Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 29, 2008
Coop brings it

NAPA - Today's hitter of the day: Jarrod Cooper.

Sure, this isn't "full" contact, but Cooper laid a hit on John Madsen during seven-on-seven that jarred the ball loose for a forced fumble.

"You got grown men out here playing football, bumping into each other," Cooper said. "Somebody's going to get mad. And today, I got mad. Yesterday, somebody else got mad, but I took the mad role today. It worked."

By the way, Cooper said this while smiling.

Cooper took down rookie tight end Darrell Strong too on a play that was a little too close for Lane Kiffin's liking.

"There was the first play, which I was fine with," Kiffin said. "He hit the guy and it was straight up. We need that, we need to be more physical on defense. I've got no problem with that and our young players need to see that. ... There was a second play where he was down at the guy's legs. We don't want that obviously. We want them to protect their teammates."

Cooper conceded as much.

Well, not really.

"I got a little heated on the second one," Cooper said. "I probably shouldn't have tackled the rookie but, first of all, he's a rookie so I'm not worried about him. But you got to be smart."

Another thumper

Fullback Oren O'Neal was throwing his body into linebackers today without fear in short-yardage situations.

"They brought me here to be a hammerhead and I like to show them I can hit," O'Neal said.

Kiffin has always praised O'Neal's work ethic. He wouldn't mind having more players that enjoyed contact as much as O'Neal.

"He's never going to say a speech," Kiffin said of O'Neal. "He's never going to talk to the guys. Sometimes he doesn't talk the whole day. He lets his play do the talking and he's valuable to us on special teams as well as fullback."

Quarterback watch

JaMarcus Russell left for lunch with ice on his right elbow. Kiffin and Russell said it was nothing serious.

Russell was seen shaking his arm during practice.

Kiffin continues to stress that Russell needs to make good decisions on the field.

"The biggest priority there is to get him out of the college mode where he had such good receivers, those three guys that he played with, that are all high draft picks, that he can just throw the ball up and they'd make plays all the time," Kiffin said. "You've got to get him out of that mentality and make sure he's doing the right thing with the ball."

Backup battle

Kiffin said there is competition for the right to backup Russell between Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo.

Both will get a lot of work in the preseason behind Russell, who will probably play longer than most starters because he needs more game experience.

"They'll both play a ton in preseason and see who can move us and who can make really good decisions," Kiffin said. "The backup quarterback will be decided by who takes care of the ball the best."

Moving around

The Raiders are experimenting with moving Derrick Burgess around instead of keeping him at his usual spot at left defensive end.

He's been on the right side and also dropped into coverage like a linebacker.

Burgess, who has looked good thus far, is being moved to try to prevent him from being double teamed so much.

Today's random thing overheard during practice

"How about three of you (expletives) stay and one of you get out!"

Angry Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after he asked for a 3-4 defense and four defensive linemen were on the field. Rookie Greyson Gunheim was the (sucker) that left the field.

Camp notes

*Kiffin liked the way RB Michael Bush lowered his shoulders during short yardage.

*Watching players run their lap for penalties can be funny. Paul McQuistan was called for a false start and took his lap.

Defensive tackle William Joseph was called for being offsides and ran about half a lap before joining his teammates.

*Todd Watkins continues to make plays in the passing game. Madsen also made some nice grabs.

*Ricky Brown continued to work with the first team at strongside linebacker this morning.

*S Greg Wesley (back), LB Grant Irons and DT Tommy Kelly did not practice. CB John Bowie (knee) left practice early but said he was fine.

*Fred Wakefield worked at right tackle today, his second day as an offensive lineman. He was playing defensive end at the start of came.

--Jason Jones

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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.

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