Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 27, 2008
Tackling a familiar problem

NAPA - The Raiders are emphasizing tackling a lot in practice.

Problem is the team isn't tackling in practice.

Defenders are encouraged to be in the right place and wrap up ball carriers.

But the Raiders aren't in full gear (they're still wearing shoulder pads, helmets and shorts) so there will be no real tackling.

Old school coachers everywhere are disgusted by that. But with 80 players, no NFL Europe exemptions and fear of losing players to injury, this is the way it is.

Anytime a ball carrier hits the grass, more than one coach can be heard yelling at players to "stay up."

But this is football, and that's not always easy to do. But can you blame anyone on defense for tackling?

The Raiders trace a lot of their problems stopping the run to an inability to tackle.

But what's a team to do if can't practice tackling until a preseason game?

"You just got to work on form-tackling drills and continue to put guys in those situations as much as you can," said Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.

Also the Raiders are depending on two additions in the secondary to help out.

Gibril Wilson's pedigree as a tackler is established. But coaches are also excited about the run support cornerback DeAngelo Hall can provide.

"Nobody talks about DeAngelo, but you can make a really good case about DeAngelo coming up and tackling people," Kiffin said. "He's not just a cover corner. He's made a number of hits and he's played in a cover two so they rolled up some times, guys in the flats, so he'll throw himself in there so he's going to help as well."

Dress rehearsal

It's only a practice.

Not a scrimmage. Not a game.


That's what Kiffin stressed when discussing the joint practice the Raiders will have with the 49ers on Aug. 4.

"I just know our guys will, we'll get a better tempo in practice than we will going against ourselves for another practice, another day," Kiffin said. "It's just a good changeup to have, I thought it would fit well as far as practicing the week that we play them because it kind of gives our guys a chance to prepare against what they're going to see."

Kiffin said he and 49ers coach Mike Nolan began discussing the idea about two months ago.

The schedule for the day is already done.

"We added a few things to assist them in what they're trying to get done," Kiffin said. "For the most part it will be the same format you guys are used to seeing. (Nolan's) been great about it. Our whole thing is just going to have to be safety, making sure our players understand this is a practice not a scrimmage. Other than that I think it will be very positive."

Hand games

Darren McFadden dropped a pass this morning and hasn't looked as sure-handed as he did in offseason workouts.

Most of the problems come when McFadden is lined up at wide receiver. He's looked fine catching screen passes.

Part of the Raiders' plan on offense is to stress defensive coordinators by putting McFadden at receiver, forcing them to decide whether to put a linebacker or defensive back on him.

But he's got to catch the ball out wide for that to work.

"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."

Oops, they did it again

Once again there were issues with the snap.

John Wade was the center on bad exchanges. The first was with the JaMarcus Russell, the second was with Andrew Walter.

With the team switching centers, this could continue to be a problem until someone wins the job.

Camp notes

*The play of the morning practice was an interception by cornerback Stanford Routt.

He made the pick while lying on receiver Drew Carter's back.

Carter was involved in one of the funnier plays of the morning, too.

He made a catch with Chris Johnson fighting for the ball as they landed on the grass. Carter yelled "tie goes to the receiver" before spending nearly 30 seconds rolling around before emerging with the ball.

*These are this morning's penalty runners:

OL Paul McQuistan

OL Mario Henderson. He ran one lap, but probably should have run at least three. He seems to have picked up Cornell Green's ability to be a split second early on the snap count, but isn't nearly as slick as Green.

TE Tony Stewart

DE Greyson Gunheim

*Safety Greg Wesley returned to practice after missing two days with back spasms. Tackle Kwame Harris (back) is supposed to practice tonight.

Receiver Javon Walker and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly had the morning off and will practice tonight.

TE/WR/RB Marcel Reece (hamstring) was able to perform some agility drills after practice.

*The kick return job is Tyvon Branch's for now. Johnnie Lee Higgins is the punt returner. Kiffin added McFadden could also be used as a returner.

*The team has about seven hours off the field. Special teams usually reports a little earlier. Media is allowed back on the field at 7 p.m.

--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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