Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

June 30, 2008
Taking their shots at Davis

Recent press hasn't been kind to Raiders owner Al Davis.

He sounds like a bully that can't make up his mind.

There was the Yahoo Sports report that he's second-guessing all the money spent in free agency.

Then retired defensive tackle Warren Sapp chimed in from Florida in the St. Petersburg Times on his time in Oakland, which didn't put Davis in a positive light.

Here's what Sapp said:

"As dark as a black hole. Stuff went on in that organization that shouldn't go on in sports. I don't think there's one person who knows who or what is making the call. Let's just say the Oakland experience is unique. The phone rings quite a bit on that sideline. Insubordination is grounds for termination in any company."

You can guess who's making those calls. If you're clueless, here's former Raider employee Mike Lombardi writing for SI.com:

"Having worked in that "black hole" for eight years, I know exactly what Warren is talking about. And those calls to the sideline are from one man and one man only. At times I have been the reluctant messenger on a few of them myself. They are never pleasant."

There are plenty of folks that would tell you Davis is very involved with the gameplan.

As I was once told, there's a reason why the Raiders rarely blitz on defense.

Best case: Davis' calls provide insight that help. But with all that goes on during a game, no coach wants to worry about taking a message from the owner during a game

The practice only reminds players their coach really has no say. And there are players that view Raiders coaches as puppets.

"Al Davis will never hire a coach with (guts)," a player told me at the end of the season.

Even with criticism, it's hard to believe Davis doubts himself. Davis will fire someone he believes is to blame for poor performance, before he doubts his football acumen.

Note the dismissal of Lombardi and the head coaching changes. After all, Davis did say Art Shell made him draft Michael Huff.

But Davis doubt himself before the team has played a game? That's a tough one to believe.

If that's true, there would definitely be reason to ask if Davis OK.

****
The recent arrest news about Denver receiver Brandon Marshall could help the Raiders a lot.

Marshall was arrested in March and arrested twice last year. If he's suspended for repeated issues with the police, the Broncos would be in Oakland for the season opener without their top receiver.

--Jason Jones

June 27, 2008
The talent pool

The Raiders spent a lot of money this offseason, but exactly how talented is the team?

Pete Brisco of CBSsports.com ranked the Top-50 players in the NFL this wee

There were more former Raiders (Randy Moss was No. 4.and Charles Woodson at No. 18) than current Raiders.

Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was 29th, checking in as the only Raider to make the list.

These lists, of course, mean little in the big scheme of things. It's something for us media types to do in the offseason.

So for those that claim the Raiders have an abundance of talent, here's one more person that disagrees.

Go ahead, add Brisco to the Raider-hater list.

Since there's nothing else going on this time of the year (except chasing Javon Walker updates) I figured I'd rank the 10-best Raiders regardless of position.

My Cal allegiances aside, Asomugha is easily No. 1

No. 2 This is tough, but I go with Shane Lechler for his body of work and that he was in the Raiders' lone Pro Bowl selection.

No. 3 Defensive end Derrick Burgess is a no-brainer here.

No. 4 Cornerback DeAngelo Hall is a two-time Pro Bowl player. But he'll get picked on with teams staying away from Asomugha.

No. 5: Linebacker Kirk Morrison's experience gives him slight at edge over the player....

No. 6: Linebacker Thomas Howard.

No. 7: I'll slot Gibril Wilson here. He should be since he's now the NFL's third highest-paid safety.

No. 8: Running back Justin Fargas is the emotional leader of the offense.

No. 9: Tight end Zach Miller could go higher. And I'll be shocked if he doesn't play in the Pro Bowl in a couple of years.

No. 10: Now this is tough...who gets this spot? I'll go with defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, based on the flashes he's shown and that he was having his best season before his knee injury last year.

What does this list mean? Nothing at all. But it does mean the Raiders have too much talent on defense to be bad in 2008.

JaMarcus Russell (lack of experience) and Darren McFadden (no experience) didn't make the list, but if I decide to do this next year, they should be up there.

And I couldn't justify putting any of the offensive linemen in the top-10. The receivers are still question marks, too.

But if I compiled this list tomorrow, I might feel differently.

****
In more Raider-hater news, the judge in the Walker case admitted to being a Chargers fan.

It the trial is somehow pushed back to where Walker has to appear in court Thursday, Dec. 4 (When the Raiders play at San Diego) you know why.

****
I haven't talked to Al Davis, but I'd guess he agree with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's stance against rising rookie salaries.

The Raiders have committed more than $60 million in guaranteed money to first-round picks in the last two drafts.

The issue of being able to recoup money is a lot different when you're talking about $5 million, not $30 million.

The problem is where would a cap on the amount rookies are guaranteed start? In the next couple of years, the amount guaranteed to the first overall pick could be almost $40 million.

The NFLPA isn't going to agree to a very low number, even though many veteran aren't happy seeing unproven players make more than some of them will in their entire careers.

If history has shown something about the NFL and labor issues, Davis will have a big part in getting this resolved.

