Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

December 31, 2007
One more reason to like Lane

ALAMEDA -- Lane Kiffin was asked about the "double-standard" that exists when it comes to officiating Raider games.

You know, the conspiracy that the NFL is out to get the Raiders. The one that only comes up when the Raiders lose.

I loved his answer.

"You mean am I finally going to buy in that everyone's against the
Raiders in this league? No I'm not. There's call that go both ways and
I'm never going to buy into that theory. You always see the ones that go
the other way. Trust me, we had a facemask yesterday that wasn't called
and they go the other way too and their fans think that they get the bad
end of the deal as well. We're going to play smarter, we're going to
make better decisions, we're going to go back to our fundamentals and
techniques that don't put us in position to get as many penalties as we
have."

No excuses and accountablity. Exactly what this team needs.

--Jason Jones

December 31, 2007
Looking ahead

ALAMEDA – Today was Lane Kiffin’s last press conference. He said a decision on Rob Ryan’s future would be made soon.

He also conceded there’s a lot of work to be done, maybe more than he anticipated when he took the job.

Here are some of the areas Kiffin will need to address:

1. Defensive staff: If he doesn’t keep Ryan, he must move quickly to bring in a defensive coordinator of his choosing that can fix the problems with the run defense.

2. Free agents the Raiders need to keep: Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is the top priority. Kiffin would like tailback Justin Fargas back, but the team’s inability to activate Michael Bush complicates things because the Raiders don’t know what he can do. Retaining Jarrod Cooper is another thing the team needs to do.

3. Who to let go?: LaMont Jordan is an obvious. Kiffin conceded the Raiders might have held on to some players too long this season and keeping an unhappy Jordan is the reason Bush didn’t play this season. The team needs to figure out if it will try to resign Jerry Porter, too. The team was expected a lot more out of Ronald Curry and there will be a big void at receiver if Porter leaves.

4. The Draft: The Raiders will pick third or fourth in the first round after a coin flip with Atlanta. Players that might be available that could step in play immediately (which Kiffin wants) include Virginia defensive end Chris Long and Michigan tackle Jake Long. If the Raiders trade down, USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis would fit.

Kiffin said Warren Sapp has already decided whether to return or retire, but he’d let Sapp announce that. Odd are Sapp won’t be back.

Michael Huff might be moved to free safety next season. Kiffin liked the improvement Huff showed, but wants more out of him.

--Jason Jones


December 31, 2007
What's next?

OAKLAND – Lane Kiffin erased one question for the 2008 season already.

There will be no competition at one spot. JaMarcus Russell will be the starting quarterback.

But there are so many other questions still to be answered.

At the end of the game, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan hugged several of his players. And some of the players in the locker room spoke as if they know Ryan won’t be back.

No one said they want Ryan gone, but as Thomas Howard said, after another losing season, changes are expected.

Kiffin plans to evaluate all coaches and players and vowed the Raiders wouldn't have another 4-12 season.

In reality, besides last year’s defense that ranked third, which can be excused in some ways by the horrible offense that complemented it, the Raiders defense hasn’t really been great under Ryan.

Are all the problems Ryan’s fault? Absolutely not, but don’t be surprised if he’s out of a job.

Kiffin was able to bring in his entire offensive staff. He was able to add his own defensive backs coach, Darren Perry.

But he inherited Ryan, linebackers coach Don Martindale and defensive line coach Keith Millard.

After a year with them, Kiffin has an idea if he wants them back, just as he would with a player.

Look for names such as former USC defensive coordinator and recently fired Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron’s name surfaces as a candidate because of his ties to USC and Kiffin.

Kiffin’s father, Monte from Tampa Bay, is another name that would come up.

But don’t forget Kiffin’s ties to Pete Carroll. Don’t be shocked if someone on Carroll’s staff is a candidate for any Raiders job, especially if Carroll gives his blessing to allowing one of his assistants to take a step up in their career.

If not, Carroll and his NFL experience would likely help Kiffin in replacing Ryan.

But this is all speculation right now. Let’s see what Kiffin says at his season-ending press conference.

--Jason Jones

December 30, 2007
Inactives

OAKLAND -- This list might not mean as much now that most of us have played our championship games in fantasy leagues (I lost my title game thanks to Jon Gruden resting Earnest Graham).

But here they are:

WR Tim Dwight
S Rashad Baker
T Mario Henderson
OL Jonathan Palmer
LB Jon Alston
DT Josh Shaw
QB Andrew Walter

--Jason Jones

December 28, 2007
Blackout news

Sunday's game against San Diego is sold out and will be televised locally. There might be a few tickets available as the Chargers return any of their unsold tickets. But if you can't make it, you will be able to watch the game.

--Jason Jones

December 28, 2007
The last Friday practice update

ALAMEDA – Here’s the pertinent lineup information per Lane Kiffin after today’s practice.

Dominic Rhodes will start at running back. Hiram Eugene will start at free safety.

Rhodes and LaMont Jordan were going to share carries in Jacksonville, but Jordan’s pass blocking cost him time, again.

“LaMont was in on a play where a guy came through and got to the quarterback, and LaMont didn’t play much after that,” Kiffin said. “But Dominic played extremely well, and there were some other situations where LaMont would have been in that didn’t happen to come up as well.”

Linebacker Jon Alston (calf) still has not practiced this week. Receiver Tim Dwight (hamstring) will be a game-time decision.

Johnnie Lee Higgins will return punts assuming Dwight doesn’t play. Alston plays in a few packages on defense and special teams, but Kiffin said the team wouldn’t be limited much if Alston couldn’t play.

--Jason Jones


December 28, 2007
The last Friday

ALAMEDA -- I've already been out for the brief media availablity and there's nothing to report yet. So l'll have some fun with reader questions.

****

Surprise. The Raiders get out of line and who is to blame? The officials.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve heard from fans since last Sunday in Jacksonville following Warren Sapp’s ejection and his $75,000 fine and Derrick Burgess’ $25,000 fine from the league:


Question: Wake-up. Tell it like is...The officials screwed-up and then compounded their error by flagging Sapp and Burgess. It's simple, these officials are now trained to be the judge, jury and executioner on the field. If any players upstage them, they'll flag'em right or wrong. (SEE: Ravens-Pats) It's a new world order in the NFL and you better get with it. An official making a call for a team without hearing from the coach or a team captain is unheard-of!!! Who's fault is JASON!!! Who's to blame JASON !!! Yes I'm yelling at you because you are a complete idiot.
Tim, Salt Lake City

Answer: Sure, calling me an idiot and typing my name in all caps solves everything. I really feel like you’ve yelled at me.

And by the way, you’re wrong. It’s not unusual for an official to assume a team would accept or decline a penalty. Is it right? No. But you’re missing the point. The officials corrected the situation. then the flags came.

Also, if Sapp would have left the field when his coach sent in a player to replace him, he wouldn’t have been flagged three times.

Just because there was a mistake made doesn’t give players the right to excessively go after the official.

But I bet it’s also the refs’ fault the Raiders trailed 28-3 at that point.

I must be an idiot not to see that.

