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Raiders' Conley maintains innocence in rape accusation

(AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

By JOSH DUBOW

AP Sports Writer

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Oakland Raiders first-round draft pick Gareon Conley called his meeting with police this week about a rape accusation another chance to prove his innocence.

Conley met with Cleveland police Monday to give a statement and a DNA sample. A police report released last week says that a 23-year-old woman told officers that Conley raped her in a hotel bathroom on April 9. No charges have been filed.

Conley's attorney, Kevin Spellacy, said earlier this week that there was "a consensual sexual event" that did not include intercourse.

The Raiders have expressed confidence after drafting Conley 24th overall that he will not be charged in the case. But questions about it still surrounded him at his first practice as a pro at rookie minicamp.

"I feel like it went good," he said Friday about the meeting with police. "There's not more to say about that. We'll just find out what happens after this."

Conley said it is hard to think about the accusations but he is trying his best to keep his focus on the field, which he knows he must do this weekend when he has practice.

"It makes it way easier," he said. "Football is like a stress reliever for me."

Conley spent his first practice showing off some of his versatility, playing both outside corner and in the slot. The Raiders are hoping he will be able to do that once the season starts as they are looking to upgrade their secondary.

Last year's slot cornerback, DJ Hayden, left in free agency this offseason. Sean Smith and David Amerson started on the outside but were inconsistent as the Raiders struggled in trying to prevent the deep pass.

That led in part to the decision to draft Conley.

"We're going to learn all that we can about him," coach Jack Del Rio said. "Gareon is, we think, a talent. I think he can play inside and outside. We'll see what the best combination for us is. Just let him come in and compete."

Conley started every game over the past two years at Ohio State and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 37 percent of their throws in his direction. The 6-foot, 195-pound defensive back had six interceptions in three seasons, including four in 2016.

While Conley played mostly on the outside in college, he said he's comfortable in the slot where quickness and the ability to change directions are at a premium without the sideline as an aide in coverage.

"It's just a mentality and I feel like on the inside, it's a game of leverage," he said. "Outside is more just man-to-man techniques. Inside, you have to be outside leverage or inside leverage depending on your help, so I feel like people who learn that will be able to play both."

NOTES: The Raiders signed 17 undrafted free agents, including former Baylor WR Ishmael Zamora. Zamora was suspended three games last season after a video surfaced of him beating his dog with a belt. ... The other free agents are DBs Breon Borders, Anthony Cioffi, Chris Humes, Rickey Jefferson and Ahmad Thomas; DLs Paul Boyette, Fadol Brown and Jordan Wade; OLs Chauncey Briggs and Jordan Simmons; WRs Keon Hatcher and Isaac Whitney; LBs Nicholas Morrow and Xavier Woodson-Luster; TE Pharaoh Brown; and LS Anthony Kukwa.

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Updated May 5, 2017

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