--Jason Jones

June 26, 2008
More on Walker's injuries

Here's a copy of the arrest report courtesy of Fox 5 in Las Vegas as it relates to Javon Walker and suspect Arfat Fadel.

Walker suffered a fractured jaw along with a concussion and fractured orbital bone after "being lured" into a car with two men, having something placed around his neck and being robbed and beaten, according to the report.

The report also indicates Walker was an easy target because he was drunk. Walker recalled being in the car, but didn't remember anything else.

There's nothing to support the story on thedirty.com that Walker was forced into a car or beaten in his hotel room.

The Raiders only said Walker would be ready for training camp last week. Players report for camp on July 25.

It can't be easy for any victim of violent crime to return to work. Walker would be returning to the NFL (not exactly a low-profile job).

Not to mention he'll be hit.

But with such injuries to his face, one has to wonder how wise it would be to expose Walker to contact in a month.

--Jason Jones

June 25, 2008
Friends worried about Walker away from the field

If you haven't already, give Bill Williamson's story about Javon Walker a read. Williamson covered the Broncos before joining ESPN and has some insight into Walker that local beat writers have yet to gain in limited offseason access.

The article indicates the Raiders not only signed a wide receiver that has a big heart, but also someone that is struggling to deal with the murder of teammate Darrent Williams, Jan. 1, 2007.

Most of us can only imagine what it's like to have a friend die in our arms after being shot, and I won't play psychiatrist and pretend to know what Walker's thinking.

But the Raiders should be concerned. Being robbed, beaten and left on the street has to be a traumatic experience. Coupled with Williams' death, there's no way of knowing where Walker's mind will be next month during training camp.

He'll be asked about both incidents. If Walker chooses to discuss them, he'll have to rehash things he'd like to forget.

I couldn't imagine discussing the loss of a friend and then going to work as if I didn't talk about that loss.

Who cares whether the opposing secondary is in man or zone coverage with those kind of emotions?

It's cliché for teams to say they're worried about the person first, not the football player. Those better not be hollow words from the Raiders or they might not have much of a football player this fall.

***
The Raiders signed rookie free agent QB Sam Keller and released rookie QB Erik Meyer today.

Keller took part in the Raiders' rookie camp in May.

Keller is a Bay Area native that began his college career at Arizona State before finishing up at Nebraska under former Raiders coach Bill Callahan.

Keller joins Jeff Otis as a "camp arm" and if he's impressive, could earn a spot on the practice squad.

Earning a roster spot would mean the Raiders would have ditched Andrew Walter or Marques Tuiasosopo, which doesn't look likely to happen.

Tuiasosopo is probably a better fit in Lane Kiffin's offense than Walter. But all the chatter last season was Al Davis still believes Walter can be a good quarterback.

And Davis is a firm believer in having two good quarterbacks.

Walter wouldn't mind a chance to be traded to a team that would give him a chance to start. But at this time of year, those opportunities aren't out there.

--Jason Jones


June 24, 2008
A Walker suspect in custody

The Associated Press is reporting there has been an arrest made in the Javon Walker robbery case.

Arfat Fadel, 30, is suspected of robbing and kidnapping Walker and faces multiple felony charges. A second suspect is still at large, according to the report.

Fadel was arrested Friday. It's now being reported Walker got into a car with two men before being robbed and beaten early June 16.

Walker's injuries aren't expected to cause him to miss time in training camp next month.

--Jason Jones

June 21, 2008
Holes in Javon's story?

For those still giggling over the Javon Walker "abduction" story, here's more disputing the story out there on thedirty.com.

Apparently there is video of Walker and it doesn't appear three gun-toting robbers forced him into the car the morning he was found unconscious in Las Vegas on Monday.

Walker's claim is three men came to his room at the Bellagio at 5:30 a.m., knocked him out, put him in a car and dropped him off.

Walker wanted to dispute the notion he was robbed and beaten after losing a champagne-spraying contest with Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr., according to the author of the story that details Walker's tale of that morning.

But Walker's explanation only leaves more questions.

--Jason Jones

June 19, 2008
Latest twist in Javon's drama

I was skeptical of the report detailing Javon Walker's robbery on thedirty.com.

Never mind it's a site gossip site, but the story made little sense.

Maybe those were Walker's words, but the idea of three thugs making it to a hotel room, using guns to knock him unconscious and then getting him out of the hotel to a car sounds ... made up.

Sure he might open up the door to his hotel room at 5:30 a.m. for strangers (I wouldn't advise that).

Then these criminals would rob him and decide, "Hey, let's take him with us and drop him off about two hours from now."

For his sake, I hope that's not the story he wants us to believe.

Now the hotel that Walker was staying in, the Bellagio, is disputing any claim that Walker was kidnapped from the hotel in a story on KVBC.com.

The story notes the Bellagio has about 2,000 surveillance cameras and gave this statement to KVBC through a spokesperson:

The facts that have been reported regarding the incident involving Javon Walker are incorrect. I am unable to provide further detail out of respect for the Metro investigation which is currently underway.

I've seen the movie Ocean's Eleven, and my guess is Danny Ocean himself would have to orchestrate the removal of an unconscious, 6-3, 215-pound man with visible facial injuries from the hotel unnoticed.

