Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 25, 2008
Another fullback option?

ALAMEDA - Here's an idea the Raiders are considering.

The new backup fullback is ... Michael Bush?

"Yeah ... that's all I'm going to say about that," Bush said.

The No. 3 tailback could be the No. 2 fullback.

Bush took some snaps at the position today. It's obviously not Bush's first choice. But after being off the field for nearly two years, he'll accept it.

"Yeah, that's a way to get on the field more," Bush said. "I've always been a team player, too, so it's one of those things, you just suck it up, go about your business and try to have some fun with it."

Bush said he wasn't against playing both roles in the offense. He weighs about 250 pounds, but run blocking and running with the ball takes different skills.

"I'm still waiting for my chance to carry the ball, as well," Bush said. "The more I can do the better, be a versatile player. So, that's a good thing."

There's no comment from Lane Kiffin on this because by time the media knew of this, Kiffin was done speaking with the media.

****
Here's Kiffin on Jarrod Cooper's decision to retire this morning:

"Cooper came in this morning and just decided that it was time. He played (seven) years in the league, has had three knee surgeries, he's never regained his speed on this last surgery, that was obvious in the preseason games. Whether we would have released him or not, that is really irrelevant. He came in and was just done playing and wanted to retire. He said bye to everybody. We wish him the best. He's a really neat guy who has done a lot of things here, has a lot of relationships with a lot of the players here. It maybe even something that we keep him involved during the season, coming in on Wednesdays during the special teams meetings, being around the guys and working with the young guys as well."

The player that will need to fill Cooper's role on special teams is Tyvon Branch.

The rookie looked good as a gunner on punt coverage last week against Arizona.

Kiffin even cracked a slight smile when talking about Branch:

"Every time Tyvon has a chance to do something on special teams he's looked great. He just looks faster than everybody else out there. That's a credit to him. That's not just speed, it's the way he plays and how hard he plays. The play the other night was as good as it gets. That's the second time he's had a gunner rep. He's had a rep that's looked like a Pro Bowl gunner, a guy who looks like a legitimate special teams Pro Bowler. If he can carry that over, he can be a dynamic special teams player for us."

Branch realizes that will be his role on special teams until the cast is off his hand and he can return kickoffs in addition to his other special teams duties.

"Coop is a great guy," Branch said. "He's helped me out a lot since I've been here. All I can try to do is fill his shoes."

Branch already has the right mentality to be a standout on special teams.

"I give 100 percent effort on everything I think it just pays off," he said. "Especially at gunner you've got to be relentless."

****
Arman Shields last practiced sometime before the first exhibition game. He's not sure when it was, but he was glad to be back on the field today.

He said there was no need to feel rushed during practice.

"I feel comfortable because while I was out our coach put a big emphasis on getting mental reps," Shields said. "So I made sure I was there mentally and I tried to run the plays through in my mind so I felt fine."

Shields impressed coaches when he did practice. But he has a lot of time to make up. He hasn't played in the preseason and needs all the experience he can gain if he has any chance of playing this season.

"It's hard to do what he's doing, to just come back right now as a rookie and just remember everything and be able to go in there," Kiffin said. "But movement-wise, he looked pretty good."

****
Kiffin would like another veteran receiver and not go into the season with little experience behind Javon Walker and Ronald Curry.

He's hopeful to "have someone soon."

"I'm sure that our personnel department will find us a receiver, and add it to our group and see how far we can take him," Kiffin said.

One solution will not be to use Darren McFadden as a receiver.

If you want to know why, Kiffin explains:

"It does give the guy more opportunities if it's a position that you don't have a lot of guys at. But you're not going to go out there and run receiver routes with him, as far as all the routes that they run. Those guys have been doing it for so long. For him to run deep comebacks and post corners, I think you're wasting your time and I think you're going to lessen what he's here to do. You'll look for matchup things where he's on a safety or a linebacker, where he's not necessarily replacing a receiver but is out of the backfield. It can help if you're receiver unit is not as deep and strong as you'd like it to be, yeah there could be more opportunities for him."

****
Kiffin is leaning toward not playing several regulars Friday in Seattle after having lost two key players, Drew Carter and Oren O'Neal, in last week's preseason game.

Most teams play their regulars for at least a series.

"I don't know if that's really of value," Kiffin said. "I know that's the way people usually do it, but I'm probably going to lean toward maybe not playing these starters at all. For one series of work, I don't see where that's really worth the benefit of going out there. If a guy's not ready, I don't know what one series of work is going to do."

That's the right call.

****
S Michael Huff, CB Nnamdi Asomugha and S Rashad Baker all missed practice with ankle injuries.

S Hiram Eugene (hip) and P Shane Lechler (quadriceps) are still out.

K Sebastian Janikowski could kick against the Seahawks by handling kickoffs in the first half and field goals for the entire game.

"It depends how much (Kiffin) wants to use me," Janikowski said. "It's up to him."

*DE Jay Richardson had a temperature of 105 this morning and did not practice. Kiffin said Richardson wasn't taken to the hospital.

*The Raiders signed defensive back Nate Lyles. He's an undrafted rookie from Virginia that was waived by the New York Jets on Aug. 18.

*CB John Bowie said the goal is to avoid surgery on his injured right knee that forced the team to put him on injured reserve.

He has torn cartilage in the knee.

"This year I really wanted to try to establish myself as a special teams player and possibly work myself into the rotation," Bowie said.

After playing very little as a rookie, Bowie will sit out the season as pundits slam the Raiders, who traded Randy Moss to New England for a fourth-round draft pick that ended up being Bowie.

"I know I'm going to hear a lot of that," Bowie said. "It's tough, but it's life."

*The Raiders have 77 players on their roster and will need to cut two more tomorrow.

--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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