Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 20, 2008
The lingering problem

ALAMEDA - "Back in the huddle! Discipline!"

Those were Lane Kiffin's words after Tommy Kelly jumped offsides in practice.

"That was disappointing because it was third down and it wasn't even a hard count," Kiffin said.

Discipline is a yearly issue with the Raiders, who usually rank near the top in penalties committed.

Kiffin noted in spite of all the good-feelings about the running game the Raiders' offensive line ranked first in penalties last year.

"We're not skipping over that," he said. "That has been talked about this offseason a lot with them and it's somewhere that we have to improve, and through two games in the preseason we have improved in that. We need to continue to improve in that."

Kiffin (thankfully) doesn't buy into the conspiracies that the NFL is out to get the Raiders.

He believes the Raiders need to develop a mental toughness to prevent penalties.

"If you look at the breakdown of our offensive line penalties; where were they? Third down, fourth quarter and, especially, on the road," Kiffin said. "Well, what is that? Well, that's crowd noise and that's being tired. So, we try to put them in those situations as much as we can."

One of the next steps in JaMarcus Russell's development is having the savvy to know when to get rid of the ball.

He showed a knack for when to move in the pocket last week in Tennessee. Kiffin said having the so-called internal clock only comes from game experience.

"You can't do it in practice," Kiffin said. "You can say as much as you want: 'Ball gone, ball gone' when it's got to be gone but it's not the same as getting hit in the back of the head when you hold onto it too long. That's why we're playing him a lot in the preseason."

To help aid that, Russell will only play with the starting offensive line.

Because if you saw the hit Andrew Walter took last week with Mario Henderson at left tackle, it's easy to understand Kiffin doesn't want Russell's clock skewed.

If Russell weren't going to be in the game, Kiffin would sit the starters up front earlier.

"I (normally) wouldn't play that offensive line that long because I'm so worried about those guys with injuries," Kififn said. "(But) they need to play with JaMarcus because you can't put JaMarcus in there with the seconds."

So when you do get in, keep your head on a swivel Mr. Walter.


Practice tidbits

*Another down day for Raiders receivers. It's been a while since Kiffin has praised the unit.

So apparently Kiffin coming out and saying the passing game would be fine if the receivers did their part hasn't fired the group up.

" I don't how many today, probably seven drops today, and a number of them with our frontline guys," Kiffin said. "So we'll see. We'll come out here tomorrow and the plan is for these guys to play a lot in the game and get some shots to produce."

*When Kelly ran his lap for his penalty, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan joined him for a few yards to get him to pick up the pace.

*Russell has a pass intercepted by undrafted rookie defensive lineman Derrick Gray who leapt to snag a pass after dropping into coverage.

Oddly enough, Gray admitted after practice he doesn't have good hands. Well, they looked good for a play.

*Owner Al Davis watched practice from a golf cart on the sidelines.

*K Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring), P Shane Lechler (quadriceps), CB John Bowie (knee), LB Grant Irons (lower back) and S Hiram Eugene (hip) all missed practice.

Eugene is the only injured player that could see time this weekend.

--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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