It's not unthinkable for someone is embarrassed to come up with a story to cover up the events that led to them being robbed.

But if that's Walker's story (and I'm not convinced that it is), I hope there's more to it.

Because with all the cameras in Las Vegas, he'd need Danny Ocean to explain how this happened.

--Jason Jones

June 18, 2008
Walker on his way back to the Bay

ALAMEDA--Raiders receiver Javon Walker is due back at team headquarters sometime this evening to meet with team doctors after being injured during a robbery Monday morning in Las Vegas.

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin declined to give details of Walker's injuries, which were termed "significant" by the Las Vegas Police Department.

Kiffin wouldn't comment on the injuries until team doctors examined Walker. Kiffin spoke to Walker today.

"All I can give you is I spoke to him, he's doing well, and he's on a plane," Kiffin said. "He'll be on a plane this evening, back here. He'll be here this evening, and in the morning as well."

Kiffin did say the injuries, reported to be a mild concussion and fractured orbital bone shouldn't prevent Walker from participating in training camp. Players report July 25 in Napa.

"The information that I have at this point is he's going to be fine," Kiffin said. "Training camp won't even be an issue."

The Raiders conclude organized team activities tomorrow.

*Today's practice featured nice catches by rookie receiver Chaz Schilens and tight end Tony Stewart. Rookie WR/TE Marcel Reece was also active in the passing game.

*Among regulars not at today's practice were LBs Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard and fullback Justin Griffith. No sign of CB DeAngelo Hall or DT Josh Shaw either. Safety Gibril Wilson was away tending to family matters.

*Jarrod Cooper was back on the field and moving well after tearing his ACL last season. He was also back in taunting form, daring WR Johnnie Lee Higgins to "make a play."

*Today's practice fight (well, several guys pulling two guys apart) featured WR Drew Carter and LB Jon Alston.

Alston flung Carter to the grass on an end around and Carter responded by jumping on Alston before several Raiders pulled them apart.

Separating the two looked more violent then the actual fighting portion.

*Kiffin expects injuries shouldn't prevent any player from missing the start of training camp. The team will monitor DT Tommy Kelly, however, and might limit him to one practice a day.

*Center Jake Grove is another player Kiffin said had benefited from new strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll's program. Grove had offseason knee surgery and will battle Chris Morris and John Wade for time.

*Kiffin continued to have praise for the progress of QB JaMarcus Russell:

"Right now he's just really working so hard off the field as well as on the field. The way that the team is responding to him as you talk to different players, their feelings about him, they're ready to get behind him and go."

Russell had a laugh when asked if he'd be getting in some rest before his first NFL training camp next month.

"You can only rest for so much," Russell said. "Let people tell I might get back up to 300 pounds."

*And finally, I know my Lakers were slapped around last night and many of you are happily gloating because you are Warrior or King fans.

It's all good. Enjoy the lottery.

--Jason Jones

June 18, 2008
The latest on Walker

Various media outlets are reporting Javon Walker was released from the hospital today after being beaten and robbed early Monday.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Walker's agent Kennard McGuire said Walker was "recovering in a private environment" and "Javon looks forward to getting back to his family and teammates and is looking forward to the start of the upcoming season."

I'm about to head out to OTAs, where Lane Kiffin might provide some details on Walker's status.

--Jason Jones

June 17, 2008
Javon talks?

Thedirty.com, states it had an exclusive interview with Javon Walker following oral surgery today.

If you've heard of the site, it might be from the pictures of Matt Leinart enjoying a beer bong this offseason.

This is from Walker, per the site:

"I was just back at my room and at about 5:30 in the morning, I got a knock at the door, I opened it and 3 guys with guns were there, they cracked me in the head a few times knocking me unconcious. They then robbed me of everything I had- my watch- money- everything! Somehow they got me to the car and dropped me off in the street. That's what happened."

This doesn't answer a lot of questions, (like how a 6-3, 215-pound NFL player was taken unconscious from a hotel room to a car in Vegas) but it's all that's out there for now.

--Jason Jones

June 17, 2008
Losses worth more than 100k

Published reports have Raiders receiver Javon Walker being robbed of $100,000 in jewelry and $3,000 in cash Monday morning. Walker remains in the hospital with a mild concussion and injuries to his face that reportedly included a fractured orbital.

*This is from the San Francisco Chronicle:

"We don't believe this is a random act," Las Vegas police Lt. Clint Nichols told the Chronicle. "They knew who he was and (Walker) presented a target.

"We did get a surveillance (video) of a vehicle and suspects that may have been involved. We know there were suspects, possibly two (but) we haven't identified anyone yet."

Walker is 6-foot-3 and is listed at 215 pounds. It would make sense more than one person would be involved.

Police are supposed to speak with Walker again today after speaking with him briefly on Monday.

--Jason Jones

June 17, 2008
More rumors, no new facts on Javon

Do these photos justify being left unconscious and robbed?

javon1.jpg

javon2.jpg

javon4.jpg

No, but a lot is being made of and an unfounded rumor that Javon Walker was competing with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in contest of who could buy the most champagne to waste.

