Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

October 16, 2008
In search of the right receivers

ALAMEDA - The wide receiver rotation for Sunday's game is starting to sort itself out.

Coach Tom Cable hasn't announced who the starters will be. He said today one change would be rookie Chaz Schilens would play more.

"I think there's some guys I feel need to play more," Cable said. "And that's kind of where we're headed, and we'll get that sorted out pretty quick."

Schilens has been on the other end of some misses for long passing plays this season from JaMarcus Russell.

"We've been working on that in practice," Schilens said. "We're going to be throwing a lot more deep balls and they've been really emphasizing it."

That means Ashley Lelie is still going to play and Johnnie Lee Higgins would be expected to help in that area.

A legitimate deep threat would do a lot for the offense. If safeties have to respect the Raiders' ability to get down the field, there will be more running lanes and tight end Zach Miller would have more room.

Cable has cited timing being a problem in the passing game along with too many dropped passes.

"You see those guys, they stay out, the quarterbacks stay out, throwing extra balls, throwing early, they were out early," Cable said. "Really, what you have to do is just get guys focusing on hand-eye coordination, seeing the ball in, all the way, securing the football all the way, and just keep catching balls, whether it's from a machine or the quarterback until you get that break through and you get your confidence back in there."

With a few more catches, Russell's numbers would improve because he'd be able to get into a rhythm.

Dropped passes mean throwing more passes, often in tougher situations.

The Raiders don't only drop deep passes. They've also been dropping short passes that prevent them from getting into shorter second and third-down situations.

Michael Huff admitted to being surprised he'd been benched.

Cable never said Huff had been officially benched, but Huff confirmed he'd be a backup this week and hope to get in as an extra defensive back.

"Right now, Hiram's starting because I haven't produced the way like I should have these first four or five games," Huff said. "So as of right now, he's starting."
Huff expected to be a lot better at free safety and it looked as if he would be during the offseason. Instead of being undersized at strong safety, Huff was supposed to be a playmaker at free safety and that hasn't happened.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself," Huff said. "I expect to go out there and perform at a Pro Bowl caliber level every year so when I don't, I've kind of disappointed myself. I don't like to have the name on my back. I play for my dad, really, so anytime I go out there and don't play as well as I could, I know I'm letting him down so I put more pressure on myself than I have from any outside source."

As for Eugene, here's what Cable likes about him:

"I think the thing about Eugene that impresses me is I've seen him throw his body around in there. I've seen him get out of center field and get to the sideline with some range. Not that Michael hasn't, but I just see it with a little more zip, a little more flair if you will, and that's what we're looking for, we're looking for intensity on defense."

DE Derrick Burgess (triceps) and TE Ben Troupe (foot) were the only Raiders that did not practice.

Burgess would need to practice Friday to have a chance of playing Sunday. Troupe's foot was sore after practicing Wednesday and he isn't likely to play because of the injury along with him still being new to the team with limited practice time.

LB Isaiah Ekejiuba (shoulder) was limited in practice.

Sunday's game has been declared a sellout and will be televised locally.

--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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