Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 26, 2008
Huff is free

NAPA - Michael Huff looks the part of a natural free safety.

He made the play of the defense for the defense with a diving interception of a JaMarcus Russell pass.

"They brought me here to make plays, and I feel like I can use my speed, use my athletic ability to make plays," Huff said. "And when you have the two best corners in the game It makes it a lot easier for me, so I don't have to lean one way. I can look at the quarterback's eyes and find the ball."

Huff played the role of the good solider in his first two seasons. He never complained publicly about his sprinter's speed being used to cover tight ends as a strong safety.

But he's been liberated of having primary duty of tracking tight ends with Gibril Wilson on the team.

Plus, Wilson would probably be insulted if he weren't allowed to be near the line of scrimmage as much as possible.

Huff weighs 205 pounds. That's the result of doing all he could to bulk up to play in the box. He doesn't feel like he's any less quick right now.

Wilson has been a welcome addition and mentor to Huff. He had Huff with him last night working on tackling backup running backs after practice.

"Gibril's played a lot of free, so he's giving me some techniques and some little things I can use," Huff said. "Being an open-field tackler, that's the hardest part, and I feel he's definitely helped me with open field tackling that's been the biggest adjustment."

O-line watch

Left tackle Kwame Harris (lower back) did not practice. Paul McQuistan replaced him as the first-team left tackle. McQuistan has been playing a lot of guard thus far.

Lane Kiffin concedes Harris needs work in pass protection, which he attributes to Harris moving back to left tackle after playing on the right side in recent seasons.

Harris has looked fine in the run game, as expected.

"We've got a lot of hopes for him, and we're going to need him," Kiffin said.

Kiffin said Mario Henderson is being "cross-trained" to play left and right tackle so that if he is the third tackle on game day, he knows both sides.

Offensive line coach Tom Cable can be seen working with Henderson on his footwork a lot during practice.

Jake Grove is still taking first-team reps at center.

The simple things

Russell has made some throws in practice that look impossible. And he does it effortlessly.

"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 is stressing the little things.

"We've got to get him to do everything right, the little things, the little completions and the timing of everything," he said. "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"

Ups and downs of a rookie

During one-on-one passing drills rookie receiver Chaz Schilens beat cornerback Michael Waddell with double moves twice. Marques Tuiasosopo overthrew Schilens the first time but hit him in stride the second time.

But Schilens also drew the ire of receivers coach James Lofton on a running play later in practice.

"C'mon Chaz we might as well put 10 guys on the field," Lofton yelled as Schilens managed to block no one in particular.

Schilens came out after that play.

Camp notes

*Day 3 of training camp was by far the warmest day. Practice ended at 4:35 p.m., 25 minutes early

*The offensive tackles continue to struggle in pass protection against Derrick Burgess.

Kalimba Edwards had a decent day of practice as second defensive end in passing situations.

*Cornerback Chris Johnson was aggressive breaking on the ball. He landed on top of receivers more than once, even though the coaches don't want the players taking each other to the grass.

*McQuistan and Brandon Rodd were offensive linemen that had to run a lap for false starting.

*Sebastian Janikowski hit a 53-yard field goal during practice and made two from shorter distances.

*Rashad Baker, DeAngelo Hall and Waddell fielded punts from Shane Lechler after practice. Baker nearly knocked Kiffin down trying to catch a punt. Johnnie Lee Higgins has been the primary punt returner in practice.

*Safety Greg Wesley (back spasms), RB/WR/TE Marcel Reece (hamstring) and linebacker Grant Irons (hamstring) did not practice.

The Raiders will have two practices Sunday.

*Russell's father, Bobby Lloyd, attended practice.

--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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