And somehow that could lead to Walker being robbed and knocked out cold.

That would seem ridiculous don't we all know Money Mayweather would have more money than Walker?

There's also the coincidence in which the events leading to Denver cornerback Darrent Williams being shot and killed, dying in Walker's arms, started when champagne was being sprayed by people with Williams (receiver Brandon Marshall and his cousin) and hit patrons that didn't want champagne on them.

Should spraying champagne lead to someone being robbed, beaten or killed? No.

But here's what athletes forget. Flaunting your wealth usually isn't a good thing.

Say I'm Joe Clubhopper. I waited well over an hour to get into a club when some NFL player just gets to walk in.

I'm over to the side having a drink. I have a nice outfit on. Then said NFL player decides he wants to waste money by taking champagne I can't even afford to buy a glass of and spraying it on me.

Not only does this athlete get into the club before me. Not only does he get the VIP section where he's flashing his jewelry. Now he disrespects me by saying I'm so rich, I can take drinks that cost me thousands and waste them by spraying them on me.

Now I'm angry.

And people who have been drinking get angry, nothing good can come out of the situation.

A lot of athletes forget not everyone likes them. A lot of people resent them. And there are people looking for any reason to do something to them.

I'm sure the Raiders want Walker to be healthy, they also want all their players to do everything within reason to avoid being a victim.

That might start with pouring champagne in a glass, not on someone that didn't ask for it.

*I had a conversation with a spokesman from the Las Vegas Police Department who said there is nothing new at this time regarding Walker.

The investigation into the robbery that left Walker without cash, jewelry and a fractured orbital is still in its early stages.

There's been no confirmation from the Raiders, police or Walker's agent (who hasn't returned a call) as to the severity of Walker's injuries, though the Associated Press reported Walker might be released from the hospital today.

*Walker's fractured orbital has drawn comparison to the injury suffered by Marcus Williams in 2003 when Bill Romanowski hit him during a practice fight.

Until there's word from the Raiders (which might come tomorrow from Lane Kiffin during media availability) there's no reason to speculate Walker's career is over.

Williams never played after his injury.

--Jason Jones

June 17, 2008
Safety issues

The Associated Press reports Javon Walker was robbed of cash and jewelry before he was found unconscious in Las Vegas early Monday morning.

The report added he could be released from the hospital today.

One question is whether Walker was alone in Vegas. Athlete safety became a big topic last year when Walker was with Darrent Williams the night he was murdered in Denver.

Numerous athletes have been robbed and are seen as targets. That's why some, even those the public might not think would need it, keep security with them.

There's no way to be 100 percent safe. Athletes can't stay home all the time (Sean Taylor was shot in his home).

Traveling in public with a group doesn't guarantee someone won't see a chance to snatch a chain worth a few thousand dollars and try to run off with it.

When Lane Kiffin says goodbye to his players at the end of organized team activities he'll remind them to be safe.

Walker's situation will say more than any words from Kiffin.

--Jason Jones

June 16, 2008
More on Walker being robbed, hospitalized

The Raiders "are in the process of gathering information" about wide receiver Javon Walker, who was apparently robbed early Monday morning and found at 7:19 a.m.

Here is the release from the Las Vegas Police Department

The Raiders "are in the process of gathering information" according to a team spokesman as it relates to Walker.

He reportedly has an orbital fracture and is in fair condition in Sunrise Medical Center after being taken to the trauma unit, though a spokesperson from the hospital said no patient named Javon Walker was listed as admitted.

*This is the second consecutive offseason in which trouble has found Walker.

Denver Broncos cornerback died in Walker' arms on New Year's Day last year after being shot after leaving a nightclub.

Walker was reportedly spraying partons with of the 15 bottles of Dom Perignon Rose champagne he ordered at Tryst at the Wynn on Saturday night. He was spotted at Body English at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino until 6:30 a.m. Monday. His first round of champagne reportedly cost him $15,000.

I'm not implying that is justification for what happened to Walker. Just providing a timeline of where Walker was less than an hour before he was found.

Training camp doesn't start until the last weekend of July, so there's no way of predicting how this impacts the team. It's safe to say Walker won't be participating in the remaining OTAs.

As more details become available, I'll provide them.

--Jason Jones

June 16, 2008
Walker in the hospital

This isn't good news for the Oakland Raiders.

Apparently wide receiver Javon Walker was the victim of a an apparent robbery in Las Vegas early Monday morning.

Police said Walker suffered "significant injuries" and taken to Sunrise Medical Center's Trauma unit where he was listed in fair condition, according to the report. Walker has an orbital fracture and police aren't sure how he suffered the injury. He was found unconscious at the intersection of Koval Lane and Winnick Avenue,

According to a story in the Las Vegas Journal-Review, Walker was partying at Tryst at the Wynn on Saturday night where spraying the crowd with some of the 15 bottles of Dom Perignon Rose champagne he ordered.

The report added Walker was at Body English at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino until 6:30 a.m. Monday. His first round of champagne reportedly cost him $15,000.

