Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 5, 2008
Asomugha is unhappy

ALAMEDA - Here's what we learned today:

Those of you that think waiving DeAngelo Hall would somehow make Nnamdi Asomugha happy because it might mean more money for him are wrong.

Asomugha was not too happy with what's going on in Oakland after finding out Hall had been waived.

"He had eight games to prove himself which is what really got me," Asomugha said. "I was sitting at home last night, watching the election and all that and excited, and then he calls me, hurt, because he wanted to finish out the season here. And he told me he was getting cut and it was just shocking. I couldn't make any sense of it. He had eight games to prove himself. I don't think that was enough."

Asomugha said Hall was playing better. And he wasn't the only one who thought so.

Here's interim head coach Tom Cable on Oct. 27:

"He really has become the DeAngelo I know from Atlanta. His confidence is back up. I think early on we may have asked to play a little more off coverage and those types of things, but that's not really is his personality, that's now who he is. He wants to be up on you, challenge you. He knows he's going to get a bunch of balls thrown his way because no one wants to throw to Nnam. I think yesterday, hopefully is a version of what the future holds, he's a very, very good player. I had the fortune of being around him early and seeing that. To me it was just getting him back where he likes to play, up on you and don't let people have all that room. Anybody can catch a football if you don't get up on him, cover him."

Here's what Cable had to say today:

"When you look at the consistency and the play and those sorts of things, it was just the decision we felt was right for this football team. We did not want to stay where we're at. Felt like that was very important that we don't do that, that we move forward and that was the decision that was made."

And there's also this from Cable:

"We just felt this needed to be done for our team to move forward. It's what it is. We really felt like we were going to get more out of getting him here and all that he brings to the table in terms of his talent. Just didn't go the way we wanted it to and like I said, he's worked hard, he's been a great human being while he's here but we wish him well in his future."

Asomugha was about as angry as you'll ever see him.

His words were pointed and he's clearly bothered by what happened to Hall.

After dealing with Lane Kiffin being fired, players being benched and Hall being waived, Asomugha is tired of the drama after joining the team in 2003. He ranks this the worst season in terms of off-the-field issues.

"This would actually be No. 1 as far as what's been going on," Asomugha said. "And I'll tell you why, because it's been eight weeks. It hasn't been 16 weeks. It's been eight weeks of all the back and forth. The first half of the season this has probably been No. 1 as far as things that can be perceived as distractions aside from football."

When asked if all the issues made him less reluctant to re-sign with the Raiders, he issued a "no comment" related to anything to do with his contract.

Asomugha is playing under the franchise tag this season, making $9.765 million.

Asomugha did have something to say about the Michael Huff and Ronald Curry being benched.

"I still can't make sense of that one either," Asomugha said of Curry. "That's why I said there's been some things that have been going on, some shakeups, that I haven't agreed with. Like I said, I'm not allowed to speak on it because we're just supposed to shut up and play. But you ask me if I agree with it? I don't agree with it. Ronald Curry has, since I've been here, been my best work on the field. Without question of any receiver that's come through here. He hasn't played. Now he's inactive. I don't know what's going on. Now with Michael Huff, he's still a developing safety who got his position changed. I don't know if he got enough time to develop. I guess it's the nature of what's been going on here. If you don't perform within an allotted time, they you move on."

Asomugha said he spoke with Cable to voice his displeasure about what's been happening and that he'll also try to speak with owner Al Davis.

"I'm sure I'll be speaking to him soon," he said. "Just about the nature of what's going on. I think I've been here long enough that we can have that discussion, how this thing can get better."

*Cable admitted he hadn't spoken to Hall. That's the second major decision in which the head coach didn't speak with the player.

Curry, a team captain, said last week when he was benched, Cable was supposed to discuss it with him and never did.

Say what you will about Curry's play, but a team captain (who doesn't even go out for the opening coin toss anymore) and one of the longest-tenured Raiders deserves a little more than that.

Cable said waiving Hall was a collective decision. Given the two have a relationship dating back to their time in Atlanta, you'd think he'd at least speak to Hall.

Here's how Cable explained the decision to waive Hall and whether it was a hasty decision:

"I think that when you look at our football team, you have to do something drastic, something that's going to impact your football team. We have good players on this team, as I've said before, so we're about being a team, about being one, about doing what the coaches ask you to do and going out and playing and improving. So something needed to be done and that was the decision that was made."

So was there some behind-the-scenes problem?
"Not with DeAngelo," Cable said. "DeAngelo's been a pleasure to have here. No issues that way."

Was it about Hall's effort?

