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07-24-2008, 11:58 PM
Training Camp

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Raiders training camp notebook (7/24/08)

By DeMarcus Davis • Jul 24th, 2008 • Category: Oakland Raiders News

NAPA, Calif. — On the second day of training camp for the Oakland Raiders, much more action was seen as many of the key players on this years roster got in on some action and looked to be in solid form in their preparations for the upcoming pre-season games.

* Greg Spires did not participate today because of a hamstring injury. He is expected to work out tomorrow (Friday).

* Grant Irons, who was looking to get back to his high-octane level of activity, aggravated a hamstring injury that took him out halfway through today’s practice.

* Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was a “beast” inside. He routinely pushed whoever matched-up against him, tossing his counterpart routinely deep into the backfield causing all sorts of disruptions. Kelly also spoke to the media for the first time in several years. He opened up and gave some insight on a man that seems to have come full circle with the birth of his son on the day he got injured last year. The 27-year-old is a well grounded blue-collar workhorse that should be a one man wrecking crew now that he is focused at playing one position (three-technique tackle).

* Wide receiver Arman Shields is drawing attention early in camp with a lot of positives on the practice field. He has come a long way and has looked as advertised on his college game films.

* Wide receiver Todd Watkins continues to looked very polished and a viable candidate for third in the depth chart behind Javon Walker and Ronald Curry.

* Johnnie Lee Higgins has managed to hang on to the ball more consistently (unlike at the OTA’s where he was inconsistent).

* Marcel Reece, who played wide receiver at the University of Washington, was working out with the running backs today. It will be interesting to see if he can convert that explosive play-making ability at wideout to the backfield.

* Nnamdi Asomugha worked out with the team and even snatched an interception on an Andrew Walter pass or what would have been a simulated touchdown.

* Jake Grove was in pads and worked out with the team. He looked fit and was seen bouncing around and moving quickly between drill rotations.

* Chaz Schilens has cleaned up his fundamental mistakes that were noticed at the last OTA’s.

* Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas looked very good and fast against the defense, but what stood out to me was the hard running by Michael Bush. His power run game was impressive and looked like he wanted to bring the wood on several plays. I feel that he will have the better success individually compared to the others early on in camp.

* Rusher Louis Rankin also looked impressive. He is a shifty back with decent size.

* Michael Huff is making great breaks on the ball and is only inches away from making HUGE plays. He looks so much more comfortable at free safety.

* Gibril Wilson was seen chomping at the bit; wanting to lay some serious wood on some receivers.

* Trevor Scott completely owned Kwame Harris on a line drill. Scott has very good speed off the edge. On the flip side, it’s also a strike against Harris who came to this team with the dark cloud of pass protection woes hanging over his head.

* Derrick Burgess could NOT BE STOPPED regardless of who he was matched up against. He easily could have had several simulated sacks today.

* Kalimba Edwards was also a force on the edge.

* Kirk Morrison almost blew apart Higgins on a slant pass that the slender receiver wisely dropped as the captain peeled off to avoid the would-be snott bubbler!

Javon doesn't know what you're talking about

NAPA - Javon Walker talked about being robbed in Las Vegas last month.

Well, he didn't.

Those injuries in the police report (fractured jaw, orbital) were news to him.

"Ya'll telling me something new for the first time," Walker said. "... I haven't really seen nothing about it. I just let everybody go into speculations of what they heard and what they think they know, to when I get ready to come out and tell what really happened, I'll clear it up then."

Today was not the day to clear things up.

Walker practiced today and said he is about 15 pounds later than he was at the start of the offseason program.

He said his weight fluctuates, but he'll be fine now that camp has started.

And the notoriety that comes with this big contract and being a professional athlete that was a victim of violent crime doesn't bother Walker.

"I'm not afraid of the spotlight, the spotlight is always good depending on how you look at it," he said "People that already got a different spotlight of me is based on really what I've done in football. But if people want a real respect of light of me, just tell them to go look at my record. I don't have a record. I don't have a rap sheet.

"You don't hear about Javon Walker getting arrested. People's light of me is like, hmm, he just leaves different teams because he's not happy. Well, like any other American, that's my right if I don't like a job. That's people's perspective of me. But, outside the field, I mean, you talk to people anywhere around this country, they say I'm the nicest person off the field."

Believe it or not
Tommy Kelly has always been a nice guy.

He just hasn't been talkative.

So it was a bit shocking when Kelly consented to be interviewed by a group of reporters, admitting he had been told he "had" to finally talk.

It's part of the responsibility of being a leader, he admitted. And it also comes when you sign a seven-year deal worth up to $50.5 million.

"I understand a lot of things come with being a professional athlete,
but I just like to play," Kelly said. "I don't like to be bothered with all the other stuff. I'm not saying the media is a nuisance or anything. I just like to go to work and come home. Now you know you have to be a leader and everything, you got to take on stuff you probably don't want to do in the past but you have to do it."

More Kelly

He admitted he was "surprised" by the contract he received from the Raiders.

"It makes you feel like you're wanted," he said. "Somebody really wants you as a player and thinks a lot of you and that type of player you can become for them."

He'll be asked to fill at Warren Sapp's old spot. Kelly is glad to be playing one spot after moving around and said he prefers defensive tackle to defensive end.

Kelly said he's more of an aggressive player whereas Sapp was more about finesse.

"Me and Sapp, we cool," Kelly said. "I learned a lot from. He's got his way, but he's a legend in the game so you can't do nothing but learn from him."

And it turns out the day Kelly tore his ACL was one of the best days of his life.

His son, Jamison, was born at 8 a.m. that morning.

"It was disappointment," Kelly said of the injury. "It was 50-50 disappointed but I was happy I got a new baby."

Just like old times

Nnamdi Asomugha had one pass thrown his way today in practice.

He intercepted the pass from Andrew Walter intended for Walker.

"It was good to make the most of it and that's what we're hoping for this year," Asomugha said. "A few more passing and a few more plays made, on both ends."

Asomugha said he decided to report to camp Monday night and officially signed the one-year franchise tender for $9.765 million around midnight after arriving late yesterday.

He considered holding out in protest.

"I had a lot of people saying don't show up and I had enough people saying show it up so it helped me out," Asomugha said. "I sought out the counsel that was needed in this situation and I was able to come and be here."

Among those he spoke to was Charles Woodson.

It's obvious he didn't take Woodson's advice.

"I'm not going to tell you what he said, but you can probably figure it out," Asomugha said. "But yeah, I didn't speak to him as of late. He just said let him know what was going to happen and I spoke to him afterward."

In the end, Asomugha's desire to be with his teammates and try to win games outweighed sitting out part of camp, unhappy about being franchised.

Asomugha said he'd heard "apocryphal stories" of how bad negotiations were going, but said talks were never antagonistic.

He admitted he was initially taken aback by the amount of the money the Raiders spent in the offseason while he had no deal, but in the end decided to put everything behind him and join his teammates.

"It's actually signed so there's nothing you can say about it," Asomugha said. "You don't want to keep bringing it up. So it was like it's definitely over and done now."

Camp notes

*JaMarcus Russell said he weighed 269 points. He joked that he was 300 at the end of last season, but said he was really 276.

*Darren McFadden's speed stood out in practice. If he was going half speed, his half speed is faster than most everyone's top speed. Kiffin praised McFadden for showing explosive-play ability.

*The first-team linebackers were Thomas Howard, Kirk Morrison and ... Ricky Brown today.

*Fred Wakefield worked at defensive end, but will still work at tight end, too.

*Backup tackle Mario Henderson played left and right tackle today.

*Jake Grove began the day as the starting center. The other centers, John Wade and Chris Morris, took a few snaps at right guard with the second team during practice.

*The starting defensive line was Kelly, and Gerard Warren at DT with Jay Richardson and Derrick Burgess at the end spots.

*Michael Huff's range is evident at free safety. He made what would have been a good play in a game on a lob pass by Russell for tight end Tony Stewart.

I joked with Huff about his picture with Vince Young that caused a stir (for Young) and he had a laugh about no one recognizing him.

"Nobody knew and I'm glad," he said.

*Rookie defensive end Trevor Scott showed some good pass rush skills in drills against the offense.

*Burgess was pretty much unblockable no matter who was against him. Kiffin said Burgess is about eight pounds heavier. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wanted Burgess to add some weight.

*Defensive end Greg Spires (hamstring) didn't practice. LB Grant Irons (hamstring) left practice early.

--Jason Jones

07-25-2008, 03:54 AM
A lot of positives, especially the Bush part.

07-25-2008, 04:00 AM
How long is Grant Irons going to hang around the silver and black? I'm pretty excited about watching Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens this preseason.

07-25-2008, 01:11 PM
I like all the talk about the DL being dominant, especially if Kelly can live up to his contract. On the flip side it could mean our OL is awful.

Good to hear Bush is doing well. Him and McFadden could be a potent combo for a long time.

07-25-2008, 01:25 PM
Harris getting beat by a 6th rounder isnt very encouraging.

07-25-2008, 03:00 PM
Trevor Scott can fly for a DE so I'm not surprised, I'll bet he would run circles around Barry Sims as well. I believe our defense is going to be even better than it was two yrs ago, especially if we can stop the run and force the opponent to throw into the talons of our ballhawks. Plus, unlike two yrs ago, we are going to have a running game, remember all those games we basically lost because we had absolutely no offense?? Our defense would keep us in it all game, but Aaron Brooks couldnt handle a snap, and bed and breakfast would be calling seven step drop pass plays. At least this yr we will have an above average running game with three fresh bodies we can wear down the defense with. I dont expect many seven step drops either, the coaches know pass protection with kwame protecting the blind side will be very suspect.

07-25-2008, 03:44 PM
^^I would still be concerned about stopping the run, I don't think we addressed that problem at all as far as our front 7 personnel. Gibril should help a little and maybe Rob Ryan can come up with a better defensive plan, but I'll be worried about our run D until they prove they can stop it.

07-25-2008, 03:49 PM
Training camp, Day 2 (A.M. practice)
from Inside The Oakland Raiders by Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

Quick hits from Friday morning’s training camp practice:

– The defense had the offense frustrated for much of the padded session, putting the ball on the ground six times _ three times on the center exchange alone.

Two of the center-quarterback fumbles were with Jesse Boone at center and Marques Tuiasosopo at quarterback. The other fumble was by Andrew Walter, who, reminiscent of last year, didn’t go after the loose ball. He escaped the wrath of the coaching staff however.

Other fumbles were by wide receivers Jonathan Holland and Javon Walker, and running back Adimchinobe Echemandu.

– Strong safety Greg Wesley missed practice with back spasms. Those who didn’t practice also included Greg Spires (hamstring) and Grant Irons (hamstring). Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly took the practice off and worked on the cardio machines in the field house.

Wide receiver Ronald Curry was scheduled to take the practice off but came out on his own and practiced for a few sessions before removing his pads.

– Running backs were isolated in blocking drills against linebackers without an offensive lineman in front of them _ a drill which favors the defense. Running backs coach Tom Rathman watched closely as Darren McFadden allowed linebacker Malik Jackson to get past him after a quick engagement.

“Get your face on him on that pad, then strike and re-direct him,” Rathman said.

Jon Alston made a quick spin move during one turn to race past fullback Oren O’Neal, while Justin Fargas successfully slowed Sam Williams by taking the offensive and getting into his body. Echemandu successfully attempted the same tactic, with Williams escaping and Rathman urging the running back to “recover.”

– When Thomas Howard blew past running back Michael Bush, linebackers coach Don Martindale barked, “That’s what we’re going to bring this year.”

What, the Raiders are going to blitz?

At the drill’s conclusion, linebackers and running backs shook hands as if it were the end of a hockey game before moving on to a team session.

– Kiffin lauded the play of the defensive line, which made things difficult for JaMarcus Russell in terms of having time to throw the ball. Left tackle Kwame Harris, the free agent aquisition counted up on to start, had two false starts and some difficulty with end Kalimba Edwards.

– Tight end John Madsen has gained four more pounds. After seeing him drop a catchable ball from Russell on the sideline, you wonder if he could be another Randal Williams, the wide receiver who became a tight end and became to muscular to be a successful receiver.

– Holland made a nice diving catch of a low fastball by Russell for a big gain in a seven-on-seven drill. Jim Fassel, the former Giants head coach observing at the invitation of Kiffin, immediately asked his son John, “Who is that guy?”

Said John, a Raiders quality control coach: “Jon Holland. Second year, drafted him in the seventh round last year.”

– Who says the Raiders don’t know how to market? Players have been made available for interviews with a KTLA reporter _ an area the Raiders still consider to be their property.

– Sideline visitors included former Raider defensive tackle John Parrella, who brought some of his coaching staff and players from Valley Christian High School in Dublin. Valley will play a junior varsity schedule this year and add varsity next season.

Parrella is being assisted by former Raider end Josh Taves. Both men appear to have lost fifty-plus pounds since their playing days.

– Running back LaMont Jordan remained on the roster through the morning session but Kiffin said he expected a move to be made in the near future.

The Raiders practiced again with three quarterbacks, with punter Shane Lechler throwing a few passes to defensive backs in drills.

Oops, there goes the football
NAPA - A very familiar problem showed up during this morning's practice.

Turnovers were back in a big way. The offense had five fumbles, losing four.

Three of the fumbles were the result of bad snaps to the quarterback. Two came with Marques Tuiasosopo at quarterback, the other with Andrew Walter.

Receiver Javon Walker had the ball knocked free by Gibril Wilson after making a catch. Running back Adimchinobe Echemandu coughed up the ball on a running play.

"We came out today and two of them were on the ground right away within 10 plays," said coach Lane Kiffin. "... We're looking at different avenue to improve the penalty situation."

Players that commit penalties have to run a lap around the field. On bad snaps the center and quarterback come out.

LaMont update (sort of)

Kiffin said he expected to have some news regarding the status of LaMont Jordan sometime today.

The Raiders have to either trade or release Jordan or his agent, Alvin Keels, plans to file a grievance against the team for barring Jordan to report to camp.

The Raiders only have three quarterbacks so releasing Jordan would allow the team to bring back Sam Keller or Jeff Otis. Both were cut before the start of camp.

Safety concerns

Wilson just might take someone's head off.

He throws his shoulder pads into every play. Kiffin likes it but admits Wilson's play "borderlines right now on the safety of our other players" but wants Wilson's style to ru b off on the rest of the defense.

Wilson said when he signed with the Raiders he asked to play strong safety because he wanted to be near the ball.

"I like to be physical," Wilson said. "I don't like to have guys get extra yards or anything like that. I'm a very physical guy and the other team knows it."

Extra work

Ronald Curry was supposed to take the morning practice off as one of the Raiders that is recovering from offseason surgery.

But Curry chose to join the wide receivers in drills for the first half of practice.

Almost a pick

With the offense being careless with ball, the defense didn't manage to pick off any of the Raider quarterbacks' passes.

Rookie safety Tyvon Branch came close but the ball bounced off his pads. Hiram Eugene tried to snag the ball, but it fell to the grass.

Defensive end Derrick Burgess had an interesting take on the play.

"If those were some dice you would have caught those (expletives)," Burgess yelled.

Camp notes

*Tackle Mario Henderson continues to work at left and right tackle during practice.

*Today's first-team linebackers were Thomas Howard, Kirk Morrison and Robert Thomas. Ricky Brown joined Morrison and Howard on Thursday.

*Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly had the morning practice off and was replaced by Josh Shaw with the first team.

Defensive end Greg Spires (hamstring) is expected to practice tonight, as is Kelly.

*Safety Greg Wesley (back spasms) didn't practice this morning.

*Tight end/defensive end Fred Wakefield left practice early with an undisclosed injury.

*Former Raider Jon Parella was on the sidelines at practice. He's a high school football coach in the Bay Area and had players with him.

*The defensive line was dominant in practice. Kiffin called the group "phenomenal."

*The linebackers got the best of the running backs in the one-on-one drill that focused on blitz pickups. Kiffin conceded it is a drill that favors the defense.

--Jason Jones

07-25-2008, 04:06 PM
The addition of Gibril Wilson and the departure of Sapp/moving of Kelly to 3-technique should significantly improve our run D. I also think it will be an area that is focused on in training camp and preseason, especially since our pass D/perceived soft run D will encourage teams to try to attack on the ground.

The centers and QB's that fumble the snap should also run a lap!!

"Wilson just might take someone's head off.

He throws his shoulder pads into every play. Kiffin likes it but admits Wilson's play "borderlines right now on the safety of our other players" but wants Wilson's style to ru b off on the rest of the defense."

hahah love it! I just hope we don't get reprimanded from the league like we did last yr.

07-25-2008, 05:56 PM
Left tackle Kwame Harris, the free agent aquisition counted up on to start, had two false starts and some difficulty with end Kalimba Edwards.
it has begun...

07-25-2008, 06:40 PM
I am getting scared of the bad play of the offensive line...

07-28-2008, 01:45 PM
Training camp, Day 3
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, July 26th, 2008 at 7:00 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from the Raiders’ lone practice Saturday:

– It was probably to be expected after the aerial display featuring JaMarcus Russell the previous evening, but the Raiders came back to earth Saturday afternoon in a snappy practice that was wrapped up in under an hour and 40 minutes.

Things were much more difficult for the near-rookie, as Russell mixed in some nice balls with several that were broken up and nearly intercepted, as well as one badly thrown pass late over the middle that free safety Michael Huff read perfectly and snared on a dive.

Coach Lane Kiffin said he was more interested in watching Russell convert the routine plays than the sort of Star Wars show he put on Friday night.

“We’re not going to coach those special throws that he makes where he’s running over there and he throws back and makes those great throws. That’s who he is and very few people can do that,” Kiffin said. “But those happen one time a game, maybe two times. We’ve got to get him to do everything right, the little things, the little completions and the timing of everything.

“That’s all the stuff that wows the fans and people watching but that’s not what makes you a good quarterback. A good quarterback plays with great discipline, he takes care of the ball and he throws things on time. We’re going to have to get that going with him. He’s continuing to improve on it. We’re giving him a lot of reps. We’re wearing him out on purpose for conditioning, not just his arm but his body.”

Said Russell about what was important: “The small detail things. When you pay close attention to that, then things will be better for you instead of being Superman all the time.”

– During one seven-on-seven sequence, Russell was nearly intercepted by DeAngelo Hall while looking for Johnnie Lee Higgins along the sideline _ a pass that could have been a defensive touchdown. His next pass, intended for tight end Tony Stewart, was tipped in the air and nearly intercepted by Sam Williams.

– Two plays later, Marques Tuiasosopo, who also threw well Friday night, was intercepted by linebacker Robert Thomas on a pass intended for Jonathan Holland.

– In a team sequence, Russell fared better when on back-to-back throws. Drew Carter made a difficult, physical catch with Chris Johnson draped all over him on a 12-yard out, and Russell followed it up with a touch lob for 20-plus yards to tight end John Madsen in stride.

– Early in practice, with the running backs breaking out of one drill and heading toward another at the horn, Kiffin threw a high pass which nearly caught an unsuspecting Darren McFadden right in the face guard, with McFadden reaching up at the last second to knock down.

At the conclusion of practice, Kiffin was talking to an assistant coach only to be nearly struck by a Shane Lechler skyscraper. It was caught by Rashad Baker.

“Was that Shane or the JUGS machine?,” Kiffin asked as he went to the podium to speak to reporters. When told it was Lechler, Kiffin said, “Don’t think he didn’t do that on purpose.”

– Rookie receiver Arman Shields, who has had some impressive moments through the early sessions, incurred the wrath of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp for a half-speed route.

“C’mon rook. Break on it,” Knapp barked. “When you break on it, you might want to go toward the ball and not off the field. You’ve got to focus when you’re tired.”

– Running backs coach Tom Rathman was instructing running backs how to stop in their tracks in the middle of a zone then break outside to get open underneath. He used Justin Griffith to demonstrate how it was done before turning to second-year fullback Oren O’Neal and McFadden.

O’Neal ran the route well enough, but didn’t look up in time and Russell’s pass glanced off his hands.

“Gotta have it, `O,’ ” Rathman said.

Next was McFadden, who ran into the middle and then peeled off without stopping first.

“No, sit first. You’ve got to sit first,” Rathman said.

– Left tackle Kwame Harris missed practice with a sore lower back and is expected back Sunday morning. In his place, Paul McQuistan, who has been seeing time at left guard, moved outside to tackle. Also playing left tackle were Seth Wand and Mario Henderson, who is competing with Cornell Green on the right side.

Raiders tackles have had difficulty slowing the charge of Derrick Burgess (almost always on the left side, a few snaps on the right) and Kalimba Edwards from the outside. Kiffin conceded it is that area where Harris will need to get up to speed.

“He’s been a better run player for us so far,” Kiffin said. “We got some things in the pass protection going back to the left side — he hasn’t been there for a while — that we’ve got to work out, that (Tom) Cable’s working on with him. We got a lot of hopes for him, and we’re going to need him.”

– The Raiders appear to be running the ball well and crisply with Justin Fargas, McFadden and Michael Bush, although until they face a team in a different uniform, it will be tough to tell how good they really are.

– Linemen who false start have been told to take laps around the field, with McQuistan and Brandon Robb among those to make the circuit Saturday.

– Rookie end Trevor Scott has had some difficulty disengaging and making his presence felt a pass rusher. A converted tight end, Scott is listed at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and actually looks smaller out of uniform.

One one play, with Louis Rankin breaking free, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan yelled, “C’mon Trevor, you’ve got to hold that edge!”

“It’s definitely something that takes getting used to,” Scott said. “Coming from college to the NFL, there’s really no comparison. Guys are just phenomenal, and the O-linemen have great feet, and that’s where coach (Keith) Millard is really telling me to hone in on my techniques and trust my technique and have my technique beat theirs. Use agility and quickness and try to get around them.”

– Huff, sometimes invisible while lost in among the bigger players at strong safety, has been conspicuous not only with his playmaking, but his enthusiasm for playing free safety.

“I’m out there running around, having fun, make Gibril (Wilson) take on all the tackles and guards and fullbacks and all that,” Huff said. “I can stay back there and make plays.”

Huff is doing a good job reading the offense, but is having a hard time figuring out his weight pattern. He said he tried to bulk up to last year and finished the season at a skeletal 193 pounds. Now that he’s a free safety, he is up to 205.

“I know it’s strange, but I feel quick out there, real fast,” Huff said.

– If Tommy Kelly is as good as the Raiders seem to think he is, that $18.125 million guaranteed won’t seem so bad after the $22 million guaranteed Glenn Dorsey got from the Kansas City Chiefs.

It was just a day or two ago that Chiefs exec Carl Peterson was spouting his usual nonsense about Dorsey’s contract demands, only to cave in and pay what the market demanded he pay.

– Kelly has been putting in overtime on the cardio machines after practice, working on getting his weight down. He has been one of the last players to leave the field house.

– Safety Greg Wesley (back spasms) and linebacker Grant Irons (hamstring) missed practice and are day-to-day. Defensive end Fred Wakefield (flu-like symptoms) was back at practice and even played a few snaps inside at defensive tackle.

– If Al Davis is the kind of guy who worries about these things, he hates the idea of LaMont Jordan joining New England, where he could join Randy Moss and show up the Raiders by putting up big numbers, and even warned his agent to make sure he went somewhere else.

More logically, Davis is pleased to see Jordan wind up in a place where he is buried behind Lawrence Maroney and Kevin Faulk, putting him only one rung above the Fargas-McFadden-Bush mountain he faced in Oakland.

– The Raiders have a double session today with the first practice at 9 a.m. and the second at 7 p.m.

07-28-2008, 01:46 PM
Training camp, Day 4 (A.M. practice)

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, July 27th, 2008 at 12:55 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Sunday morning’s Raiders practice:

– Defensive end Derrick Burgess continues to be perhaps the most impressive player in camp, and not just as a pass rusher. He blew up a running play, getting Darren McFadden in the backfield.

– Lap runners for false starts or offsides Sunday morning included tackle/guard Paul McQuistan, tackle Mario Henderson and defensive end Fred Wakefield.

– Running back Michael Bush found himself stacked up on a short-yardage play by linebackers Edgerton Hartwell and Jon Alston, along with defensive end Greyson Gunheim.

Bush has shown promise as a runner and receiver, but it remains to be seen if he will be an effective short-yardage back. Bush has prototype size at 250-pounds, but his pad level is often high, which allows defenders stop him in tight quarters.

Zack Crockett, utilized as the Raiders short-yardage back when they Raiders were three-time winners of the AFC West, looked for a crack and got low to gain the necessary yards.

– JaMarcus Russell and Andrew Walter both had fumbled snaps with John Wade as the center.

– Strong safety Greg Wesley (back spasms) returned to practice and had a nice stop of Adimchinobe Echemandu on a running play.

– Not sure how much it’s going to help against the 49ers Aug. 8, but defensive coordinator Rob Ryan attempted a pass to linebackers coach Don Martindale amidst several defenders before one drill. Amazingly, Ryan’s wobbler found its target. Martindale couldn’t hold it.

– Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and wide receiver Javon Walker were out of practice as scheduled and were to return for the evening session. Left tackle Kwame Harris missed his second straight practice with a sore lower back and said he hoped to return in the evening. Grant Irons is still out with a hamstring pull.

– Tackles Seth Wand and Mario Henderson continued to get work on both the left and right sides.

– Todd Watkins made a nice snag of a Russell bullet on a slant pattern during a team session.

– During one team session, the Raiders were blitzing the offensive on every play, simulating what the team is likely to face as opponents go after Russell.

Russell made some nice hot reads during the session, with one of the best going for naught when tight end Darrell Strong dropped a pass with Tyvon Branch in coverage.

– McFadden had his second consecutive practice where he didn’t look sure of himself as a receiver, seeming surprised as the ball arrived.

“He’s had some inaccurate hand placement on some catches, which is a surprise because we didn’t see much of that in the camp before,” Kiffin said. “He’s got so much going on right now and so much pressure on him and so many different plays so we’re going to keep pushing him and then there will come a time when we pull back. His attitude’s phenomenal.”

“Inaccurate hand placement” is Kiffinese for not being ready to catch the ball.

– Stanford Routt had an interception of a Russell pass intended for Drew Carter in a 7-on-7 drill.

