Pitta, they would turn the tight end position over to a question-filled group that includes:

Ben Watson – He is 36 years old, and missed all of the 2016 season with an Achilles injury. Cutting Watson and saving $3 million in cap space might make more sense than cutting Pitta. Especially if Pitta agrees to a pay reduction, as he did before last season.

Nick Boyle – He missed 10 games last season due to his second suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Another suspension could lead to the end of Boyle’s career.

Crockett Gillmore – He must prove he can still healthy after missing seven games in 2016, and 15 games over the past two seasons.

Darren Waller – He was suspended four games in 2016 for his first PED violation, and he has caught just 12 passes in his first two seasons.

Maxx Williams – He is coming off major knee surgery.

Pitta remains a favorite target of quarterback Joe Flacco, and even if Pitta struggles to make splash plays, he is still a chain-mover as a possession receiver. You can make a case for cutting or keeping Pitta. The Ravens will soon make their verdict.

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