Question: The league has now spoken on Warren Sapp and his alleged transgressions, but I still have not seen an explanation on why the officials took it upon themselves to decline the penalty without consulting the Raiders. Their actions are what generated the series of events.
Jay, Folsom

Answer: As I mentioned before, it’s not uncommon for an official to decline a penalty on fourth down and then have a captain or coach correct them.

The assumption is wrong, but it does happen.

Question: When is the league going to hold the refs accountable? You never hear anything about the league punishing a ref. Are they held unaccountable for their actions? There is no denying that the Raiders get screwed with calls. I am very surprised that a player on the brink of getting cut or retirement don’t take one of those guys out for good!
Brian, Rawlins, Wyo.

Answer: Referees are held accountable and can be punished for poor performance.

How that works isn’t always clear. Teams do have the right to request an official they have a problem with not work their game, too.

And no player with sense would take out a ref because of one word: lawsuit.

Just in case you were wondering, the ref that grabbed Packers linebacker Nick Barnett was fined a game check according to ESPN.

And of course, one of my favorite questions that I get in some form every week:

Question: Why do you wear that stupid frown expression on your mug?
John Powell, Kabul, Afghanistan
Answer: Because I was told to.

But why do you have to call my expression stupid? That hurts. The photographer worked really hard to get me to look like that.

So I guess the first mission this offseason is to get a new picture up there.

--Jason Jones

December 27, 2007
Defending Ryan's defense

ALAMEDA – The media session with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wasn’t as chipper as others have been.

It’s near the end of a season in which the unit has played well below expectations, ranking 26th overall.

Not exactly what Ryan wanted to chat about after believing he might have the best defense in the NFL back in training camp.

The Raiders can’t stop the run (31st in the NFL), can’t tackle consistently and that’s leaving many wondering if Ryan will have a job with the Raiders next season.

Ryan said he’d have a job in “two minutes” if he were fired and doesn’t sound worried about his future.

I don’t think firing Ryan will solve any problems.

It’s not Ryan’s fault that the only way the Raiders addressed their need for a run-stuffing defensive lineman was to resign Terdell Sands, who hasn’t played nearly as well as the team hoped he would with a four-year, $17 million contract with $4 million guaranteed.

Ryan hasn’t been stubborn stuck with underperforming starters. Two bad games by Fabian Washington put him behind Stanford Routt.

He’s also given two players (B.J. Ward, Hiram Eugene) chances to replace Stuart Schweigert at free safety when it was deemed his play wasn’t up to par.

The Raiders need help along the defensive line (though Ryan wouldn’t say that today).

The Raiders weren’t bad enough this season to be in position to draft LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, but don’t be shocked if Lane Kiffin plucks a pal from USC, Sedrick Ellis to be the anchor at defensive tackle.

Ryan wouldn’t criticize any of his players and some have taken some of the blame for how bad they’ve looked at times.

Kiffin was noncommittal as to whether Ryan would return next season as rumors persist he could hire his father, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin in the offseason.

Here’s why that’s not likely to happen.

Kiffin has built his time in Oakland preaching open competition and no favorites. Then he’d hire his dad?

If Kiffin didn’t want to play Justin Fargas too soon because they spent two seasons at USC together, imagine the scrutiny of having to critique Pops when the defense plays bad.

Also, Monte runs the Cover 2, and the Raiders don’t have the personnel for that in the secondary. Nnamdi Asomugha could play in the scheme, but it emphasizes zone coverage and helping with quick run support.

And you’ve seen how the Raiders’ secondary tackles, right?

Sometime next week, the changes on staff should begin, if they do. Ryan might be able to test his Two-minute theory then.

--Jason Jones

December 27, 2007
The verdict

ALAMEDA – Warren Sapp was fined $75,000 for his “unprecedented” three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for verbally abusing officials and making contact with one in Jacksonville.

Derrick Burgess was fined $25,000 for verbal abuse of officials.

Sapp still doesn’t believe he received three flags. But he did and has to pay $25,000 per flag.

On the bright side, he didn't get suspended.

--Jason Jones

December 27, 2007
Blackout update

ALAMEDA – Because the holidays, the Raiders have until tomorrow afternoon before it’s known if Sunday’s game will be televised locally.

If you’re a business owner (or just have a lot of money) and interested in seeing the game on television and still in the giving mood, call 1-800-RAIDERS and ask about the Tickets for Kids and Tickets for Troops programs.

Prices for the programs range from $5,000 to $50,000.

Or you could just buy a ticket and watch the return of Norv Turner in person.

--Jason Jones

December 27, 2007
Not much going on yet

ALAMEDA – Linebacker Jon Alston (calf) was the only Raider not practicing because of injury.

Defensive end Derrick Burgess had the day off.

There should be more to write about later. Rob Ryan is supposed to speak with the media this afternoon.

And for a unit that returned 11 starters, it’s been a very disappointing season.

--Jason Jones

December 26, 2007
Sapp tells his side

ALAMEDA – As Warren Sapp’s world turns …

He had his say on his ejection Wednesday and said he felt “cheated.”

Not because he lost a chance to compete, because he was ejected and hadn’t touched anyone.

“I should have whipped somebody's ass,” Sapp said. “I should have beaten somebody up so at least they put you on SportsCenter for whipping some ass. At least you get a little respect.”

I'm sure commissioner Roger Goodell loves seeing players talk like that because we all know Goodell has a great sense of humor when it comes to the image of the NFL.

The NFL will announce a decision by Friday as to whether Sapp will be suspended for bumping umpire Garth DeFelice.

Sapp denies touching DeFelice and there doesn’t appear to be any clear video evidence that he did.

Sapp was also penalized for verbally abusing the officials. He doesn’t deny cursing at them, but said they also cursed at him.

Aside from the expletives Sapp admittedly used, he might have hit a nerve with referee Jerome Boger, who is black, with the ever-charged “N-word.”

“'Yo, Man, you can't just be out here just arbitrarily declining penalties, my (brother),” is what Sapp said he asked Boger.

He did put the ‘a’ not the ‘er’ at the end of the “N-word.” But that might have been part of the verbal abuse.

You never know because not every black person likes the language used in rap music or even in casual talk among blacks.

Sapp often speaks freely of how he talks down to officials and the NFL has penalized him before for doing so.

Prior to a 2003 game while playing for Tampa, Sapp bumped an official and was fined $50,000 for that and constant verbal abuse of officials.

Reputation has a lot to do with this.

Packers linebacker Nick Barnett was shown clearly putting his hands on an official in their loss at Chicago on Sunday.

The big difference? It’s clear that official had pulled Barnett down and Barnett could say he thought it was a player grabbing him.

There might not be video evidence to prove an official walked up on Sapp.

Then again, if Sapp had left the field after the first of his three personal foul penalties, this wouldn’t be a discussion.

Lane Kiffin tried to sub for Sapp, but he wasn't done yapping.

The Raiders don’t expect any discipline from the NFL.

--Jason Jones

December 26, 2007
The new faces

ALAMEDA – Here are the latest roster shake ups heading into the season finale:

The Raiders claimed offensive lineman Jonathan Palmer from Pittsburgh’s practice squad and added him to their 53-man roster.

