Oakland Raiders

Takeaways from Raiders’ joint practices, and defense gets praise from Rams coach

After a two-day joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams, Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden likes what he sees from the team.

He also got to see where his team stacks up against the reigning NFC champions.

“We’re a better team. We’ve gotten better,” said Gruden of the Raiders, coming off a 4-12 season in which they were outscored 467-290.

“That doesn’t mean much in terms of wins and losses, but we’ve gotten better. Both lines of scrimmage, offensive line, defensive line. I think we competed better and I’m pleased.”

The Raiders and Rams – who finished 15-4 last season after losing 13-3 to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl – will meet in a preseason game Saturday at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland.

But don’t expect to see the majority of the regular-season starters to play, Gruden said.

The Raiders are being extra cautious, especially with right guard Gabe Jackson getting carted off from Thursday’s joint practice.

The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported Jackson will miss eight weeks with an MCL injury in his left knee.

The Raiders haven’t commented officially on the diagnosis, but Gruden said “we’re concerned obviously” and “I don’t want to speculate.”

Expected to step in is Jordan Devey, who previously played for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Takeaways from Rams-Raiders practices

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looked decent despite throwing an interception on his first attempt during 7-on-7s at Wednesday’s joint practice.

On Wednesday, Carr found Tyrell Williams who beat a Rams defender but dropped the ball in the end zone.

On Thursday, Carr connected for touchdowns to Hunter Renfrow and J.J. Nelson.

“We were able to hit a couple touchdowns. We had four or five touchdowns, but you want six or seven, you know?” Carr said. “There is stuff that we need to correct off the film and things that we could do better.”

Rookie running back Josh Jacobs looks every bit the part the Raiders are looking for: durable and quick with an awareness of the field. He won’t play Saturday, Gruden said.

“Our fans will to have to wait to see most of that when the Broncos come to town,” said Gruden, referring to the regular-season opener Sept. 9 (a Monday night) against Denver.

Quarterback Jared Goff had his way against the Raiders, but the way Rams coach Sean McVay sees it, the future is bright there with rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell and rookie safety Johnathan Abram in the fold, as well as veteran linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

“A lot of new faces, a lot of new speed, a lot of physicality,” McVay said. “I think you’re seeing guys more comfortable in (defensive coordinator Paul) Guenther’s system. They definitely got some good depth up front. I think you can expect them to be a really tough matchup for offenses this year.”

Antonio Brown still out

Antonio Brown hasn’t practiced with the Raiders for more than a week because of a reported foot issue.

Gruden didn’t say exactly what was going on with Brown but said his star receiver is “still gathering” information about his feet.

Brown reportedly got frostbitten feet in a cryothearpy machine. Then news came on Friday that a helmet issue is keeping Brown out.

ESPN reportedly said Brown filed a grievance against the NFL so he can wear a helmet he likes. NFL has a rule in which each NFL player must wear the mandated helmet to avoid head injuries.

The Raiders acquired Brown in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this year.

Punting battle

Second-year pro Johnny Townsend is facing competition for punting duties.

Rookie A.J. Cole, an undrafted free agent signee from North Carolina State, showed off his skills Thursday, making some booming kicks. One of those was a spiral kick that would’ve made former Raider Shane Lechler proud.

“I thought A.J. Cole put on a punting display today,” Gruden said. “That was big. (Kicker Daniel) Carlson kicked the ball through the uprights, which we like. And I thought the effort was good.”

Tempers flare

The Raiders and Rams fought, but it wasn’t that big of a scuffle.

One skirmish involved Rams star Aaron Donald and Jackson. Jackson was later injured and carted away.

The other skirmish happened when Raiders rookie offensive tackle Tyler Roemer had his helmet ripped off.

The HBO series “Hard Knocks” will likely show the incidents.

“We had one scuffle that was uncalled for, but I thought for the most part our players played hard and we got a lot of work done,” Gruden said.

Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.