No official word from the Raiders on this situation yet.

--Jason Jones

June 9, 2008
Kid games

ALAMEDA - Random notes as I go into hiding (vacation) for the week...

I stopped by the Raiders Youth Skills Camp over the weekend and saw 250 youngsters enjoy themselves at team headquarters.

Fifteen players (mostly rookies), six coaches and 60 volunteers took part in the event.

Among the highlights for me was watching JaMarcus Russell (who wasn't required to, but showed up) throw soft passes to youngsters.

For one shy girl, Russell called her to the front of the line and asked her what route she wanted to run. Obviously nervous, she really didn't have an answer. So he told her to run and he tossed an underhand flip in an attempt to get the ball over the boy defending her.

She didn't catch the ball, but it was fun to watch, nonetheless.

*Darren McFadden also looked comfortable working with the campers, and even cracked a smile when one confident youngster declared he was faster than McFadden.

Keep dreaming, kid.

*It was also fun hearing rookie CB Darrick Brown brag about the move he put on someone that was probably under the age of 10.

*QB Quinn Gray, a target of the team in free agency before signing with Houston, has been cut by the Texans. The Raiders put in a waiver claim on former Tampa Bay QB Brad Gradkowski, so it's not unreasonable to think they'll take another look at Gray, which could mean bad news for Andrew Walter, who is probably isn't as good a fit as Marques Tuiasosopo.

--Jason Jones

June 6, 2008
McFadden signs Thursday night, chats on Friday

ALAMEDA - Darren McFadden is (officially) a Raider.

Lane Kiffin looked relieved.

McFadden and family were all smiles.

And every front office person from the Raiders looked happy that the contract is done.

It's six-year deal for $60 million with a little more than $26 million guaranteed.

You'll read about the "actual" guarantee being $19.6 million. Here's why:

The extra $6.4 million is part of a "fall of the log" bonus. Basically if McFadden plays as much as expected, he'll have no problem hitting the minimum requirements for the bonus to kick in during the contract.

Here's what some of the key figures had to say at today's press conference:

McFadden on when he knew he'd have a deal completed:

"I didn't know it was going to get done yesterday until about 8 or 9 o'clock at night, when I got the phone call; my agent called me and told me I needed to come over and get ready to sign the papers. My family came over with me. Al Davis came down, and he supported me. That was a great thing. I'm glad he came and did that. It was just a great deal that we got it all out of the way."

On how he'll act around veterans that he now makes a whole lot more money than:

"I just go in there being humble about it. I'm not the type of person that's going to be in there with a big head, or bragging, or anything like that. I feel that's one of the things that's helped me out a whole lot because I'm a very humble person. I feel like the whole team has embraced me."

On house hunting:

"I feel like I'm getting closer to finding one, it's hard, though for me still because, being from the south, the land out here is totally different. Out here, it's so, I'm looking and trying to find one."

On any planned celebrations:

"I don't have any plans right now. I'm still trying to enjoy my family while they're here because they've got to get back out of town, so right now I'm just trying to enjoy it with them."

McFadden's agent, Ian Greengross:

On was he surprised things went smoothly:

"I don't like to put expectations on it because then, if you say, 'It's the Raiders, it'll never get done,' then it won't get done. I came in with my research and my numbers. We sat down and we took it kind of hour by hour. Did we make progress each hour? Did we hit a brick wall? Are we going backwards? And we seemed to make progress. We hit a bunch of brick walls but we never really took a huge step backwards at any point so I stayed Wednesday night. Same thing yesterday and finally late last night we were able to get it done."


When asked if he heard horror stories last year:

"It's never easy. In the sense of these types of negotiations, there was no issue that said to me, 'Wow, I can't believe what happened last year' but every negotiation is separate. That's not to say last year they were unfair to JaMarcus or vice versa. But this year in dealing with me, I think given their experience last year certainly helped us out in terms of making smoother progress. But it was still make progress, hit a wall, just like any other team. I wouldn't say it was any better, I wouldn't say it was any worse. The guys I dealt with -- Marc Badain, Tom Delaney, Dan Ventrelle, Amy Trask and of course, Mr. Davis -- everyone of them at some point, it was a good thing. Whether we kept taking a step forward or not, it never became to a point where OK, that's it, which is why I kept staying around."

On whether Jake Long (first overall) and Matt Ryan (third overall) having deals done helped:

"We kind of looked at those but kind of not because there's a big gap between three and four. So even though three was done, it wasn't really a model for us. We still had to kind of look at our own stuff. I had some ideas, they had some ideas. They liked some of my ideas, they hated some of mine. I liked some of theirs."


Coach Kiffin:

"The last thing we wanted to do with Darren because of our ideas with him was to go into a holdout and for him to miss any time in training camp. What I think shows a lot about Darren is the fact that Darren felt the same as we did. Darren knew how important it was for him to get in here and show us his love for football and his passion for the game and his passion to get into training camp and to have a great first year and not have any setbacks."

****

Just on a side note, many of you will find it funny that McFadden's financial advisor is Mike Vick. No not the on in jail that had dog fights at his house.

