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Raiders treat Las Vegas first responders to on-field, VIP experience

Updated October 16, 2017 - 7:29 am

OAKLAND, Calif. — They wore shirts that read “Vegas Strong.”

They posed for photographs with Raiders owner Mark Davis. They met coach Jack Del Rio, quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and others in the organization. They watched the game from an on-field section that, during baseball season, serves as the Oakland A’s home dugout.

VIPs, indeed.

Davis arranged for 30 firefighters, police officers and dispatchers to be flown Sunday morning from Las Vegas to attend a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. All the first responders present worked Oct. 1 during the mass shooting that killed 58 people.

Andrew Villagrana is an engineer paramedic for the Clark County Fire Department. He grew up in Los Angeles as a Raiders fan and called Sunday “probably the greatest experience of my life.” He flew to Oakland following a 24-hour shift.

Justin Van Nest is a sergeant for the Las Vegas Metropolitian Police Department.

“We’ve been given first-class treatment by the Raiders,” Van Nest said. “They’re taking really good care of us. Just open arms, bringing us down here to the field, giving us an opportunity that’s once-in-a-lifetime. We feel very appreciated. We feel very welcome. We’re all a little overwhelmed with what’s going on right now.”

The Raiders won’t physically join the Las Vegas community until at least 2020.

They are not waiting to embrace it.

Spectator

Sean Smith was in uniform. Gareon Conley was in street clothes.

At times, the two Raiders cornerbacks stood side by side Sunday, chatting on the sideline. Smith practiced all of last week. Conley was shut down for the entirety of it because of a June shin injury that threatens his ability to contribute in 2017.

One healthy veteran. One hurt rookie. They played the same number of snaps.

Not once did Smith see the field in a 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Rather than use the man they’re paying $9.5 million this year, the Raiders relied upon David Amerson with a banged-up shoulder, TJ Carrie and Dexter McDonald.

Even Demetrius McCray, a cornerback who signed Tuesday, was busier. He saw work on special teams.

Smith, 30, is in the second season of four-year, $38 million contract. It appears a formality the Raiders, at some point, will part with him, no later than next March. He is due an $8.25 million salary in 2018. Smith and backup quarterback EJ Manuel were the only Raiders players in uniform not to play a snap.

Notable

■ Entering Sunday, wide receiver Amari Cooper totaled four catches and 23 yards in his past three games combined. He caught five passes for 28 yards against Los Angeles. An additional two catches for 50 yards were nullified by penalties.

■ Quarterback Philip Rivers was 16 of 22 for 191 yards and a touchdown on passes targeting his running backs and tight ends. He went 9 of 14 for 77 yards when targeting his wide receivers.

■ After six games, the Raiders defense has yet to record an interception.

■ Running back Marshawn Lynch had a physical afternoon, totaling 13 carries for 63 yards. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was the club’s leading receiver with six catches for 52 yards. A 23-yard touchdown was his fifth score in three games.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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