That guarantees Palmer, a rookie from Auburn, won’t have to practice next week.

Offensive lineman Mark Wilson was promoted from the Raiders’ practice squad to the active roster. This is a move the Raiders probably should have made when Cornell Green went down.

Daunte Culpepper and Justin Fargas were placed on injured reserve.

And running back Quinton Smith was signed to the practice squad. He was signed as an undrafted rookie by New England.

That makes two ex-Patriots for the Raiders in a week after claiming safety Rashad Baker off waivers.

--Jason Jones

December 26, 2007
Wednesday practice report

ALAMEDA – The major injury concern for the Raiders after being beaten down by the Jacksonville Jaguars was safety Michael Huff, who left the game with a concussion.

Huff was at practice with his helmet on, meaning he’ll take part on at least a limited basis.

There’s also no word on if Warren Sapp will be fined and/or suspended following his ejection for making contact with an official.

The Raiders say they have no video evidence Sapp touched an official, but the NFL would probably take the word of their officials over the Raiders.

Sapp wasn’t practicing today (he usually has Wednesdays off). Barry Sims, Jeremy Newberry and Jerry Porter also have today off.

There were two new players at practice, an offensive lineman and a running back. Well I think he was a running back since he wore No. 22 and had on the offense-colored practice jersey.

Haven’t been told who they are and if they are on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. The team could have placed Daunte Culpepper or Justin Fargas on injured reserve.

Also, the contract of practice squad player Kelly Talavou was disapproved by the NFL (how you mess up a practice squad contract confuses me) so one player could be on the practice squad.

--Jason Jones

December 24, 2007
Discpline possible for undisciplined Sapp

ALAMEDA – No word on if Warren Sapp will be suspended if the NFL agrees with its officials at Sunday’s game in Jacksonville and Sapp intentionally made contact with umpire Garth DeFelice.

Lane Kiffin is “very disappointed” that two of his captains would rack up four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a dead ball situation.

Three of those were on Sapp. They were confusing because it’s still not clear why Sapp – who Kiffin tried to replace with Terdell Sands to avoid the next two penalties – was so irate.

Sapp and Burgess are very good friends. But Kiffin didn’t like them sticking together on this one.

“When you go out and you get personal fouls you’re not protecting your team because you’re doing something that is something on your own and isn’t helping us win,” Kiffin said.

It’s also of importance for Kiffin to check such behavior because Sapp and Burgess are powerful personalities in the locker room.

If Kiffin gives any indication he doesn’t mind how Sapp (especially) and Burgess behaved, all his work to try to fix the locker room’s culture of losing would be setback.

If Sapp is fined and/or suspended, that should be announced sometime Wednesday or Thursday.

****
If Kiffin was trying to get a message to JaMarcus Russell, he did with his sharp critique of his play.

He didn’t leave much room for praise, saying there’s “a list” of things Russell must do better.

Of course, a lot of this would have been addressed months ago had Russell been in training camp, but let’s not get into that again.

The good thing is Russell will start against the Chargers. I assume his decision-making would improve with more practice. He’ll get all the first-team reps this week.

****
Just in case you think I’m crazy, I know the Raiders lost 51-3 to Buffalo in the 1991 AFC title game. I was only referencing the Raiders’ worst regular-season losses for today’s story.

I watched that game as a 12 year-old in Long Beach, wishing Bo Jackson was playing and maybe the Raiders would have won.

****

Kiffin said the team expects Michael Huff (concussion to play) Sunday against the Chargers.

I’ll be hiding out and watching the Lakers tomorrow. Have a safe holiday.

--Jason Jones

December 23, 2007
Kiffin sees what other coaches have seen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Today Lane Kiffin got a full dose of the Raiders he didn’t want.

These were the Raiders that Bill Callahan knew. The bunch that bumbled for Norv Turner and were listless for Art Shell.

Everything that could go wrong did in their 49-11 loss.

Warren Sapp’s blow up in the first half in the Raiders’ was everything Kiffin doesn’t want from a team.

Kiffin was embarrassed by what Sapp did. He might spin it as he was standing up for his coach after the officials didn’t ask Kiffin if he wanted to accept or decline a penalty on Jaguars tackle Tony Pashos.

But the officials corrected the mistake. There was no need to escalate the situation. And the way Sapp acted wasn’t indicative of a player defending his coach, but a player looking out for himself.

He earned three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during a dead ball. Inexcusable, especially for someone that is supposed to be a team captain.

There’s a chance that was the last time Sapp wears a Raider uniform. Don’t be shocked if he’s suspended for making contact with an official, which is why he was ejected.

Kiffin talks a lot about fixing the Raiders locker room. And jettisoning Sapp’s salary and attitude is probably the next step.

Behavior like that is what’s been wrong with the Raiders. Only one player – Dominic Rhodes – clearly said behavior like that is unacceptable.

The Raiders cannot afford to go back to the “we don’t know why that happened and the refs are messing with us” mentality.

Rhodes played for Tony Dungy, the man Sapp says he learned so much from.

Sapp probably respects Dungy too much to ever pull a stunt like that.

That’s just another reason why Kiffin probably won’t bring Sapp back.

*****

There’s a picture circulating on the Web of a photo-shopped Kiffin’s head holding a baby JaMarcus Russell (photo-shopped head on a baby) at a hospital.

It’s good for a quick laugh.

I know Kiffin is forever worried about Russell’s confidence. But Jerry Porter said it best: “You’ve got to let him get his nose bloody sometime. Get a little beat up within reason.”

Porter said that about the hard hit Russell took in the second quarter.

But it rings true beyond that. Russell needs to see for himself how fast the passing windows close in the NFL and how to handle himself on the field.

Russell’s confidence isn’t hurting, either. He’ll be fine when he makes his first NFL start against San Diego.

****
Russell’s struggles aside, the most disappointing part of the game was the overall defensive effort.

Not just Sapp’s act. But the tackling was as bad as it’s been all season. They didn’t come out with any intensity and were bullied by the Jaguars.

For a unit that wanted to be the strength of the Raiders, it was just a sad bunch against the Jaguars.

--Jason Jones

December 23, 2007
The inactives...

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For those of you who care to check before kickoff, here are your inactive Raiders:

QB Daunte Culpepper – Don’t look for him to play again this season.
QB Andrew Walter (3rd QB) – he’ll remain buried on the depth chart for a while.
WR Tim Dwight – Hamstring injury costs him another game. He worked out before the game, but wasn’t good enough to go.
RB Justin Fargas – Logic would dictate if he were out for the season, he’d be on injured reserve. But these are the Raiders.
S Rashad Baker – Newest Raider will watch from the sidelines.
CB John Bowie – He’ll never live down being the Randy Moss pick if he never plays.
OT Mario Henderson – Another rookie that hasn’t contributed this season.
DT Josh Shaw – Not needed with all the defensive tackles healthy.

--Jason Jones

December 21, 2007
Checking in from Jacksonville

JaMarcus Russell won’t start, which isn’t surprising.