"I'm not going to get into that," Cable said. "We've made a decision, and it's over, and we're moving forward."

The team saved $16 million by waiving Hall but contends the decision wasn't about money.

But how else do you explain waiving a player that ballyhooed as a savior on defense, so much so, he was worth a deal that could have paid him $70 million?

The team said it was about performance. But how long did Larry Brown last as a Raider cornerback?

"That's why I can't make any sense of it," Asomugha said. "I don't know exactly what went into the release but he's been playing, he's been getting better with each game. He's a good player in this league, I think we all know that. We all know (Oakland is) probably the most difficult place to play if you're a corner, no matter who you are, no matter how much you get paid. He came in and the first game was rough but he got better since then. A lot of blame went to him. I just didn't think it was right."

*Cable said it was obvious that Chris Johnson would replace Hall.

Was it?

Stanford Routt has been the nickelback all season and started 14 games last season.

"Chris Johnson we believe was the third best corner here, and at some point it became he was the second best corner here," Cable said. "That facilitated the ability to make this decision the way we have."

*Players are wondering what's going on. Cable would like waiving Hall to be a move that rallies the team that at 2-6 is only two games out of the division lead.

But players are confused.

"I've never been in a situation where you cut one of the best players," said safety Gibril Wilson. "That's strange to me. It's almost like we're throwing in the towel. We have eight games to go and we're two games down in the division. All we need to do is get on a roll in November and the next thing you know we're right back in this thing. For me, the sense I got was we're kind of throwing in the towel. There's still eight games left. You never know what could happen."

Asomugha said all the turmoil around the team is impacting players.

"There's a lot of guys that being honest have played on their heels here at some point within the last eight weeks," he said. "There are a number of guys who are like, 'If I mess up once, I'll be gone.' Or, 'If I mess up once, someone else will take my spot.' It's a difficult thing to do as a player. You want to go out and have that confidence that you can go out and make mistakes and still get better. But when it seems like you're on a time schedule it's kind of difficult to always play up to par and not be hesitant like a lot of guys have shown that they've been."
Wilson came to the Raiders as a free agent after winning a Super Bowl in New York. He never imagined the season going like this.


"The direction of the franchise should be championship," Wilson said. "I mean, that's common knowledge. We ain't up in here just to collect a check. I would hope everybody's vision is to get a championship. Not anything else but to get a championship. I'm assuming (laughter) that their thing is championship."

But a 2-6 record and moves that make the team look like it is focused on 2009 aren't easy for Wilson to deal with.

When Hall called him, Wilson thought it was he, not Hall that had been cut. He was shocked to learn Hall was no longer a teammate.

"Right now, to be honest, football's not even really fun just because of all the losing and stuff," Wilson said. "Coming to work is kind of hard. Now dealing with D getting cut and all that stuff ... "

*Henderson is being put in position to compete with Kwame Harris for time at left tackle.

If you don't remember, he was given that same chance at right tackle in the offseason, too.

"We need to get Mario Henderson to the point where he can compete with Kwame at that left tackle spot," Cable said. "We have not played well there. So we've put that into a competition mode, and we've done that at a number of positions."

When asked if Henderson could start this week against Carolina, Cable said: "It is not possible."

The other position that's getting more attention is safety.

"Getting Rashad Baker in the mix (and) maybe you see Hiram Eugene as part of the nickel plan now, where he's been coming out," Cable said.

That means even less time for Huff, who was coming in for Eugene in nickel. Baker has been inactive the last four games.

Asomugha had an opinion on how Huff has been treated. He was benched after five games at free safety.

"You never know if Huff was even in the plans to begin with," Asomugha said. "Maybe that might have had something to do with it. It could be a number of things that went on with him."

*There were reports the Raiders might be looking at other expensive players to release.

Cable made it clear Javon Walker is not one of them.

"Be very real about that -- Javon has really brought his game to a whole new level the last few weeks," Cable said. "Whether it's on the practice field or in the games. Javon Walker is in no way not going to be a part of this football team. I don't know about all the money stuff, or high priced, or this or that, I just know what I'm trying to do to make this team better."

Walker has 13 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown this season. He's making $12 million in 2008, $11 million that was already paid in a signing bonus.

After a season-high five catches for 75 yards and a score against the New York Jets, Walker has three catches for 35 yards in the last two games.

*Darren McFadden (toe) was limited in practice. He was wearing a walking boot after practice, but that he was able to participate is progress.

Linebacker Jon Alston (foot) was limited after missing two weeks of practice.

Wilson (groin) did not practice.

Sam Williams would start if Ricky Brown (groin) can't play 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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