Raiders might need to rely heavily on QB Palmer

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Raiders might need to rely heavily on QB Palmer

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Carson Palmer could be in for another busy day for the Oakland Raiders.

With top two running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson slowed this week by sprained right ankles, the Raiders may need to rely on their passing game when they visit the Baltimore Ravens.

Palmer threw the ball 61 times last week against Tampa Bay as the Raiders (3-5) were forced to play catch-up in the second half after losing McFadden and Goodson to the injuries. Neither back practiced Wednesday and their status remains in doubt for Sunday's game against the Ravens (6-2).

``We've got a plan in place if either or both of those guys are not able to play,'' coach Dennis Allen said.

That likely will involve lots of passing with no other proven halfback on the roster. Palmer set a career high in attempts in last week's 42-32 loss to Tampa Bay, completing 39 passes for 414 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

With McFadden out for the entire second half, Goodson getting hurt in the fourth quarter and Oakland falling behind by 18 points, the Raiders ran the ball just three times in the second half - their fewest in eight years.

``You got to adjust to what your health is of your team, but you know it's a team that's had some yards rushing on them, especially the last couple of weeks,'' Palmer said. ``It's very odd. I have never seen that before in my career. So, there are some things we want to take advantage of in the run game.

``But you can't be one-dimensional at the same time, too, and throw it and throw it. We've got to figure out a way to get Darren back as quickly as possible and maybe have a selected or limited game plan for him or Marcel (Reece) or whoever is going to be back there.''

Palmer is quite familiar with the Ravens, having spent the first eight seasons of his career in the AFC North with Cincinnati. Palmer's nine regular season wins as a starter against Baltimore are the most of any quarterback.

He has completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,202 yards, 15 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 84.5 passer rating in those games. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said Palmer looks as good as he did with the Bengals and when the two faced off in college when Suggs was at Arizona State and Palmer starred at Southern California.

``I don't fear any quarterbacks, but I'm always worried when I play Carson Palmer,'' Suggs said. ``Me and him come from the same draft class, 2003. This guy has kind of tortured me through all my college and professional career. I'm very aware of the talent. I know he can make every throw. If you ask me, he's very highly underrated. He's definitely one of the premier quarterbacks in the league.''

He will likely need to be that way Sunday with Oakland's running game in the situation it is.

The Raiders chose not to sign another running back this week and will likely go with little-used third-stringer Taiwan Jones or fullback Marcel Reece if McFadden and Goodson can't play. They also could activate Jeremy Stewart from the practice squad.

``It's really a next-man-up philosophy and we're going to have to count on some guys to step up potentially and fill a bigger role,'' Allen said. ``We'll know more at the end of the week exactly what we've got to do.''

Jones, a speedster drafted in the fourth round in 2011, has been slowed by hamstring, knee and rib injuries during his brief career. He has just 17 carries for 75 yards and three receptions for 29 yards.

He has played just seven snaps on offense all season with one run for 2 yards and he also caught a 4-yard pass on a fake punt.

``Since I've been here I've waited for him to get his opportunity and it hasn't worked out and here it is,'' Palmer said. ``He'll get his touches and I can't wait. I mean, he's so electrifying. He puts his foot in the ground and goes. He wiggles out of hits, he wiggles out of tackles. Can't wait to throw him the ball, get him in the open field. He's so much fun to watch at practice it's, like I said, a long time coming.''

Reece, a converted receiver who excels in the passing game, had his most productive game last week with eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. He has 48 career carries for 234 yards and could get time as a single back on Sunday.

``I feel comfortable doing anything in this offense,'' he said. ``They've prepared me a long time ago to do anything in this offense and I'm prepared to do it. Whatever happens on Sunday, whatever they ask me to do I'm going to go do it.''

NOTES: DT Desmond Bryant was a full participant in practice after spending Sunday night in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. ... RT Khalif Barnes returned from a groin injury that has sidelined him since week two and Allen said he would know later this week whether he'd be able to play Sunday. ... DT Richard Seymour (knee, hamstring) and CB Shawntae Spencer also missed practice.

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AFC North: Griffin's mannequin pose gets thumbs up at Cleveland high school

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AFC North: Griffin's mannequin pose gets thumbs up at Cleveland high school

New Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III found a new way to use his body control Tuesday. He posed as a mannequin while pranking a high school classroom in Ohio. It was part of a good deed by the Browns, who donated $25,000 to North Ridgeville High School to be used for helmets.

While Browns teammate Cameron Erving spoke to the class, Griffin stood behind a curtain. After the curtain was raised, Griffin remained perfectly still, looking like a mannequin wearing a Ridgeville uniform and helmet.

“I had to tap into my inner mime,” Griffin told the Browns’ website.

When two students approached Griffin to remove the helmet, he startled them with a roar. Then Griffin removed his helmet to reveal his identity. The classroom erupted in applause.

The Browns’ website posted a video of Griffin’s performance here.

Things have been trending in a positive way for Griffin since coming to Cleveland from the Redskins. Not only did the Browns draft four wide receivers, they did not draft a quarterback until the third round when they took Cody Kessler of USC.  Griffin, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, Connor Shaw, and Pat Devlin are the other quarterbacks on the roster.

Griffin clearly has a chance to win the starting job. But with Tuesday’s mannequin act, Griffin won over some high school kids in Ohio.

  

Ravens like their draft class, and so did Vegas sports books

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Ravens like their draft class, and so did Vegas sports books

The Ravens liked their draft, and so did Las Vegas.

In mid-March prior to the draft, the Ravens had 40-1 odds to win Super Bowl 51, according to Bovada. After their 11-player haul in the draft, the Ravens’ Super Bowl odds have improved to 33-1, according to Bovada.

Here are the six teams whose Super Bowl odds improved most dramatically after the draft, according to Bovada:

Browns – 150-1 to 100-1

Redskins – 50-1 to 40-1

Jets – 50-1 to 40-1

Giants - 33-1 to 25-1

Raiders – 33-1 to 25-1

Ravens – 40-1 to 33-1

Despite quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension being upheld, the Patriots remained the favorites for Super Bowl 51 (7-1), followed by the Seahawks (8-1), Packers (10-1), Steelers (10-1), and Panthers (11-1).

As for the AFC North, the Ravens still have their work cut out according to Vegas. The Steelers and Bengals (18-1) still have better Super Bowl odds than the Ravens.

So if you believe the Ravens are a better team after the draft, Vegas would agree. However, it remains to be seen if the Ravens will be improved enough to get back into the playoffs.

Ravens draft research includes digging into players' social media history

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Ravens draft research includes digging into players' social media history

Ten years ago, Ozzie Newsome didn’t have to worry about checking the Twitter posts of players he was thinking about drafting. Now, checking social media has become part of a general manager’s job, and part of a prospective draft prospect’s resume.

What better example than last week, when the infamous gas mask picture of Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil appeared on social media less than an hour before the draft. The Ravens passed on Tunsil and took left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the sixth pick. Tunsil, who once looked like a sure top-five pick, plummeted to No. 13 where the Dolphins took him.

On the Ravens’ website, Ravens senior vice president Kevin Byrne wrote that he stopped by Newsome’s offense last Wednesday, one day before the draft, and saw him with a stack of papers in front of him.

When Byrne asked Newsome what he was reading, he responded, “Tweets from the college players. Some of these guys aren’t very smart. Part of our research.”

Researching social media will continue to be part of Newsome’s pre-draft process. Newsome isn’t active on social media, but he definitely reads it, now more than ever.