What will be interesting to see is if Lane Kiffin expands the playbook for the rookie quarterback on Sunday against Jacksonville.

It’s not important Russell starts if he’s not going to play the whole game. But he needs meaningful snaps. Not just handing off to running backs and passing on third downs.

Kiffin doesn’t seem comfortable in the role of playing Russell when trying to win games. That’s why he wanted to play Russell a lot in the preseason.

Kiffin is obsessed with winning – which I’m not knocking.

But the big picture might mean losing a couple of games late in a season that doesn’t include the playoffs to build for the future.

So let Russell do more this time around. He’s bound to mess up, but that’s OK.

Better that at the end of a four-win season than next season. Might as well get some of the lumps out of the way now.

--Jason Jones

December 19, 2007
You might see Russell sooner than you think

ALAMEDA – Might it be time for JaMarcus Russell to start a game?

Lane Kiffin intimated that might be the case on Sunday. But he chose his words carefully. He said Russell might start. He added Josh McCown might start.

Daunte Culpepper definitely won’t. Kiffin doesn’t expect him back this season as he’s been out with a quadriceps injury.

Kiffin didn’t like the flow of the game when he inserted Russell to start the second half against the Colts. So Kiffin said he might start a quarterback and let the other finish the game.

“There’s something to be said for not going back and forth,” Kiffin said. “I think you saw last week the momentum swing of going with one, and then going back.”

****
Nnamdi Asomugha is the second alternate at cornerback for the Pro Bowl. Jacksonville’s Rashean Mathis is the first alternate.

Asomugha might be the NFL’s best man corner, but with only one interception and playing on a 4-10 team, he didn’t expect to be selected.

He said last year’s snub when he had eight interceptions and wasn’t picked, was more bothersome.

Asomugha was called to play in the game last year, but the call came so late, he didn’t have time to catch a flight to Hawaii.

He said he’d be ready to join Shane Lechler at the game this time if the call comes.

“I’m prepared right now,” he said. “I was telling Shane, we’re not going to have the same mistake as last year.”

****
Chris Carr hurt his left shoulder early in the Colts game. He’s expected to practice tomorrow. Kiffin didn't announce a starter at running back yet.

--Jason Jones

December 19, 2007
They're needed now

ALAMEDA – Houston rapper Mike Jones’ “Back Then” was the music while the Raiders stretched today.

Couldn’t have been a more appropriate song for LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes.

It was just a few weeks ago it seemed the Raiders didn’t want either. But now that starting running back Justin Fargas is hurt, both could have hummed the song a little differently.

“Back then they didn’t want me/No he’s hurt they all on me”

At some point Kiffin will announce the starter. He had nice things to say about Rhodes the other day. Also, heading into the offseason, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get an extended look at Rhodes.

Warren Sapp, Jerry Porter, Barry Sims, Jeremy Newberry and Chris Carr were regulars not practicing as the team usually gives some of its veterans Wednesday off.

Fargas (knee), Daunte Culpepper (quadriceps), Tim Dwight (hamstring) and Jake Grove (knee) also weren’t at practice.

--Jason Jones

December 18, 2007
Pro Bowl hits and misses

Shane Lechler earned a well-deserved trip to his third Pro Bowl.

He leads the NFL with a 49-yard average on punts. His 41.3 net is second in the NFL and would have still been first if not for two punt returns for scores in the last two games.

Nnamdi Asomugha, Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard could have made the team if the Raiders won more than four wins.

Here are my biggest blunders on the AFC roster.

Running back: Joseph Addai stole the spot that should have gone to Jacksonville’s Fred Taylor’s spot.

Defensive end: Jason Taylor? Wow. How about Mario Williams?

Middle linebacker: Ray Lewis’ spot should have gone to Morrison or the Colts’ Gary Brackett

Cornerback: Asomugha should be in the game. Who would I take out? That’s tough, but how about ending the love affair with the Patriots and replacing Asante Samuel with Asomugha. Or you could sit Antonio Cromartie, who has great stats (10 interceptions) but might not be as polished as Asomugha.

Remember, in order to get interceptions, teams have to throw at you. Asomugha is rarely thrown at.

--Jason Jones

December 17, 2007
More from Coop

ALAMEDA – I just thought I’d throw out some more quotables from Jarrod Cooper, one of my favorite Raiders to talk to.

On similarities between what Lane Kiffin is doing and what John Fox did in Carolina that led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance: “Once he got it weeded out it was Super Bowl, playoffs, playoffs. And I see that in Coach Kiffin and I want to be here for it.”

On the improvement under Kiffin and why the coaching staff shouldn’t’ be messed with: “The games are lost by one or two plays now as opposed to last year when they were lost at the coin toss. So you’ve got to build off that and I don’t think you need to change anybody. If so then you’re just starting all over again. Then you’re looking for another rebuilding year. Well this was the rebuilding year, build off of that.”

On the mood of the team this time a year ago: “Everybody was gone. Everybody had their plane tickets already. At least here, guys are still talking about the next opponent, talking about Jacksonville, opposed to going to Miami for a vacation. There's a team in here. Everyone's still in each others' back pocket until the last second ticks off on the clock, which is nice.”

Cooper’s comments speak to the difference Kiffin’s made in a season. The Raiders weren’t going to win the division this season, but there is a noticeable difference in their attitudes.

They look like a team that wants to compete, even though the playoffs aren’t a possibility. They haven’t quit and haven’t tuned out Kiffin.

Coop is one of the more honest players on the team.

If he’s right, the Raiders are headed for better days.

--Jason Jones

December 17, 2007
Knee will keep Fargas out

ALAMEDA – Justin Fargas’ season is likely over.

He has an MCL sprain that won’t require surgery, but Lane Kiffin doesn’t expect that he’ll play again this season.

Fargas has carried the offense lately. Now it’ll be up to LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes to battle for the starting job.

Fargas had an MRI today. And if he’s doesn’t play again this season, he’ll head into free agency fresh off his first 1,000 yard season.

Fargas would like to return to the Raiders.

Also, JaMarcus Russell will play at Jacksonville. He won’t start, but provided the Raiders don’t have another 12-minute drive, should get into the game before halftime.

--Jason Jones

December 17, 2007
Hawaii on their minds

ALAMEDA – Pro Bowl selections will be announced tomorrow.

Predictably, Raiders that deserve consideration aren’t expressing any angst.

There are four Raiders worthy of playing in the game. But the Raiders have only four wins. And there’s no way they’ll get a Pro Bowler per win.

Linebackers Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and punter Shane Lechler are the most likely candidates to earn a nod.

The selection show will air at 1 p.m., local time, on the NFL Network.

Howard said he’d bring linebacker coach Don Martindale and the rest of the linebackers if he makes the team. He has six interceptions this season, the most by a linebacker since Ray Lewis in 2003.

Morrison said friends around the league have told him he’s worthy, but he won’t be sitting around worrying about it tomorrow.

Lechler wasn’t around to talk in the locker room, but he’s not in a good mood after having another punt returned for a touchdown yesterday.

Asomugha was worthy last season, but he’s only been thrown at 27 times and had only nine catches against him this season.

