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Olivier Vernon missed another

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Since Jon Gruden last coached in the NFL a decade ago Kevin Shattenkirk Jersey , the league has undergone a youth movement.

Thanks to a collective bargaining agreement that limits salaries for players in their first four years and a more spread out game that places a greater premium on speed, teams have relied more than ever on young players.

Gruden still is showing the same kind of preference for experience that he did when he first took over the Raiders back in 1998, signing 11 players this offseason who are already in their 30s.

"We've added a veteran presence," Gruden said. "Some people don't like it, but I like Derrick Johnson, I like Marcus Gilchrist, I like guys that know what the heck is going on."

That's the opposite direction most teams have gone since Gruden last coached in Tampa Bay in 2008. The youth movement hit high gear following the 2011 collective bargaining agreement and the average snap weighted age for NFL players fell to 26.46 years last season, according to Football Outsiders, the lowest since the website began tracking that number in 2006.

The average age has been falling gradually each year since 2008, with players about a half-year younger now than they were a decade ago.

But Gruden is bucking that trend, signing players like Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Frostee Rucker and Leon Hall.

"Heck yeah that's a positive," tight end Jared Cook said. "It helps the maturity of this team. When you got young guys, especially nowadays, these young guys just don't get what the NFL is about. Even something as simple as veteran presence and veteran leadership Allen Robinson Jersey , they don't understand that. Veteran respect, they don't necessarily get that. So, having vets in the locker room and having vets around you that know the role, know how things go and that hold other people accountable ... is huge. You can't buy that anywhere, because vets know how it's supposed to be done, and they're going to get it done the right way it's supposed to be."

Gruden took a similar tack in his first stint in Oakland, bringing in players like Eric Allen, Jerry Rice, Rich Gannon, Andre Rison, William Thomas, Trace Armstrong and Anthony Newman to help turn the Raiders from a losing team into a playoff participant his final two seasons.

Several of the older players have ties to either defensive coordinator Paul Guenther or special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, giving the coaching staff some proven players who are able to help teach the new systems.

"It's very important," Guenther said. "I always say this, but it's a player's game. So when you have guys that really understand the details of everything. Obviously, we haven't been through a season with some of the guys who were here last year. Some of the things that come up Lorenzo Alexander Jersey , whether it be in the locker room or in the meeting room. I may say, 'Hey, remember when this happened two years ago against Atlanta?' We recall those things. So it's very helpful to have guys that are in the infantry line there to help us out."

The Raiders made an effort to add players like that in every position group on defense with Rucker on the defensive line, Emmanuel Lamur at linebacker, and Reggie Nelson and Leon Hall in the secondary all familiar with Guenther's defense and able to serve as sounding boards for their teammates.

Rashaan Melvin said he frequently turns to Hall, who spent nine seasons in Cincinnati when Guenther was a defensive assistant or coordinator.

"Any time we're putting in a new defensive scheme or whatever it might be, he's been in the system for a long time," Melvin said. "If it's a nickel position, he knows it. If it's the corner position, he knows it. So, whatever questions we might have to ask or to ask coach, he's like another coach for us in the room."

But as much as the older players were brought in for their knowledge, it won't matter at all if they still can't play at a high level. They need to be much more than unofficial coaches on the field.

The next few weeks will show what these veterans still have left. The 33-year-old Nelson, who has already impressed his coaches and teammates, is trying to prove that his dropoff last season had more to do with Aaron Rodgers' injury than his advancing age.

"The thing that you hear about that he can't run anymore, that's false Youth Kevin Labanc Jersey ," quarterback Derek Carr said. "I can tell you, he's one of the fastest skill guys that we have still. He can run. You see that by his route running. If he can win on underneath routes that means DB's are scared about what he can do over the top. He's still Jordy Nelson, that's for sure."

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Thomas McGaughey has been doing more in the offseason than getting the New York Giants‘ special teams ready for the opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 45-year-old coordinator has been undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer that strikes roughly 8,000 people in the United States annually.

It’s called Periampullary cancer, a bile duct cancer located near the small intestine. McGaughey has been receiving oral medication and chemotherapy. He is now on his fifth round, and has a couple more left.

“It’s going good,” McGaughey said Thursday while disclosing his diagnosis and treatment with the media for the first time.

Still, the treatments have left him drained at times. He missed time during organized team activities in the spring. The Giants compensated by asking Tom Quinn, the team’s special teams coordinator under Ben McAdoo and Tom Coughlin, to join Pat Shurmur’s staff.

The thought of taking time away from football and concentrating on his healthy never entered McGaughey’s head. He even returns to work as soon as his chemo is finished.

“As a football coach, you don’t think of that stuff,” McGaughey said. “You get up. You do what you do, and live life. I am not going to let any chemotherapy, cancer or anything else get in the way of what I do. I am a football coach. I am a father, a football coach and that’s what I do. I’ve got to get up every day. Nobody really cares Alex Tuch Jersey Kids , and they are not going to feel sorry for you. It’s get up and go to work.”

McGaughey isn’t the only member of the organization being treated for cancer. General manager Dave Gettleman was diagnosed with lymphoma this spring.

“We share our chemotherapy stories, and talk about the medication, and that stuff,” McGaughey said with a smile. “We definitely have our conversations. Dave’s a great man and it is what it is. We just have to fight through it and keep it moving.”

McGaughey said a scan of his system three weeks ago was fine.

McGaughey said the cancer was discovered by good fortune after he had two bouts with sepsis, a condition that happens when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs.

Doctors performed an endoscopy and found a growth in his bile duct.

“They removed it,” McGaughey said. “I had a very extensive procedure called a Whipple Procedure, and during the Whipple they found a cancer on one of my lymph nodes and I have been undergoing chemotherapy for the last about two months.”

Shurmur said Quinn was brought to help McGaughey on the “tough” days. However, he said McGaughey is handling everything.

“T-Mac has been doing a great job and he has our guys ready to play,” Shurmur said.

The one question that made McGaughey laugh was when he was asked what his thoughts would be if Shurmur let rookie Saquon Barkley handle the kickoff returns and Odell Beckham Jr. run the punts back.

“Thank God,” McGaughey said. “These guys are playmakers and any time you get a chance to put a playmaker on the field and give you the best chance to win, you know, that’s what you want to do. You are trying to win the game. That’s the purpose of it.”

NOTES: LB Olivier Vernon missed another practice with the ankle injury and he is looking doubtful for the opener. … Defensive coordinator James Bettcher says if Vernon can play a number of people will fill his role with Connor Barwin and rookie Lorenzo Carter, the most likely. … Offensive coordinator Mike Shula on what he saw in rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta. “We think Kyle is a young guy that just has continued to get better with reps. He’s got very good football intelligence. I think he’s got some intangibles that you need at that position.”

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