Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 1, 2008
Russell's passes look like a normal QB's

NAPA - JaMarcus Russell's passes picked up some steam today. He's still not his normal self according to his coach.

"He's still being safe with it," Lane Kiffin said. "If it wasn't him you wouldn't even notice. But because he's throwing the ball like other quarterbacks do now velocity wise as opposed to what he usually does. We had it checked by a number of people and nobody sees it being a long-term issue."

Russell hurt the elbow Tuesday morning when he hit it against Darren McFadden's helmet during a throw.

Russell's first two of passes during the team session were dump offs to McFadden. As practice progressed Russell's throws looked stronger.

He wore a sleeve on his arm during practice as well as after practice.

Kiffin said he's taken some reps away from Russell because of the arm injury but hasn't altered the playcalling.

Upon further review

Last night's practice collision involving Michael Bush was against Kirk Morrison on the goal line in the first live practice of camp.

The winner, Kiffin said, was Bush.

"Him and Morrison were unblocked in the hole and that was our first chance to see what we've all hoped that Mike's going to be," Kiffin said. "He lowered his pads and ran over him and got us in the end zone. Probably out of the eight live plays on the goal line ... it was worth it to go live, nobody got hurt, just really to see Michael do that."

A play like that was a long time coming for Bush. It was his first full-contact action since his last college game in Sept. 2006 when he broke his leg.

"I just wanted some contact," Bush said. "I'm still waiting for the game so I can strap it on and have some fun against guys other than my teammates. It's one of those things, I haven't been in pads for a long time and the low man wins. It was a good battle."

Watkins still impressive

A training camp practice seems incomplete unless Todd Watkins makes a hard catch look easy.

Watkins was up to it again today. His acrobatic catch over Darrick Brown set up a touchdown pass to Chaz Schilens to end practice.

"A year ago, we tried him out and ended up bringing him back," Kiffin said of Watkins. "The guy's made a number of plays. We were going through some lists today and some different people back in the rooms, I'm not going to tell you exactly where, but a number of guys on the staff had him extremely high on their list."

Joseph evaluation

DT William Joseph has begun to show up against the run in recent practices.

He was signed as a free agent in the offseason after an injury-filled stint with the New York Giants.

Joseph was a first-round pick in 2003 and missed all of last season with a back injury.

"He made a number of plays last night and it was good to see too because we had pads on when he was doing it and that's what matters in the end," Kiffin said. "He's got to be more consistent in his play. He is powerful and big but he gets reached and cut off too much right now for us and that's where we really need to improve him. He really needs to be a more consistent player. He's not played a lot of football since he's been in the NFL."

Henderson has "work" to do

Second-year tackle Mario Henderson said he is improving but still has room for improvement.

He's focusing on the mental side of the game and not taking plays off, he said.

"I could (start if needed) but right now I still have a lot of work to do," Henderson said. "That's why I'm just taking this training camp one day at a time."

Kiffin was blunt in his assessment of Henderson on Thursday. He said Henderson wasn't close to pushing for a starting job and his overall game needed improvement.

"I'm sure he's probably trying to fire me up because that's his job," Henderson said. "Like I said, I'm just coming out here to work every day. They're the coaches, they know a lot better than I do. I still do have a lot to work on. So, that's the one thing I got to do is just work hard."

The Raiders traded this year's third-round draft choice last year to move up to select Henderson in the third round.

That's not lost on him.

"I think about that every day and I say, 'I'm glad I'm not a first-round pick because that would be a whole bunch of pressure,'" Henderson said. "Not that it's not a lot of pressure, first of all, them just drafting me first year, no matter what round, because they believe that you can play. I just have to work hard to show them that I was worth that pick that I was picked up at

Henderson takes solace in knowing that he took time to develop in college, too. He didn't start until his senior season. But this, he admits, is different.

"When you come here, you don't have any scholarships," Henderson said. "You can't sit around for four years. You better get it now. I still can get cut, drafted or not. So, that's the one thing that I got to keep on my mind."

Camp notes

*DT Terdell Sands had his knee drained and did not practice. Kiffin said Sands would be put on a one-a-day practice schedule when there two practices in a day.

*DT Gerard Warren (thigh) is still out as are CB John Bowie (knee) and LB Grant Irons (hamstring). WR Arman Shields (knee) did not practice.

*The offense had to work from it's own end zone with loud music again.

*C Jesse Boone ran a lap after he moved the ball before snapping it causing the entire defensive line to jump.

*LB Robert Thomas was back with the first-team linebackers. He and Ricky Brown have taken turns at the strongside linebacker spot in camp.

*Kiffin said he would like to carry five receivers on the roster.

*The team didn't practice in pads after wearing full gear Thursday night. There will be two practices Saturday and the team will be off Sunday before practicing with the 49ers on Monday.

--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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