And with only one interception in a year where Antonio Cromartie has 10 might not be enough to get him in the game.

****
Other tidbits from the locker room:

Stuart Schweigert spoke about his reduced role on the team. He was in for only one snap on defense after having started 37 straight games until missing the game in Kansas City.

He said he hasn’t really been told what’s going on.

“It’s a deal where I think I’ve maybe played four games where there wasn’t any question about who the starter was,” Schweigert said. “And I thought I played great. And now, after the Minnesota game I get hurt, now it’s a deal where they have Chris Carr in for the dime packages, and they Hiram Eugene in for the base coverages.”

*There was plenty of talk of what’s happened to the punt coverage the last two weeks. It began with Jarrod Cooper, who watched the game from a box at McAfee Coliseum who said he was “disgusted” for what’s happened to Lechler’s stats as a result.

Without having watched film, no one really knows why T.J. Rushing was untouched for 90 yards on a punt return for a score.

Special teams breakdowns are responsible for 21 points for the opposition the last two games.

Cooper added that he’s feeling better and should be 100 percent for next season after tearing his ACL.

--Jason Jones

December 16, 2007
Postgame tidbits

OAKLAND – One thing you can’t say about the Raiders is that they’ve quit.

That Jerry Porter was so mad following the no-call when he appeared to be interfered with by Kelvin Hayden was a microcosm of how frustrated the Raiders were not to beat the Colts.

I believe the words aimed at head linesman Ed Camp were that he was a “lousy piece of (trash)” for not throwing the flag.

There was no laughing the locker room (there has been in the past) and not much of talk of being happy to only lose by seven.

That bodes well for the future.

****
For the second straight week, the Raiders we’re unable to challenge a play in time because they didn’t see the replay.

I have no faith in officials when it comes to replays because I’ve seen too many that look obvious not go they way they should.

This time it cost them late. There’s a good chance Reggie Wayne’s third-down catch in the fourth quarter would have been overturned.

Then the Raiders would have forced a punt and probably won the game.

Instead the Raiders lost. Credit Peyton Manning for getting a play off fast before the Raiders had time to see the replay.
****
Things with JaMarcus Russell didn’t go as well as they did in his last game. The energy and excitement that came with his debut wasn’t there.

That has a lot to do with the playcalling.

Kiffin came out running the ball so the fans couldn’t get into the game as quickly as they did two weeks ago, when Russell passed on his first play.

Also, the entire stadium knew he was going to play. There was a lot of anticipation last week because no one knew for sure he would play.

--Jason Jones

December 16, 2007
No Jordan today

OAKLAND – Here are the Raiders inactive players for today:

QB Daunte Culpepper
WR Tim Dwight
RB LaMont Jordan
CB John Bowie
C Jake Grove
T Mario Henderson
QB Andrew Walter (third QB)

That Jordan isn't active is a bit of a surprise. I can only assume Justin Fargas' ribs are fine. Also without Dwight, the Raiders needed another receiver.

To make that happen the Raiders finally put Jarrod Cooper on injured reserve. Former USC receiver Chris McFoy was added to the active roster from the practice squad.

--Jason Jones

December 14, 2007
Words of wisdom

"A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as excuses to give up. It’s all a matter of pride."
Winston Churchill

That's the quote left in players' lockers today.

I'll pretend like I'm in high school and analyze how this applies to the Raiders.

The Raiders haven't been competitors much of the last five seasons because every bad break becomes the reason why they lose a game.

The Raiders have routinely folded whenever something bad happens in a game. the pride needed to win is usually lacking when things are tough.

It's clearly a message to the team not to give up on the final three games of the season. A 7-9 season would be a miracle after last season.

Then again, it might take a miracle (good tackling and a lack of penalties would be a good place to start) to knock off the three playoff teams the Raiders have to play to finish out 2007.

--Jason Jones

December 14, 2007
Friday injury report

ALAMEDA – Lane Kiffin had one of his shorter press briefings of the season today because there really wasn’t much to ask him.

The news of note is Tim Dwight (hamstring) is probable for the game. Daunte Culpepper (quadriceps) and Jake Grove (knee) are doubtful while Josh McCown (finger) is probable.

--Jason Jones

December 14, 2007
Raiders need Rhodes this week

ALAMEDA – Perhaps Dominic Rhodes will play against his old team after all.

Rhodes came to the Raiders as a free agent, but probably wishes he were free again after being relegated to third-string tailback and kickoff return duty much of the season.

Rhodes has been inactive the last two games.

Now that receiver Tim Dwight is hurt, there’s a chance Rhodes could be returning kicks since Chris Carr might have to takeover punt return duties Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

Dwight hurt his hamstring yesterday. At today’s practice he was working out on a separate field with Fred Wakefield, a tight end on injured reserve.

That’s not a good sign for Dwight’s status.

Also, with Justin Fargas playing after bruising his ribs last week, it would be wise to have Rhodes active.

If Fargas were to go down, the only tailback the Raiders would have would be LaMont Jordan, who has dealt with a bad back all season.

Also, without Dwight, the Raiders, who have inexplicably carried only four receivers most of the season, would be down to three. One of those receivers, Johnnie Lee Higgins, is a rookie the coaching staff hasn’t shown much faith in this season.

Having Rhodes as an option in the passing game would make sense, but Lane Kiffin might opt to simply use John Madsen as a receiver more than at tight end.

--Jason Jones

December 13, 2007
If you want some non-Mitchell Report news...

ALAMEDA – With all the baseball news, there isn’t much room in the print edition. So I’m going to get all the news I can out now.

*First, the game against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday is sold out and will be televised.

*Hiram Eugene will start at free safety. Stuart Schweigert will also see time.

*In case you weren’t clear, Josh McCown will start at quarterback and be backed up by JaMarcus Russell.

*Tim Dwight (hamstring) did not finish practice.

*LaMont Jordan spoke for the first time in a while. He said he doesn’t want to be a distraction, but is unhappy with his situation.

He also didn’t like that someone in the organization leaked to the media that he’d asked to be released, something he now deems “irrelevant” since he’s still a Raider.

Jordan can’t wait for the season to be over so he can have a fresh start. Whether it’s as a Raider or with another team, he doesn’t know.

Jordan said he couldn’t wait to get to the offseason to get his back 100 percent healthy, too. It’s bothered him since training camp and hasn’t been helped by long stints standing on the sidelines during games with his carries coming sporadically behind Justin Fargas.

“I know I say we've got another two weeks left and they can't get over fast enough, I'm not saying I'm giving up, that I'm not playing hard, so on and so forth,” Jordan said. “It's just the way the year has been going, you just want to hurry up and get it over with, get to the offseason and get a fresh start.”

--Jason Jones

December 13, 2007
No Pep at practice

ALAMEDA – Sorry for not getting this out sooner. I was enthralled with the Mitchell Report to see if there were any Dodgers on it.

Paul Lo Duca writing a note on Dodger letterhead about steroids? Wow. Thankfully I have Russell Martin behind the plate now.

Now for your Raiders’ Thursday practice report.

