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Gruden on Raiders: 'We aren't tanking anything'
By JOSH DUBOW
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Back-to-back lopsided losses have given Oakland five losses in six games. The Raiders have already traded away their best player and there are reports that other key pieces could be dealt soon.
Very little has gone right in the first season of coach Jon Gruden's second stint in Oakland. But as the Raiders left town for a bye week, Gruden had a message to his legion of critics calling 2018 a lost season in Oakland.
"I'll say this, we aren't tanking anything," Gruden said Tuesday. "I hear the hatred out there, some of the rumors that we are tanking it to get a first-round pick or a higher pick. We are not getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning to tank it. Ain't nobody tanking it. I don't know who wrote that or who said that or who thinks that, but that isn't the case here. We are going to continue to work hard, continue to build our team and that was part of the message."
A week off might be just what the Raiders need to change the course of a difficult season that has left the team battered physically and frustrated by the mounting losses.
Oakland blew second-half leads the first three weeks to start 0-3 and then responded from a comeback, overtime win over Cleveland by getting outscored 53-13 the past two weeks in losses to the Chargers in Los Angeles and the Seattle Seahawks in London.
The Raiders released linebacker Derrick Johnson on Tuesday and promoted Jason Cabinda from the practice squad to take his place but other moves could be coming with receiver Amari Cooper and safety Karl Joseph among the players reportedly available in trades.
Gruden already dealt away one of general manager Reggie McKenzie's former first-round picks when he traded star edge rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago for a package of draft picks a week before the season. With the status of Cooper and Joseph in question and 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley getting no defensive snaps last week, Gruden is dismantling the team McKenzie built.
More moves could be coming over the bye week.
"We're still looking at the roster. We're looking around the league to find means to get better," Gruden said. "Reggie and I had a long meeting yesterday. I know that's a shock to some people. They don't think we have any meetings. I'm telling you, we're working hard to solidify this roster every day and improve ourselves and get the right people on the field. Those are decisions that we're looking at. We're going to continue to try to develop our young players. We're going to stay on the gas pedal and go as hard as we can."
The frustration is mounting in the locker room with cornerback Rashaan Melvin expressing frustration this week over his lack of playing time and saying he will go back to his old technique of playing rather than play the style defensive coordinator Paul Guenther wants.
"I haven't talked to him yet, no. I'm sure I will," Gruden said. "I know Paul Guenther did. I heard there was a Twitter report out there. Melvin is on his seventh team, I think. He's had different techniques. Maybe he's confused, I don't know. I'll talk to him. But he has to play better. He's in a competitive situation. Perhaps he's frustrated, and I can't blame him."
The main priority over the bye will be getting healthy. Many of the struggles the past two weeks can be attributed to starting left guard Kelechi Osemele being out with a knee injury, right tackle Donald Penn on injured reserve with a groin injury and rookie left tackle Kolton Miller slowed by a knee injury that has contributed to him allowing six sacks in two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Gruden hopes to get Osemele back for the game Oct. 28 against Indianapolis and Miller should be healthier, which will be good news for quarterback Derek Carr. Carr was sacked six times against Seattle and had little time to get the ball downfield. He threw just one pass more than 10 yards downfield and had 140 of his 142 yards passing come after the catch.
"It was obvious that it affected the ability to drop back and look around and throw the ball," Gruden said. '"'We got to block better than that. We got to play better than that. That certainly had an impact. No doubt."
NOTES: RB Marshawn Lynch has a groin strain. Gruden said he would have an update on the severity next week. ... DL Frostee Rucker (neck) could be back next game. ... Cooper and WR Seth Roberts remain in concussion protocol. ... Joseph (hamstring) also could return against the Colts.
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Updated October 16, 2018