Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 24, 2008
Kiffin knows who is in charge

NAPA - Lane Kiffin knows his role.

Perhaps the offseason drama served as a figurative smack down.

Maybe Kiffin is just choosing his words carefully.

But he's making it clear: all of the weird things about being an Oakland Raider that Warren Sapp, Stuart Schweigert, Mike Lombardi, Randy Moss or any other former Raider have complained about don't fall on him and he can't change them.

"What they're discussing I can't change so that subject is what it is," Kiffin said in his first press conference of training camp. "I go about and I control what I can control and get us as good as we can get with what I can control. I don't have control of that."

The Raiders job is unique in that Al Davis is not just the owner, but essentially the general manager, director of player personnel and college scouting.

Kiffin has learned to work with the constraints of being a coach under Davis, making headway where he can.

"I think you try to change anything there is as far as what you can do to be a better team," Kiffin said. "I'm always going to find the best way to do things that I can and the best way we can put our players in the best situation to win. That doesn't necessarily create a smooth environment or a smooth relationship but that's my job to our staff and our players, I feel."

Kiffin said he and Davis have a "working relationship" and they share the same goal of winning.

Kiffin said he wasn't worried that he wouldn't return as coach. As the old saying goes, he knew the job was dangerous when he took it.

"I think as we've discussed before, when you take this job you realize who the owner is and you realize most guys don't last really long so that is what it is," Kiffin said. "If you sit there and worry about that and you think about that you're not doing the best that you can for your team."

Kiffin begins controlling his domain, the practice field, today about 3 p.m.

Here are some highlights of Kiffin's chat:

LaMont Jordan update

"That's Al and LaMont's agent on that and I'm out of that. They're handling it so all the information I've got for you that was relayed to me is that they're continuing to work on it. LaMont won't be here and we won't be fining him."

Jordan's agent, Alvin Keels, will file a grievance if this isn't resolved soon. NFL rules prohibit teams from not allowing players to report.

On Javon Walker, who suffered a fractured jaw and orbital when robbed last month in Las Vegas according to a police report.

"I don't know about all those reports. I know this. I know he's here, that he's going to practice, and it's as if nothing happened as far as him being on the field. No restrictions at all that have to do with that. We're going to start out with him as one-a-days as far as two-a-days, but that has nothing to do with that."

Kififn said Walker's knee is fine and that he's in good shape after mentioning Walker needed to lose some weight multiple times this offseason.

"He ran well today. He's actually down about eight pounds about where he was last time we had him, and his body fat measurements were down as well. So I'm anticipating that he's in much better shape. He looked it, just what he did right there, but we'll see in the two-hour practice this afternoon."

Kiffin believes Walker will be more careful after being robbed.

"We all make mistakes as far as situations we put ourselves in, and I know Javon is going to be more safe as far as who he's around and having the right people around him. Javon's a really nice guy that is very trustworthy -- to a fault sometimes -- and has had a lot of people around him, maybe with not the proper security around him that you should have, especially (since) that it's so well known how much money he makes, so it was a learning experience for him.

Nnamdi Asomugha reporting in time for the first practice rather than holding out in protest of being the team's franchise player.

"I think it's a statement about who he is. Obviously he didn't have to be here. He could have stayed out of camp, and for him to be here the first day to run the conditioning test with us today, shows what a team player he is and who he is."

Every player passed the conditioning test, including Terdell Sands, listed at 335 pounds but was close to 400 pounds last season.

"Sands made his conditioning test today. I know there were some guys worried because in position groups if everybody didn't make a certain number they had to keep going. If everybody made a certain number they didn't have to do their final one. So a lot of guys were over there stretching Sands, giving him some extra Gatorade, they were cheering him on. But it was good because the position groups went at different times so guys were on the sidelines, other position groups, cheering him on."

Kiffin estimates there will be seven or eight new starters on the team. His goal of "fixing the locker room" is moving and he thinks he's seen progress.

"I think we work better," Kiffin said. "I think our players are more positive in the way they go about things. They don't look to the negative as much as when we got here. There was so much negativity when we got here, so much losing, so much the players were always complaining about this or whining about that. And I think we've gotten rid a lot of that. We've got some guys out here that were that way and we have some guys that were on the fence that we got to change. I know our environment is better and the way our players go about their work is better. Now we've just got to put this new guys together and form a team."

Kiffin is happy to have Darren McFadden in camp and ready to go after not having JaMarcus Russell all of camp last year.

Kiffin reports Russell is in good shape and did fine in the conditioning test even though he's 50 pounds heavier than some of the quarterbacks.

McFadden spent a lot of time in the Bay Area preparing for camp. Kiffin already likes how McFadden and Russell carry themselves.

"Darren's been here most of the last month even though guys were off and didn't' have to be here," Kiffin said. "He was here working out and is in phenomenal shape. The thing that I really like about both of them is they're real football guys. They really do like football, they like being out here. I think Darren will practice for four hours if you let him. Since I've known him I've never heard one negative thing come out of his mouth."

Camp notes

*The 49ers will be in Napa on Aug. 4 for two practices prior to their Aug. 8 preseason game against the Raiders.

The day will be fun like a regular Raiders two-a-day session. The first practice will be 9-11 a.m. followed by a 7-9 p.m. practice.

*Today's practice will be in pads.

*Walker (knee), WR Ronald Curry (foot), DT Tommy Kelly (knee), center Jake Grove (knee) and safety Jarrod Cooper (knee) will be limited to one practice a day to start training camp.

All spent part of the offseason rehabbing from their injuries. Kiffin said they would be re-evaluated in a week.

Kelly is heavier than the team would like but Kiffin doesn't believe it will be a problem getting Kelly ready for the season.

--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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