Daunte Culpepper was not at practice again. You have to wonder if he’ll play again this season.

If the Raiders continue to play JaMarcus Russell more and Josh McCown is content in his role, Culpepper might be wise not to rush back from an injury for a team that isn’t going to the playoffs.

Derrick Burgess was at practice, but wearing sweats in what looks like a scheduled day off for him.

Jake Grove (knee) wasn’t at practice again. I’d be surprised if he played again this season, too.

Starters that had the day off Wednesday (Warren Sapp, Barry Sims, Jerry Porter) were all at practice.

--Jason Jones

December 12, 2007
Rumors irk Kiffin

ALAMEDA – He said he's not leaving and not trying to leave.

Lane Kiffin said he doesn’t know why his name came up so much with the Arkansas job or any other jobs.

Here’s what he said to any notion he’s eyeing a college job:

“I never had any contact with the University of Arkansas, or any college about any job at all … I'm coaching the Raiders and getting us ready to play. I don't have any idea where all that information came from.”

He doesn’t know where the story he was cursing and slamming doors because he didn’t get the job came from.

In all my dealing with Kiffin, on and off the record, he’s always been honest and up front. If he couldn’t address something, he said so.

I have no reason to believe Kiffin is lying about this. And after all, it is Arkansas.

Not LSU.

Not USC.

Not Florida.

Arkansas?

On to matters that pertain to the Raiders, Kiffin said Josh McCown would start unless something changed dramatically since Daunte Culpepper didn’t practice Wednesday.

--Jason Jones

December 12, 2007
Thawed out from Green Bay

ALAMEDA – The Raiders returned to practice today and much to my enjoyment, had some Dr. Dre from the Chronic 2001 album.

What Lane? No new material?

But in all seriousness, of all the players that returned from Green Bay with something hurting, the injury of the biggest concern was running back Justin Fargas (ribs).

Fargas was at practice with his helmet, which he means he’ll take part in at least a portion of today’s work.

As for those who were without helmets or not at practice, there weren’t any surprises.

Tackle Barry Sims, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, center Jake Grove, center Jeremy Newberry and receiver Jerry Porter weren’t practicing. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper also wasn’t at practice.

****
I’ve been emailed about and read the Pro Football Talk report that Lane Kiffin was “pissed” he did not get the Arkansas head coaching job according on an anonymous source.

Is it true? Who really knows? The report added Kiffin was slamming doors and cursing over the situation.

Then again, if he’d watched film of the Raiders run defense, pass protection or realized he has more than one player leading or near the top of the league in penalties, that would be a good reason to do all that too.

--Jason Jones

December 11, 2007
Coach quits to coach Arkansas (no, not Kiffin)

Apparently Arkansas was determined to get an NFL coach.

Bobby Petrino reportedly resigned as Atlanta Falcons coach to take over the Razorbacks today.

The Razorbacks were reportedly interested in Lane Kiffin.

I didn’t believe Kiffin would leave the Raiders for Arkansas des[ote reports that Kiffin doesn’t believe everyone with the Raiders is behind him.

That’s not completely inaccurate. Kiffin has come in and shaken some things up, but he’s not in complete control and he is learning how things are run with the Raiders can be puzzling.

The team needs another player and could elevate a practice squad receiver to get a look at a young player at a position where the Raiders are thin.

But upper management’s decision not to put Jarrod Cooper on injured reserve means he can’t.

Kiffin has had a bigger say in personnel than Art Shell did, but that doesn’t mean he’s getting his way all the time.

That’s why Andrew Walter is still on the team.

But Kiffin is still a Raider, not a Razorback.

Oddly enough, Petrino was offered the Raiders job in 2006 that went to Shell. He didn't take it. Even if he had, it looks like he's a college coach to the core.

Kiffin has always wanted to coach in the NFL, which makes him less of a risk to bolt for a second-tier SEC team.

****
Fan voting for the Pro Bowl ended today. Fan votes make up a third of how the team is picked. Coaches and players round out how the team is picked. They will vote Dec. 13-14.

Here are the Raiders deserving of Pro Bowl consideration:

CB Nnamdi Asomugaha – one of the NFL’s best cover cornerbacks. His interceptions are way down because teams rarely challenge him.

LB Kirk Morrison – Should be the starting middle linebacker, but doesn’t have the reputation of a Ray Lewis yet.

P Shane Lechler – Have one of his best seasons and is always among the best in the league..

LB Thomas Howard – Five interceptions for a linebacker shouldn’t be ignored. One of the NFL’s most versatile at the position.

--Jason Jones

December 10, 2007
Just what you wanted: more JaMarcus

ALAMEDA – Following the way the Raiders played in Green Bay, Lane Kiffin coming out and saying today JaMarcus Russell would play (but not start) against the Indianapolis Colts was the right move.

The Raiders hadn’t been beaten like that this season. And in Russell, they have a player that will energize the offense when he comes into the game.

Kiffin loves Russell’s leadership qualities and among them is his ability to remain calm when all is going wrong.

Kiffin has been very careful not to put Russell in situations where he might fail early on, but this weekend is a good chance to expose Russell to more.

With a week of preparation and increased practice snaps, Russell should play more than the two series he saw against Denver.

I believe Russell should start at least one of the last two games this season. If he plays a lot (say a whole half), that would be the next logical step.

****
Folks back in Green Bay are raising a fuss that Derrick Burgess had a couple of cheap shots on Brett Favre.

There were two hits at Favre’s knees and shins that coach Coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin were upset with.

Burgess wasn’t penalized in either case.

Kiffin said Burgess didn’t do anything intentionally and McCarthy conceded on one hit, Burgess was blocked into Favre.

But let’s leave it up to Favre to sum it up best as he did with local reporters:

"I got hit a fair amount. Some seemed kind of low, but I don't think any of them were on purpose. To me, it's kind of a vague call from a referee's standpoint. Sometimes I think he's either blocked into a guy or is stumbling or falling. It just happens that way, and to me that's what happened on that play and the other ones."

Another reason to like Favre. He knows how football is played and won’t complain about something like that.

The coaches should take a cue from the future Hall of Famer.
****
Among injured players, Josh McCown (finger) and Justin Fargas (ribs) both expect to play against the Colts.

Daunte Culpepper (quadriceps) will be assessed later in the week if he’s able to practice.

--Jason Jones

December 9, 2007
More thoughts from this loss

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Based on what I’m watching the Indianapolis Colts do to the Baltimore Ravens here in my hotel room, its hard to imagine the Raiders not being in line for another loss next week when the Colts come to Oakland.

The Packers offensive line is hardly the most dominant group around, but it pretty much shut down the Raiders pass rush in their 38-7 win.

As for how the Raiders did against the run, it’s a broken record at this point.

I’ve heard the Raiders lament missed assignments and players not being in the right gap as a reason why the Raiders sometimes look laughable against the run.

I caught part of what Rich Gannon said about the Raiders run defense and I agree. It starts up front. The Raiders linebackers and secondary are put in bad positions because the guys up front are often being dominated up front.

The Colts have one of the best offensive lines in football. Joseph Addai is next in line for well over 100 rushing yards.