– Defensive tackle Terdell Sands, after some pre-play urging from Kiffin, pushed through the middle of the offensive line and and ruined an offensive play, drawing praise from his defensive teammates when he came off.

– Russell, who was forced to pull down the ball and run several times the previous evening, had fewer instances where in game situations he would be putting himself at risk. Kiffin has made it clear he wants Russell to err on the side of caution in running situations and get down.

If Russell knows how to slide, he hasn’t shown it yet in practice, instead realizing defenders aren’t going to bring him to the ground.

– Another tough day for punter Shane Lechler and place kicker Sebastian Janikowski. They headed back to the field house at 9:16 a.m. and didn’t return until 10:36. Return specialists practicing at the end of the workout were using a machine.

– Return specialists were attempting to field two kicks shot a few seconds apart from an apparatus like a pitching machine at the close of practice. They would catch one ball, toss it aside, then try and catch the second if they could reach it.

Among those fielding kicks were Chris Johnson, Rashad Baker, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Michael Waddell, Drisan James and Branch.

Kiffin placed Higgins in the lead to return punts, Branch for kickoffs.

– The most hotly contested position might be strongside linebacker, where Sam Williams, Robert Thomas and Ricky Brown are getting a look. Irons was also in the mix but a hamstring pull put him behind the field.

Williams has the ideal size at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, but has been beset by injuries since Al Davis traded up to get him out of Fresno State in 2003.

He started well last year but was sidelined by a stinger, and never reclaimed the job from Thomas. Rather than bemoan his bad luck and get a fresh start somewhere else, Williams re-signed with the Raiders instead of becoming a free agent.

“I know what I can do. They know what I can do, and I’m going to have this be my year where I show the world what I can do, so it wasn’t a mistake getting me,” Williams said.

“We love everything about him, the way that he goes about special teams, the way he prepares,” Kiffin said. “We just need him to stay healthy, and he was playing well at the beginning of the year last year before he got hurt, and we just need to continue to build on that.”

– The Raiders practice again tonight at 7 p.m.

07-28-2008, 01:47 PM
Training camp, Day 4 (P.M. practice)

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, July 27th, 2008 at 9:37 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Sunday night’s Raiders practice:

– Tackle Mark Wilson, a practice squad player signed to the active roster following the season, sustained a left leg injury, was taken off the field on a cart, and was sent to the hospital for X-rays.

– Left tackle Kwame Harris (lower back) returned to practice after missing the previous two sessions. He moved well and at one point fared well in a pass blocking opportunity against Kalimba Edwards.

– For the first time, no offensive or defensive lineman had to run laps for committing a false start or jumping offsides.

– Wide receiver Ronald Curry and center Jake Grove took the workout off, as scheduled. John Wade got the majority of the snaps with the first team offense in Grove’s absence. Defensive end Fred Wakefield, battling a stomach ailment, did not practice after practicing in the morning session. Safety Greg Wesley (back spasms), who returned to practice in the morning, missed the evening session. Grant Irons is still out with a hamstring pull.

– Al Davis made his first appearance at practice, watching from a golf cart between the two fields.

– During kickoff drills early in practice, running back Darren McFadden was deep and running kickoffs hard up the middle. Kiffin mentioned McFadden as a possibility for return duty on occasion.

Interesting McFadden would get his most work in that area in a practice Davis attended. Whether or not McFadden returns kickoffs will almost certainly be a decision made at the top. Davis resisted the idea of having Charles Woodson play offense or return punts, although part of that probably had to do with Woodson’s history of nagging injuries.

– Expect McFadden to be utilized only in crucial situations, in games where the Raiders need a strike at the end of a half or game, or when they are struggling on offense and need a momentum switch. To use him at all in that role in the preseason would be a questionable use of a major investment.

– McFadden had a much better practice catching the ball out of backfield than he did in the earlier session, when Kiffin expressed concern over his “hand placement.” Guess he figured out they had to be somewhere near the ball.

– Other players returning kickoffs were cornerback Chris Johnson, wide receiver Jonathan Holland and safety Tyvon Branch, who Kiffin said earlier in the day is the current leader for that role.

– Rookie wide receiver Chaz Schilens was taken to task by receivers coach James Lofton for not coming back hard enough to catch a pass.

– The offense spent one session running plays apart from the defense, meaning the opposing “defense” consisted of second- and third-line offensive players. McFadden, fortunately looked to be a rock when it came to pass blocking against blitzing Ivy League quarterback Jeff Otis.

If the 49ers play their second-line offense as a defense against Oakland, the Raiders look to be in business.

– Johnnie Lee Higgins would seem to have a roster edge since he is the leader to be the punt return specialist, but in terms of catching the ball and making plays as a receiver, Holland appears to be staying right with him or even outplaying him.

– Nnamdi Asomugha perfectly diagnosed a JaMarcus Russell slant pass in a 7-on-7 drill, jumped the route and ran for a would-be touchdown.

– Linebackers Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard are so adept at pass coverage that the defense they refer to as the “dime” _ which in most cases utilizes one linebacker and six defensive backs _ has both men on the field. It is distinguished from the nickel by the positioning of the backs.

– Wide receiver Todd Watkins had one drop of a Russell pass over the middle and later a juggle which he managed to retrieve, but ended practice on a strong note, catching a deep out from Marques Tuiasosopo with an impressive leap and grab as three horns sounded to end the session.

– Following Watkins’ grab, the team met in the center of the field, but Kiffin dispatched Janikowski to attempt a 57-yard field goal. Usually in those instances, something is on the line _ extended curfew, reduced meeting time, etc.

Janikowski, who had nailed a pair of 43-yard kicks in an end-of-game drill earlier in practice, this time missed wide right.

– The Raiders practice once Monday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

07-28-2008, 09:40 PM
Training camp, Day 5

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 6:49 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Monday’s Raiders’ practice:

– A few Napa Valley restaurants cashed in Monday night thanks to Sebastian Janikowski.

Janikowski nailed a 43-yard field goal at the end of practice, giving the players a one-night respite from the healthy diet instituted in camp this year by coach Lane Kiffin and strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll.

“That just made their coaches have to buy them dinner,” Kiffin said. “We kind of changed the menu a lot. It’s wearing on them. It’s extremely healthy, whole wheat pasta, and they’re getting a little worn out by it.

“Myself and Brad Roll sat down and put a menu together with the chefs here. It’s really good. It’s helped our guys and we’re the best shape we’ve ever been in. And we’ve changed our food at the facility, too. But they needed a little break and we’re hoping he could make it.”

Defensive end Jay Richardson promised to research the most expensive restaurant available. Guard Robert Gallery was dubious as to whether Tom Cable would splurge.

The previous evening, again with a potential fat-laden meal on the line, Janikowski missed from 57 yards.

“They had to eat whole wheat again,” Kiffin said.

– Mark Wilson, who had played both guard and tackle, sustained a broken left leg and Kiffin said he was probably “done.”

Fred Wakefield, who came to the Raiders as a blocking tight end who could play offensive line in a pinch, only to be moved to defensive end, found himself playing right guard. He even got in a few snaps with the first team.

Three seasons ago, Wakefield started four games at guard and three at tackle for the Arizona Cardinals. Wakefield said changing positions as well as position coaches is not too much of a strain.

“Once you’ve been in a system, you kind of know how it all works, what the concepts are and how things are supposed to go,” Wakefield said. “It’s just a matter of learning terminology more than anything.”

Kiffin conceded that in the NFL, it’s unlikely a player would make a 53-man roster on the basis of playing on both lines given the time devoted to each. Wakefield doesn’t look at the constant shifting as a curse.

“I’m one of those people, I really enjoy coming out here, I really enjoy being around these guys . . . but as long as I get a chance to play and do something, I’m not really too concerned how it shakes out,” Wakefield said. “Coach Kiffin this morning, he pretty much asked me if I could do it. He said, ‘I know that you will, I want to know if you can.’ I’m like, ‘It’s not a problem.”

– Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha missed practice to attend a funeral in the Bay Area and is expected to be back for Tuesday’s double session at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Safety Greg Wesley (back spasms), and linebacker Grant Irons (hamstring) did not practice.

– An inconsistent day for quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Included among a handful of excellent throws was an overthrow intended for John Madsen which was stolen by safety Rashad Baker.

During a seven-on-seven drill, Russell failed to notice strong side linebacker Ricky Brown dropping into coverage and threw the ball directly to him for another pick.

– During one sloppy exchange from beginning to end, Russell bobbled a center snap, then managed to get a shaky handoff to Louis Rankin, who was immediately met by Thomas Howard and Gibril Wilson in the backfield and somehow managed not to fumble.

Russell gave way to Andrew Walter and was seen flexing and shaking his left hand. He returned later and seemed fine.

– Brown, competing with Sam Williams and Robert Thomas, is making a case for himself as the starting strong side linebacker. He also stopped Michael Bush in his tracks on an inside run.

– Cornerback Michael Waddell, victimized regularly since the start of camp, actually grabbed the shirt of Johnnie Lee Higgins so the receiver couldn’t get away, with the ball sailing incomplete.

“Nice coverage,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said.

– Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo found Chris McFoy for a 17-yard touchdown in a seven-on-seven drill between an apparently blown bracket, with neither cornerback DeAngelo Hall nor free safety Michael Huff getting to the play on time.

– Walter rolled to his right on one play and ended up throwing the ball out of bounds, but was given time to throw the pass when fullback Oren O’Neal buried defensive end Greg Spires, riding him to the ground with a block.

– Marcel Reece, the undrafted free agent from Washington with intriguing size (6-foot-3, 240 pounds), lined up at fullback for a few plays and has been working with the running backs on occasion during drills, possibly to see if he can be an H-back.

– Although he has virtually no chance to make the 53-man roster if Justin Fargas, Bush and McFadden remain healthy, undrafted Washington free agent Louis Rankin has had a solid camp and could end up on the practice squad or perhaps be claimed by another team with a strong preseason performance.

– What might have been the best catch of training camp so far came from undrafted rookie free agent tight end Darrell Strong from Tuiasosopo. Running across the middle from right to left, Strong reached back and pulled the ball in with his left hand, transferring it to his right, before falling to the ground and holding on.

– Raiders receivers were running a drill in which they ran under a metal archway less than 6-feet tall, caught a quick pass, then maneuvered through a series of cones. Rookie Chaz Schillens struck the bar with his helmet the first time and dropped a pass. The second time he made under and dropped it again.

Both times, the response from receivers coach James Lofton was the same: “It’s a catch drill, 84.”

– Rookie defensive end Trevor Scott is still having trouble getting free from offensive lineman, getting manhandled on one rush by right tackle Mario Henderson.

– It is conceivable that none of the 30 or over veterans brought in this offseason _ linebacker Edgerton Hartwell, Spires, Wesley and Wade _ will make the team based on how the first seven practices have played out.

Hartwell and Spires have made few plays to speak of, Wesley has missed considerable time with back spasms, and the Raiders appear to be giving Jake Grove every chance to win the starting job at center. Chris Morris would be the more likely choice as the backup because he can also play guard, while Wade is strictly a center.

– No chance Grady Jackson returns to the Raiders. He decided to go back and play in Atlanta. Probably wouldn’t have liked the “healthy” diet in Napa, anyway.

– Kiffin came to the post practice press briefing to discover a new podium.

“And they said we were out of money,” Kiffin said.

07-29-2008, 02:51 PM

Oakland's Huff jumps at his chance to make impact in the open field

David White, Chronicle Staff Writer

(07-28) 20:09 PDT -- Raiders safety Michael Huff recently was spotted wearing a black-and-silver T-shirt with a Transformers logo in the middle. The mid-'80s cartoon was canceled when Huff was 4 years old, but he still digs the "old school" theme.

After two uneventful seasons, Huff will be the one doing the transforming, from an ordinary strong safety into a playmaking free safety worthy of his No. 7 overall selection in the 2006 draft.

His mission: bring an end to the broken tackles, open-field whiffs and botched assignments that have become trademarks of the Raiders' last line of defense since Rod Woodson was released four years ago.

"They brought me here to make plays," said Huff, who admits he couldn't much tell an Autobot (good guys) from a Decepticon (boo) before the movie was released in 2007.

"I'm playing a position I want to play, so it's making me strive harder to prove to everybody that he's right by making me switch to free safety."

"He" would be Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, who wanted to make the "switch" last year when he first got to Oakland.

He knew that Huff was misdiagnosed as an NFL strong safety. The position is geared toward muscle-bound bruisers. Huff weighed but 193 pounds at the end of last season. He hasn't reached his listed playing weight of 205 pounds.

Problem was, Kiffin had no better options at the time. Year 2 for Huff was doomed to be as impact-free as Year 1.

"He was doing the best he could," Kiffin said. "Was he out of position? Sure, he was out of position. But it was something that, there weren't other people at that position so he played there.

"I think whenever you have a passion for something, you're going to be better at it. (Free safety) is where he always wanted to be, where his body is best fit to be, and you can see it by his body language."

Huff is happy, all right. His cleats have springs, his shoulders lack slump, and he talks more fun-oriented trash at practice than ever before.

The desired results came Saturday. Huff dropped deep in pass coverage, read JaMarcus Russell's eyes and broke for the ball just in time for his first camp interception.

No longer is his speed being wasted covering tight ends twice his size. Gone are the days of being voided at the line of scrimmage by unshakeable guards and fullbacks. When Huff said he was "frustrated about stuff," he was talking about that stuff.

"I think he just wanted to help the team out and do what the team wanted him to do," said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, a first-round pick in 2003 who flourished after the Raiders moved him from free safety to cornerback early in his career.

"It wasn't truly where his heart was. His heart was back there at free. Being able to make those type of plays, especially with his size."

First, the Raiders needed to find a suitable replacement at strong safety. Kiffin promised Huff he'd look for one in the offseason. By March, he delivered San Jose native Gibril Wilson, the physical helmet hunter from the world-champ Giants.

Huff didn't get a follow-up call saying free safety was his. He didn't need one.

"As soon as we picked up Gibril, I kind of knew it was on," Huff said. "I'm out there running around, having fun. Make Gibril take on all the tackles, guards and fullbacks and all that. I can stay back there and make plays.

"I have no excuses now, so it's on me."

07-29-2008, 03:36 PM
Lap runners for false starts or offsides Sunday morning included tackle/guard Paul McQuistan, tackle Mario Henderson and defensive end Fred Wakefield.

Defensive end Fred Wakefield, battling a stomach ailment, did not practice after practicing in the morning session.

Did we move Wakefield from TE to DE or did the writer just make the same mistake twice?

07-29-2008, 03:41 PM
^^Nevermind, I found this later in the article
Fred Wakefield, who came to the Raiders as a blocking tight end who could play offensive line in a pinch, only to be moved to defensive end, found himself playing right guard. He even got in a few snaps with the first team.

07-29-2008, 05:11 PM
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 1:33 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from Raiders practice Tuesday morning:

– The morning after players went on a calorie binge with the blessing of coach Lane Kiffin, the Raiders had their most physical practice of training camp. By Kiffin’s count, there were 85 plays in the full team sessions, easily the most since camp opened.

“I thought they responded well and were very physical,” Kiffin said. “It was great to see (Oren) O’Neal show up in short-yardage and really go after our linebackers today.”

The Raiders have high hopes for O’Neal as a lead blocker, and he had once nice catch of a swing pass which gained yardage.

Don’t bother asking him about it, though.

“He doesn’t say a word. He’s never going to say a speech. He’s never going to talk to the guys. Sometimes he doesn’t talk the whole day,” Kiffin said. “He lets his play do the talking and he’s valuable to us on special teams as well as fullback.”

Kiffin conceded on Day 1 his demeanor has changed a little with a program in place, but he can still bring a little intensity when warranted. Very early in practice, during a kick coverage drill, Kiffin barked, “ Trevor Scott is offsides! Do things right. Practice the way you’re going to play.”

Then Kiffin spiked the kicking tee.

– Drew Carter, working much of the day with the No. 1 unit at wide receiver along with Javon Walker, continued to impress. He did draw the criticism from offensive coordinator Greg Knapp during one drill for not being decisive enough following a reception.

“You’re dancing with the stars,” Knapp said.

One of Carter’s better plays was a tough catch for a touchdown on a Russell pass in tight quarters against DeAngelo Hall and Michael Huff.

– Tight end Zach Miller, who made a bobbling catch in the end zone while he was unguarded, also heard it from Knapp.

“One catch per ball. Let’s go,” Knapp said.

– Miller worked the middle seam for several nice catches during the course of the day and has gone from a rookie to taken for granted in one year. Kiffin believes Miller would have caught more than 44 passes last season (the highest total for any tight end among NFL rookies) had he not had to pass block so much.

With the Raiders’ situation at tackle, it remains to be seen whether Miller will be freed up any more this year.

– Walker is not making the kind of plays one might expect considering the amount of money the Raiders paid to get him. On one pass, when quarterback JaMarcus Russell threw behind Walker, receivers coach James Lofton criticized Walker for being four yards off on his pattern.

“We continue to try to put him in situations,” Kiffin said. “We’re working on a lot of press coverage versus him. We told our corners to get up and press him to really challenge him. We need him and JaMarcus to understand when guys are pressed out there we have to go at them. We need it to be a mentality we develop and those two develop.”

– Kiffin said Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo are in competition to become the backup quarterback to Russell, with fewer turnovers likely the deciding factor. Neither turned the ball over Tuesday morning, but Walter had the better day passing. He was particularly adept at finding John Madsen and Miller on touch routes 15 to 20 yards down field.

Madsen made a diving grab which was the session’s best reception, drawing applause from a Raiders booster club which was invited to the closed session.

– The Raiders are experimenting with defensive end Derrick Burgess, using him on occasion on the right side. They even had him working with linebackers during seven-on-seven sessions for a brief time Monday.

“You’ve seen Derrick out there on both sides, and we’re looking at a number of different things keeping him on the open edge, keep him away from tight ends and be able to rush the passer more and play on the split end side,” Kiffin said.

Said defensive end Jay Richardson: “Last year teams slid protections to him, double-teamed him, chipped him with backs and he still got eight (sacks).”

A grand idea, but what about the seven-on-seven drills?

“He went to seven-on-seven because we’re standing (him) up a little bit, looking at some open things where he’s dropping so we’ve got to see how well he can do that,” Kiffin said.

Burgess in pass coverage instead of rushing the passer? Perhaps they shouldn’t overthink this one.

– Jarrod Cooper unloaded on Madsen on one play over the middle, nearly a helmet-to-helmet blow that Kiffin seemed to think it was OK because it was a high hit. A second hit, low against tight end Darrell Strong, had Kiffin and defensive backs coach Darren Perry both talking to Cooper about being more careful.

“I probably shouldn’t have tackled the rookie, but first of all, he’s a rookie so I’m not worried about him,” Cooper said.

A good line, but not one he would have used had the rookie been named Darren McFadden.

– Adimchinobe Echemandu, who earned a roster spot last year because of his training camp performance, is having a rough go of it this time around. He fell and fumbled on one carry, and it isn’t the first time he has gotten his feet tangled and gone down without contact.

– Johnnie Lee Higgins made the sort of leaping catch against Stanford Routt that Raiders coaches want to see more of.

– Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha made two perfectly-timed breakups, including one in which he raced back on a play-action pass and broke up a Russell post intended for Walker. Walker appeared to have a step on Asomugha, and for one of the few times in camp, Russell’s pass wobbled and allowed Asomugha the chance to make up the difference.

– Linebacker Jon Alston closed off a draw play to Justin Fargas and stopped the running back in his tracks, drawing praise from Rob Ryan. Alston has also assumed Stuart Schweigert’s role as the personal protector for Shane Lechler on punts _ an indication he has a good chance of making the team again.

– A double-standard for lap runners? After a false start by Kwame Harris, Seth Wand was dispatched to take his place at left tackle but never took the field as Harris stayed in. When Paul McQuistan did the same thing, he was off and running. McQuistan has been the Raiders’ most frequent jogger for false starts.

– Speaking of double standards, it seems the defensive line got the best end of the deal Monday night after Sebastian Janikowski’s 43-yard field goal freed them from their healthy Napa diets.

The defensive line dined at Cole’s Chop House, a high-end, expensive steak house. Running backs went Italian in downtown Napa. Defensive backs went to a popular restraurant in Yountville.

There was some good natured grumbling among the offensive linemen and linebackers, who went to a Cantina-style Mexican restaurant down the road from the hotel.

“My stomach is still feeling it,” one lineman said. “Defensive linemen were telling me what they got last night and I said, `I don’t want to hear it.’ ”

Linebackers coach Don Martindale was unapologetic.

“The defensive coordinator and the linebackers coach love Mexican food,” Martindale said. “Can’t you tell?”

– A second practice is scheduled for 7 p.m.

07-29-2008, 05:54 PM
Lane Kiffin believes it could take all of training camp for the Oakland Raiders to settle on a starting center. Jake Grove disagrees.

"I plan on starting," Grove said. "We'll see what happens. But I feel if I can go out there and do what I can do, it won't be a problem."

Grove was the Raiders' full-time starter two years ago but played in only seven games in 2007, most of them as a backup to Jeremy Newberry. He's also coming off knee surgery that forced him to miss all of Oakland's offseason workouts.

The Raiders signed veteran John Wade in late March; the team used Wade and Chris Morris, a seventh-round draft pick in '06, at center during the team's June minicamp.

But through the first week of training camp, Grove has taken the bulk of reps with Oakland's starting offense while Wade has acted as the backup. Morris, meanwhile, is getting work at right guard as a backup to Cooper Carlisle.

"It's wide open," Kiffin declared earlier in the week. "They'll decide who plays there by the way they practice and the way they play in the preseason. All three of them will get a shot."

Oakland's offense struggled last season while Daunte Culpepper, Josh McCown and — eventually — JaMarcus Russell rotated at quarterback. It didn't help that Newberry, the starting center who beat out Grove for the job in training camp a year ago, was playing on cranky knees that prevented him from practicing much during the week.

The outcome was predictable and painful. The Raiders botched numerous snaps that resulted in fumbles, and the offense sputtered the entire year.

With Russell now firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, Kiffin is hopeful the team can find him a permanent center to work with.

"The sooner we get the center thing figured out the better," Kiffin said. "As soon as we can get the same center with the same quarterback going together, definitely that's going to help. I'm not going to put a date on it and then make the wrong decision. That's going to be them showing it to us, and we're obviously not going to know that until we get into the preseason."

Grove, a second-round pick in 2004 who started eight games at right guard as a rookie, doesn't think it will take that long. Though he was only recently cleared to return to practice after rehabbing his knee in the offseason, Grove has looked strong in practice and has shown no lingering effects from the surgery.

"Probably the last month I really started feeling good," Grove said. "I didn't get any vacation over this last month. I've been working every day. It's good to finally get back to practicing."


EXTRA POINTS: The Raiders announced that backup guard Mark Wilson has suffered a broken leg and is likely done for the season. ... Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was excused from practice to attend a funeral.

07-30-2008, 11:52 AM
Training camp, Day 6 (P.M. practice)

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 9:52 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Tuesday night’s Raiders practice:

– The absence of JaMarcus Russell with a sore elbow meant plenty of work for Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo. Walter had another excellent practice, finishing his best passing day of camp.

– The Raiders hired officials for the first time this training camp, and pre-snap penalties continued to be a problem.

Tuesday night joggers included Kwame Harris (false start), Cornell Green (false start), Trevor Scott (lining up in the neutral zone), Robert Thomas (offsides) and Darrell Strong (false start).

During one sequence, with the loud music playing to simulate crowd nose, there were three flags in four plays.

– One of Walter’s big plays was a completion to Chaz Schilens in which Nnamdi Asomugha was in position to make the play and even lost his shoe on his leap, only to have Schilens catch a deflection. Late in practice, he dropped a perfect deep throw along the left sidelines into the hands of Drew Carter.

– Defensive end Jay Richardson, a decent run defender last year, stopped McFadden in the backfield.

– Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has had a habit of jumping routes in hopes of getting interceptions going for touchdowns but arriving late and giving up the completion. It happened against Carter in a team session and against Oren O’Neal in a seven-on-seven. On the latter, defensive Rob Ryan was imploring Hall to “make a house call.”

Later, Hall was a fraction late on a pass from Walter to Drisan James.

Hall was also beaten on a deep out by Johnnie Lee Higgins.

– Wide receiver Todd Watkins ran a streak into the end zone that appeared to be broken up by the oft-torched Michael Waddell on a pass from Tuiasosopo, only to catch the ball Waddell thought he had batted away.

– When it was suggested by a teammate that Jarrod Cooper could have made a play on a pass, Cooper responded, “Hey, I don’t catch the ball, I knock (expletive) down, OK?”

– When H-back Marcel Reece shifted out of his position in the backfield and moved toward the line, Kiffin screamed, “This is got nothing to do with you. Get back in the I.” Reece dutifully moved back into position.

– Cornerback John Bowie, who injured a knee in the morning practice, missed the evening session and Kiffin doesn’t expect him to practice Wednesday afternoon. Safety Greg Wesley missed another practice with back spams, and wide receiver Javon Walker, center Jake Grove and guard-tackle Fred Wakefield also sat out the session as scheduled.

Defensive end Derrick Burgess and running back Justin Fargas did some work in individual drills but were rested in the team sessions. John Madsen, who took a blow to the head from Cooper in the morning, watched in a baseball cap in the evening.

– The Raiders went through drills at a fairly leisurely pace for more than an hour before picking up the intensity for the second hour.

07-30-2008, 01:41 PM
Thanks for the updates man.

07-30-2008, 11:39 PM
Training camp, Day 7

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 at 7:01 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Wednesday’s training camp practice:

– The Raiders spent the latter part of practice in teams sessions working on specific situations.

Two that were included: offense is down by two points with 1:19 left and one time out, trying to work for a field goal from its own 36. Offense gets one play from the 12-yard-line. Score or lose.

The drills were largely dominated by the defense, although a medium-deep pass from Marques Tuiasosopo to Zach Miller set up a 54-yard field goal attempt, which Sebastian Janikowski hammered dead center at least halfway up the uprights.

In a later drill, Janikowski connected from 37 yards to the south end zone _ one that struck a pine tree and bounced back onto the grounds of Redwood Middle School when it looked as if it would travel over a senior center and on to Redwood Road.