****
I don't know about the rest of you, but I'll be at Monday Night Raw in Oakland. So will some of the Raiders. Should be fun.

And I'll promise not to write anything bad about a Raider that is also a WWE fan (well I can't really do do that).

And yes, I know it's "fake" but I love it.

After that, I've got some vacation coming up. Southern California here I come.

--Jason Jones

June 5, 2008
McFadden signs with Raiders

The Raiders announced late Thursday night the team had signed its first-round draft pick, running back Darren McFadden.

The team will hold a press conference Friday morning at 11 a.m.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. SI.com reported it would be a six-year deal worth approximately $60 million with more than $26 million guaranteed.

McFadden was the fourth overall selection in April's NFL Draft. The Raiders didn't sign last year's first overall pick, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, until Sept. 12, 2007.

McFadden can probably thank Atlanta, which gave third overall pick Matt Ryan a deal reportedly worth up to $72 million over six years with $34.75 million guaranteed.

Last year's fourth overall pick, DE Gaines Adams, received about $18 million guaranteed.

The deal means there will be no training camp drama surrounding if/when McFadden will arrive. Russell will have all his offensive weapons ready from Day 1, which is important for his progress.

Talks began Wednesday with the Raiders and agent Ian Greengross.

--Jason Jones

June 5, 2008
Minicamp wrap and a notable visitor

ALAMEDA - Former Raiders running back Napolean Kaufman attended practice today.

He got a firsthand look at Darren McFadden, the rookie running back that many say is first big-play threat from the backfield since McCallum retired following the 2000 season.

"It's interesting talk, but we're kind of different kind of backs," Kaufman said. "We're really different in a lot of ways. He's a little bit more physical than I probably was. He's a bigger guy."

Kaufman is now the senior pastor at The Well, his church in Dublin.

"We've been there for five years and have an awesome ministry," Kaufman said. "I'm really enjoying it."

*Receivers coach James Lofton throws a nice ball. But that doesn't mean every pass is on target.

He instructed receivers to run 11 yards and be ready to comeback and catch the ball at 10 yards. Lofton's pass to Javon Walker was a bit off, but he still made the catch.

After being praised by offensive assistant Sanjay Lal for the grab, Walker told Lofton: "I made you look good."

*There were a few highlight plays in workouts today. Stanford Routt made a one-handed interception of a JaMarcus Russell pass intended for Drew Carter.

Marques Tuiasosopo made a nice pass to a diving Will Buchanon. Tuiasosopo's passes appear to have a lot more zip than I remember from his previous stint with the Raiders.

Johnathan Holland came up with a one-handed, diving catch near the sideline on a pass from Andrew Walter.

*Lane Kiffin expects "98 percent" of the players back for organized team activities the next two weeks. The players will workout Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

*Kiffin said he's impressed with the improvement for WR Johnnie Lee Higgins. He said he's stronger and more confident this year. Kiffin attributed some of the drops HIggins had yesterday to fatigue as the team is used him a lot on offense and special teams.

Kiffin said he was also impressed with how LT Kwame Harris is adjusting.

But he had some interesting things to say about RT Mario Henderson, who is trying to supplant Cornell Green for the starting job. The team wants to see more aggression from the second-year tackle.

"There's certain things that he does better (than Green). Has he caught him? No. Pads will be big for Mario. Mario's got a lot of tools but he needs to become a physical player. To play on this line, we want physical guys and so that's where Mario is going to have to really grow. We'll work as much as we can but we can only go so far here so preseason will be huge for him."


*No update on LaMont Jordan. So he's still a Raider (in name).

*Oren O'Neal (knee) and rookie WR Arman Shields (hamstring) did not practice.

*Now I must prepare for Lakers vs. Celtics. Guess who I'm rolling with?

--Jason Jones

June 4, 2008
O-Line vs. D-Line. I try to keep score

ALAMEDA - Earlier today Lane Kiffin commented on how tough it is to evaluate linemen during minicamps where contact is supposed to be at a minimum.

I was able to watch a good portion of one-on-one pass rush drills during today's afternoon (or is evening since it ended at 6 p.m.?) practice.

And since there wasn't anything else to do, I took a stab at judging who was winning these battles.

Just as a disclaimer, I'm not claiming coaches would agree. I just thought it would be worth looking at. I think the offensive line is at a disadvantage because in a game, there would help from another lineman or tight end. Also, unless it's late or third and long, defensive linemen can't always be certain a play will be a pass.

Nevertheless, enjoy.

RT Cornell Green vs. DE Derrick Burgess
Winner: Burgess.

RG Cooper Cooper Carlisle vs. DT Josh Shaw
Winner: Even

C Chris Morris vs. DT Gerard Warren
Winner: Warren. These drills are tough on centers.

LT Kwame Harris vs. DE Jay Richardson
Winner: Even. Richardson won the first time around, but Harris seemed to hold his own in Round 2.

LG Robert Gallery vs. Shaw
Winner: I gave the edge to Shaw.

