Raiders TE Clive Walford makes most of rare opportunity

The Raiders also have eight sacks the past two games after recording just four in the previous four contests as the defense has played better after John Pagano replaced fired coordinator Ken Norton Jr. as play-caller. “It’s definitely been what we’re looking for,” Del Rio said. “The guys are cutting it loose and playing a little more aggressively. Coverage has been tighter and I think they go hand in hand.” The offense has relied more on the run game the past two weeks with starting receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper mostly unavailable. Crabtree was ejected for a fight against Denver and then suspended this past game, while Cooper was knocked out of the game against the Broncos with a concussion and sprained ankle that sidelined him against the Giants. Marshawn Lynch had a season-high 26 carries against the Broncos and then delivered his first 100-yard rushing game since coming out of retirement to lead the way against the Giants. Backup receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Johnny Holton both delivered big plays with Patterson’s 59-yard catch setting up a 9-yard TD to Holton . Even backup tight end Clive Walford made a big contribution with four catches after having only three the first 10 games. The Raiders will have Crabtree back this week and Del Rio said he’s hopeful Cooper will return. NOTES: DL Darius Latham was released to make room for Crabtree to return.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Clive Walford spent most of the first three months of the season as an afterthought on the Oakland Raiders offense.

With the addition of Jared Cook as the starting tight end and an offense that relied much more on three-receiver sets than using multiple tight ends, Walford got few opportunities to make plays for Oakland.

That all changed last week when starting receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were sidelined and Walford was called on for a bigger role and delivered in a major way in a 24-17 win for the Raiders over the New York Giants.

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