Janikowski missed wide right from 48 yards after Walter connected on three consecutive passes to McFadden, bringing the offense from its own 32 to the 33 of the defense. The completions came after a McFadden drop, with the rookie starting to run before securing the ball.

– DeAngelo Hall intercepted an Andrew Walter pass intended for Tony Stewart during a drill which the offense had no time outs and needed to throw to the sideline, which was followed in close order by Gibril Wilson’s interception off Walter.

– McFadden and Derrick Burgess are getting double duty. McFadden worked during some seven-on-seven drills as a receiver, Burgess in pass coverage as a linebacker.

With McFadden, it is all part of the crash course he is getting in as many areas of the offense as possible.

“That’s probably close to unheard of for a guy to be at two different positions in individual that’s a rookie, to go to running back individual, then receiver individual and go back to running back.,” Kiffin said. “He’s handling it great.”

Burgess said he is fine with flopping sides and working as a linebacker on occasion if it can reduce the amont of double-team and chip blocking he receivers rushing the passer. Playing without his hand down is more of an adjustment.

“That (bleep) makes me tired man,” Burgess said. “No, it’s cool. The only thing different about that is it’s all these different sets and everything. But it’s cool. It’s nothing. I’m an athlete man. ‘

– Steve Wisniewski ran a marathon once. Paul McQuistan may be next, or so it seems. He was forced to run another lap for a false star, something that seems to happen at least once every practice.

– During one drill with the offense inside the 20 and out of time outs, Tuiasosopo threw to Chaz Schilens, who stayed inbounds rather than immediately step out, drawing a swift rebuke from the quarterback.

Schilens later jumped offsides and was sent running by Kiffin. Schilens took it upon himself to run around both fields, rather than just one.

– Some rough moments for Ronald Curry and Javon Walker during a routine drill with James Lofton throwing passes into the corner of the end zone from 30 yards away.

Curry dropped two balls, while Walker dropped one, then turned the wrong way and whiffed an other. Lofton by the way, throws a nice ball.

– Drew Carter came down with a difficult catch along the sideline in which he tumbled to the ground with Nnamdi Asomugha. Carter briefly went to the sideline to be checked but was fine; Asomugha came out briefly and returned.

– Jake Grove continues to take reps as the starting center, and has taken to being the first to arrive, leading the rest of the linemen, when the unit moves from their drill area to the team area.

– Ricky Brown continues to work with the first team at strong side linebacker, and even stayed fairly even with McFadden on one pass that fell incomplete, moments after Sam Williams failed to turn around in pass coverage in a play which would have resulted in pass interference.

– Wide receiver Arman Shields missed practice with a sore knee.

“We probably could’ve pushed him, but he’s been working really hard,” Kiffin said. “He goes through all the special teams stuff, too, and it’s just wearing him down a little bit.”

– Cornerback John Bowie, who injured a knee Tuesday night, missed practice and Kiffin termed him “day-to-day.” Safety Greg Wesley (back) and linebacker Grant Irons (hamstring) missed practice.

– Word is the defensive line ran up a bill of more than $2,500 on dinner and drinks at a local steak house Monday night when freed for an evening from the “healthy” diet instituted by Kiffin and strength coach Brad Roll.

07-31-2008, 01:09 AM
Props for the updates. I really like the idea of trying McFadden and Burgess out at two different positions in camp. More opportunities to utilize our team's biggest playmakers can only be seen as a plus.

07-31-2008, 02:26 AM
I wanna see Ricky Brown play.Hopefully he can shed blocks well.

07-31-2008, 11:20 AM
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin says RB Darren McFadden is making a "wow play" or two every day in practice.

Kiffin is also impressed by McFadden's willingness to learn, and says the rookie is everything the team thought he would be. In Wednesday's practice McFadden worked with the receivers at one point before joining the running backs for positional drills, a sequence that Kiffin called "close to unheard of." Maybe in Oakland, Lane. Maybe in Oakland.
per rotoworld.

07-31-2008, 11:22 AM
-- After Being Plagued with Injuries During his last Playing Season; he has Come back Stronger than ever to Solidify the Raiders' line

Oakland Raiders legendary linebacker coach Don "Wink" Martindale speaks out about the franchise's recent signing of star lineman Ed Hartwell

Oakland, CA (PRWEB) July 29, 2008 -- SLB Ed Hartwell has regained his health and is set to solidify the Raider's LB position. He has played MLB and could get a shot there on the Raiders' squad moving Kirk Morrison to the SLB position. The 6'1" 250lbs. free agent has good lower-body strength, takes excellent pursuit angles and is known for reacting quickly.

With all these factors in place, Linebacker coach Don Martindale states; "Instinctively this guy has not lost a step. He has brought his toughness to the team; which has spread throughout our LB meeting room. This guy is everyday tough! A true veteran; who wants everyone around him to get better." He goes on to say; "In the National Football League or in College Football something that has always separated Ed from other Linebackers I have coached. You don't have to watch him play because you can hear him play!"

In Ed Hartwell's own words; "Becoming an Oakland Raider means more to me than just getting back on the field. It's a chance to play for the best franchise in football history. It has the best fans that any sport has to offer, a great cast of talented players & coaches, a legend as an owner, one of the best (attack style) defensive coordinators in the league in Rex Ryan, and most of all I get to be reunited with the best coach I have EVER played for Coach Don Martindale. I vow to do everything in my power to bring another Superbowl to Al Davis and the Raider Nation."

About Edgerton "Ed" Hartwell:

Started at Wisconsin before transferring to Western Illinois University. In 2000, as a Senior, Hartwell was an All-American First Team. Drafted by the Ravens in 2001 with their fourth round pick. In 2002 with Ray Lewis out, Hartwell was the first player other than Lewis to lead the team in tackles with 191. He joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2005.

07-31-2008, 12:57 PM
Howard - Hartwell - Morrison?


07-31-2008, 01:55 PM
Hartwell sucks.

This elbow injury of Russell sucks. Talk about unlucky. Russell needs as much time as possible to work with his receivers.

I am excited for Ronald Curry this year. I like him alot. I think he will out shine Walker this year.

Oh and Zach Miller. I see him and Russell hooking up many times this year. I didnt realize he had an impressive 44 receptions in his rookie season.

07-31-2008, 02:16 PM
I still don't know what to make of possibly moving Morrison to SLB to make room for Hartwell in the middle. He played quite well there his rookie season but looked far more comfortable playing the mike the last couple seasons.

07-31-2008, 02:56 PM
Hey Edgerton, our D coordinator's name is Rob, you don't play for the Ravens anymore.

07-31-2008, 02:56 PM
NAPA – Darren McFadden didn't show up to Raiders training camp with an XBOX 360 and a copy of the video game "NCAA Football 09," which features his likeness on the cover.

The fourth overall selection in the 2008 NFL draft isn't here to play games. The running back arrived from Arkansas ready to work and ask a lot of questions.

But in fact, it's McFadden who is expected to be the one with all the answers for a team that has failed to win five games in a season since winning the AFC title in 2002.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform," said McFadden, a soft-spoken yet confident 20-year-old. "It's something I look forward to. The fans, they're looking for me to come out there and perform. I'm just going out there trying to learn the ropes and plays. And eventually, I think I will be a star."

Greatness, not merely being good, is what's expected of McFadden.

Much of the Raiders' success in 2008 depends on how fast McFadden can assimilate with the offense and produce the kind of big plays that became routine at Arkansas.

The Raiders finished sixth in the NFL in rushing last season without the threat of a passing game. And along with second-year quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who will be in his first full season running the team, McFadden is expected to improve both areas.

Russell looks forward to the pairing.

"It's a lot of fun, especially with his capabilities and the possibility of what he might do when he has the ball and doesn't have it," Russell said. "Guys look forward to him doing certain things when he gets it, and they have to be ready for the run and the play-action pass."

The Raiders won't put the weight of the offense on McFadden immediately. Justin Fargas rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season, and second-year back Michael Bush could prove to be a capable back, too.

But McFadden is no fool. He knows what's coming.

"I feel like there might not be as much attention focused on me but it's probably one of those things where guys will say, 'Fourth overall pick, highly rated coming out of college,' " McFadden said. "They're going to want a piece of me."

People have wanted a piece of McFadden on and off the field for some time. He grew accustomed to it at Oak Grove High School in North Little Rock before moving on to Arkansas.

But he has found being labeled the next great thing a little easier to deal with thus far.

He's not pressed for autographs at every restaurant in California, as he is in Little Rock. And if he wants to meet with an old friend, McFadden doesn't have to find a vacant alley.

His former high school coach, John Mayes, recalls such a meeting.

"I said we're going to meet in the back of Dillard's (department store) where nobody's there and where we can just talk," Mayes said in a phone interview from Arkansas. "We were there about 15 minutes before 15 or 20 people were there wanting his autograph. In Arkansas, nobody left him alone, but I think he handled the pressure well."

McFadden has proven to be adept at dealing with the media and public during his first training camp. Interview requests don't stop, and he handles each gracefully. He's a player that is hounded by fans, and he has taken the time to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Being a star on and off the field, McFadden has become accustomed to the attention.

"It made me mature faster," said McFadden, the 2006 and 2007 Doak Walker Award winner and two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up. "Growing up, you just had to mature faster. You just have to be aware of who you're around at all times because you always have people watching."

When he isn't being watched or asked for autographs, McFadden is asking questions, trying to improve his game.

McFadden, who signed a six-year, $60 million contract ($26 million guaranteed) shortly after being drafted, has taken his quest for knowledge to new levels. He recently sat in on a special-teams meeting just to learn more about the game, even though he isn't a special-teams player.

"If he continues to do what he's doing, he'll be great," said fullback Justin Griffith, McFadden's roommate.

The Raiders are confident they have the right man for the job.

"He's everything we thought when we picked him," Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said. "All the research was that this is the guy, that he has no issues on the field, in the classroom. Great preparation, great football guy, his teammates loved him and it's showing. I can't think of one negative with him.

"Obviously, he's going to have a lot to do with our success. The faster that we can get him ready, the more we get him the ball, the better we'll be."


07-31-2008, 06:07 PM
Quick hits from Thursday morning’s practice:

– He may not have had his best fastball, but JaMarcus Russell was felt good enough to rejoin practice and make due with off-speed stuff, choosing to simply flick his wrist rather than unleash the full power of his $60 million right arm.

In his first team session, Russell completed two of five passes, one a short pass to Johnnie Lee Higgins and a dump-off to fullback Oren O’Neal. Michael Huff broke up a sideline pass intended for tight end Darrell Strong, a screen to Louis Rankin fell incomplete and Derrick Burgess pressured him into an incomplete pass.

In Russell’s second team session, there were two more short completions.

During seven-on-seven drills, Russell was the victim of a perfectly-played pick by Nnamdi Asomugha, who stole a pass intended for Arman Shields in stride and ran the other for what would have been a touchdown.

“You can see a little bit of a velocity issue with him right now, different from normal,” Kiffin said. “I think that will go away here pretty soon.”

Kiffin said the staff watched Russell closely and that trainer Rod Martin gave the go-ahead to continue.

Russell acknowledged he wasn’t 100 percent but wasn’t comfortable watching from the sidelines.

“I just wanted to get out here today just so I could get back in practice,” Russell said. “I don’t really like sitting out and watching guys bust their behinds when I can be out there doing something. Just anything out there I can help.”

– Right guard Cooper Carlisle and right tackle Cornell Green were given the morning session off, with the Raiders reshuffling their line to accomodate the absence of two starters. Seth Wand got some work at right tackle, Chris Morris at right guard, and Mario Henderson has been working on both sides.

– Speaking of Henderson, it sounds as if Kiffin’s patience has about run out on the first of three third-round picks in the 2007 draft. During the offseason, Kiffin said the Raiders were working on Henderson’s lack of aggression and his passion for football.

It sounds like Kiffin and line coach Tom Cable haven’t made much headway. Rather than shift into coach-speak when asked if Henderson was challenging Green at right tackle, Kiffin was blunt and to the point.

“No, he’s not pushing him. We’ll continue to move Mario around to both sides,” Kiffin said. “Mario is not improving the way we’d like him to so we’ll just continue to push him. But it’s not close right now.”

When asked if Henderson needed to shore up a particular area, Kiffin said, “No, it’s everything right now. Unfortunately.”

– Sounds like Javon Walker, the free agent aquisition whose salary suggests he is the No. 1 receiver but whose practice play has been so-so, will begin getting some extra work starting Monday.

Kiffin said Walker and Fred Wakefield, rehabbing from a knee injury, would begin working twice per day Sunday when the 49ers visit Napa.

When asked if Walker was making progress, Kiffin said, “There’s progress being made. I wouldn’t say as much as I’d like at this point so we’re going to continue to push them. I think pushing him back into two-a-days will help him.”

– Defensive tackle Gerard Warren missed with a thigh injury sustained Wednesday night. Kiffin said he didn’t think the injury was as serious as one that hampered Warren last year and said he was day-to-day. Tommy Kelly sat out as scheduled and should practice tonight. Cornerback John Bowie (knee) did not practice.

Safety Greg Wesley (back spasms) was back at practice but did little of note.

– Defensive tackle Terdell Sands, who has avoided speaking with reporters for the first week of camp for reasons that ranged from a team meal to a team meeting to a doctor’s visit, stopped and chatted for a few minutes.

He conceded to being in better condition this year and was affected last season by the death of his mother.

“I lost my mother last year, so that was very big,” Sands said. “You lose anything like that, some things take tolls on you. You lose things that are aspects of life right there. That’s behind me. I’ve got to push on this year.”

Sands said he takes responsibility for the Raiders’ run defense in 2008.

“I take it all, because they look for me to be a big part of it,” Sands said. “And like I say, I wasn’t mentally in it, so I did some gap responsibility and all my true effort wasn’t out there. I thought I was. But when I watch film, it really wasn’t like I was the year before. So I take responsibility and put it on myself.”

Sands declined to specify how much he weighed last year and how much he weighs now.

– Kiffin has taken to visiting with members of the Raiders’ personnel department occasionally during practice sessions. Wednesday it was Bruce Kebric, Thursday it was Kent McCloughan.

– Defensive tackle William Joseph was worked over by Chris Morris and Jesse Boone on consecutive plays during a blocking drill. Kwame Harris buried Kalimba Edwards on another.

– McFadden was fielding kickoffs along with Hiram Eugene, Rankin, Adimchinobe Echemandu and Tyvon Branch, prompting Kiffin to be asked whether the Raiders’ biggest off-season investment might be utilized on that role.

“He’s such an explosive player that it’s something we have to look at,” Kiffin said. “Part of that will be determined by how the other returners do. Let’s say Branch in preseason is returning great. Then it’s not worth it. If you have a great return situation to put Darren out there that may not be worth it. If we’re struggling, then it becomes more valuable to us.”

Said McFadden, who has been in camp eight days and has had a sunny and agreeable disposition for every one of them: “I don’t know if they’re going to use me back there or not but I’m always prepared for it.”

– Practice joggers for pre-snap violations included Harris, Robert Gallery, tight end Chris Wagner and defensive end Greyson Gunheim.

Gunheim, an undrafted free agent from Washington, actually protested his lap, telling Kiffin that Henderson had first moved his leg, drawing him offsides. Gunheim was right, by the way.

07-31-2008, 06:33 PM
Russell has me worried just a bit. He should be fine but nonetheless I was expecting something more positive out of him by this point in camp.

07-31-2008, 08:21 PM
Russell has me worried just a bit. He should be fine but nonetheless I was expecting something more positive out of him by this point in camp.


I hope McFadden's chicken legs can hold up in the NFL. I know that Jerious Norwood has tiny legs and one of his biggest issues is durability.

07-31-2008, 08:27 PM

I hope McFadden's chicken legs can hold up in the NFL. I know that Jerious Norwood has tiny legs and one of his biggest issues is durability.

Yeah, for sure. I like McFadden a lot. Hoping he does well.

08-01-2008, 11:10 AM
Training camp, Day 8 (P.M. practice)
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, July 31st, 2008 at 9:17 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from Thursday night’s practice:

– Lane Kiffin isn’t a stickler regarding practice wardrobe. He usually has no problem with players wearing shorts even in padded sessions.

He deviated from the norm for the second practice, with players donning full uniform pants in a physical padded practice featuring short yardage and goal line sessions.

All the contact helped instigate the first training training camp fight, with center Jesse Boone and defensive tackle Josh Shaw squaring off at 8:27 p.m. The two scuffled inside, with Shaw then taking a second run at Boone before it was broken up.

Neither is a stranger to scuffles. Boone got into it with Warren Sapp on his first day as a Raider last training camp, and Shaw once exchanged physical unpleasantries with Justin Fargas.

– Quarterback Andrew Walter took the evening practice arm to rest a tired arm, the result of all the extra throws necessary the previous two days because of the JaMarcus Russell’s bruised elbow. Russell threw with more velocity in the evening practice than in the morning session, including some deep rainbows during drills with receivers.

Wide receiver Javon Walker, working to regain his burst, was excited enough to catch one of those deep balls during a routine drill that he spiked it out of bounds.

He wasn’t as enthusiastic earlier in the practice when he and Drew Carter lined up inproperly.

“Give me a new X and a new Z,” Kiffin barked. “Go learn the formation.”

Johnnie Lee Higgins and Arman Sheilds jumped in as the replacements.

– Another practice, another interception from Nnamdi Asomugha, this one a perfect read on a rollout pass by Tuiasosopo intended for Jonathan Holland.

– Moments after chastizing Tuiasosopo for taking too long in the huddle, Jarrod Cooper sent Chris McFoy sprawling with a high hit along the sideline. McFoy caught Tuiasosopo’s rollout pass and was headed upfield and was nearly sent into the hydraulic lift the Raiders use to elevate practice cameras.

– Strong side linebacker Sam Williams closed off at least two running plays, by holding his edge and not letting runners get outside.

– Defensive tackle William Joseph, a free agent and former first-round pick of the New York Giants, made his most impressive play of camp when he blew up what was supposed to be an outside run to the left by McFadden, getting to the running back three yards deep.

“That’s good (bleep), Joseph,” yelled defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

– During a third-and-short drill midfield, the offense converted four of seven opportunities. The wins came on an inside run by Michael Bush, a pitch to the left to Darren McFadden, a pass from Russell to Oren O’Neal and an inside run by McFadden.

Defensive wins came when a Russell-to-Carter completion came up short, another Russell-to-Carter attempt was broken up by Michael Huff, and a nice play-fake by Tuiasosopo resulted in a deep pass just out of the reach of Higgins.

– During the goal line session, the offense won five of eight snaps, with the ultimate indignity coming when the score was 5-2 and Kiffin sceamed out to the defense, “Hey, they’re going to run the ball!”

Armed with the call, the middle of the defense stopped McFadden short of the goal line. Another stop came when Bush was stopped with a thunderous hit in a mass of humanity in the middle of the line (sorry, didn’t see who actually made the tackle).

Offensive scores came on a run by Fargas, a run by McFadden, another run by Fargas to the right in which O’Neal caved in the right side of the line, and a pass from Tuiasosopo to tight end Darrell Strong.

– Defensive tackle Gerard Warren missed his second practice and was day-to-day. Center Jake Grove and guard-tackle Fred Wakefield sat out as scheduled. Tommy Kelly practiced after missing the morning session, and Greg Wesley practiced twice in a row for the first time.

– The Raiders will practice once Friday at 3 p.m., twice Saturday at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and will take Sunday off before practicing with the San Francisco 49ers twice on Monday at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

08-01-2008, 11:22 AM
NAPA -- Terdell Sands was signed to a four-year, $17 million deal be the Raiders big run stuffer last year.

Unfortunately, the only part of the equation that proved to be true was Sands was big.

He struggled to play well while not just carrying extra weight, but also the burden of having lost his mother in February of last year.

Football took a backseat to grieving.

"I wasn't doing cardio like I should and conditioning, so I kind of got behind in my workouts and stuff," Sands said. "So it was a big part of last year."

Sands wasn't the player the Raiders saw in 2006 when he emerged as a player that could stop the run.

The Raiders finished 31st against the run last season and Sands sees it as his job to fix that. In retrospect, Sands knows he didn't give his best effort in 2007.

"I take (responsibility for) it all, because they look for me to be a big part of it," Sands said. "And like I say, I wasn't mentally in it, so I did some gap responsibility and all my true effort wasn't out there. I thought I was. But when I watch film, it really wasn't like I was the year before. So I take responsibility and put it on myself."

Sands (who is listed at 6-7, 335 but probably heavier) is in better shape this year. He won't discuss how much weight he lost except to say "a bunch of it."

What a lighter Sands means he can fight off blocks and play longer.

Sands being able to do that will be key. If he and Tommy Kelly command more than one blocker, the Raiders' athletic linebackers will be free to run to the ball.

Sands sees the difference in himself already.

"I see more getting off the ball," he said. "I see myself in shape, I'm running to the ball more, and I look good. I'm slimmer, so I feel real good."


08-01-2008, 03:42 PM
Does anybody know the deal with training camp, are all practices open to the public, how much are tix, etc. Ive looked around online and cant get any info, I want to attend the session with the 49ers this Monday.

08-02-2008, 04:22 AM
That session is closed to the public.

08-02-2008, 11:39 AM

Oh, just great . :(

08-02-2008, 03:07 PM

Oh, just great . :(
what a *****

i can't see him being that productive now, mentally his head is not in it.

08-02-2008, 04:56 PM
i say get rid of him get the signing bonus back and let him retire ... especially if he is willing to return the money , no need to waste the money on a player who has a slim to non shot of really wanting to play anymore.

08-03-2008, 10:41 PM
Training camp, Day 9
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, August 1st, 2008 at 6:45 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from Friday’s practice:

– Quarterback JaMarcus Russell is practicing and getting the strength back in his elbow, getting the majority of the work as the undisputed No. 1 quarterback.

Meanwhile, Andrew Walter returned after missing practice with a tired arm the previous evening and finished off practice with a 99-yard drive culimnated in a 3-yard touchdown pass to Chaz Schilens on a fade route over Darrick Brown.

Walter got the offense out of trouble with a 38-yard strike down the left sideline, with Ronald Curry making a leaping circus catch despite decent coverage by Michael Waddell. A few gainers by Michael Bush and Darren McFadden set up a 29-yard jump-and-catch to Todd Watkins, putting the ball at the 5.

McFadden eventually got inside the 2 _ but here’s how practice works _ Kiffin didn’t want a short-yardage call, having covered that the previous evening.

“Move it back to the 3, I don’t want goal line,” he said.

Walter then finished it off with the flip to Schilens for the score.

For the first time, Kiffin conceded a clear-cut advantage for Walter over Marques Tuiasosopo as the backup quarterback.

“Andrew does everything you can out here. He continues to complete balls, and continues to have a high completion percentage,” Kiffin said. “I’d say right now he’s ahead of Tui. He’s making more plays and throwing the ball better downfield. Preseason will be big for those two.”

– Gerard Warren (thigh) missed his third practice and was joined by Terdell Sands, who had his knee drained. Sands, Kiffin said, will be reduced to one practice per day on double days. Warren remains day to day.

Also missing practice were John Bowie (knee) and Arman Shields (knee).

Shields, a fourth-round draft pick, has had some impressive moments but has it slowed by missing sessions as he works his surgically-repaired knee into shape.

– With Warren and Sands out, William Joseph got in work with the first string defense alongside Tommy Kelly. He broke into the backfield on one play and stopped Justin Fargas by latching on to his shirt. Joseph also showed up on several plays during the Thursday night session.

“He made a number of plays last night and it was good to see too because we had pads on when he was doing it and that’s what matters in the end,” Kiffin said. “He’s got to be more consistent in his play. He is powerful and big but he gets reached and cut off too much right now for us and that’s where we really need to improve him. He needs to be a more consistent player. He’s not played a lot of football since he’s been in the NFL.”

Joseph is a former first-round draft pick with the New York Giants who never reached his potential.

– Two plays served as a snapshot of what the Raiders hope to get from Kwame Harris at left tackle. On one play, he walled off Kalimba Edwards as JaMarcus Russell rolled out and found Darren McFadden for a gain. On the next play, a counter with the action flowing to the right, Adimchinobe Echemandu cut back to his left and found Harris in front of him at the second level.

– The day’s most conspicuous drop came from Drisan James, as a Walter pass over the middle thudded off his hands and chest and to the ground.

– Only one jogger for a false start Friday _ center Jesse Boone.

– Training camp receiving stars come and go _ remember Alex Van Dyke and Will Buchanon? _ but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Watkins isn’t making a serious run at a roster spot.

Kiffin said he was going over lists with staff members which rank players and that Watkins was showing up there as well as on the field.

“A number of guys on the staff had him extremely high on their list,” Kiffin said.

– Kiffin said Kelly weighs 330 pounds and is still rounding into game shape, but expressed hope that his presence at the “three technique” would shore up the NFL’s 31st ranked rushing defense. Kiffin liked what he saw of Kelly’s limited time inside as a Raider.

“He was extremely hard for guards to reach, more of knock-back player, kind of a two-gap scheme player in that sense even though that’s not what we play,” Kiffin said. “He’s an old-fashioned, head up and knock the guy straight backwards guy.”

– Tackle Mario Henderson took Kiffin’s criticisms of his development in stride, acknowledging he has a ways to go to be the player he wants to be. Kiffin said Thursday Henderson was not challenging for a starting spot on the right side and needed to develop in every area.

“I’m sure he’s probably trying to fire me up because that’s his job,” Henderson said. “I’m just coming out here to work every day. They’re the coaches, they know a lot better than I do. I still do have a lot to work on. So, that’s the one thing I got to do is just work hard.”

– One of the pitfalls of covering practice _ no official stats. I reported last night during a goal line drill about a ferocious collision in which Michael Bush came up short. Turns out, according to Kiffin, that Bush scored despite a perfect run fit from Kirk Morrison.

(Local officials hired for the practiced never raised their hands, not that I saw, anyway).

“The highlight of the drill to me was Michael Bush, him and Morrison were unblocked in the hole and that was our first chance to see what we’ve all hoped that Mike’s going to be,”’ Kiffin said. “He lowered his pads and ran over him and got us in the end zone.”

Bush, not surprisingly, was even more excited than Kiffin, given it was the closest thing to being in a real game he has had in nearly two years.

