Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 24, 2008
Kiffin keeps praising Russell

Tidbits from Lane Kiffin's conference call this afternoon:

*JaMarcus Russell is still playing well (and obviously better than Matt Leinart) according to coach Lane Kiffin.

"He did not force balls," Kiffin said. "He had one poor throw, the interception. Other than that, he didn't force things. He did well, especially under all the pressure he was under. He wasn't back there setting his feet a lot. He had to move around a lot and made plays on the run."

The throw to Zach Miller in the back of the end zone was close to a touchdown. Russell showed nice touch to place the ball in a spot where Miller could make a play.

Russell's throw to Ronald Curry in the end zone should have been a touchdown considering he was being covered by a linebacker, Karlos Dansby.

"Ronald slows down right as he is going to release it on him," Kiffin said. "The linebacker runs into him behind him, something that could have been called. That was a good throw."

The linebacker running into Curry is a problem, but Curry being unable to run away from a linebacker is also a problem.

Oren O'Neal's knee injury is one that could end his playing days.

"I never want to say that, but it's as bad as it can get as far as issues with the knee according to (trainer) Rod (Martin) this morning," Kififn said. "Unofrtunately, it'll be a long process."

Drew Carter is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Here's what Kiffin said are the team's options to replace Carter:

"Well two things. There are always a few guys who have been veterans at every position taht wait for things to happen like this, for teams to get injuries. They stay in shape and they know their bodies so they know they can still come in late in camp and still contribute. So that's one option, one way of going at it. There are a number of guys out there. Another option is to wait either until a couple of days for these first cuts or even more for the last cuts. The last cuts, some good people are getting let go on some of the good teams."

Veterans looking for work include Joe Horn and Koren Robinson.

Robinson has had some issues with the league involving alcohol but appears to have moved past them after being suspended because of those problems.

He spoke at the NFL's rookie symposium to warn young players about the trappings of alcohol and fame.

Robinson might be able to step in and contribute immediately.

A call to Robinson's agent, Alvin Keels, wasn't immediately returned.

Horn is an older receiver that might be inclined to join a team with a better chance of making the playoffs.

Replacing O'Neal will be tough. "Big O" is a punishing blocker. Kiffin called the Raiders only other backup fullback, Marcel Reece, "a project" because he played wide receiver in college.

Ideally the team probably would have liked to put Reece on the practice squad and let him learn the position and not have him forced into action.

Some injury and news on the depth chart"

*CB Nnamdi Asomugha and S Rashad Baker both have ankle injuries that aren't considered serious. They'll miss practice time.

K Sebastian Janikowski (hamsrting) could kick this Friday in Seattle for the preseason finale. P Shane Lechler (quadriceps) is still out.

Kiffin hopes WR Arman Shields (knee) can return to practice this week.

The rookie showed promise before his knee began acting up on him.

Now his first season could go to the wayside.

"I wouldn't want to put a ceiling on it but it would be pretty tough," Kiffin said. "These guys have had so many reps of running our offense, he's missed so much time. It would be difficult but you never want to count him out."

*Kiffin said he'd have more to say on who his starting center would be tomorrow. Jake Grove and John Wade are in line for the job.

The only other job up for grabs is between Ricky Brown and Robert Thomas at outside linebacker.

With Carter, Curry is the starting receiver opposite Javon Walker.

*Fred Wakefield saw extended time at right tackle and "struggled."

He moved to the offensive line during training camp after being a tight end and defensive end for the Raiders.

"In his defense, it's a hard thing to do," Kiffin said. "He's been moved around so many times. You get in the NFL, and you've got guys playing positions who have played them for years and he's going from d-end to d-takcle to guard to offnesive tackle. It's been a difficult transition for him."

*For those of you wondering why Darren McFadden hasn't been doing all the things advertised when he was drafted, don't worry.

"All I can say on that is I have to continue to remind you guys that it's preseason and you guys can figure out what that means," Kiffin said.

The "guys" Kiffin referred to were reporters that ask about what McFadden is/isn't doing.

But there's no doubt many fans were asking the same thing.

--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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