C John Wade vs. DT Terdell Sands
Winner: Sands. Again, this drill doesn't give center help he'd have in a game. Also, Sands is really, really, really big.

RT Mario Henderson vs. DE Greg Spires
Winner: Spires. Not even close. He blew through Henderson, knocking him backward on the first snap.

RG Mark Wilson vs. DT William Joseph
Winner: Wilson

LT Seth Wand vs. DE Kalima Edwards
Winner: I gave this one to Wand.

And I'm sure the coaching staff would find plenty of reasons to disagree with me.

*Sebastian Janikowski missed a 46-yard field goal wide left at the end of the and defenders raised their hands victoriously.

But that wouldn't be the last play of practice. Janikowski booted the second kick through the goal posts and that ended practice.

The field goal try came at the end of a two-minute drill.

*Todd Watkins continues to catch nearly every pass that comes his way.

The Raiders from Atlanta claimed him off waivers back in February.

Thus far, no JaMarcus Russell pass is too hard or too high for him to snag. He could make noise in training camp and press for a roster spot if he keeps this up.

*Johnnie Lee Higgins bounced back from a rough start catching the ball to make some catches late in the second practice.

*DeAngelo Hall and Thomas Howard each had an interception during the team's seven-on-seven session.

*The music was blasting during stretching. There was some rock (Warrant and Def Leppard I'm told) followed by Ludacris (Get Back) and T.I. (What You Know About That).

Music was a staple at practice that was missing during the minicamp.

*"Two in the mornin' got the Fatburger"

That Ice Cube lyrical reference was brought to you by Chester McGlockton's appearance at Wednesday afternoon's practice.

He's co-owner of a Fatburger in Pleasant Hill and was wearing a polo shirt with the franchise logo. Not to mention, have you had a Fatburger at 2 a.m.? I did a couple of weeks ago in L.A. (with chili and egg). It's definitely not healthy, but definitely good.

Back to McGlockton. He's an assistant coach at Chabot College and was checking out practice and saying hello to old friends. He also visited training camp last year.

*FB Oren O'Neal said he hurt his right knee this morning and would be seeing a doctor. He said the team didn't think the injury was serious.

*TE/DE Fred Wakefield was wearing a white practice jersey even though he sat out the session. He wears a black jersey when playing defense. He said he'll be playing offense for tomorrow's practice.

And I leave you with more about the Fatburger and Ice Cube. I'll be back tomorrow for the final practice of minicamp.

--Jason Jones

June 4, 2008
Burgess is fine, ya dig?

ALAMEDA - I fielded several questions last year that implied Derrick Burgess was milking a calf injury as a message to the Raiders that he wanted a new contract.

Completely unfair, I believed. Getting to know Burgess since 2005, the last thing I believed he would do is fake an injury.

If he didn't hold out after the Raiders didn't sign him to a new deal before training camp, why would he rehab from hernia surgery to play in a preseason game?

But since the Raiders spent the offseason making several players rich men, I asked Burgess if the team had made any assurances to him.

"Nah," Burgess said. "That's wasn't one of the things we really talked about. I only worry about the (stuff) I can control, ya dig?"

Burgess is the team's best defensive lineman but the five-year, $17.5 million deal with $6 million guaranteed in 2005 is pocket change compared to the seven-year, $50.5 million pact with $18.125 million guaranteed awarded to Tommy Kelly this year.

Terdell Sands was given a four-year, $17 million deal with $4 million guaranteed last year. When Gerard Warren was acquired in a trade from Denver last year, he came with a six-year, $36 million deal with $10 million guaranteed he signed in 2006.

Burgess has been to two Pro Bowls while Kelly, Sands and Warren have combined for zero.

Much was made last year about Burgess holding out because he wasn't at voluntary workouts. But he's NEVER attended voluntary workouts. He's never showed up out of shape.

Lane Kiffin said Burgess has handled the situation with "class" but added if Burgess had one year instead of two left on his contract it would be easier to deal with in terms of a new deal.

So question what you will about Burgess. Just don't question his commitment to the team. He could have pulled a Chad Johnson-like stunt (sure he wouldn't have made the radio circuit, but he could have made it known he wasn't happy). Or he could have been like Jason Taylor, who has things to do during mandatory minicamp.

By the way, Burgess looks pretty good during practice.

*Most unfair matchup of the day: Burgess vs. Mario Henderson.

*Johnnie Lee Higgins followed up a good Tuesday with a Wednesday morning practice that saw him drop at least four passes. Kiffin said the team has been working Higgins to death with a lot of reps on offense and special teams.
*Kelly is noticeably bigger right now. Kiffin said Kelly's weight goes up in the offseason and that hasn't been helped by his knee injury, which limits his workouts.

Kiffin said the team would like him between 310-315 pounds this season to play defensive tackle.

*Kiffin continues to remind us Javon Walker's not in peak shape yet:

"Javon's a little heavy right now so we're going to continue this offseason to get him down by training camp and the regular season, the final thing that counts. He's picking up the offense fine but we've got a long way to go."