“It was the first time I strapped on top to bottom in pads and took contact like that,” Bush said. “It was a big collision, and I just enjoyed it. It was fun.”

Was Bush sure he had scored?

“I knew I got in. He met me right on the line,” Bush said. “I weigh more than him, a little bigger, and you could tell, and I got kind of got under him, so I knew I was in the end zone.”

– The Raiders got a lot of grief for deals which promised $18.125 million for Tommy Kelly and $16 million for Javon Walker, but at least those two figure to suit up this year.

The Green Bay Packers are reportedly considering paying their best quarterback $20 million not to play.

I know it seems obvious, but if you’re willing to pay a guy $20 million so he doesn’t go to your division rival, he probably ought to be your starting quarterback. Either that or Aaron Rodgers has suddenly morphed into Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and the Packers are the only ones in on the secret.

– The Raiders will host an interactive game day area, the “Raider Rookie Zone,” at McAfee Coliseum. It is presented by California Police Youth Charities and community sponsors include the Chabot Space and Science Center and the Oakland Museum of California.

08-03-2008, 10:42 PM
August 1, 2008
Russell's passes look like a normal QB's
NAPA - JaMarcus Russell's passes picked up some steam today. He's still not his normal self according to his coach.

"He's still being safe with it," Lane Kiffin said. "If it wasn't him you wouldn't even notice. But because he's throwing the ball like other quarterbacks do now velocity wise as opposed to what he usually does. We had it checked by a number of people and nobody sees it being a long-term issue."

Russell hurt the elbow Tuesday morning when he hit it against Darren McFadden's helmet during a throw.

Russell's first two of passes during the team session were dump offs to McFadden. As practice progressed Russell's throws looked stronger.

He wore a sleeve on his arm during practice as well as after practice.

Kiffin said he's taken some reps away from Russell because of the arm injury but hasn't altered the playcalling.

Upon further review

Last night's practice collision involving Michael Bush was against Kirk Morrison on the goal line in the first live practice of camp.

The winner, Kiffin said, was Bush.

"Him and Morrison were unblocked in the hole and that was our first chance to see what we've all hoped that Mike's going to be," Kiffin said. "He lowered his pads and ran over him and got us in the end zone. Probably out of the eight live plays on the goal line ... it was worth it to go live, nobody got hurt, just really to see Michael do that."

A play like that was a long time coming for Bush. It was his first full-contact action since his last college game in Sept. 2006 when he broke his leg.

"I just wanted some contact," Bush said. "I'm still waiting for the game so I can strap it on and have some fun against guys other than my teammates. It's one of those things, I haven't been in pads for a long time and the low man wins. It was a good battle."

Watkins still impressive

A training camp practice seems incomplete unless Todd Watkins makes a hard catch look easy.

Watkins was up to it again today. His acrobatic catch over Darrick Brown set up a touchdown pass to Chaz Schilens to end practice.

"A year ago, we tried him out and ended up bringing him back," Kiffin said of Watkins. "The guy's made a number of plays. We were going through some lists today and some different people back in the rooms, I'm not going to tell you exactly where, but a number of guys on the staff had him extremely high on their list."

Joseph evaluation

DT William Joseph has begun to show up against the run in recent practices.

He was signed as a free agent in the offseason after an injury-filled stint with the New York Giants.

Joseph was a first-round pick in 2003 and missed all of last season with a back injury.

"He made a number of plays last night and it was good to see too because we had pads on when he was doing it and that's what matters in the end," Kiffin said. "He's got to be more consistent in his play. He is powerful and big but he gets reached and cut off too much right now for us and that's where we really need to improve him. He really needs to be a more consistent player. He's not played a lot of football since he's been in the NFL."

Henderson has "work" to do

Second-year tackle Mario Henderson said he is improving but still has room for improvement.

He's focusing on the mental side of the game and not taking plays off, he said.

"I could (start if needed) but right now I still have a lot of work to do," Henderson said. "That's why I'm just taking this training camp one day at a time."

Kiffin was blunt in his assessment of Henderson on Thursday. He said Henderson wasn't close to pushing for a starting job and his overall game needed improvement.

"I'm sure he's probably trying to fire me up because that's his job," Henderson said. "Like I said, I'm just coming out here to work every day. They're the coaches, they know a lot better than I do. I still do have a lot to work on. So, that's the one thing I got to do is just work hard."

The Raiders traded this year's third-round draft choice last year to move up to select Henderson in the third round.

That's not lost on him.

"I think about that every day and I say, 'I'm glad I'm not a first-round pick because that would be a whole bunch of pressure,'" Henderson said. "Not that it's not a lot of pressure, first of all, them just drafting me first year, no matter what round, because they believe that you can play. I just have to work hard to show them that I was worth that pick that I was picked up at

Henderson takes solace in knowing that he took time to develop in college, too. He didn't start until his senior season. But this, he admits, is different.

"When you come here, you don't have any scholarships," Henderson said. "You can't sit around for four years. You better get it now. I still can get cut, drafted or not. So, that's the one thing that I got to keep on my mind."

Camp notes

*DT Terdell Sands had his knee drained and did not practice. Kiffin said Sands would be put on a one-a-day practice schedule when there two practices in a day.

*DT Gerard Warren (thigh) is still out as are CB John Bowie (knee) and LB Grant Irons (hamstring). WR Arman Shields (knee) did not practice.

*The offense had to work from it's own end zone with loud music again.

*C Jesse Boone ran a lap after he moved the ball before snapping it causing the entire defensive line to jump.

*LB Robert Thomas was back with the first-team linebackers. He and Ricky Brown have taken turns at the strongside linebacker spot in camp.

*Kiffin said he would like to carry five receivers on the roster.http://www.blackreign.net/forums/images/dark_smilies/confused.gif

*The team didn't practice in pads after wearing full gear Thursday night. There will be two practices Saturday and the team will be off Sunday before practicing with the 49ers on Monday.

--Jason Jones

08-03-2008, 10:44 PM
Training camp, Day 10 (A.M. practice)
from Inside The Oakland Raiders by Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

Quick hits from Saturday’s practice:

– Not a particularly sharp practice for JaMarcus Russell, who failed to get his team in the end zone during red zone team sessions. But there was only one major mistake _ another interception by cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha which would have been taken back the other way for a touchdown.

Russell would have had one touchdown pass, making a nice reverse pivot to avoid defensive end Jay Richardson and hitting Drisan James in the back of the end zone _ but James dropped the ball.

The one turnover aside, and Asomugha has been doing it to all Raiders quarterbacks, Kiffin likes what he sees in terms of Russell’s ability to avoid mistakes.

“Yeah we’re seeing great production out of him in the checkdowns. You saw a bunch of them today in 7-on-7 red zone which is hard to do because there’s the touchdowns,” Kiffin said. “You see that little window and you want to stick it in there and you want to throw a touchdown to the guy. That’s the hardest place to be a disciplined quarterback. He had a great day of it today. He continues to

– Asomugha has been the dominant player in camp since the moment he arrived.

“He’s made so many plays, more than anybody else, maybe everybody else combined in the passing game,” Kiffin said. “Part of that is he does know our offense, he knows our audibles. He studies really hard. That’s part of that. He’s come out and hasn’t missed a beat. It doesn’t say much for really needing minicamps and OTA days really.”

It’s worth nothing that the other Raiders player who has been nearly as dominant is defensive end Derrick Burgess, who missed all voluntary sessions in the offseason to work out on his own, coming only to the mandatory minicamp.

At one point, as Johnnie Lee Higgins lined opposite Asomugha, safety Jarrod Cooper told the receiver, “He hasn’t been here all offseason, don’t be afraid of him.”

– Wide receiver Javon Walker, reportedly talked out of quitting by owner Al Davis, was a non-factor in practice. During one late route, he failed to gain separation on rookie free agent corner Darrick Brown on a pass that fell incomplete.

If the ESPN report of Walker offering to give back his signing bonus is true, and the Raiders didn’t take him up on the offer, it could be a big mistake. Walker has not shown even remotely the kind of big-play skill the Raiders expected when they signed him as a free agent.

– Wide receiver Ronald Curry made a nice catch of a Russell pass with DeAngelo Hall in coverage. Curry got up slowly but returned to action.

– Defensive tackle Gerard Warren missed practice with a thigh injury, Arman Shields was out for the second straight day with a sore knee. Also sitting it out were offensive lineman Fred Wakefield, cornerback John Bowie and linebacker Grant Irons.

– Defensive tackle Terdell Sands, who missed practice Friday after having his knee drained, returned to practice Saturday morning. He left the field house with an ice bag on his left knee.

– Sebastian Janikowski converted all three of his 38-yard field goal attempts during red zone drills.

– Safety Greg Wesley intercepted a Marques Tuiasosopo pass that glanced off the hands of tight end Darrell Strong.

– Right guard Cooper Carlisle joined Kelly as lap-runners for pre-snap violations.

– Incumbent starter Robert Thomas has been running ahead of Ricky Brown and Sam Williams at strong side linebacker for the past two practices.

– Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly ran the 100 in 47 seconds. While taking a lap after jumping offsides, I counted off the amount of time it took for Kelly to make it from goal line to goal line.

Kiffin left players on the field for 10 straight plays without a substitution, and Kelly, who the coach said weighs 330 pounds, was still feeling the strain.

“All these guys played 10 plays in a row so they could come out and say, `Boy, I’m a long ways away, or, `I’m right there,’ ” Kiffin said. “I think guys got a real good feeling for where they’re at, and for how far some guys have to go. As far as Tommy, it is a concern. He’s one of the main reasons that we’re doing that drill today.”

– Number changes: Chaz Schilens went from No. 82 to No. 81, Marcel Reece from No. 81 to No. 45 and Darrell Strong from No. 45 to No. 82. Reece has been moved from wide receiver to fullback, actually playing more in motion as an H-back.

“He’s going to be there for now, we moved him a little bit around and stuff because he does bring a lot to us and he’s a guy that, you know may have a future with us because he can do so many things,” Kiffin said.

Guessing that “future” in Reece’s case would probably be as a member of the practice squad.

08-03-2008, 10:45 PM
Who’s hot, who’s not

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, August 3rd, 2008 at 10:09 am in Oakland Raiders, Preseason (2005).

Thoughts on who’s leading, trailing and treading water as the Raiders take their first day off after 10 days and 15 practice sessions of training camp, keeping in mind what the coaches are seeing and what I’m seeing could be two entirely different things.

The following are in no particular order and are random observations, not an all-inclusive list . . .


RB Darren McFadden: There’s a good chance the three teams that passed on McFadden are going to be sorry they did. I was skeptical when Lane Kiffin said the Raiders would have traded up to get him. Now I believe it.

Not only does McFadden’s speed bring to mind Bo Jackson and Napoleon Kaufman, but he’s got better hands than either, is a quick study and does everything with a smile on his face. He is even better than they thought he was.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha: I’ve scoffed at the comparisons with Mike Haynes. Not now. He looks that good.

DE Derrick Burgess: Even allowing for the Raiders’ weakness at the tackle spots, Burgess looks terrific, and moving him around to get him singled up is the smart move.

C Jake Grove: He is bigger, stronger and has seized the opportunity to become the starter. The Raiders thought they had an elite center when the drafted him. Maybe they were right after all _ as long as his knee holds up.

WR Todd Watkins: Has caught everything in sight, and it’s not as if he’s working against chopped liver, getting his share of reps against Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall. Stands a real chance of making the team.

RB Justin Fargas: If anything, McFadden’s presence has him running even harder.

QB Andrew Walter: Rather than take a “woe is me” approach, Walter has had his best passing camp and has the upper hand against Marques Tuiasosopo to back up JaMarcus Russell.

Coach Lane Kiffin: He’s taking the perfect approach to coaching under Al Davis _ he’s doing it his own way, sticking to his belief system and assuming that if he gets fired, he will get another job. His brutal honesty is refreshing.

Receivers coach James Lofton: Whether you want to believe it or not, he was hired before Kiffin ever gave his approval. And you know what? The boss got this one right. An extremely impressive coach, and was key in recruiting Drew Carter, whose performance so far is also worthy of being a camp leader.

DE Jay Richardson: Making a case to be more than an end on first-and-10 and short-yardage. May be emerging as a pass rusher.

SS Gibril Wilson and SS Michael Huff: Forget the talk about them being interchangable. Kiffin said Wilson has been in the box 90 percent of the time and should provide the Raiders with their best true strong safety play since they returned to Oakland. And Huff, liberated, is making some plays.

TE Zach Miller: Has caught everything thrown his way, has a knack for finding open spaces. If Miller isn’t kept in to block, he should catch 60 passes. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he made the Pro Bowl some day.

WR Ronald Curry: New body, can still make the tough catches.


QB JaMarcus Russell: Other than a fabulous Friday night, Russell has had both good moments and bad.

It’s OK that he’s treading water because that’s all Kiffin and Co. are looking for in 2008. They’re not asking Russell to win games. They’re just asking him not to lose them. Expect a lot of conservatism and checkdowns as he learns the ropes _ a solid plan.

RB Michael Bush: Kiffin talked up his goal line smash with Kirk Morrison, but there’s still a question as to whether he is more Earl Campbell or Earl Cooper. Great hands, but runs too upright. Keep in mind he’ hasn’t played for two years and by camp’s end he should be better.

DT Tommy Kelly: Needs to be in better shape, but still has a month to get there. Is working diligently on cardio machines. Noticeably gassed during Saturday practiced when forced to be on the field 10 consecutive plays.

LBs Ricky Brown, Robert Thomas and Sam Williams: Brown got first shot at strongside linebacker and did well, but not so well that they simply left him there. Now its’ Thomas turn. Williams has the ideal skill set, but is too fragile.

CB DeAngelo Hall: Probably unfair to have him in this category, but Asomugha looks so good Hall will get plenty of work this year. And he will give up a lot of completions, if the early part of camp is any indication. The key will be if he makes so many plays it doesn’t matter.

LT Kwame Harris: Every time someone gets by him it will be magnified. Showing signs of improvement as a pass blocker. Shows signs of being able to do some real damage downfield in zone blocking scheme. Harris’ advantage lies in the fact that line coach Tom Cable is one of the best around.


WR Javon Walker: The whole “retirement” thing is troubling, but let’s face it, erratic behavior often comes with the position. The bigger concern is whether Walker can still play at anything approaching the level the Raiders expected.

The hope is Walker can get his legs under him and regain his form. Right now, he’s not close. Perhaps patience will pay off and giving Walker time to work things out could prove beneficial, and Al Davis looks like a genius for signing him and urging him not to retire. Or perhaps Walker gives it a few more weeks and retires if he doesn’t have it in him before Week 1.

If that were to occur, and Walker repays the bonus, it will be credited to the Raiders cap in the 2009 league year and they’re off the hook.

If he stays on the team and plays as has, this is the worst free agent signing since Larry Brown.

DT Terdell Sands: Is professing a new attitude and dedication, but still isn’t in top condition and has had his left knee drained. Already. With a player his size, it could be a maintenance issue all year.

T Mario Henderson: The hope was he would challenge Cornell Green and become a starter. It isn’t happening.

G Paul McQuistan: Has taken more laps than Jeff Gordon at the Daytona 500 because of repeated false starts.

CB Michael Waddell: There was a cornerback named Levon Rowan last season who was scorched daily by virtually every receiver. Waddell is this year’s Rowan, but in his defense, receivers have made a number of great catches against him.

WR Arman Shields: Has had some excellent practice sessions but because of knee problems could wind up on I.R. if he can’t put practices together.

DE Trevor Scott: Listed at 255 pounds, you see him out of uniform and he doesn’t look that big. Having problems disengaging from linemen _ even Henderson.

S Greg Wesley, DE Greg Spires and C John Wade: Three thirty-something veterans who won’t be retained unless they play fairly prominent roles. Wesley has missed considerable time with back spasms, Spires is 34 and not making many plays, and Wade might be out if he can’t beat out Grove because Chris Morris can play both guard and tackle.

CB John Bowie: The guy they got for Randy Moss was doing little of note and then injured a knee.

LB Grant Irons: Comeback bid may be derailed by hamstring which has kept him off the field.

08-03-2008, 10:48 PM
NAPA, Calif. -- The gentle blue skies above and majestic mountains in the distance belie what lies beneath them.

Here, an NFL team is practicing. This isn't just any practice, either. This one looks like it's being held on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The minute a play ends, the chaos starts. Coaches in every direction blowing their whistles, signaling in calls, pulling players, or even entire units, on and off at a moment's notice, doing everything to keep the players from being comfortable.

Eighteen months into his tenure as an NFL head coach, this is what Lane Kiffin, still just 33, has identified as his style of team. His training camp isn't some kind of 12-round bout, with players in full pads all the time. Nor is it common to see a player getting dressed down by a coach, be it Kiffin or one of his assistants.

But don't confuse things. Things aren't breezy around here. They're moving fast and, just as important, players are forced to think fast along the way.

"Football's about adversity," Kiffin said, referencing what he's trying to simulate. "You have to deal with things. They're not going to go well for you at times."

There were, certainly, those times last year. After a 2-2 start, Oakland lost six straight, then dropped four in a row to end the season. And in the following months, reports surfaced that Raiders owner Al Davis was asking Kiffin to resign, something to which the coach said at the owners' meetings: "Where there's smoke, there's fire."

What has perhaps been most impressive is how, through all the tumult, Kiffin has kept his team's collective head pointed forward and its eyes on improvement. That never really has changed.

"He got his point across about how he wanted things to be (right away)," said quarterback JaMarcus Russell, one of the keys to the coach's future. "That's just one of the things we can do to help him out, executing what he says."

Read Russell's quote back -- "The things we can do to help him out" -- and you start to get a sense of how this club has stuck by Kiffin's side, even when it would've been easy to abandon ship.

And why? Because they feel, for better or worse, that Kiffin is as much in the trenches as they are and because, in a very 21st century way, he doesn't emit an air of having the whole thing figured out.

"I passed him in the hallway the other day, and he said, 'I want you to come past my office and tell me what I can do better, what I'm not doing as good,' " DeAngelo Hall said. "He's just open, and that's how you have to be. ... The more personable and human you are, the more these guys are going to lay it on the line for you. Lane fully understands that."

Since he grew up at the heel of an NFL coach -- his dad is venerable Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin -- he carries an encyclopedic knowledge of football. Yet, for the younger Kiffin, there's always more to learn. About the game. About his team.

And so you find him so intimately involved in practice that there are times when it's hard to tell where the head coach is. This is not, in any way, Bear Bryant standing atop a tower overlooking the fields.

"I like to learn about our team, I like to be in the middle of it, I like to learn about our players, especially at this time of year," he said. "What are they like inside the huddle? How are they talking? How are they communicating? I think it's just too valuable to miss."

He's looking, he says, for competitive players, just like Pete Carroll, for whom Kiffin worked at Southern California, does. He's looking for guys to get after each other, going so far as to give veiled approval to a fight in practice last week. He wants it all to be fast and furious, because that's the way it'll be on Sunday.

"That's going to make us better," he said. "If we've got a right end that's going to compete every single day, and he's going all out and not going through the motions, that left tackle is going to be that much better."

Now, this is a team that still has issues. The club's enormous defensive tackles -- Terdell Sands (6-7, 335), Gerard Warren (6-4, 325) and Tommy Kelly (6-6, 300) -- have to stay healthy and shore up the sieve of a run defense. Issues at offensive tackle and receiver could hold back Russell.

But there's no question who's in charge here. The players are behind Kiffin and, after enduring a 4-12 season in his first season in the NFL, that's important.

"We've made a lot of changes to the culture, we've got a number of new people, our coaches have a year together now and understand what our goals are, how we're supposed to be, how we're supposed to coach, how everything's supposed to be," Kiffin said. "And we're better at it. Just like players, coaches have gotten better at it, and it's just trickled downhill."

After Saturday's practice, Russell described his feelings like this: "I know (Kiffin) is not going to tell me anything that's wrong."

After all that's happened, that's probably pretty good for the coach to hear.

Staff writer Albert Breer covers the NFL for Sporting News.

08-04-2008, 05:49 PM
took this from another board.


its a practice video of the Raiders/niners.enjoy.

08-04-2008, 05:53 PM
Training camp, Day 12 (A.M. practice)
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, August 4th, 2008 at 1:11 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from Monday’s joint practice with the Raiders and 49ers:

– There was a scuffle here and there and the kind of intensity that comes from unfamiliarity, but the meeting of the Raiders and 49ers was pretty much as Lane Kiffin promised it would be.

It was simply practice, with the same team sessions (11-on-11), drills and seven-on-seven activity that took place the first 10 days of camp. Defenses from both sides ruled the day, with the Raiders getting the better of the 49ers’ fledgling Mike Martz offense and the 49ers’ 3-4 defense leaving Oakland wondering where they next pass rusher was coming from.

“I think any time you come together for the first time, not knowing what they’re going to do, that’s the advantage for the defense,” coach Lane Kiffin said.

(I spent the session walking the Raiders offense against the 49ers defense, so I’ll take the word of Kiffin as well as some colleagues who were watching the 49ers offense struggle on the other field).

Practices were scripted only in terms of the personnel used, so defensive calls came as a surprise.

– Linebacker Hartwell Brown got into a fight with 49ers running back Moran Norris and defensive tackle William Joseph tussled with 49ers rookie guard Chilo Raschal, with neither of the altercations getting very far before they were broken up.

“`I wasn’t trying to take him to the ground,” Hartwell said of the blow which preceeded his dust-up with Norris. “It was just that when I hit him it kind of lifted him up. I guess it was kind of too hard for him. I didn’t really hit him that hard but he got kind of upset. I can understand that if you don’t like contact.”

One of the first people to get to Hartwell was Nolan, his former defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens.

“That’s my buddy right there. We were just talking,” Hartwell said. “Mike was like, ‘Come on Ed’ and I said, ‘Come on Mike, you know how we do it.’ We were in Baltimore together, you know how we thud up.’ . . . He knows in practice back in Baltimore that’s how we do it. You catch the ball across the middle we give you a nice tap just letting you know we’re there.”

– The best part of JaMarcus Russell’s practice may have been getting to chat with Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica. The Raiders had some running plays which looked as if they would get somewhere in a real game, but for the most part the passing completions came on the type of dumpoffs and screen passes Lamonica seldom threw in when Oakland made the vertical game famous in the AFL.

“They’re pretty good. They had some good schemes today,” Russelll said. “As a whole, as far as out there on offense we just remained focused on our plays.”

During one sequence, 49ers linebackers came free unblocked and were on Russell before he could react, politely backing away and letting him throw the pass. The first was Jay Moore, the second Tully Banta-Cain.

A screen pass from Russell to Justin Fargas was poorly executed and his throw sailed well past the running back with 49ers pressure ruining the play.

– The only Raiders deep strike during 11-on-11 sessions came when Andrew Walter found Jonathan Holland down the right sideline against Donald Strickland.

– The good news is Russell’s elbow, injured six days ago when it hit the helmet of teammate Darren McFadden, is becoming less and less of an issue.

“I think he’s very close. I think (Saturday) he made some throws that looked like he did at the beginning of camp,” Kiffin said. “I think he’ll be fine by game time.”

– Center Jake Grove liked playing against something completely different.

“It’s a totally different defense, different angles, different blocks, against people you don’t know,” Grove said. “It’s like the first preseason game, you don’t really see film on the guys and they’ve got some new people. It’s kind of a challenge, especially the first few plays bedcause you don’t know what the guy is going to do.”

– Another tough day for fourth-round draft pick Arman Shields, ordered off the field by Kiffin for not knowing the formation, and later dropping two passes against 49ers defenders during drills.

“That’s why you’ve got two hands _ catch the ball,” wide receivers coach James Lofton said. On the second one, Lofton said, “Finish with a catch!”

– Javon Walker got open twice and quick slants and made receptions _ two of the better plays he has made in days. His situation bears watching, because Kiffin doesn’t sound as if he has any intention using a patient and understanding approach. He wants production and effort.

When asked if he wanted to see how Walker responded to the double session, Kiffin said, “I’m more concerned to see just to push him as hard as we can, make him work as long as he’s physically ready to go. From a training-room standpoint, we need to continue to push him. I’m not into the whole `Well, when the lights go on, they play well.’ That’s not my deal. I’m trying to work him out of that mentality.”

Kiffin also questioned Walker’s effort level Saturday night when talking about the receiver’s thoughts of retirement.

– Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha missed practice due to illness. Kiffin said Asomugha was sick to his stomach when he awoke and will be checked by a doctor. Others who missed practice were Greg Wesley (back), John Bowie (knee) and Grant Irons (hamstring). Mark Wilson remains on the roster with a broken leg.

– For those interested in hearing about all the hatred between two bitter rivals, sorry. For the most part, players and coaches renewed acquaintances and engaged in friendly competition. Al Davis made it to his first morning session of camp _ his other appearances have been at either 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. _ and chatted with Nolan before practice began.

Barry Sims and Kwame Harris, who switched sides in the offseason to play across the bay, spent a good amount of time following the practice shaking hands and catching up on news with old friends.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing my old teammates. As soon as I walked in the gate I saw everybody and it was like I never left, guys coming up and saying, ‘What’s up?,” Sims said. “That was cool. It’s good to see those guys and see what they’re about. I still stay in touch with a lot of them and so it’s good to see them in person.”

Said Harris: “I was with most of those guys for five years, so there’s history, those are the guys that brought me into this league, like family in a sense. There wasn’t a sense of vindictiveness as much as it’s like playing against your sibling, you know? If you’ve had a sibling that compete against you kind of bring it a little more. In that sense, it was exciting.”

– The 49ers wasted no time in marking their territory. One of the oddities of training camp is, well, public urination. With no facilities on the field, players find a fence away from any invited guests to relieve themselves. Less than 20 minutes into the practice, defensive lineman Ray McDonald became the first 49er player to do so at a Raiders practice.

08-04-2008, 11:05 PM
took this from another board.


its a practice video of the Raiders/niners.enjoy.

You can't even tackle the RB in practice/scrimmage?

08-05-2008, 12:35 AM

heres another vid.Raiders WRs vs Niners DBs.

08-05-2008, 12:37 AM
looks like Stu got released again.

Redskins released S Stu Schweigert and LB Danny Verdun-Wheeler.