****

Because nothing “positive” was happening on the field, Andrew Walter went into the game instead of JaMarcus Russell according to coach Lane Kiffin.

Simply put: If someone is going to be in the game with a good chance of being knocked silly, let it be Walter.

Because no one coddled Walter last year, he was on the wrong end of a lot of things that weren’t positive last year.

And it’s tough for him knowing he really has no future with the Raiders. Kiffin cares so much for Russell (rightfully so) he doesn’t want anything to go wrong for him.

I understand the need to do everything possible to make sure Russell is successful, but I think there would have been nothing wrong with letting have the final series of the game.

Things aren't always going to go well in a game and I'd like to see how Russell reacts when that happens.

Even though the reasons Walter was put in aren’t exactly flattering, Walter said the time made him remember he likes playing football.

At least Walter wasn’t on the wrong end of the negatives Josh McCown faced at Lambeau Field.

****
I didn’t get the chance to talk to Stanford Routt, but heard he wasn’t in the mood to talk about the long touchdown Greg Jennings caught on him.

Routt played the route well and was in position to make a play. He just didn’t so Jennings jogged the last 43 yards of his 80-yard touchdown after Routt fell down.

Another problem was the lack of deep safety help.

It appeared Stuart Schweigert bit on Brett Favre’s run fake on the play, which would explain why he was chasing at the end.

That’s another overlooked effect of the poor run defense. At the first sign of a run, Raiders safeties immediately have to respect it.

****
Can’t forget the penalties.

Two penalties that were horrible came in the second quarter. LaMont Jordan has a 26-yard reception to put the ball at the Raiders’ 44.

Jerry Porter, however, was called for pass interference. The replays at the stadium didn’t show that part of the play clearly, but Gannon seemed to think it was a questionable call.

So it’s second and 18. No big deal because Josh McCown then hit Zach Miller for a 25-yard gain.

Wait. Holding on Barry Sims. Back it up.

The drive ended with a punt that was returned by Will Blackmon for a touchdown.

It looked like he stepped out of bounds (I say look because you never know if an official will overturn what looks obvious) and put the Raiders down 14-0.

That was the first punt return for a score ever allowed since Shane Lechler has been a Raider.

Penalties. Just another part of Raider football.

--Jason Jones

December 9, 2007
Who's in?

GREEN BAY, Wis. – I was down on the field here at Lambeau last night and yes, part of the field was frozen. But it looks good today.

The weather is supposed to be fine, which is relative for this California kid.

Here are the inactive players for the Raiders:

JaMarcus Russell (3rd QB) – Lane Kiffin doesn’t wasn’t to expose him to the elements yet
QB Daunte Culpepper – No surprise. He didn’t practice this wee.
RB Dominic Rhodes – Now he’s not good enough to return kicks?
S Jarrod Cooper – He’s out for the year and the Raiders are wasting a roster spot by not putting him on injured reserve.
C Jake Grove – Knee injury keeps him out again
T Mario Henderson – Rookie tackle probably won’t see the field until next season
DT Josh Shaw – No role for him with Gerard Warren healthy.

--Jason Jones

December 8, 2007
Checking in from the cold

Just finished watching the Mayweather-Hatton fight out here in Wisconsin. Great fight.

I also toured Lambeau Field today. The people out here love their Brett Favre. There are so many stories of his good deeds, it’s hard not to like Brett.

But enough of that, on to some questions:

Question: Watching the Ravens' 11-man prison riot had me salivating. They were so physical the Patsies could hardly lift their arms after halftime, and shied form contact. A veteran SS ala Rod Woodson, and a Glenn Dorsey type up front would give Coach Caveman who he needs to terrorize the league. Dumping Stu for Eugene proves this. Do you see any good trades/FA pickups looming for us on either side of the ball? Jordan, Rhodes, and Walter are good trade bait. Any way we land Alan Faneca for the O-line?
Wayne, Los Angeles

Answer: Trades are hard to predict, especially when they involve players. Randy Moss was worth a fourth-round pick, but so were Josh McCown and Mike Williams. The Patriots gave up a second-round pick for Wes Welker. What a player is worth is hard to gauge. If the talk that Chad Johnson’s time in Cincinnati might be up, he would be someone the Raiders would have to target. The Raiders could lose Jerry Porter in free agency, and even if he doesn’t leave, the Raiders still need another receiver.

Trading LaMont Jordan or Dominic Rhodes wouldn’t be easy. Teams would likely wait the Raiders out to see if they are released. Also, Justin Fargas is a free agent after this season and Michael Bush is unproven. The Raiders might not be inclined to dump Rhodes or Jordan depending on what happens with Fargas. But I expect one will be gone.

Walter isn’t a lock to be traded either. Al Davis is a believer in keeping quarterbacks and hasn’t been willing to part with him.

Faneca is going to command a big contract and I’d be surprised if the Raiders go after him.

Question: I have been a Raider Faithful since 1976, and I have one big question that I seem to get a lot of flack for on other message boards I post on. Why doesn't anyone point out to Mr. Davis we need a GM that can pick players and talent? Mr. Davis has done this for a long time, and it works about once a decade. But looking at the best teams in the league for the last 30 years, you have to see the front office was the main reason. Your thoughts?
Blair, Ogden, Utah

Answer: I agree 100 percent. The Raiders’ scouting department needs a shake up in a major way.

There are a lot of “lifers” up there and they haven’t produced. Al Davis acknowledged as much when he hired Lane Kiffin and noted he was the lead recruiter and evaluated talent.

In some cases, Davis goes along with what they say and sometimes their judgments (obviously) are way off.

The Raiders have missed on several draft picks. And with how poorly the team has done, they should have more to show for it in young talent on the roster.

The biggest hole is in evaluating offensive talent.

Right now, the best pick on offense since the 2002 season has been Justin Fargas, who didn’t become the No. 1 back until this season.

How the Raiders' front office works is a mystery to a lot of people. You could even hear that this week in Lane Kiffin when he had no explanation why Jarrod Cooper, who is out for the season with a knee injury, hasn't been placed on injured reserve.

The Raiders could use another healthy player. And Kiffin has no idea why Cooper isn't on the IR.

Just another day with the Raiders.

Question: Why have the Raiders or any other team not try and sign linebacker LaVar Arrington? Could you imagine him with Morrison and Howard? Or turn him into a Pat Swilling type who could play end or L.B ?Am I the only one who thinks we should not have cut the hard hitting Donovin Darius. Even hurt he hits better and smarter than what we got.
Bryan, Antelope

Answer: Arrington is without a team because he retired after a ruptured Achilles last season and a motorcycle accident in June. He’s young and obviously could change his mind, but it looks like Arrington is done as a football player.

--Jason Jones

December 7, 2007
Duh...McCown will start

The news Josh McCown will start Sunday against the Packers is about as surprising as me stepping of the plane in Green Bay, Wis., today and realizing it’s under 30 degrees.

Of course McCown will start. Daunte Culpepper hasn’t practiced all week. And with JaMarcus Russell not having the full playbook to use yet, Kiffin wouldn’t start him against one the NFL’s best teams.