Schweigert's release locks Reed Doughty in as Washington's strong safety, where Doughty could be an 80- to 90-tackle player. DVW was a camp body.
per rotoworld.

08-05-2008, 12:38 AM
Training camp, Day 12 (P.M. practice)

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, August 4th, 2008 at 9:43 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Monday night’s practice with the Raiders and 49ers:

– Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha missed the second practice and coach Lane Kiffin said the cornerback was getting IVs and having trouble keeping down food. His status for Tuesday’s single session at 3 p.m. is uncertain.

– Stayed with the defense for most of the evening session, with the general consensus being they didn’t do quite as well under the lights as they did in the morning.

One player who did have a coming out party of sorts was defensive end Trevor Scott, the sixth-round draft pick out of Buffalo. While it’s sometimes difficult to tell because linemen must pull up before they get to a quarterback, Scott tortured 49ers reserve left tackle Joe Toledo.

With a quick first step, Scott twice got past Toledo while barely being touched for what could have been sacks of quarterbacks J.T. O’Sullivan and Alex Smith and also had a pressure which resulted in an incomplete pass.

Scott earned himself a hug from line coach Keith Millard and a pat on the back of the helmet.

Together with outside linebacker Jon Alston, Scott later forced Toledo into false start with a line stunt.

– Linebacker Robert Thomas, getting his turn for the third straight day as the first-team strong side linebacker, intercepted an O’Sullivan pass intended for Dominique Zeigler.

– Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was scorched for a pair of touchdown passes by Smith to Jason Hill, one on a corner route to the left and another on a fade pattern to the right. Later, wide receiver Robert Ortiz got open over the middle against Hall but Smith’s pass sailed high.

– Safety Tyvon Branch delivered what may have been the hit of the day, laying out De La Salle High School product Cameron Colvin at the goal line _ probably a bigger hit than coaches for both teams had in mind but one that gave a hint of the hitting ability Branch was reputed to have at UConn.

Branch also broke up a pass.

– Defensive tackle Gerard Warren came up with a juggling interception after Thomas Howard deflected a Smith pass over the middle by Smith intended for Josh Morgan. Howard also pounced on a poor throw from a pressured O’Sullivan for what was close to being a lateral.

– Wide receiver Javon Walker did not practice in the second session. Kiffin said the Raiders changed their original plan to have him practice twice Monday since he had practiced twice on Saturday. Also sitting it out were Derrick Burgess, who is having stomach issues. Others who didn’t participate were Terdell Sands, who was scheduled to be off, quarterback Andrew Walter (tired arm), cornerback John Bowie (knee), safety Greg Wesley (back) and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (scheduled day off).

– Forty-Niners tight end Vernon Davis and Raiders defensive end Kalimba Edwards got into a brief scuffle that was broken quickly broken up.

– Strong side linebacker Sam Williams collapsed his side of the 49ers line in making a stop on an attempted sweep by 49ers running back Thomas Clayton. The 49ers rested Frank Gore, their feature back, during team sessions.

Williams was running with the second team along with Edgerton Hartwell in the middle and Alston on the weak side, with Ricky Brown, who was getting first-team reps last week, running No. 3.

– Cornerback Michael Huff, who has been making more plays as a free safety than he did as as strong safety, seemed to be arriving a step late on most plays against the 49ers offense.

– Left tackle Kwame Harris pancaked former teammate Ray McDonald during team drills, while Robert Gallery was worked over on his turn by Justin Smith.

– Running back Darren McFadden broke free and pulled away from 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis on his most impressive run.

– What some sideline observers say has been a relatively calm camp for caustic offensive coordinator Mike Martz changed Tuesday night, with Martz railing at receivers who were incorrect on their reads while running their routes.

“It’s a corner (bleeping) blitz, what do you do,” Martz shrieked at Morgan.

– Wide receiver Arman Shields, who had a rough early session, caught a deep play-action pass from JaMarcus Russell over cornerback Tarrell Brown.

– Gallery, who has been virtually penalty free through training camp, was whistled for a false start. With the 49ers in town, the Raiders temporarily suspended their policy of having players run for penalties.

– Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who held the same positon in San Francisco, was giving 49ers announcer Joe Starkey a bad time during warmups, which he took with the team.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” Knapp said. “You forgot about me, didn’t you?”

– In the A.M. blog, I referred to linebacker Edgerton Hartwell as “Hartwell Brown” for reasons I can’t begin to fathom. It has since been fixed, thanks to Raiders exec John Herrera, who was nice enough to bring it to my attention, and without the ridicule it deserved.

I have no idea who Hartwell Brown is, although I suspect I covered a sporting event which included someone named Hartwell Brown in my distant past. That’s the story I’m sticking with, anyway.

08-05-2008, 02:08 AM
looks like Stu got released again.

per rotoworld.

I can't believe he started for us for three yrs. I honestly can't remember him making one interception or big hit. Did he even play in that preseason game? That's what happens when you clown the nation Stuey, especially when you have no skills.

08-05-2008, 02:27 AM
DeAngelo Hall burned huh? Damn that sucks.

08-05-2008, 11:01 AM
Taking an offensive view

NAPA - With the Raiders giving several key defenders the night off I focused on the offense.

After looking miserable in the morning practice, the offense was noticeably better.

The team ran a lot early. That's probably going to be the case a lot this season. But in practices runs up the middle don't always look good.

It's tough to tell exactly how good the team is run blocking because they weren't in full pads (shoulder pads and helmets tonight) and there's no way of knowing if a back would break a tackle.

And there's a natural tendency to let up when it's not full contact.

Cut blocking also isn't allowed in practice, so the line isn't using all of its tools to open up holes.

There are times when the offensive line moved 49ers out of the way, other times where they were blown back or couldn't seal off the backside. I can only assume some of those situations Tom Cable would have them cutting the defensive linemen.

Overall, the offensive line did look better. I'll have a better assessment after Friday night.

*JaMarcus Russell's arm looked as good as it's been since he injured his elbow last Tuesday.

He made good decisions to pass the ball to outlet receivers when deep routes were taken away.

Russell also showed some zip on passes over the middle. The highlight as a laser that whizzed by the head of linebacker Jeff Ulbrich's head to tight end Zach Miller.

It probably would have been a good 30-yard touchdown, assuming Miller would have run over the DB trying to tackle him.

Russell showed good pocket awareness and knew when to step up and get rid of the ball.

Russell found Todd Watkins (who else?) for an acrobatic grab just after Watkins failed to hold on to a pass after being hit.

The one no-no of the night came when Russell was running to the right and tried to throw back to the left for Miller. The ball came so fast it was incomplete, but there were at least three red jerseys near Miller.

The offensive line looked better for the most part. Kwame Harris did a good job of riding outside rushers pass Russell and to the grass. Cornell Green looked better, too.

Harris is definitely improving with each practice.

The second-team offensive line had its moments.

Chris Morris and Seth Wand opened a huge hole on the right side on a draw play for Justin Fargas. That combination also made a pair of good blocks on a screen pass for Michael Bush during a two-minute drill.

The blocking from the running backs improved. Adimchinobe Echemandu blocked 49ers defensive end Justin Smith to give Russell time to find Chris McFoy for a touchdown.

Darrren McFadden continues to impress. He caught a wheel route during seven-on-seven and his speed left Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis chasing him.

McFadden also looked good running the ball. When there were creases to run through, he hit them with speed and looked to make moves at the second level.

Overall observations

After the first time seeing the Raiders against another opponent...

*Pass protection needs to be a high priority. Teams are going to blitz the Raiders in all kinds of ways so the offensive line and running backs need to be sound. The tackles also need to be able to block one-on-one consistently so that Miller doesn't spend too much time pass blocking.

*The three-headed monster at tailback is going to be fun to watch. Fargas, McFadden and Bush have three distinct styles that should help diversify the offense.

*Derrick Burgess needs the season to start ASAP. He looks ready to roll. And the linebackers showed progress filling holes in the run defense.

*Russell will be throwing a lot of short passes if he doesn't get better protection and his receivers don't prove they can get open against press coverage.

Night practice notes

*Russell had passes batted down by defensive linemen on consecutive plays.

*I never like seeing receivers block defensive linemen and I'm sure McFoy doesn't after tonight. Smith leveled him after McFoy went in motion and trying to seal off the backside on a run.

*The lone false start of the evening belonged to Robert Gallery.

*Two-minute drills were ended by made field goals (49, 40) by Sebastian Janikowski.

*Raiders owner Al Davis attended both practices today. He usually skips the morning practice during two-a-days.

*Burgess, DT Terdell Sands, DT Tommy Kelly, QB Andrew Walter, OL Fred Wakefield, C Jake Grove and WR Ronald Curry all had the night off.

S Greg Wesley (back), CB John Bowie (knee), LB Grant Irons (hamstring) and CB Nnamdi Asomugha (illness) did not practice.

--Jason Jones

08-05-2008, 11:09 AM
Harris is definitely improving with each practice.

Sounds good.

08-05-2008, 05:35 PM
NAPA - Ladies and gentlemen... your Raiders depth chart for this Friday's preseason game.


WR Javon Walker Johnnie Lee Higgins Chaz Schilens
LT Kwame Harris Mario Henderson
LG Robert Gallery Paul McQuistan Brandon Rodd
C Jake Grove/John Wade Chris Morris
RG Cooper Carlisle Fred Wakefield Jesse Boone
RT Cornell Green Seth Wand
TE Zach Miller John Madsen Tony Steward
WR Drew Carter/Ronald Curry Todd Watkins Arman Shileds
QB JaMarcus Russell Andrew Walter Marques Tuiasosopo
FB Justin Griffith Oren O'Neal Marcel Reece
RB–Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush


DE Derrick Burgess Greg Spires Trevor Scott
DT Tommy Kelly Josh Shaw Derrick Gray
DT Gerard Warren Terdell Sands William Joseph
DE Jay Richardson Kalimba Edwards Greyson Gunheim
OLB Ricky Brown Robert Thomas Sam Williams
MLB Kirk Morrison Ed Hartwell
OLB Thomas Howard Jon Alston Isaiah Ekejiuba
CB DeAngelo Hall Stanford Routt John Bowie
CB Nnamdi Asomugha Chris Johnson Michael Waddell
FS Michael Huff Hiram Eugene Rashad Baker
SS Gibril Wilson Jarrod Cooper Tyvon Branch

KR Tyvon Branch Johnnie Lee Higgins
PR Johnnie Lee Higgins
LS Jon Condo
K Sebastian Janikowski
P Shane Lechler


*Walker with no slash next to his name is a bit of a surprise as is the slash at center.
Grove has been the first-team center whenever he's practiced.

*The receivers are still interchangeable at this point so expect to see a variety of combinations in this group.

*Don't be surprised to see Wade and Morris playing either guard spot on Friday.
*Overall, the first-team offense looks pretty set.

*Wand and Henderson have played left and right tackle. When Harris was out with a bad back, Wand was the starting left tackle and Henderson remained a backup.
*The defense has no real surprises unless Ricky Brown being on the first team counts. He's split time with Robert Thomas during camp and that position might not be decided until the first game of the regular season.

*Oft-injured safety Greg Wesley isn't listed at all. There's no room on a roster for seven safeties and Wesley is No. 7 right now.

*Alston has looked good backing up Thomas Howard lately.

*Edwards is the nickel pass rusher right now, replacing Richardson in those situations.

--Jason Jones

08-05-2008, 07:55 PM
NAPA - Ladies and gentlemen... your Raiders depth chart for this Friday's preseason game.


WR Javon Walker Johnnie Lee Higgins Chaz Schilens
LT Kwame Harris Mario Henderson
LG Robert Gallery Paul McQuistan Brandon Rodd
C Jake Grove/John Wade Chris Morris
RG Cooper Carlisle Fred Wakefield Jesse Boone
RT Cornell Green Seth Wand
TE Zach Miller John Madsen Tony Steward
WR Drew Carter/Ronald Curry Todd Watkins Arman Shileds
QB JaMarcus Russell Andrew Walter Marques Tuiasosopo
FB Justin Griffith Oren O'Neal Marcel Reece
RB–Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush


DE Derrick Burgess Greg Spires Trevor Scott
DT Tommy Kelly Josh Shaw Derrick Gray
DT Gerard Warren Terdell Sands William Joseph
DE Jay Richardson Kalimba Edwards Greyson Gunheim
OLB Ricky Brown Robert Thomas Sam Williams
MLB Kirk Morrison Ed Hartwell
OLB Thomas Howard Jon Alston Isaiah Ekejiuba
CB DeAngelo Hall Stanford Routt John Bowie
CB Nnamdi Asomugha Chris Johnson Michael Waddell
FS Michael Huff Hiram Eugene Rashad Baker
SS Gibril Wilson Jarrod Cooper Tyvon Branch

KR Tyvon Branch Johnnie Lee Higgins
PR Johnnie Lee Higgins
LS Jon Condo
K Sebastian Janikowski
P Shane Lechler


*Walker with no slash next to his name is a bit of a surprise as is the slash at center.
Grove has been the first-team center whenever he's practiced.

*The receivers are still interchangeable at this point so expect to see a variety of combinations in this group.

*Don't be surprised to see Wade and Morris playing either guard spot on Friday.
*Overall, the first-team offense looks pretty set.

*Wand and Henderson have played left and right tackle. When Harris was out with a bad back, Wand was the starting left tackle and Henderson remained a backup.
*The defense has no real surprises unless Ricky Brown being on the first team counts. He's split time with Robert Thomas during camp and that position might not be decided until the first game of the regular season.

*Oft-injured safety Greg Wesley isn't listed at all. There's no room on a roster for seven safeties and Wesley is No. 7 right now.

*Alston has looked good backing up Thomas Howard lately.

*Edwards is the nickel pass rusher right now, replacing Richardson in those situations.

--Jason Jones

Im also surprised wade gets a slash with grove. Hes had alot of mis-snaps during training camp so far

08-05-2008, 07:58 PM
Javon Walker is going to make me look like a genius for drafting him in my fantasy league. :D

08-05-2008, 09:08 PM
I'm very glad to see Drew Carter get the slash. Maybe I'd rather see it happen with Walker than Curry but nonetheless he currently has an excellent chance to become one of our team's primary offensive threats. His tremendous skill was never doubted so let's hope he can put it all together now here in Oakland.

08-06-2008, 01:27 AM
Training camp, Day 13

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, August 5th, 2008 at 7:29 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Tuesday’s Raiders practice:

– Whatever is ailing Nnamdi Asomugha is also ailing Jarrod Cooper, as both missed practice. Asomugha, according to Lane Kiffin, has been treated with IVs and is expected back Wednesday morning.

– JaMarcus Russell continued to spend much of his time in seven-on-sevens and team sessions playing it safe, throwing to backs swinging out of the backfield or over the middle.

He may be making Rich Gannon seem like a mad bomber, but it is what Kiffin and the offensive staff want as part of Russell’s development. Still, it is at least a little disturbing that few wide receivers seem to be breaking into the clear.

There doesn’t appear to be a clear No. 1 receiver on the roster after 13 days of camp, meaning the Raiders _ and big-bucks free agent signee Javon Walker in particular _ have time to get better with the first preseason game coming up Friday night against San Francisco.

When asked about the dearth of open receivers, Kiffin noted that the Raiders have a good coverage secondary as well as Walker’s one-practice-a-day schedule. It didn’t help that Drew Carter, who looked terrific in early practices but seems to have slowed lately, was given practice off to get his legs back under him.

“I think the quarterback is doing exactly what we want and we’d like to get open more often for him,” Kiffin said.

The Raiders secondary was without Asomugha, Cooper and starting strong safety Gibril Wilson, who is resting a sore knee which Kiffin said is not serious. Wilson probably won’t see much time against San Francisco, Kiffin said.

– When Russell plays, Kiffin said he would be careful to make sure he has the best possible supporting cast in terms of pass protection. The best pass blockers are likely to play as long as Russell does.

– Wide receivers coach James Lofton continued to school his young receivers, hoping to get more consistency. A drop by Drisan James, who turned late and let a Marques Tuiasosopo pass glance off his hands, caused Lofton to bellow, “Make the play, make the play, make the play!”

When cornerback Darrick Brown made a more aggressive play on a corner route than wide receiver Chaz Schilens, with Brown knocking it away, Lofton yelled, “Be aggressive! You have to go up and get it. You wait for it, you get nothing.”

Arman Shields was lectured for catching a pass and leaving the ball where it could be knocked loose by a defender.

“You’ve got no chance with that ball in the inside arm. No chance,” Lofton said.

Shields also dropped one of Russell’s few deep throws after getting behind Stanford Routt.

– Defensive end Greg Spires has come on of late and made a nice play when he blew up a pitch to Louis Rankin the backfield.

– Some of the day’s best intermediate throws were not made by Russell, but by Tuiasosopo, particularly a sharp, perfectly-timed 20-yard out to Todd Watkins in front of DeAngelo Hall.

– Watkins later dropped a pass _ on a Tuiasosopo throw which as slightly behind him. It was one of his few drops since camp opened.

– Quarterback Andrew Walter rested a sore arm again but Kiffin said he expected him to play against San Francisco.

– Kiffin said running back Darren McFadden will get enough preseason time to determine how well he takes a hit and to prove his ball-security issues while at Arkansas are behind him. He will not return kickoffs against the 49ers.

– The mission for Michael Bush Friday night couldn’t be more clear. Kiffin wants a hammer.

“Run physical, run hard,” Kiffin said. “He’s 246 pounds _ don’t run like a 200-pounder . . . he’s the one big guy we have, and if he can what we hope he can do I think we’re in a real good position there.”

– Robert Thomas has been running with the first team at strong side linebacker for three days, but apparently that has more to do with a previously undisclosed injury to Ricky Brown than it does with Brown moving on to the first team.

“Ricky being banged up and not out there is a big reason for that,” Kiffin said. “Robert is playing `Mike’ and `Sam’ for us. Robert’s got to play special teams and I’ve talked to him about that, and he’s going to have to do it all to make the team.”

Kiffin said of the linebacker position: “There are only two guys that I know are going to make this team and the rest of the guys had better play special teams and contribute.”

Brown, Kiffin said, has knee and back issues but should play against the 49ers.

– NFL officials are on hand at practice and will go over rules changes with players, coaches and the media. It was amusing to watch an official throw a flag on Hall for pass interference against Arman Shields, only to get an earful from Hall of Fame corner and secondary coach Willie Brown.

“He doesn’t have the right of way. Don’t let him tell you that `right of way’ stuff,” Brown said to Sheilds before a brief debate with the official about what constitutes legal and illegal contact.

– Jack Tatum attended his first practice of the season and was signing autographs for fans who were invited guests, as the Raiders hosted radio advertisers. Tatum said he hadn’t yet seen Wilson play at safety with the Giants but was encouraged to hear about his hitting and tackling with the Giants.

“Good, that’s what we need,” Tatum said.

– All eyes were in the south end zone when Russell was stretched out on the ground, with trainer Rod Martin working on his knee. No worries. Russell got back up and rejoined drills.

08-06-2008, 02:44 AM
Man. I can't wait til I see Darren McFadden play. He is going to be so good with the ZBS!

His acceleration through the hole is probably the best in the NFL huh?

08-06-2008, 01:52 PM
I have nothing useful to add to this thread other than say you guys kick ass! Thanks a bunch for all the updates.

08-06-2008, 02:05 PM
Is anybody going to the monday night opener against the Donkeys? I'll see you there.

08-06-2008, 03:19 PM
heres a chat with jerry mac about the Raiders.


he says McFadden is the best rookie hes seen in Oakland since 95 and is also the best player on offense.

08-06-2008, 03:21 PM
Executive Sports Editor
Oakland Raiders
August 6th, 2008

Gore, the San Francisco 49ers’ top running back, had limited reps. But Howard had his eye on him during the Oakland Raiders’ joint practices against the 49ers at Redwood Middle School.
“Having somebody else to come out here to bang on and just compete with, it’s good for you,” Howard said following an afternoon practice at training camp Tuesday. “To get some fresh blood out there, it felt good.”

Howard, a third-year linebacker who is coming off a very good 2007 season, was pleased with the way he covered Gore on one particular play: a long pass route in which Gore ran 50-plus yards after the Niners motioned him.
“He covered Frank about 60 yards downfield — that was pretty impressive,” said Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.

The ball was overthrown, but Howard said there was no way Gore was going to catch it.
“That’s just man on man — who’s going to go up there and get it,” said Howard, noting that the Raiders’ defense was in a cover-2 at the time. “It was good defense by me. It was more of a competitive type play.
“I said I’m just going to lock him down man to man. It was just more me competing against Frank. We just competed and it was fun. He has that low center of gravity and good leg strength for a running back and he’s fast. The biggest thing about him is that he’s a competitor. The best players in this league are competitors and they want to win every time they go out on the field. We mesh a little bit — we’re both competitors.”

Selected by the Raiders in the second round (38th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft, Howard has played in all 32 league games with 31 starts during his first two professional seasons.

In addition to registering 95 tackles, Howard also intercepted six passes last year. He has 191 tackles in two years.

“Whenever I go out there, I’m talking — you’ve got to be able to back up what you say,” said Howard.

He intercepted a Jay Cutler pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to give the Raiders an 18-17 fourth quarter lead on Sept. 16 at Denver. He intercepted a pass for the fourth consecutive game and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown on Oct. 14 at San Diego.

“We’re trying to take Thomas to the next level in the run game,” said Kiffin. “He’s great in the pass game. He can cover anybody.

“Thomas has to be more physical at the point, take on fullbacks more aggressively and not play so high. He’ll be looking at the Pro Bowl if he can do that.”

Howard wants to have an even bigger year than last season. He also wants to win.

“I want to do whatever it takes for us to win games each and every Sunday. I feel like we’re that much better on both sides of the ball. I think we’re jelling right now on the defense. We’re communicating well. It’s a good defense. We’re going to go out there and turn some heads this year.”

Raiders Notes

• The team’s 18th practice of training camp Tuesday afternoon drew one of the largest groups of fans, most of whom were seated in bleachers on the west side of the Redwood Middle School complex.

• Looking on was Jim Sochor, the former UC Davis head football coach, who had a streak of 18 consecutive conference championships, from 1971 to 1988. This is more than any other football program on any level in NCAA history. His overall record between 1970 and 1988 was 156-41-5, a winning percentage of .785.

In conference games under Sochor, the Aggies were 92-5. He had winning streaks of 41 and 38 in conference games. He was named national coach of the year in NCAA Division II in 1983 and was also the coach of future NFL quarterbacks Mike Moroski and Ken O’Brien and kicker Rolf Benirschke.

He was also a mentor to several future head coaches, including Dan Hawkins, Paul Hackett, Mike Bellotti, Chris Petersen and Bob Biggs. Many athletes from Napa Valley schools played for Sochor in the Aggies program over the years.

“We had some real good ones,” Sochor said.

• NFL officials worked the Raiders’ practice yesterday.

• Also on hand was John Clayton, a reporter for ESPN and a senior writer for ESPN.com.

• The Raiders have two practices today (9-11 a.m. and 7-9 p.m.) and they have a single practice Thursday (3-5 p.m.). They open the NFL preseason Friday against the San Francisco 49ers at 7 p.m. at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland.

• Wide receiver Drisan James had one of the biggest catches yesterday, pulling in a long pass from Marques Tuiasosopo in the end zone. James got past defenders and caught the ball in stride.

• The Raiders are on a camp schedule that calls for two-a-days every other day, but Kiffin pointed out that some of the practices have been shorter. Yesterday’s ended at 4:30 p.m. “We know so much more about guys than we did a year ago,” the coach said. “There’s not as much competition as there was a year ago as far as for the last spots and the depth chart moving. We’re in a different place this year than last year.”

• The Raiders rested Andrew Walter, whose throwing arm is sore and tired. Most likely, he’ll get substantial time in Friday’s game, said Kiffin. “We want to make sure that he’s fresh for that.”

08-06-2008, 03:42 PM
NAPA, Calif. — Terdell Sands was supposed to be the anchor of the Oakland Raiders run defence a year ago, a gigantic tackle expected to stuff holes in the middle of the field and disrupt the opposition.

Instead, Sands was one of the biggest problems on a defence that was unable to stop the run all season. Sands was out of shape and too often out of position leading to countless big plays that helped doom the Raiders all season.

After reviewing his play last season, Sands acknowledges that he must do much better this season in order to validate the US$17-million, four-year contract the Raiders gave him a year ago and reverse five years of losing in Oakland.

"I take it all, because they look for me to be a big part of it," Sands said. "I wasn't mentally in it, so I did lose some gap responsibility and all my true effort wasn't out there. I thought I was. But when I watch film, it really wasn't like I was the year before. So I take responsibility and put it on myself."

Sands has an explanation for his poor play even if he's not making excuses. His mother died in February 2007 and he spent more time mourning than he did preparing for the season.

He was not a regular participant in off-season workouts, missing lots of time in the spring and then arrived at training camp out of shape. He never was able to catch up and struggled all season long.

"It put me behind a big rock, because I wasn't doing cardio like I should and conditioning, so I kind of got behind in my workouts and stuff," he said. "So it was a big part of last year."

Sands, who is listed at six-foot-seven, 335 pounds but appears even heavier, has lost weight this season but wouldn't say how much or what he weighs currently.

Coach Lane Kiffin has seen improvement but is still concerned about Sands' conditioning, especially after a left knee injury that has limited Sands' practice time.

"Terdell two years ago, before I was here, had a good year and did some really good things and his weight was down and he was going the right direction and he was rewarded with a big contract," Kiffin said. "Last year he went through some family issues and didn't deal with them very well and his weight went as high as it has ever been and he did not have a very good year at all."

Sands began his off-season training much earlier this year and was a regular participant in sessions at the team's training facility with new strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll this spring.

Sands has altered his diet and says he has noticed the difference on the field as he can get to the ball quicker than he did a year ago. Kiffin has also noticed a marked difference in Sands' play.

"His weight is down as low as it's been since I've been here, not as low as it was two years ago," Kiffin said. "But he has a good bounce to his step and he's practising harder and I just think he feels healthier. He has some issues in his family behind him, and he's moving forward and he's focused on football. We need him to help because he's a dominant run player at times. If we could get him to ever do that at a consistent level it would be an exciting thing."

The Raiders allowed a league-worst 4.8 yards per carry last season, as teams easily ran through big holes all year long. Oakland allowed 18 runs of 20 or more yards last season, tied with Denver for most in the NFL.

Kiffin is counting on better tackling at safety with the addition of free agent Gibril Wilson to improve that this season. But it all starts with improved play from defensive tackles Sands and Tommy Kelly on the inside.

With no tackling at training camp, it's too early to tell how much improvement there has been. The first test comes Friday night in the exhibition opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

"We've got to be real sound inside and we've got a ways to go," Kiffin said.


08-06-2008, 07:30 PM
Training camp Day 14 (A.M. practice)
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 2:57 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from Wednesday’s practice:

– Lots of people out of the padded workout, with a lighter session to follow this evening. Those who didn’t participate included quarterback Andrew Walter, wide receivers Ronald Curry, Javon Walker and Drew Carter, center Jake Grove, guard Cooper Carlisle, tackle Mark Wilson, guard-tackle Fred Wakefield, safety Greg Wesley, linebacker Grant Irons, linebacker Ricky Brown and cornerback John Bowie.

“We’re going to push as many as we can to get out here here tonight,” Kiffin said, noting they would be preparing specifically for Friday night’s game against the 49ers.

– It was the second straight absence for Walter, Walker and Carter _ none of whom have serious injuries but are simply sore.

The Raiders had originally hoped to get Walker back on a two-a-day program starting Monday, but instead, Walker practiced twice Saturday, took Sunday off with the rest of the team, and has made two of four practices since.

“We’re still monitoring,” Kiffin said. “He did the one day of two-a-days and then felt a little sore. He’ll work tonight and I’d really like for after this game to get him to a two-a-day format. I believe he really needs it.”

Said Kiffin of Walter’s second straight absence: “We can’t figure out anything except that he’s tired from too much throwing.”

– Keeping in mind the Raiders were without the three men expected to be their top receivers _ Curry, Walker and Carter _ wideouts found it difficult to find open spaces against the defense, even during seven-on-seven drills.

On two passes Russell made throws a good 50 yards downfield. The first, a perfect rainbow, was dropped by Jonathan Holland with Stanford Routt trailing in coverage. The second was an underthrown wobbler toward Drisan James which was batted down by Hiram Eugene.

Russell continued his practice of checking down, flooding the field with short passes to running backs and tight ends when his outside reads were closed off by defenders.

“Chaz, you’re open _ break on the ball,” Kiffin yelled at one point on a play in which Russell instead threw short to tight end Zach Miller.

During one seven-on-seven sequence, Russell and Tuiasosopo combined to throw eight passes before one was caught by a wide receiver, with the others going to running backs and tight ends or falling incomplete.

Kiffin said he was pleased with the competition at wide receiver and thought the reduced workload heading into the 49ers game would be beneficial.

“I’ll be interested to see them get their legs back for this game,”’ Kiffin said. “Going light tonight and obviously tomorrow being light. They’re so worn down now and it’ll be good to see them get their juice back.”

– Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and safety Jarrod Cooper were back after being ill. Asomugha, who needed IVs and missed two days of practice, said he was still subsisting on bananas and yogurt. His work was limited.

“I wanted to go out and get a couple of plays in,” Asomugha said.

– Defensive end Greg Spires showed some spring at age 34 when he made a tackle from behind against Darren McFadden as the rookie was picking his way through the first line of defense.

– Kiffin continues to talk up running back Michael Bush, who flattened a blitzing Gibril Wilson and also stood up Spires. Included in the assessment was a message _ bring it to practice every day.

“Boy, if he could practice like that every day, we’d really have something,” Kiffin said. “Gibril Wilson came on a blitz . . .he picked him up as good as you pick a guy up, put him to the ground. A couple of physical runs. If we can get him to continue to grow and continue to be that guy, we’ll have a pretty special backfield.”

– An example of what the Raiders may face if defenses close down on their check down routes and they can’t get receivers downfield: McFadden circled out of the backfield to his right, Russell threw it his way, and the rookie was met with a perfectly timed hit by linebacker Thomas Howard.

McFadden went sprawling, and the only reason it wasn’t a knockout hit was that Howard didn’t accelerate into the tackle, keeping with training camp protocol.

“You’d best stop running that (bleep), man,” Howard said.

Howard later had a nasty lick on running back Louis Rankin.

– Defensive tackle William Joseph stuffed Justin Griffith in the backfield on a running play.

– Included Wednesday was a drill as close to a legitimate tackling drill as you’ll see in an NFL practice. Runners attempted to get past defenders through a lane marked by cones about five yards wide.

Defenders attempted to square up and strike runners before disengaging.

Cornerback Michael Waddell whiffed on a spin move by wide receiver Arman Shields, while Malik Jackson was critiqued for not coming hard enough on Schilens.

“Run your feet and then explode,” linebackers coach Don Martindale said.

Jackson was much more sudden in a subsequent hit on tight end Chris Wagner.

“Much better,” Martindale said.

– Tight end Tony Stewart, not exactly an elusive target, managed to get by Derrick Burgess with very little contact.

– Lap runners for pre-snap violations included Burgess, Gerard Warren and Robert Gallery.

– With Grove and Carlisle sitting it out, John Wade worked with the first team at center and Chris Morris at right guard.

– McFadden had a custom ride in the back parking lot _ a 1996 Chevy Impala in Arkansas colors with a Razorback painted along the side.

– Post ran late today because of live chat at noon. Thanks

08-06-2008, 07:54 PM
NAPA - The MVP of the morning practice was running back Michael Bush.

It seems like every chance Lane Kiffin gets to mention Bush, Kiffin suggests Bush needs to be physical.

Bush was that this morning.

"Michael Bush was really special today," Kiffin said. "Boy, if he could practice like that every day, we'd really have something. Gibril Wilson came on a blitz today. He picked him up as good as you pick a guy up, put him to the ground, a couple of physical runs. If we can get him to continue to grow and continue to be that guy, we'll have a pretty special backfield."

Bush also put a nice hit on defensive end Greg Spires after he broke free.

At 246 pounds, it's clear what Kiffin wants Bush to be - the thunder to Darren McFadden's lightning the same way LenDale White complemented Reggie Bush at USC.

"It's not a problem," Bush said. "I can be a bruiser if I need to be."

Kiffin wants to see hits like that from Bush every practice.

Another big hit

Linebacker Thomas Howard flattened McFadden on a pass in the flats.

The coaches told McFadden to get up and finish the play by running down the field but Howard had already finished McFadden.

"D-Mac knows what kind of player I am," Howard said. "It was a good read by me ... I got there so fast. I wanted to be able to break down and make sure I could make the tackle in a game. ... They say speed plus mass and you get hits like that."

Still looking for more

It was expected Javon Walker would be joining the Raiders for two-a-days. Instead Walker continues to practice once on days the Raiders are on the field twice.

Walker has yet to have the dominant practice performance everyone is waiting for, especially if he supposed to be the top threat in the passing game.

Walker said his knee that was operated on is fine, but it doesn't always look that way and the team continues to monitor him.

"He did the one day of two-a-days (last Saturday) and then felt a little sore," Kiffin said. "He'll work tonight and I'd really like for after this game to get him to a two-a-day format. I believe he really needs it."

Not quite a legend

Darrick "Little Willie Brown" Brown was again being heckled for not being the second coming of the Hall of Fame cornerback.

Darrick is an undrafted rookie that is gets made fun of for getting beat in coverage.

And today the cornerbacks took on the receivers in a tackling drill. Darrick whiffed a few times.

"C'mon Little Willie," Kiffin yelled at him.

Receivers ran between cones that forced the defender to wrap up in tight space, but Darrick still managed to miss.

Brown might have a future as a practice squad player with the Raiders.

Meet the refs

The media had its time with NFL officials today to learn about rule changes and points of emphasis.

Some highlights:

Three Raiders (well two are former Raiders) were shown in the "what not to do" portion.

*There was Warren Sapp's meltdown in Jacksonville in which he had three personal fouls and was ejected was an example of not respecting officials. Stuart Schweigert standing over Tony Gonzalez after a hit was an example of taunting. Jay Richardson was caught on tape doing a throat slashing gesture as an example of a menacing gesture.

*There are no more force-outs. Unless a player is carried out of bounds after a catch, he must get two feet down inbounds.

So look for some receivers to get knocked silly.

*No more five-yard facemask penalties. Only grabbing and twisting the helmet will be called. The same goes for offensive players. If they grab the facemask and twist while running with the ball, it's a 15-yard penalty. (looks like Tomlinson might see some penalties this season)

*The team that wins the coin toss can now defer to the second half, just like the college rule.

Practice notes

*Walker, WR Drew Carter, WR Ronald Curry, C Jake Grove, G Cooper Carlisle, OL Fred Wakefield, LB Ricky Brown, QB Andrew Waler, LB Grant Irons, CB John Bowie and S Greg Wesley did not practice in the morning.

Irons (hamstring), Bowie (knee) and Wesley (back) aren't expected to join the team for tonight's practice.

Kiffin said Walter's sore arm isn't expected to be a long-term problem and that he will practice tonight.

*DE Derrick Burgess worked with the linebackers during tackling drills.

*With the officials at practice, Hiram Eugene was called for pass interference. Robert Gallery ran a lap for a false start while Burgess and Gerard Warren had to run for being offsides.

*CB Nnamdi Asomugha returned to practice after missing two days because he was sick. He said he's only eating bananas and yogurt right now, but wanted to get on the field in case he has to play in Friday night's preseason game.

*Today's lone turnover was forced by S Rashad Baker, who picked off a Marques Tuiasosopo pass intended for WR Johnnie Lee Higgins.
--Jason Jones

08-06-2008, 08:17 PM
– Kiffin continues to talk up running back Michael Bush, who flattened a blitzing Gibril Wilson and also stood up Spires. Included in the assessment was a message _ bring it to practice every day.

Also, the stuff about Sands is encouraging...I hope he brings it, he is a really big key to our d.

08-06-2008, 08:43 PM
Raiders' Grove is hungry to start
By Jerry McDonald

Staff writer
Article Last Updated: 08/06/2008 07:04:20 AM PDT

NAPA — Jake Grove is hungry again.

He has recovered from knee surgery, changed his body, improved his attitude and looks to be the clear leader in the race to be the Raiders' starting center.

The Raiders' first depth chart Tuesday listed Grove as a co-leader with veteran John Wade, acquired during free agency in the offseason. But Grove has run with the first team in every practice in which he was a participant, giving way to Wade when he sits out a session during two-a-days.

Wade, 33, is an 11-year veteran with 126 games and 106 starts, including the past three full seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Grove lost a similar competition to Jeremy Newberry last year, starting twice when Newberry got hurt but playing in only seven games before Grove's season ended with a knee injury.

That didn't prevent Grove from announcing the day camp opened he intended on being the starter. More importantly, he has played with the same confidence on the field.

"He's stronger, he's quicker than he's ever been," coach Lane Kiffin said. "We're real excited about Jake right now."

The rumbling in Grove's stomach is a reminder of the sacrifices he made to get where he is, a byproduct of the dietary changes instituted by strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll.

"Coach Roll has made a big difference in me, just harping on the diet and getting my body fat down. I'm actually lighter than I've ever been since I've been
here. I'm at 296 today. And I feel like I'm stronger.''

Grove said that by Roll's calculations, he lost 12 pounds of fat and put on 10 pounds of muscle in the past month for a net loss of two pounds.

Not that junking the pizzas and fries Grove consumed on a whim has been easy. Grove has learned to load up instead on grilled chicken, grilled fish, whole wheat pasta and an occasional steak.

"Basically, you don't eat anything you want," Grove said. "If you want it, you can't eat it. ''

Great Scott

The day after his coming out party following a strong evening session against the 49ers, defensive end Trevor Scott had another solid practice rushing the passer.

A sixth-round draft pick out of Buffalo, Scott, who looks more slender than his listed weight of 255 pounds, spent many of his early practices having trouble disengaging from linemen who outweighed him by 50 pounds and were quicker than anything he saw in college.

Scott had spent days methodically going over everything in his head taught him by defensive line coach Keith Millard. Against 49ers left tackle Joe Toledo, Scott turned it loose. He had two would-be sacks (quarterbacks aren't taken to the ground in practice) and one pressure.

"I sort of just stopped thinking about it and started playing. Things were clicking, and Coach Millard told me I could beat these guys with a quick hitter right up the field by the way they were setting," Scott said. "I just did the best I could, as soon as I saw that ball flinch, that's when I took off and sort of beat him around the corner."

Extra points

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha missed another practice and was recovering from a stomach ailment that required him to get two IVs, Kiffin said. Safety Jarrod Cooper was also ill and missed practice. Quarterback Andrew Walter missed his second straight practice with a sore arm, but Kiffin expected him to play against the 49ers on Friday. Strongside linebacker Robert Thomas continued to run with the first team, but Kiffin indicated that was due to minor back and knee injuries to Ricky Brown, who opened camp as the starter. ... Safety Gibril Wilson missed practice with a sore knee. Kiffin said Wilson should play Friday, but probably not for long. ... Kiffin said he had not determined how long quarterback JaMarcus Russell would play against the 49ers, with the quarterback's time based on making sure he has front-line protection along the offensive line and in the backfield. ... An NFL official threw a flag against DeAngelo Hall for pass interference against rookie wide receiver Arman Shields and immediately was challenged by Hall of Fame cornerback and secondary coach Willie Brown. "He doesn't have the right of way. Don't let them give you that right of way stuff," Brown said to Hall before good-naturedly challenging the official.

— Jerry McDonald

08-06-2008, 10:54 PM

08-07-2008, 01:15 AM
Training camp, Day 14 (P.M. practice)

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 at 9:15 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Wednesday night’s practice:

– Virtually everyone who missed the morning session returned for the evening, meaning the Raiders should be near full strength to face the 49ers Friday night.

Those who returned after missing the morning session were defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, wide receiver Drew Carter, wide receiver Javon Walker, wide receiver Ronald Curry, guard Cooper Carlisle, center Jake Grove, guard-tackle Fred Wakefield, linebacker Ricky Brown and quarterback Andrew Walter.

Those who did not practice and aren’t likely to face the 49ers are linebacker Grant Irons, safety Greg Wesley and cornerback John Bowie. The Raiders have yet to make a move with the roster spot of lineman Mark Wilson, who suffered a broken leg early in camp.

– During the evening practice, the Raiders put together “service” teams to simulate the offense and defense of the 49ers.

With Raiders reserves running a defenses they were unfamiliar with, the Raiders offensive units had their cleanest passing practice in days.

During one seven-on-seven session, starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo all went through their six-pass sessions without an incomplete pass.

Walker, who missed the morning session looked crisp during evening drills and caught one slant from Russell during a team session that he ran all the way into the end zone, bluffing a goal-post dunk at the end.

Carter also looked fresh after missing his previous two workouts. Walker and Carter were running with the first team offense, Curry and Johnnie Lee Higgins with the first team defense.

The only drops during the practice were one by Todd Watkins on a deep pass from Russell, and another by Drisan James.

– A special teams session included the terrifying sight of Mario Henderson being asked to fair catch a pooch kickoff at the 30-yard line. Henderson made the catch rather awkardly, even leaving the ground to get the ball.

“Why did you jump in the air?,” screeched defensive end Jay Richardson.

Moments later, Richardson was asked to do the same thing, but forgot to call for the fair catch.

– Look for Johnnie Lee Higgins (punts) and Tyvon Branch (kickoffs) to get a long look as return specialists.

– The 80-man roster limit with no World League exemptions means space is at a premium and carrying more than four quarterbacks is a luxury.

Wide receivers coach James Lofton throws his own passes during drills with the touch and accuracy of a quarterback. Lofton threw fades, comebacks and fly patterns, and at one point completed at a good 15 passes in a row before misfiring _ and that one was to assistant coach John Fassel, who jumped into a drill and couldn’t hang on to a pass.

– Missed a presentation from NFL officials during the afternoon to participate in an on-line chat, but was told the film put together to demonstrate some rules issues had Raiders representation.

An item on taunting included film of Stuart Schweigert standing and glowering over Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez (yes, it actually happened) after a big hit.

When discussing personal conduct, there was the image of Warren Sapp, melting down and getting ejected in Jacksonville.

Jay Richardson was shown giving a throat slash during the portion on “menacing gestures.”

– Thursday’s practice will be a 20-minute walkthrough with players wearing tennis shoes and leaving their helmets in their lockers. Most reporters will not be attending _ including this one.

08-07-2008, 01:24 AM
McFadden looking forward to Oakland debut

August 6, 2008 10:25 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

NAPA, Calif. -- Darren McFadden has been the unabashed talk of Raiders camp. McFadden has been great since the offseason workouts and is continuing his stellar play at Raiders camp.

Friday night, Raiders fans will get their first chance to see the former Arkansas star perform live since Oakland's training camp practices are closed affairs. McFadden, the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft, is looking forward to being seen.

"I can't wait to get in front of those Raider fans in the Coliseum to get my first taste there," McFadden said today.

McFadden, who doesn't turn 21 until later this month, is counting Friday's home game against San Francisco as a big deal for more reasons than just debuting in front of his new home fans.

McFadden is simply anxious to get in a game situation in NFL. He had been praised by his coaches for his diligent studying, and for his early ownership of Oakland's playbook.

McFadden is ready for the pay off.

"It may just be the preseason, but I don't care," McFadden said. " I really want to get going and get the taste of an NFL game. I can't wait."

Neither can the Raider Nation.

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/nflnation/0-1-104/McFadden-looking-forward-to-Oakland-debut.html (http://myespn.go.com/blogs/nflnation/0-1-104/McFadden-looking-forward-to-Oakland-debut.html)

08-07-2008, 02:18 AM
''Menacing gestures''? That's lame

08-07-2008, 03:04 AM
It's kinda lame that you can't stand over a player either, getting really ticky-tacky with these rules.

08-07-2008, 08:25 PM
Hit men ready to take their shots

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, August 7th, 2008 at 3:25 pm in Oakland Raiders

Passed on the thought of a two-hour-plus round trip to watch a 20-minute walkthrough on Day 15 of training camp.

Training camp has been limited contact anyway, with the exception of one goal line sequence in full gear through 20 practices. Walkthroughs I’ve seen are little more than lollygag warmups, with players going through the paces of some of the plans which will be implemented Friday night against the 49ers.

Which brings us to Michael Bush and Tyvon Branch, two players who are looking to hit somebody when the Raiders host the 49ers at McAfee Coliseum.

Both could be key components of the Raiders because of their physicality, or virtual non-factors if they’re not ready for prime time.

True prime time won’t come until Week 1 of the regular season against the Denver Broncos, but the preseason opener is the next best thing for two young players whose futures will be determined on dishing out more punishment than they take.

Coach Lane Kiffin has been praising Bush of late for showing signs of being the kind of pounding back they want him to be, while at the same time prodding him publicly to show up ready to practice every day.

When Bush broke his leg on Sept. 4, 2006, the Raiders were coming off a 4-1 preseason under Art Shell and were a week away from the 27-0 Week 1 embarassment against the San Diego Chargers that set the tone for their season.

Louisville was up 31-14 against Kentucky and Bush had already run for 128 yards and three touchdowns in the third quarter. When was tackled by linebacker Wesley Woodyard, his Heisman Trophy candidacy and his junior season vanished in a snap of his right leg.

When Bush takes the field against the 49ers, it will be the first time he has played in an game since that night. He came off the Physically Unable to Perform list and practiced for a time during the regular season but was never activated, going back on PUP.

“I didn’t think it would be this long,” Bush said. “I was told six months, seven months. It’s been two years now. I’m ready to get out there and get it going again.”

Kiffin has made it clear he wants Bush to complement Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden by being a line-smashing power back. The thing is, Bush is an excellent receiver who has some style to his running as well with an ability to make people miss. You get the impression Kiffin would rather Bush simply lower his shoulder make like Jerome Bettis.

Bush’s philosophy?

“I’ll drop my shoulders if I need to, if not, I won’t,” Bush said. “In goal line and stuff like that, you need to run like a big guy. You need to lean forward and get your head down.”

Then again . . .

“I don’t think you just drop your head at any time,” Bush said. “If you get an opportunity to make a bigger play, then why not?”

Branch will get first crack at being the Raiders kickoff return specialist, where his style is to hit the crease at full speed without a lot of subtle feints or evasive action.

His most intriguing skill, which made him a fourth round draft pick, is his reputation as a hitter and tackler. It’s something the Raiders can use immediately on their coverage teams and eventually in the secondary. There have only been glimpses during training camp, where players aren’t allowed bring people to the ground. Midair collisions are frowned upon.

In the evening session between the Raiders and 49ers, however, Branch crossed the line but in so doing may have given a preview of his capabilities.

It happened on a goal line pass to the 49ers Cameron Colvin, with Branch arriving at the same instant at a Tatum-like angle. Branch unloaded. Colvin, to his credit, got back up. There may have been a hit from a Raiders safety in the past two years that matched it, but I can’t recall it.

(Admittedly, that says more about the Raiders’ weaknesses in the deep secondary than it does about Branch).

“That was kind of out of frustration,” Branch said. “I really didn’t mean to hit him that hard, but I’m looking forward to hitting someone hard on Friday.”

Branch, a converted cornerback, admits to pent up frustration with camp limitations on hitting.

“You spend all this time working and you look forward to punishing somebody,” Branch said.

Branch said he reported in good shape and that camp has been more draining mentally than physically. He concedes he is still learning to play without thinking.

“A lot of the base stuff I’ve got down, but I’m in my playbook every night,” Branch said. “It’s hard to play off instinct when you’re learning a new defense. I’m almost getting it.”

08-07-2008, 08:33 PM
Jason Jones
August 7, 2008
Preseason preview (Game 1)

No practice today. The Raiders will have a brief walkthrough in preparation for Friday night's preseason game against the 49ers in Oakland.

Here are some players to watch (other than the obvious, QB JaMarcus Russell):

WR Javon Walker. He's been handled gently during training camp as he recovers from a knee injury suffered with Denver last year. He's also been in a fragile mental state, having offered to retire last week. Raiders coach Lane Kiffin wants to see more of a commitment from Walker to be on the field and to give it his all when he's on the field. He looked as "in" to a practice as he as on Wednesday night. Perhaps it's a sign that Walker is committed to playing football.

RB Michael Bush. Kiffin wants this 246-pound runner to punish ballcarriers every chance he gets. Bush being a big back that shies away from contact would be a disappointment, so look for him to lower the boom when needed. But Bush shouldn't be so intent on running defenders over that he forgets to use his elusiveness in the open field when he has the opportunity.

RB Darren McFadden: This will be his first time against NFL competition. McFadden looks fast and explosive in practice, but how will that translate in a game situation? Also, will McFadden line up all over the field or will the Raiders allow him to focus on playing running back?

LT Kwame Harris: He continues to look more comfortable with each practice, but performing in game situations is paramount to Harris' growth. And don't think the 49ers don't know how to beat their former first-round pick.

QB Andrew Walter: The No. 2 quarterback needs to show he is a reliable backup. He's missed practice with what the team is calling a tired arm. If that's a lingering problem, Marques Tuiasosopo better be ready.

All LBs not named Kirk Morrison or Thomas Howard: Kiffin has let it be known everyone other than his two star linebackers better be good on defense and on special teams to make the team. Realistically Ricky Brown and Robert Thomas are probably safe, too. But expect everyone in this group to try to do something to impress.

The DT trio of Tommy Kelly, Terdell Sands and Gerard Warren: Kelly is working himself back into shape after knee surgery while Sands and Warren have been dinged a little bit Conditioning will be the thing to watch with Kelly and Sands, who has been slowed by a knee that had to be drained. Warren missed some time with a thigh injury but has practiced lately. Before a thigh injury last season, Warren was playing well.

--Jason Jones

08-08-2008, 01:35 AM
I have heard that the game will be blacked out in Northern Cali tomorrow, this isn't true is it? Who expects to sell out a preseason game?? Plus it would be shown on the niner network, right?

08-08-2008, 11:49 AM
I cant find it anywhere on Tivo.Its on NFLN on sunday at 1 AM.

Raiders on NFL Network (not including the live broadcasts):

Sunday, Aug. 10
San Francisco 49ers at Oakland Raiders 1 a.m.(HD)

Thursday, Aug. 14
San Francisco 49ers at Oakland Raiders 1 p.m.(HD)

Week 2---nationally televised, there is NO replay.

Week 3:

Sunday, Aug. 24
Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders 3 a.m. (HD)

Wednesday, Aug, 27
Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders 12:30 a.m. (HD)

Thursday, Aug, 28
Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders 2:30 p.m. (HD)

Week 4:

Saturday, Aug, 30
Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks 1 a.m. (HD)

Monday, Sept. 1
Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks 4 a.m. (HD)


TVU or Sopcast I guess.

08-08-2008, 11:55 AM
Jano out, new leg on the way

The Raiders are expected to sign free-agent kicker Aaron Elling on Friday, a league source confirmed Thursday night.

Elling will fill in for Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski in Friday's exhibition-season opener against the 49ers at The Coliseum.

Janikowski "tweaked" his left kicking leg during two-a-days Wednesday, Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said, and is doubtful for the game. Elling must pass a physical before the deal is done.

The Raiders didn't have another kicker on the roster, opting to use a JUGS machine to give Janoikowski rest during practice. Fact is, rest is what Janikowski usually does in training camp, save for a few occasional kickoffs and field-goal attempts.

Elling is a left-footed kicker who can also punt. That will allow him to spell Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler, who also sits out virtually all of camp practices. He usually retreats to the fieldhouse for conditioning work.

Elling, 30, got training camp gigs in Atlanta, Jacksonville and Cincinnati last year before tearing right-knee ligaments making a preseason-game tackle with the Bengals. He's bounced between eight teams since 2002, and scored 102 points in his second season with the Vikings.

If Elling signs, it will mark the team's first transaction since the first day of training camp. To make room, the Raiders will likely come to an injury settlement with offensive tackle Mark Wilson, who broke his leg last week but remains on the 80-man roster.

More moves are expected over the weekend, with underperforming players in the third-string department teetering on the edge of unemployment as Kiffin tries to improve the level of competition over the final three weeks before final roster cuts must be made.