What’s interesting is the emotional roller coaster Andrew Walter must be on.

When McCown and Culpepper are healthy, he doesn’t dress for games.

Now that Kiffin doesn’t want to expose Russell to a hostile environment in cold weather, Walter will be the No. 2 quarterback provided Culpepper’s quadriceps injury isn’t miraculously better.

Walter has worked after practice to get ready in case he has to play. It’s a necessity because he doesn’t get to do much in practice when the other three quarterbacks are healthy.

Walter desperately wants out of Oakland. After a 2006 season that saw him battered and eventually need offseason knee surgery and was followed by the Raiders drafting Russell, he wants a chance to succeed elsewhere.

Just for the mental toll the last two years have had on him, Walter deserves that.

At least Kiffin cleared up one thing already. LaMont Jordan will be the No. 2 running back this week.

So unless Dominic Rhodes is returning kicks, he'll probably be inactive Sunday for a second straight game.

--Jason Jones

December 6, 2007
It looks like Josh

ALAMEDA – No Daunte Culpepper at practice again today.

So look for Josh McCown to be the starting quarterback in Green Bay.

Lost in the JaMarcus Russell talk was McCown actually played well against Denver.

There were no other players missing from practice.

Michael Bush made his way to the practice field, observed the drizzle and declared, “I love my job” before beginning his workout.

That’s probably the most upbeat I’ve seen him in the last couple of weeks since he learned he wouldn’t be activated for this season.

Bush cannot workout with the team because he’s on the physically unable to perform list.

--Jason Jones

December 5, 2007
McCown is the man - today

ALAMEDA – The Raiders starting quarterback hasn’t been decided yet, but that’s nothing new this season.

Daunte Culpepper (quadriceps) didn’t practice Wednesday. That left Josh McCown to lead the first-team offense.

Who the backup would be if Culpepper sits depends on whether Lane Kiffin wants to let JaMarcus Russell play in Green Bay.

If not, Andrew Walter would be No. 2, but wouldn’t have a set of plays to run to get experience as Russell did.

Kiffin said he would evaluate the position tomorrow. Culpepper said he doesn't want to rush himself back to the field.

He also said he wasn't hurt racing Stanford Routt, contrary to a televised report.

For those that don't know, and Culpepper reminded the media, he runs after every practice.

He said he probably shouldn't have run last Wednesday with his leg bothering him, but he was hurt in the Kansas City game, not racing a cornerback.

Culpepper said the same thing last week, but that didn't stop the television report. And a lot of folks tend to believe what they see on television.

There are no other injuries to report as of now. McCown (left pinky) practiced fine, he said.

****
Much is being made of the weather this weekend. It’s supposed to be 30 degrees or colder with scattered snowstorms.

Being born and raised in Southern California, I thought living in the Bay Area made for cold weather.

But the weather really isn’t that big of a deal for a couple of reasons.
The Raiders are running team so they won’t have to alter their playbook.

Also the field won’t be nearly as horrible as the field was in Pittsburgh a couple of Monday’s ago. Kiffin said he has a “disaster weather plan” but this weekend’s weather shouldn’t be disastrous.

--Jason Jones

December 5, 2007
Will we see C-Wood?

ALAMEDA – Today’s first disappointment: No Charles Woodson on the conference call from the Green Bay Packers.

It would have been nice to catch up with him and get his take on the Raiders, but it's not certain Woodson will play this Sunday.

Woodson hasn’t practiced since injuring the same toe that bothered him when he played for the Raiders and he missed Green Bay’s game against Dallas last Thursday.

So it was up to Packers coach Mike McCarthy to fill us on how Woodson is doing. McCarthy said he’s amazed at Woodson’s ability to play without practicing all week.

It’s something he mastered with the Raiders.

Brett Favre didn’t practice today, but unless his arm falls off, he’ll play.

As for Raider quarterbacks, Daunte Culpepper was not at practice this morning. That means Josh McCown and his many dinged up body parts could start in Green Bay.

Other regulars not practicing were Warren Sapp, Barry Sims and Jeremy Newberry. Jerry Porter was wearing a beanie, which means he probably has the day off, too.

And the Raiders added receiver Matt Trannon, from Michigan State, to the practice squad.

--Jason Jones

December 3, 2007
Make room at safety

ALAMEDA – I’ve received several emails over the course of the season about what the Raiders need to do at free safety.

Stuart Schweigert has been the target of criticism for missing tackles this season. Most assumed he would be benched when the Raiders signed Donovin Darius in the offseason because Darius could play strong safety and Michael Huff could replace Schweigert.

That didn’t happen because Darius didn’t make the team. But it looks as if Schweigert is now behind Hiram Eugene and Chris Carr in the secondary depending on the defensive set.

“Hiram’s playing really well right now,” said coach Lane Kiffin. “He’s tackling well and doing things.”

This goes along with how Kiffin has run things. Players that don’t play well will be benched, regardless of what they’ve done.

Prior to missing the Kansas City game, Schweigert had started 37 straight games.

Schweigert still plays on special teams. If he’s playing defense much the rest of the season remains to be seen.

****
Kiffin is also blunt in his assessment of players.

After Sebastian Janikowski missed a 58-yard field goal against the Broncos, he limped off the field.

Kiffin wasn’t buying that his kicker was hurt.

“I think ‘I missed the field goal and blame it on my leg look as you walk off,’” is how Kiffin described it. “There was nothing to it medically. I just think he was kind of down and felt something but there wasn’t very much to it.”

Coaches often lie about how a player is doing not to make them mad. Kiffin doesn't have that problem.

--Jason Jones

December 2, 2007
Raiders handling Russell right

OAKLAND – JaMarcus Russell is cool.

He said he wasn’t nervous in his first ever NFL game. And he didn’t look bad considering it was his first game.

Russell has felt ready to play for weeks. And he finally got his chance. It was important the Raiders do this because by sitting Russell all season, they would essentially be bringing back a rookie next season.

Lane Kiffin was noncommittal as to the plan for Russell for the rest of the season. He intimated he might not want to play Russell in Green Bay next week.

I like the plan with Russell if he keeps playing.

****
Another positive from the game was the continued involvement of Zach Miller in the passing game.

He caught three passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. He and John Madsen will be valuable assets for Russell as outlet receivers.

That Miller has shown he can get open deep will also help the receivers as safeties won’t be able to sit back and double receivers.

--Jason Jones

December 2, 2007
It's the Josh and JaMarcus show

OAKLAND – Today might be the day JaMarcus Russell sees the field.

Josh McCown will start for Daunte Culpepper, who is inactive with a quadriceps injury. There are reports Culpepper hurt himself racing Stanford Routt after practice, but Culpepper said that wasn’t the case.

Russell is the No. 2 quarterback which means Kiffin could insert him during the game for a few series.

Andrew Walter is the third quarterback.

The other inactives are:

RB Dominic Rhodes
CB John Bowie
S Jarrod Cooper
C Jake Grove
T Seth Wand
DT Josh Shaw

--Jason Jones



About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Get news in your inbox | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31