Posted By: David White (Email) | August 07 2008 at 10:16 PM

08-08-2008, 12:52 PM
NAPA - Maybe there is something to the lights.

Javon Walker looked more into this practice than he's looked all of camp.

He was running with enthusiasm, and making jokes to the sidelines.

"I'm going to be ill," Walker said. "Friday."

(For those of you who don't know, ill is good in this case.)

Then he gestured as if he were making a one-handed catch and spinning it to the turf.

While working against a scout defense, Walker made a catch on a post route that was at least 20 yards down field, sprinted to the end zone which was about another 20 yards away and tossed the ball in the air to himself before a faux dunk on the goal post.

This doesn't mean Walker is OK and everything is smooth sailing from here. But maybe Walker is getting the message that Lane Kiffin wants a good effort every time out.

Walker looked really eager to run routes well during drills, too. He'd looked lethargic at times, dropping passes and receivers coach James Lofton stayed on him to do more.

Night practice notes

*Walker, S Jarrod Cooper, LB Ricky Brown, G Cooper Carlisle, C Jake Grove, QB Andrew Walter, WR Ronald Curry, WR Drew Carter, DT Tommy Kelly and OL Fred Wakefield are all the players that missed the morning practice that were back on the field.

LB Grant Irons (hamstring), CB John Bowie (knee) and S Greg Wesley (back) did not practice.

Walter threw a few passes after being rested because of a tired arm.

*DT Terdell Sands did not practice to rest his knee.

*During special teams practice, DE Jay Richardson and DT Josh Shaw were teasing T Mario Henderson, who was practicing fielding a fair catch in case a team decided to kick to one of the up men. They were willing to bet $100 Henderson wouldn't catch it. Henderson did, jumping to catch the football. Richardson, a former tight end, casually caught the ball on his turn.

*Without a backup kicker in camp, the Raiders let the JUGS machine do the work for K Sebastian Janikowski for much of kickoff practice. KR/S Tyvon Branch handled the bulk of the duties with Chris Johnson chipping in.

*The offense and defense worked against scout teams in preparation for Friday's game. Tomorrow the team will have a short walkthrough in preparation.

*WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, S Rashad Baker, WR Drisan James and CB Michael Waddell took turns fielding punts after practice.

--Jason Jones

08-08-2008, 02:40 PM
Down here in So Cal, the game is on channel 5. They've been carrying all of the pre-season games for the Raiders the last few years.

08-08-2008, 03:23 PM
its on channel 6 up here at 10 o'clock.

08-08-2008, 06:26 PM
Raiders signed K Aaron Elling and placed OT Mark Wilson (broken leg) on injured reserve, ending his season.

Elling is purely insurance for Sebastian Janikowski, who's a little banged up. Al Davis wouldn't dare make his prized former first-round pick compete.
per rotoworld.

D4rk 0ne
08-08-2008, 07:58 PM
Anyone know if there will be any live feeds online? I'm on vacation and I'm not sure whether the game will be televised out here. :/

08-08-2008, 08:04 PM
Anyone know if there will be any live feeds online? I'm on vacation and I'm not sure whether the game will be televised out here. :/

I sent you a PM.

D4rk 0ne
08-08-2008, 08:50 PM
Thanks a lot man! :D

08-08-2008, 09:08 PM
game time!

08-08-2008, 09:13 PM
3 more hours for me.

08-09-2008, 03:46 AM
Postgame wrap

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, August 8th, 2008 at 11:27 pm in Oakland Raiders

News and notes from the Raiders’ 18-6 win over the 49ers Friday night at McAfee Coliseum:

– The Raiders rushed for 248 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per carry, and won the turnover battle 4-0.

It’s a formula coach Lane Kiffin hopes will continue.

“It’s what we preach every day about not giving it up and protecting the ball, ball security,” Kiffin said. “Anytime you go into a preseason game you’re playing a bunch of different centers, different quarterbacks and all the different guys that touch the ball.

“We didn’t put a ball on the ground the whole day so to come out of there with four turnovers to nothing is more pleasing than anything else.”

– Kiffin played it safe with quarterback JaMarcus Russell, limiting his play to a quarter and opting not to put him out on the rollouts and bootlegs he called for Andrew Walter when the second team came on.

Russell completed 2 of 5 passes for 13 yards with a long of nine.

“I wish we would have hit a few passes there early that we didn’t so we were a little slow there moving the ball,” Kiffin said.

Russell had left the building by the time reporters were allowed in the locker room.

The Raiders finished with the 4-0 lead in turnover ratio, outrushed the 49ers 248-70 and had a 34:32 to 25:28 lead in time of possession. Those figures, plus a 41-20 run-to-pass ratio, make for the perfect scenario in developing a young quarterback.

– Running back Darren McFadden narrowly missed the chance to take one to the house, but it hardly mattered. What McFadden showed instead, that he is adept at picking his way through holes between the tackles and securing the ball, is more important.

“For me, running inside between the tackles is something I don’t mind at all,” McFadden said after gaining 48 yards on 12 carries, all in the first half. “I feel I did a pretty good job doing that tonight.”

– In his first game in two years Michael Bush had a fourth-and-goal line smash for a 5-yard touchdown, converted a third-and-1 with a 1-yard run, a third-and-2 with a 6-yard run and ran 23 yards with a screen pass to almost personally escort the Raiders to their lone offensive touchdown on the first possession in the third quarter.

“I did a lot of the things I did in college and the line and fullback did a great job,” Bush said. “When they do that, if you read the schemes and do what you’re taught, you should be OK.”

Bush admitted he was tense when he took the field with the punt team, but couldn’t afford to feel that way on offense.

“That kind of calmed me down a little bit,” Bush said. “When you get in at running back, they’re right on you. If you’re nervous when you get in there someone is going ot knock your block off so you better straighten up.”

– Walter will probably never be picked to be the quarterback of a team which operates the kind of bootlegs and rollouts which are commonplace for the Raiders.

But Walter, who completed 10 of 12 passes for 82 yards, showed he isn’t a statue, either. He may not have looked smooth, but he was accurate and efficient.

“I think I’ve always been able to do that, but since all I’ve done is drop back, why assume different, I suppose,” Walter said. “I like doing stuff like that. It keeps you in the flow of the game.”

When the day comes that Walter moves on and attempts to lead a team of his own, what he did Friday night counts for something.

“At the very least, I put some tape out there,” Walter said. “It shows I can run a West Coast style. It means more job opportunities.”

Said Kiffin: “He has adapted to the offense because the offense isn’t perfect for him in that way.”

– Rookie safety Tyvon Branch suffered a broken right thumb which Kiffin said will need surgery but will not necessarily keep him out of action for a great length of time. Chances are it could impact his goal to be the Raiders kickoff return specialist.

– Johnnie Lee Higgins had a 37-yard punt returned called back but later broke one for 53 yards and a touchdown. Higgins had a big preseason last year returning, only to have problems holding the ball once the regular season began.

As he was on his return, Higgins was gone by the time reporters entered the locker room Kiffin believes Higgins’ success should carry on this time around.

“He looks really confident and it’s good to see because it’s something we talked about this offseason and during camp, the confidence level that he’s playing with and he’s bigger and stronger,” Kiffin said. “It showed up today. Unfortunately we had a penalty on the first one. Then he looked dynamic on the next one.”

– Two encouraging signs _ Tommy Kelly collapsing the pocket on a pass play and looking stout against the run; Terdell Sands running a good 15 to 20 yards to pounce on a fumble by Stanford Routt following an interception.

– Late in the game, defensive end Trevor Scott and defensive tackle William Joseph were giving Shaun Hill relentless pressure, but it’s worth noting the 49ers second-string line, particularly tackle Joe Toledo, had the look of turnstiles.

– Mike Nolan must secretly love all the criticism about being too conservative. While Kiffin was treating the exhibition as what it was _ an exhibition _ Nolan was acting as if it was third-and-1 against the Rams and Frank Gore was out with an injury.

How else to explain Nolan bringing in Joe Nedney to kick a 22-yard field goal, a play the 49ers should execute successfully about 99 percent of the time, rather than have the Mike Martz offense simulate a fourth-and-goal play in a game situation.

– Camp standout Todd Watkins carried his practice performance out on to the field, catching three passes for a team-high 39 receiving yards.

– Wide receiver Ronald Curry didn’t suit up when a hamstring tightened during warmups. Sebastian Janikowski’s injury is to his kicking leg but Kiffin said he didn’t believe it to be serious. Wide receiver Drew Carter and cornerback DeAngelo Hall left with what Kiffin said were minor injuries and did not return.

– Greyson Gunheim, unchained. The Sebastopol product out of Washington finished off the game with a sack, had a good special teams lick and had a pressure or two as well at defensive. He’s still a longshot, but his odds just got better for the practice squad.

08-09-2008, 03:47 AM
Postgame notes

OAKLAND -- Michael Bush said he was halfway in tears prior to going on the field for the first time.

If Lane Kiffin had any tears, they would be of joy because he saw exactly what he wanted from Bush.

Kiffin said he was especially impressed with Bush's feet. He weighs almost 250 pounds, but moves extremely well.

Bush said he knows because he's a big guy and defenders like to go for his legs, he has to have quick feet.

Bush ran for 27 yards in eight carries and a five-yard touchdown, stepping through Niners safety D.J. Parker on the way.

*Darren McFadden said he was nervous until he got hit.

*It looks like if Kififn has more than one running back he likes, he will mix it up. Last year he rarely did that, but with Bush, McFadden and Justin Fargas he said he likes the idea of changing things up.

He said it's what USC did with Reggie Bush and LenDale White to keep defenses off balance.

*Kiffin was happy the Raiders didn't have any turnovers and came away with four.

*Tommy Kelly looked strong in the middle. That's good news for the run defense. He'll get better as he gets into better shape. Kelly was left in for a few extra snaps along with Gerard Warren to get some extra work for conditioning purposes.

*The passing game still needs work and thankfully for the Raiders they have a little time. I have to wonder if the long pass Javon Walker didn't go up and catch from JaMarcus Russell might have been different if he were in better shape. Expect Kiffin to really push Walker now that he has game film of him not getting up high to make a catch.

*Johnnie Lee Higgins returning a punt for a touchdown and another punt for good yardage that was negated by a penalty was another positive. Kiffin attributed Higgins play (which included a snag of a quick slant from Russell for a first down) to improved confidence and work in the weight room.

Maybe new strength coach Brad Roll will end up being the team MVP.

*Kiffin said Sebastian Janikowski hurt his left leg in practice on Wednesday. He doesn't expect it to be a major issue and hopes Jano will be able to kick in the next preseason game.

*Tyvon Branch will have surgery on his injured right thumb. It's another injury Kiffin doesn't think is serious, even though Branch will have surgery. Branch came back into the game wearing a cast.

"I ran down on punt and caught a helmet in the pile," Branch said.

*Kiffin liked what he saw from the first-team in run defense.

*Didn't talk to Russell after the game. By time reporters got into the locker room, Russell was gone.

*Kiffin also noted the play of Greg Spires at defensive as a plus with the second unit.

*The Raiders ran for 248 yards and averaged six yards a run. The 49ers netted 70 yards on the ground.

*In an attempt to rest Shane Lechler, expect the Raiders to go for it on fourth down in the preseason more often than they would during the regular season.

--Jason Jones

08-09-2008, 06:13 PM
As good as our run offense was I'll be curious to see how we do against the titans.Gallery and Harris are gonna have their hands full against Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch.

08-10-2008, 01:27 AM
Branch out for now as kick return specialist

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, August 9th, 2008 at 6:30 pm in Oakland Raiders

Coach Lane Kiffin said in a conference call with Bay Area media Saturday night that the broken right thumb sustained by Tyvon Branch against the 49ers will cause the Raiders to re-evaluate their search for a kickoff return specialist.

The hope was that Branch would seize the job as kickoff return specialist, with Johnnie Lee Higgins winning the job as the punt return specialist. Higgins came through in a big way with a 37-yard return which was erased by penalty as well as a 53-yard touchdown return.

Branch, however, suffered a broken thumb before ever returning a kickoff. Kiffin said Branch will have surgery but could be available this Friday against Tennesee, but returning kickoffs is out for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t know how long it’ll be until he’s able to do that again so we’ll have to take a look at some other guys,” Kiffin said.

Possibilities include Higgins also returning kickoffs, a dual role that Chris Carr had for the better part of the last three years, or using someone like Jonathan Holland.

Problem is, Holland is far from a lock to make the team and and was in fact playing very late against the 49ers.

Kiffin has said that ideally he wants the Raiders to keep five receivers. Javon Walker, Drew Carter and Ronald Curry, barring a major surprise, will be on the roster. Higgins went a long way toward cementing his spot against the 49ers.

That leaves one roster spot remaining between street free agent Todd Watkins and draft picks Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens and returnees Holland, Drisan James and Chris McFoy.

– One candidate who won’t be considered to return kickoffs, at least in the preseason, is rookie Darren McFadden. He has already established himself as too important in games that don’t count.

“We’ve had him back there in practice. In preseason games, to put him back there would be a little bit dangerous to do so,” Kiffin said. “I don’t think that’s something he’ll do in preseason but we’ll continue to have him back there for a possibility in the regular season.”

When the regular season begins, expect the Raiders to pick their spots with McFadden with regard to kickoff returns, saving him for close games and crucial situations.

– Kiffin promised JaMarcus Russell will see more action in upcoming games after going 2-for-5 for 13 yards against San Francisco, and be given the same rollouts and bootlegs Andrew Walter had success with.

“He’ll play more next week, so hell throw more in general,” Kiffin said. “Part of the game plan is how flow of the game going.”

Kiffin said he wants players to realize certain plays will be called if a game is playing a certain way, and that the series’ played by Russell mandated the plays that were called based on the scheme they were seeing.

– Defensive moments that flashed on Kiffin _ Tommy Kelly’s power up front, and Thomas Howard coming up and delivering blows at the line of scrimmage.

“We had too many collisions on our side last year,” Kiffin said.

– Terdell Sands immediately came to the sidelines and claimed responsibility for the personal foul he received, although Kiffin said films have not been clear as to his culpability.

– Walter, who missed a pair of practice sessions heading into the 49ers game with a sore arm, should be fine since the day before and after a game gave him two more days of rest.

“I thought he played extremely well, managed our offense well and made good decisions with the ball,” Kiffin said.

– Kiffin had no specific injury information at the time of his conference call, saying he had not accumulated the reports as players were returning to camp after a day off.

– Louis Rankin the impressive undrafted free agent out of Washington who had a 72-yard run and led all rushers with 91 yards, faces a rough road to the 53-man roster. It did not go unnoticed, however, that he got careless with the ball on one carry even if he did not fumble.

“He did a real good job, and except one time tried to reach the ball out and that’s against everything we’re about as far as ball security,” Kiffin said. “Besides that he did a good job and had a few special teams plays for us as well. It will be tough for him to crack, similar to Adimchinobe Echemandu last year. He was the second-leading rusher in the AFC and we had to cut him.”

Echemandu initially made the 53-man roster, but was cut when Dominic Rhodes returned from a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

– Kiffin said Walker made a good effort to make a leaping grab of a Russell pass, and later made a good move off the line but was overthrown by Walter _ one of only two incompletions Walter had.

– Last season, Kiffin made it clear he expected the running game to carry the offense as the passing game developed. Through one preseason game, he doesn’t feel much different a year later.

“I don’t know yet that we can become a pass heavy team and throw the ball all over the place,” Kiffin said. “With a right tackle that was injured the last half of the year coming back, a new left tackle, and not very much line depth, there’s no part of me right now that could tell you we would be able to change right now from where we were last year.”

Translation _ the 41 runs and 20 passes the Raiders attempted against the 49ers is just about right.

– Sunday’s single practice session will take place at the Raider Nation Celebration at McAfee Coliseum.

08-10-2008, 03:32 PM
DMAC's blog.


08-11-2008, 03:53 PM
Raiders signed S/LB Adam Archuleta, formerly of the Bears.

Archuleta will try to make the roster as a special teamer and outside linebacker. Greg Wesley is a candidate to be cut to make room.
per rotoworld.

08-12-2008, 01:03 AM
Training camp, Day 19 (P.M. practice)

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, August 11th, 2008 at 10:07 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Sunday night’s practice:

– The 23rd practice of training camp and the second-to-last night session of double days may very well have been the worst in terms of the passing game.

Included in the mishaps was a red zone pass by JaMarcus Russell which squirted more than 10 feet high in the air, with DeAngelo Hall coming up with a gift interception, and another by Russell which glanced off the hands of rookie running back Darren McFadden and in to the arms of linebacker Thomas Howard.

Practice ended with a four-down sequence which the Raiders attempted to get into field goal range. They got nowhere, with Russell’s fourth-and-10 pass sailing behind Drisan James, with Stanford Routt knocking it to the ground.

Mercifully, the three horns signifying the end of practice arrived. They ending a practice that in terms of the passing game brought to mind some of the poorly executed sessions of the last two years.

Kiffin scuttled plans for a full padded practice because he said the team was “too banged up.”

– McFadden, who fumbled and dropped balls in the first practice, continued to struggle in the second _ easily his worst day in a Raiders uniform.

– Running back Louis Rankin caught two routine passes over the middle which he at first juggled before securing.

– Wide receiver Ronald Curry missed practice with the sore hamstring which kept him out of the 49ers game. After a recent practice, Kiffin talked about how the receiving corps was worn down, and they looked it Monday night.

Drew Carter, who opened camp as one Oakland’s best receivers, has dropped off of late and had a drop in Monday’s practice. Javon Walker practiced both sessions in a day for just the second time this camp, but continues to struggle to regain his form. Jonathan Holland, another receiver who had solid moments earlier in camp, rarely gets reps with even the second team.

– Hall is playing with a cast on his right hand, the result of what Kiffin said is a sprain. He was pleased to see Hall remain on the field for a goal line drill rather than pull himself off the field.

“Even though we weren’t live, he came up and hit the guy almost as live as you could. Most guys right there you tell them to stay up, but our team needs to feel that. For a corner to go up inside a C gap, fit inside like that on a goal line and make a hit, I’m not going to slow that up.”

– Among those who did not practice were defensive end Derrick Burgess, left guard Robert Gallery, tight end Tony Stewart, defensive tackle Terdell Sands, wide receiver Arman Shields, cornerback Michael Waddell, cornerback John Bowie and tight end Darrell Strong. Burgess and Gallery were rested.

Running back Adimchinobe Echemandu left with a hamstring strain and may not be available to face Tennessee. Running back Michael Bush was limited with a stinger, but Kiffin thought he would play against the Titans.

– Kwame Harris was sent jogging twice for false start penalties and was joined by Walker and Mario Henderson. Tommy Kelly was penalized a lap for an offsides call, and responded by making it about six-tenths of a in a near comical walk-jog which lasted nearly two and a half minutes.

– Defensive end Trevor Scott easily got around Henderson on one pass rush attempt, only to have Henderson counter with a two-handed “punch” which knocked the smaller defensive end off his feet on the following play.

– Adam Archuleta, the Raiders’ newest acquisition, is wearing No. 42 and will get a look at both the strong side and weak side linebacker spots as well as on special teams.

After playing five years as a safety for the St. Louis Rams, Archuleta signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Washington Redskins but was out after a year. He joined the Chicago Bears and a familar system with coach Lovie Smith, his defensive coordinator in St. Louis.

Things didn’t work out any better in Chicago. Archuleta was hoping to land a job somewhere as a linebacker.

“It’s been in the back of my mind for awhile,” Archuleta said. “Once I got released from the Bears, I decided I wanted to. I enjoy playing in the box. That’s what gets me jazzed up so I decided I was going to try to make a run at linebacker.”

Archuleta is listed at 225 pounds and said he has put on some weight from the “215 or 216” he was at in recent weeks. The Raiders already have smallish starters in Kirk Morrison and Howard, and reserve Jon Alston is also in the 225 to 230 pound range.

“You’ve got to be smart, use your speed,” Archuleta said. “I played four years at ASU at 200 pounds. I played inside the box my whole career in the NFL . . . being down there with the big boys is really nothing new to me.”

He made no excuses for his time in Washington and Chicago.

“It was just a matter of not taking advantage of my opportunities and here I am,” Archuleta said. “It just didn’t work out. I just didn’t play very well.”

Said Kiffin: “We’re going to give him a chance like anybody else we bring in . . . there’s two (linebackers) right now that have made this team. The rest of the guys are battling so we’ll throw him out there and mix him around, see how it goes.”

Strong side linebacker Ricky Brown, running with the first team as the strong side backer until injuries struck, was back at practice.

08-12-2008, 01:05 AM
That last one sounds pretty brutal.

Don Vito
08-12-2008, 11:37 AM
Hey guys any word on Ricky Brown? I was a big fan of his when he was at BC and I heard he is doing well out there.

08-12-2008, 12:29 PM
Strong side linebacker Ricky Brown, running with the first team as the strong side backer until injuries struck, was back at practice.From what Ive heard, he has a really good shot at making the team and could be a starter for us when the season begins.

Don Vito
08-12-2008, 12:37 PM
From what Ive heard, he has a really good shot at making the team and could be a starter for us when the season begins.

Thanks a lot, that would be great to see him starting after being a UDFA. He was a great player on that defense with Kiwanuka and Will Blackmon.

08-12-2008, 09:21 PM
Kiffin criticizes Raiders after practice

By Michael Wagaman
Senior Writer
Posted Aug 12, 2008

With one day of training camp left the Raiders seem eager to get out of Napa. Not head coach Lane Kiffin, who had some critical comments for his squad after watching Tuesday’s practice.

“I wish we had more time,” Kiffin said. “The reality is I don’t think we’re very good right now as a team. Whatever that first game was, I think we’re going to have a big test going into Tennessee against that team. If we don’t have our stuff right and our guys aren’t right we’ll get run out of that stadium real quick.”

The Raiders beat San Francisco 18-6 in their preseason opener last week and will play the Titans on Friday night in Tennessee.

Unless the team makes marked improvement from its practice Tuesday, Kiffin worries Oakland could get blown out.

The Raiders went through one of their most sluggish workouts of camp in front of a few hundred onlookers from one of the team’s booster clubs. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell had another rough day, throwing a pair of interceptions. Backup Andrew Walter also threw a pair of picks while Marques Tuiasosopo had one of his own.

Throw in a few penalties for false starts and a couple of dropped passes and it’s easy to see why Kiffin is concerned.

“I didn’t think we were very crisp, especially early,” Kiffin said. “A number of penalties early. We restarted the whole 9 on 7 down there due to that. I didn’t think we were very crisp in the passing game until we got to 7 on 7. Lot of incompletions, lot of poor timing so that’s continuing to be disappointing.”

Russell did rebound, throwing a pair of sharp touchdowns to tight end Zach Miller and another to Javon Walker.

Other news and notes from camp:

· Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha left practice and was taken for an X-ray after complaining of soreness in his foot. No word on the results or how long Asomugha might be out.

· Rookie safety Tyvon Branch had successful surgery to repair his broken right thumb and will rejoin the team in time for the flight to Tennessee.

· Oakland cut linebacker Malik Jackson and signed defensive back Nick Sanchez, who was listed as a safety in college at Stanford. Sanchez got off to a good start, intercepting a pass for Walter.

· Linebacker Ricky Brown was back working with the starting defense after sitting out some time due to a sore back. Brown took the majority of reps with the starters while Robert Thomas went back to working with the backups.

· Wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins had his worst day of camp, allowing three passes to slip through his hands. Two of the passes wound up being intercepted, one by safety Michael Huff and the other by cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

· Wide receiver Ronald Curry also had a rough afternoon, dropping an easy pass across the middle from Russell during team drills.

· Aaron Elling, who is filling in while kicker Sebastian Janikowski recovers from a hamstring injury, made good on a pair of field goal attempts from 40 yards.

· Walker had what Kiffin called his second-best practice of training camp. The veteran wide receiver ran well, got off the line with no problem and hauled in a trio of passes during team drills.

· The Raiders practiced a “last-play” drill in which the defense was challenged to prevent the offense from scoring on the final play. Oakland employed a 1-2-8 alignment featuring Derrick Burgess as the only defensive lineman on the field with linebackers Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard.

· Mario Henderson, the second-year offensive tackle, continues to have his problems. During one team drill the offense ran a rollout play to the left but Henderson went the wrong way and drew the wrath of Kiffin.

08-13-2008, 09:20 AM
You take the good with the bad here I guess. It's great news to hear Walker had one of his best days in camp yet according to Kiffin. There's no question how important he is to the success of this offense in '08 just by adding another dimension we currently don't have in a passing game. If he is able to put up a solid year look for the Raiders to do the same. On the bad side an overall sluggish practice is exactly what we can't afford at this point heading into a fairly tough opponent on Friday in the Titans, then again it could always be expected from a team following a big win in a first preseason game.

08-13-2008, 02:13 PM
Training days: Rebuilding Raiders display a quiet confidence

By Pat Kirwan | NFL.com
Senior Analyst

NAPA, Calif. -- The trip to Napa Valley is a beautiful ride and the surroundings suggest a big-time franchise is waiting at the end of the trip. Of course, the Raiders are rebuilding and no longer can just reload the roster as they did years ago. Oakland is a team that has won just 19 of its last 80 games, yet there is a quiet optimism surrounding the team's summer facility.

Raiders owner Al Davis and I had a chance to talk about the team, and he expressed how much he wants to win now and plans to be around more to remind his young players of what it means to be a Raider.

Lane Kiffin is the architect of the 2008 Raiders, and he sat down with me for more than an hour to talk about his team, the plan to work the storied franchise out of the doldrums, and the progress of the two young players every member of Raider Nation hopes can bring back the glory days. The success of any organization starts at the top, and I was pleased to see that the relationship between Kiffin and Davis appears to be on much more stable ground than previously advertised. If they can continue to get along and keep all of their efforts pointed in the same direction, then this Raiders project has a chance.

Second-year quarterback JaMarcus Russell is a work in progress. With just 66 pass attempts in his NFL career, it will take time for him to blossom. He told me he feels like he's in control of close to 70 percent of the offense but, like every young QB, continues to struggle on the practice field. The good news for the Raiders is that he has raw talent as a pure passer, and that will eventually surface. He told me he refuses to set season goals but rather has day-to-day goals to get through practice with fewer mistakes than the day before. He also told me he feels comfortable with the audible system and is making fewer mistakes at the line of scrimmage.

First-round draft pick Darren McFadden gave me 30 minutes after lunch and had a continuous smile on his face as he described all the roles Kiffin has in mind for him this season. McFadden told me it's tough getting enough rest and staying up with the playbook. The talented young running back appeared to hit the first wall of camp experience when he put the ball on the ground two times during practice. When I asked him about the fumbles, he put the blame squarely on himself and made no excuses.

The first fumble was a technical issue when he didn't have his elbow up to present a pocket for the ball. The second fumble was a function of not tucking the ball away after a catch. McFadden's coaches see the talent every time he touches the ball. I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a tailback/slot receiver, wide receiver and a quarterback. Kiffin is going to find a way to get him the ball close to 20 times a game.

Here are the biggest issues facing the Raiders as they work through camp:

1. Improving the run defense

Last year, the defense was ranked 31st in the NFL against the run. In fact, it hasn't been any better than No. 22 in the past five years in a division that runs the ball. The players and coaches feel the run defense has been addressed enough to see improvement.

Gibril Wilson came over from the Super Bowl champion Giants and has had more tackles over a four-year period than any other safety in the league. He will be down in the box every chance he gets and will clearly help. Defensive tackle Gerard Warren finally looks like he sees his career on the line and will team up with Tommy Kelly to clog the middle.

When I brought up run defense to Al Davis, he was quick to point out that CB DeAngelo Hall will be a factor vs. the outside run. Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison says the main reason there were 18 runs over 20 yards against the Raiders last year was poor run fits in the scheme. He says that will change in 2008.

2. Is there enough depth to survive the season?

Depth is a very critical issue for the Raiders. There are playmakers on this roster, but if the starters go down with injury there will be problems (except at running back). Oakland has never been a team to use the waiver wire at the end of camp to build up the back end of its roster, but it may be time to start thinking that way. Right now, roster spots 40 through 53 should be up for grabs and more players need to be in the mix. Right now an injury to an offensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker or tight end will leave Oakland struggling.

3. Expensive offseason acquisitions

Davis cannot be faulted for trying to buy his way out of the losing ways, but did he overpay Kelly, Javon Walker, Hall and Gibril Wilson? The coaches are convinced Kelly will be a force at the "three technique," his natural position, but couldn't play there because Warren Sapp played it last year. Kelly isn't in great shape right now but he looks like a force against the run.

Walker wanted to quit last week but seems settled in this week. Receivers coach James Lofton called Walker a big receiver with good explosion. But Lofton appears to have to stay on top of him throughout practice. Hall gives Oakland a cornerback tandem (with Nnamdi Asomugh) that could be compared to the tandem of Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes one day, but like all corners they can use a pass rush in front of them. Wilson looks like he will provide immediate benefits, but it remains to be seen if he shines against passing teams that spread out the defense.

4. How will they pressure the QB?

Oakland needs to do a better job of getting to the quarterback. Last year they were 28th in sacks and may have to utilize more of the Giants' fire-zone pressure scheme. Of the 28 sacks they recorded last year, 10 came from players no longer on the roster. But it looks like linebacker-safety blitzing will be incorporated into the package this season. After watching practice, I think we will see more pressure schemes with either Thomas Howard, Morrison or Wilson joining the rush.

5. Needing a fast start, will they be ready?

The Raiders have three divisional games in the first four weeks and they must win two of the three games if they want to improve on their 2-4 record in the AFC West last year. Russell may not have a great No. 1 receiver to lean on early in the season, and reliable tight end Zach Miller probably has to worry more about helping the offensive tackles than getting free in coverage. As the schedule moves along, the Raiders face another big problem as they have to travel from coast to coast four times. That makes winning very tough.

6. Can poor turnover ratio be improved?

The Raiders were poor as a team forcing turnovers in 2007. All spring and summer, Kiffin has been harping on the forced turnovers to his defensive players and ball security to the offense. In the preseason opener, the defense created four turnovers, something that's needed for a young quarterback who needs all the extra snaps he can get. All of the defensive players I spoke with brought up how much the team is constantly thinking about how they can create turnovers. I would be surprised if the Raiders don't improve significantly in this area.

08-13-2008, 07:53 PM
Training camp, Day 21 (A.M. practice)

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 at 2:36 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Wednesday’s last full practice of training camp:

– Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall, two of the most significant investments of the Raiders’ offseason, are hurting.

X-Rays were negative on Asomugha’s right foot, which isn’t the same as saying there is no discomfort.

“Right now it hurts when I walk,” Asomugha said. “It definitely hurts breaking on the football. I’ll continue to be limited in whatever I’m doing but I don’t think it’s a big issue.”

Said Kiffin: “He’s fine and ready to go. He worked really hard today, too. It was good to see.”

Hall continues to play with a cast on his right hand. He told the San Francisco Chronicle Tuesday there was a broken bone in his hand.

“We’re getting another opinion on it, another person to look at it,” Kiffin said. “(The) only thing that we know for sure is that it is a bruise. It’s a bruise with a possible sprain. So we’ve got got to make sure it’s not broken. There has been nothing so far that has said that it’s broken, none of the readings. But we want to make sure of this.”

Hall shrugged his shoulders and went with the program.

“Somebody asked me, `How do you feel knowing it’s not broken?,’ ” Hall said. “That was the first time I heard that. I guess I feel good. I know something hurts, though. We’re just going to try to get to the bottom of it. I still can’t touch anything. I can’t put my hand down. Still very painful.”

Kiffin said it’s possible Hall might sit out the Titans game Friday night. Don’t be surprised if Asomugha follows suit _ or plays a series or two before taking the rest of the night off.

– Maybe it was a coincidence, but Asomugha found himself losing track of Drew Carter twice in coverage. The first came when he was sucked inside on a reverse roll by JaMarcus Russell, who overthrew a wide open Carter on the sideline for what would have been a big gain.

Later it happened again _ and Russell obliged by again missing the open Carter.

– It seems like twisted logic, but while it seems the Raiders are doing whatever they can to make sure their injured cornerbacks take the field, they quickly bring in replacements when their kickers go down.

Shane Lechler sustained a quadriceps injury late in practice Tuesday which Kiffin said would take seven to 10 days to heal. A new punter was on the way, and off the podium following his press briefing, Kiffin said he wasn’t even sure who it is.

And he may not know even when the punter arrives. It’s not clear if Kiffin knows the name of Aaron Elling, brought in to place kick for the ailing Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring).

“We’re flying another punter in here,” Kiffin said. “He’ll be in here in a little bit, to try him out, and most likely we’ll sign a punter. That other guy we have can punt but we’d prefer have a guy who’s a punter firsthand.”

– Kwame Harris sat out with a shoulder injury, and if he can’t go in the night session, it’s conceivable that Mario Henderson will be protecting the blind side of Russell against a very strong Tennessee defensive front.

Kiffin has been unsparingly blunt in his assessment of Henderson, a third-round draft pick in 2007 who was expected to mount a challenge to Cornell Green on the right side.

There was more than a little dry sarcasm in Kiffin’s voice when he said, “We’re going to push (Harris) out there tonight. If he doesn’t play, super Mario would start for us on JaMarcus’ backside and that will be interesting versus (Kyle) VandenBosch.”

Kiffin said Henderson has improved, but noted he is “still a long ways away from being ready to play.”

– Russell, assuming he makes it that far, will play a half. He had another subpar day passing the ball. He had just one turnover, a pass stolen by linebacker Thomas Howard, with whom the quarterback seems to be developing an unwanted chemistry.

Kiffin kept it bland for Russell against the 49ers and may do much of the same against Tennessee. He simply doesn’t believe in emptying the playbook in the preseason.

He attributed Russell’s erratic passing to being tired.

“JaMarcus has pushed through and hasn’t had a day off,” Kiffin said. “So he’s tired. He’s supposed to be. It’s training camp.”

As for the development of his young quarterback, Kiffin remained upbeat regarding Russell’s ability to operate within the system.

“We’re going to get to see this week and next two games will be a big test for him to see where he’s at,” Kiffin said. “All the stuff out here he’s taken care of now let’s see if he can carry it over into the game.”

Russell did close out a team session with a laser beam of a touchdown pass to John Madsen in the seam _ his best pass in three days.

One team session featured four dropped passes from Russell and Tuiasosopo in five plays by Bush, Justin Fargas, Todd Watkins and finally Chaz Schilens.

Said running backs coach Tom Rathman to Bush: “C’mon, Michael, get your head right!”

– Wide receivers James Lofton didn’t find it amusing, but when a Russell pass exploded off the facemask of wide receiver Jonathan Holland and then fell to the ground, it provided some comic relief for his snickering teammates, who were probably wondering why Holland’s hands weren’t at least in the way.

– Three positions which Kiffin remain up for grabs _ Carter vs. Ronald Curry at wide receiver; Jake Grove vs. John Wade at center; and Ricky Brown vs. Robert Thomas at strong side linebacker.

The starters against Tennessee will be Curry, Wade and Brown. Curry, who drew early raves from Kiffin for working so hard at remaking his body, has been plagued by drops of late. He did make one nice catch for a first down against Asomugha Wednesday.

– Those who won’t play against the Titans other than the kickers include wide receiver Arman Shields (knee), tight end Darrell Strong (shoulder) and cornerback John Bowie (knee).

– Another day, another good practice for Javon Walker. He hasn’t exactly been the gamebreaker the Raiders expect him to be, but Walker has at least made the routine catches and is playing aggressively and with enthusiasm.

“I’ve been very critical of Javon throughout this camp and throughout the offseason and he’s had a string right here of the best practices he’s had,” Kiffin said. “He looks to be in the right frame of mind lately and so if we can continue to work on that and push that, it’s going in a positive direction.”

Walker said he weighs 206 pounds _ the lightest he has ever been _ and laughed when asked about whether he had any doubts about going through the grind of a season in the wake of his “retirement” offer early in camp.

“Obviously if you can make it through the training camp the hard part is done,” Walker said. “So it’s kind of like why make it through training camp and stop now. You made it through the hard part, the fun part is about to start. I’m looking forward to that and hopefully being apart of the turnaround that we can hopefully have this year and hopefully a big year.”

– Walker was one of four joggers for pre-snap violations.

“I’m always punished, dawg,” Walker said to no one in particular as he jogged past invited guests along the sideline.

Other joggers were running back Michael Bush, linebacker Grant Irons and defensive end Derrick Burgess.

– Quarterback Andrew Walter was rested for the morning session but is expected to face Tennessee.

– That’s it for me from training camp. I’ll post some P.M. practice observations as relayed by beat writer Steve Corkran later this evening. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Wednesday chat. The questions come so fast it’s impossible to answer them all but I appreciate your interest and input.

08-13-2008, 11:34 PM
Training camp is over

NAPA -- The Raiders just finished up the last practice of training camp here at the Napa Valley Marriott.

Tonight's practice featured offense and defense in preparation for Friday night's exhibition game at Tennessee. The team leaves tomorrow for Nashville.

Some quick hits:

*The Raiders signed P Glenn Pakulak to fill in for the injured Shane Lechler.

Pakulak was a backup punter during training camp in 2006.

LB Ed Hartwell was cut to make room on the roster.

*RB Adimchinobe Echemandu was not at practice. He's in Los Angeles to take his citizenship test and will meet the team in Nashville.

*James Lofton is extremely detailed in his coaching. He made rookie WR Chaz Schilens run a route three times and still pulled him aside to discuss his footwork.

*Even against the scout team, there were times the passing game didn't look crisp. CB Nick Sanchez picked off a pass that bounced of WR Drew Carter's hands.

*RB Darren McFadden had to run a lap for a false start.

*S Tyvon Branch was at practice but didn't participate. He'll play Friday wearing a cast after surgery on his broken thumb yesterday.

Coach Lane Kiffin said the effects of medication kept Branch in this morning.

*TE Tony Stewart was at practice in a walking boot.

*RB Justin Fargas had the night off as did WRs Javon Walker and Ronald Curry.

*LT Kwame Harris (sore shoulder) practiced.

--Jason Jones

08-13-2008, 11:34 PM
Hartwell's gone.So much for him reviving his career here.

08-14-2008, 08:53 AM
Training camp, Day 21 (P.M. notes)
A better day for the Offense
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 at 9:01 pm in Oakland Raiders

Quick hits from Wednesday night’s practice, the Raiders’ final workout in Napa, with information relayed by beat writer Steve Corkran:

– So much for the theory of Edgerton Hartwell providing a run-defending presence inside. Hartwell was released to make room for punter Glenn Pakulak, who will punt against the Tennessee Titans Friday night after a quad injury suffered by Shane Lechler.

Pakulak boomed several punts inside the 5-yard line, with impressive hang time and distance. Johnnie Lee Higgins dropped one punt, which likely owed to Pakulak’s being a left-footed punter and the ball rotating differently than those from Lechler.

At one point, safety Jarrod Cooper yelled: “Hey, we got ourselves a punter.”

– Cornerback Michael Waddell, defensive tackles Terdell Sands and Tommy Kelly, center Jake Grove and right offensive tackle Cornell Green returned to practice

– The following players missed practice: running back Justin Fargas, safety Tyvon Branch, tight ends Darrell Strong and Tony Stewart, wide receivers Javon Walker, Ronald Curry and Arman Shields, cornerback John Bowie, kicker Sebastian Janikowski and running back Adimchinobe Echemandu.
Kiffin said Echemandu was in Los Angeles to take his citizenship test and will meet the team in Nashville.

– The final play of camp was one the Raiders would rather forget. Fourth-string quarterback Jeff Otis turned to his left, pitched the ball in the general vicinity of running back Louis Rankin and watched as the ball sailed well behind and past Rankin. Seconds later, three horns sounded, Kiffin huddled his players and declared camp over.

– JaMarcus Russell connected with wide receiver Drew Carter on back-to-back touchdown passes in full-team drills.

– On one play, running back Darren McFadden, left guard Robert Gallery and left offensive tackle Kwame Harris moved before the snap. McFadden jumped first and was ordered to take a lap.

– Defensive back Nick Sanchez intercepted a Russell pass that hit off Carter’s hands and returned it for a touchdown. This marked Sanchez’s second interception in two days since joining the Raiders.

– DeAngelo Hall practiced without a cast on his injured right hand. He avoided contact, for the most part, and didn’t catch any balls during individual drills. At one point, he appeared to aggravate his injury by bumping into a receiver. He remained on the field, however, and didn’t require treatment.

– John Wade and Jake Grove split time with the first-team offense at center. Kiffin said after the morning session that Wade would start against Tennessee.

– Higgins and Carter spent most of the time working with the first-team offense in Curry’s and Walker’s absence.

– Tight end Tony Stewart’s left foot was in a protective boot.

The Raiders offense looked much sharper in 7-on-7 and full-team drills than it did either of the past two days. The quarterbacks completed numerous passes to wide receivers and didn’t rely as much on checkdowns to running backs.

08-14-2008, 04:54 PM
Camp wrap ‘08: offense

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 11:14 am in 2005 Regular Season, Oakland Raiders

Impressions gathered from viewing 24 of the 26 training camp practices over the course of 21 days:

– Running back Darren McFadden began to show signs of physical and mental fatigue in the last few practices, but this is the best looking Raiders rookie I’ve seen since the club returned to Oakland in 1995.

The Raiders will no longer be dependent on multi-play drives to score. They’re in position every time he touches the ball. McFadden will have to be accounted for on every play, wherever he lines up, and his presence should open up things for others.

I’ve been told the Raiders think he is even better than they thought he was when they picked him and are pinching themselves for their good fortune.

This should be fun to watch.

– Justin Fargas and Michael Bush will get their chances as well, but if McFadden cuts into their work load, it’s a great problem to have.

More likely, attrition will work things out. Lane Kiffin are Greg Knapp are firm believers that you can’t have enough depth at the position. Bush may not fit as neatly into the power back mode as Kiffin would like, but he’s very skilled and like McFadden, will be an asset in the red zone because of his receiving skills.

– The Raiders should be a good run-blocking line. It is the hardest working unit on the team, and when you add the element of cutting to the movement, plus the talent of the backfield, an average of 150 yards per game on the ground should be attainable.

– Offensive line depth is an issue. Mario Henderson, a third-round pick last year, is the backup left tackle and Kiffin does little to hide his disappointment with his performance. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of confidence in Paul McQuistan. Fred Wakefield, shuffled all over the place, moved to offense and instantly began getting reps.

– The Raiders will need every one of their rushing yards, because the passing game is, to put it mildly, a work in progress. To put it less mildly, it has been a disaster.

JaMarcus Russell came advertised as someone who can throw every pass, from the feathery drop-ins to backs coming out of the backfield to the difficult cross-field out patterns to the laser-guided deep ball.

In fact, Russell’s pure passing, except for their first night practice during double sessions, has been a disappointment. It’s not all his fault. Tight ends Zach Miller and John Madsen and wide receiver Todd Watkins have been relatively sure-handed, virtually everyone else has been prone to to the occasional drops. Sometimes more than occasional.

Russell has also missed his share of open receivers and doesn’t yet look like the 60 percent passer the offense needs to make for an efficient passing game, although repeated dumpoffs and checkdowns could make his percentage deceiving.

That said, Russell seems to handle himself with confidence and resolve. You don’t see him slapping his helmet after a bad throw, riding his receivers for a drop or delegating blame. He puts everything on his huge shoulders, and that’s a big intangible for a quarterback.

– Regarding Russell’s passing, the company line continues to be the elbow he injured banging it off McFadden’s helmet early in camp is not an issue. He does, however, still wear a protective sleeve with a pad on the elbow.

Maybe Russell is fine. Or maybe, a year from now, at training camp, he’ll say something like, “My elbow was bothering me all through training camp last year.”

– Pass blocking will be a big problem if the Raiders get behind by 10 or more points. If you’re running the ball well and the game is tight, it is easier to control the heat. If not, Oakland will be vulnerable to an edge rush with Kwame Harris and Cornell Green as the tackles.

The Raiders have done a lot of blitzing during practice, in large part to prepare for Russell for what he will see _ and it’s another reason the passing game has looked so shaky. They don’t handle it well.

Fullbacks Justin Griffith and Oren O’Neal will be counted upon to slow the charge, and it could also cost tight end Zach Miller 15 to 20 receptions off his total.

– Javon Walker doesn’t have it yet. His play has been better of late, but I’ve seen elite receivers in training camp before _ Randy Moss in his first year with the Raiders, Jerry Rice in any season, Tim Brown _ and Walker is not anywhere near that standard.

The Raiders were privately concerned about Walker’s burst even before the whole “retirement” issue. They went out on a limb when they paid Walker an $11 million signing bonus and $1 million in salary this season, with another $5 million due in March.

Other teams were interested, the Cowboys for example, but they weren’t going to pay any more than a few million, figuring they could lock Walker up if things worked out.

This is one of those instances where the Raiders went their own way and took a calculated risk. They did that a few years back with Derrick Burgess and it worked out. Other teams had concerns about Burgess’ body type and susceptibility to injury. Score one for the Raiders.

They did it with LaMont Jordan and it did not. Other teams had concerns about Jordan’s ability to be a lead back, given that he had never carried the ball 100 times in a season. The other teams were right.

– Allowing for the fact that things could change behind closed doors at practice, Watkins has got to make the team. When you preach that performance counts, than it has got to count _ even if it means draft picks Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens don’t make the 53-man roster.

– Drew Carter and Ronald Curry both faded in terms of performance as camp went along. Carter appears to pulling out of a lull the past couple of days. Curry hit the weight room hard and lost some body fat, but it hasn’t helped hold up as well as the staff would like.

Every once in awhile Johnnie Lee Higgins does something exceptional as a wide receiver, then he almost always follows it with a drop, a blown route or a failure to get open. Jerry Porter went from a “talent” to a useful No. 3 receiver in 2002 when he finally started practicing well every day under offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Higgins has yet to take that step.

– Andrew Walter improved a great deal and has even done some good things on the perimeter. But he occasionally reverts to the big mistake _ he had a terrible practice Tuesday _ still doesn’t seem to have the complete trust of his head coach.

Marques Tuiasosopo has difficulty with throws beyond 20 yards and I’ve heard the Raiders are seriously considering going with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Coming later . . . Camp wrap ‘08: defense

08-14-2008, 10:36 PM
Camp wrap ‘08: defense

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 5:37 pm in Oakland Raiders, Preseason (2005), Raiders features

Impressions gathered from viewing 24 of 26 training camp practices over the course of 21 days:

– Not long after camp opened, Lane Kiffin offered a preemptive strike, musing about the importance of the offseason program in light of the fact that his two best players weren’t even participants.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha walked into camp on time, signed his exclusive free agent tender and was so good he looked like a bargain at $9.7 million.

Defensive end Derrick Burgess put on eight to 10 pounds of muscle working out on his own, showing up only to the mandatory minicamp, and was essentially unblockable. Raiders tackles found themselves getting nothing but air or simply being shoved aside by one of Burgess’ perfectly sculpted arms.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is flopping sides with Burgess now and then, moving him from his more familiar left side to the right. The idea is to get him an a single blocker from time to time, rather than the double-team plus a chip treatment he has received so often the last two years.

The truth about training camp defense is it is can be extremely deceiving because there is no actual tackling. Tackling only happens to be the most important thing about defense.

But there was no mistaking what Asomugha brought to pass coverage and Burgess brought to the pass rush. If health is not an issue, and Asomugha’s sore foot is at least a little troubling, the Raiders have two cornerstone defensive players to help build a viable defense.

– Training camp restrictions being what they are, there is no way to know for sure if the Raiders have repaired the gaping hole in the middle of their defense which opposing runners ran through repeatedly in 2007.

They should be better, but how much better? Do they go from giving up an embarrassing 4.8 yards per carry to the 4.0 range, or could they actually do even better and be above average.

Two reasons for optimism _ Tommy Kelly’s brief but dominating appearance against the San Francisco 49ers, and the presence of Gibril Wilson at strong safety.

Kelly has a ways to go in terms of conditioning, as witnessed by his feeble yet comic attempt at taking a lap the other night after being called for offsides. Kelly was collapsing the 49ers line almost single-handedly, but to do that for four quarters he will need more stamina. Rehab from knee surgery put him behind, and Kelly needs to catch up.

The Raiders aren’t paying him all that money to be a part time player.

Wilson has been a guy who plays bigger than the 210 pounds or so he weighs, and his presence in the box will be a welcome one in a division featuring LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and whoever is the Broncos runner of the week.

– More optimism regarding the run defense _ linebacker Thomas Howard looks a little bigger and a little meaner without sacrificing the speed and ability that makes him one of the NFL’s best pass coverage linebackers. He and Kirk Morrison are intent on shedding their reputation as pass defenders who give ground against the run.

They need to be much, much better than a year ago. The two or three series they play against a hard-nosed Tennessee running game will be a good litmus test.

– The Raiders brought a lot of pressure during training camp, which makes aggressive amateur defensive coordinators salivate with the possibility of more blitzing.

Much of the additional pressure was to prepare JaMarcus Russell for what the Raiders think he’ll see. Kiffin could have been sandbagging, but more likely he was telling it like it is the other day when he was addressing Stanford Routt’s role as a nickel back and said, “We’re not very complicated on third down, our defense. We don’t blitz very much so he doesn’t have to do very much.”

– The play of Raiders’ offensive tackles makes it a tough call, but there may be some help for Burgess in terms of a natural rush. Jay Richardson, a decent point-of-attack player as a rookie and tall enough to take away passing lanes, has had some success getting deeper into the backfield. Kalimba Edwards has practices where it looks as if he will fit nicely into the Chris Clemons role as a situational rusher.

– The resurrection of Terdell Sands to be the kind of inside force he was as a part-time player in 2006 is still far from complete. Sands conceded he went into an understandable funk last year after the death of his mother and let his weight get out of control.

He is lighter this year _ how much, no one will say _ but he has already had a knee drained and is missing practices. It’s tough to get into shape that way. Sands will probably continue to back up Gerard Warren, who through most of his career has been either impressive or invisible _ sometimes from one week to the next.

– In early practices, sixth-round pick Trevor Scott looked like he might be a wasted pick. Later, he looked like he might be a find. Line coach Keith Millard beams like a proud papa when Scott’s progress is the topic.

Yet you see Scott in person and it’s almost alarming. He physically resembles Stuart Schweigert, and in fact doesn’t look much bigger. Listed at 255, Scott, in truth, is slightly under 250. He won’t be 260 until next year at the earliest.

– When camp started, Michael Huff looked liberated to be at free safety and making the occasional play with the kind of anticipation the position requires. The plays became more infrequent as time went on.

It’s nearing make-or-break time for Huff to justify his No. 7 overall selection in 2006, and it’s a tossup as to which way it will go.

– The whole strong side linebacker issue makes for interesting reading, being that it’s a starting position and all, but the truth is the winner will be the first player off the field when its time for nickels and dimes.

That’s why the Raiders didn’t make a serious run at Takeo Spikes, who wound up in San Francisco. They’d rather pay the veteran’s minimum for an Adam Archuleta than invest another half-million or so into a player who would be an ideal strong side linebacker but spend too much time on the sidelines to justify the money.

Not saying it’s right, and in fact it probably isn’t in this case.

– DeAngelo Hall is going to catch some heat, both from opposing quarterbacks as well as the home fans. Teams are still going to avoid Asomugha, and Hall will be there for the taking. He will also occasionally make a break on the ball and make a big play, and has a knack for being in the area when balls are deflected.

If you’re expecting a shutdown corner, guess again. There are precious few of those around.

– Routt has had an excellent training camp. He could have been miffed by Hall’s acquisition but instead has appeared to elevate his performance in practice.

Now it has to carry over into games. One of Hall’s strengths is he forgets when he just got beat and it doesn’t prevent him from coming back to make a play. Routt has had a habit of letting the failures which come with the territory affect him for the rest of the game.

Routt will need to be at the top of his game, because things get extremely thin after that at cornerback.

– Bad break for Tyvon Branch, with his right thumb encased in a cast. He could still end up being a defensive contributor at some point during the season, if his goal line hit against the 49ers’ Cam Colvin is any indication.