*For those of you wondering what's up with Ed Hartwell and if he's the solution to the run defense, here's Kiffin on him:

"We didn't sign Ed to a minimum contract to give him a chance. We haven't set expectations. We're giving him a chance to make the team. He hasn't played in a while so we'll let him take it as far as he can take it."

*John Wade took some snaps at center with the first-team offensive line. Chris Morris remains atop the depth chart.

*FB Oren O'Neal injured his leg near the end of practice. WR Arman Shields (hamstring) didn't practice.

*Wish I had some great stories of exciting plays from practice, but there really weren't. JaMarcus Russell fired some passes between defenders that drew some ooohs. Drew Carter made a nice, falling, one-handed grab.

But for the most part, it was a ho-hum, minicamp session.

I'll check back after the afternoon practice.

--Jason Jones


June 3, 2008
Afternoon practice notes

ALAMEDA - I finally had a close-up look at RB Darren McFadden vs. LB Thomas Howard.

It was fun watching them in a couple of seven-on-seven drills in which McFadden lined up at receiver and Howard covered him.

McFadden ran a go route on the first play and Howard ran with him stride-for-stride and nearly picked of JaMarcus Russell's pass.

McFadden ran the same route again and Howard was able to keep pace with him.

Howard's athleticism matched against McFadden is something that should be a highlight of every practice.

****
New receivers coach James Lofton had an interesting drill he put the receivers through.

He had them lay on their backs while Jeff Otis threw them passes.

I've never seen a drill like that before. But the receivers seem to like Lofton. He's very hands-on in his approach and explains everything.

It doesn't hurt that he throws a nice ball during drills, either.

****
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins followed up a good morning practice with another strong showing. He did drop what would have been a spectacular grab on a sideline route, but he's looked as good as I've ever seen him.

****
There were some formations with McFadden and Justin Fargas on the field together, as promised by Lane Kiffin.

Michael Huff stayed at free safety where his speed is evident. He's quickly looking comfortable and jumping on routes.

****
DE/TE Fred Wakefield, WR Javon Walker and WR Arman Shields didn't practice in the afternoon. All had knee injuries last year.

Rookie TE Marcel Reece isn't practicing because of a rule that doesn't allow college players to come to minicamp if their class hasn't graduated.

QB Brian White, an undrafted rookie, wasn't at practice is expected to be let go in the near future.

--Jason Jones

June 3, 2008
Jordan is released (sort of)

ALAMEDA - Here's Lane Kiffin's explanation as to why LaMont Jordan wasn't on the practice field this morning even though he is under contract:

"We released LaMont from ... on the field activities. We're pursuing some other options with him."

More on why he wasn't on the field. Kiffin said he was the one to tell Jordan he wouldn't be allowed to practice:

"LaMont hasn't been here in our offseason program and the last thing we want to do for him or
ourselves is for LaMont to come out here and get hurt today."

Sounds like the Raiders are holding out hope someone will trade for a running back they have no use for that also carries a $4.7 million salary for 2008.

Good luck with the one.

Right now, Jordan would be behind Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, Darren McFadden, Adimchinobe Echemandu and Louis Rankin on the depth chart.

No general manager that values a draft pick would give one up for Jordan because it would make sense that the Raiders would have to release him at some point, right?

Kiffin said the team is "exploring a couple of different options" with Jordan. Trading or releasing Jordan are the only options at this point, especially if the team doesn't even want him to practice.

The market for veteran running backs looking for redemption already has Shaun Alexander. Travis Henry joined the mix yesterday.

A team looking for another running back could sign one of them and pay them a lot less than what Jordan would earn this year.

And if a team just needs a back for training camp, it would opt for one of many unsigned rookies looking for a chance.

But I never claimed to understand what was going on. I just report on it.

****
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha wasn't at practice and can't practice until he signs his franchise tender.

"Maybe he'll show up the next couple of days," Kiffin said. "Obviously he's not under contract here, not on the roster. That happens to be how it works with a franchise player unfortunately. "

Stanford Routt is working in Asomugha's spot in the starting lineup opposite DeAngelo Hall.

****

DE Derrick Burgess is back in comedic form. Here's his take on defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's new appearance:

"Oh, you talking about the new haircut. Ahh, look like a cockatoo."

Burgess has been working out at Ole Miss and looks in good shape. He ran around Mario Henderson at the end of practice for what would have been a sack in a real game. The explosion and quickness were evident from Burgess.

****
Here are some tidbits from practice:

The first-team offense:

QB: JaMarcus Russell
RB: Justin Fargas
FB: Justin Griffith
WR: Drew Carter
WR: Javon Walkere
TE: Zach Miller
LT: Kwame Harris
LG: Robert Gallery
C: Chris Morris
RG: Cooper Carlisle
RT: Cornell Green

No surprises with this group.

First-team defense:

DE: Burgess
DT: Josh Shaw
DT: Gerard Warren
DE: Jay Richardson
LB: Thomas Howard
LB: Kirk Morrison
LB: Sam Williams
CB: Hall
CB: Routt
S: Michael Huff
S: Gibril Wilson

Huff played a lot of free safety and had an interception on a deflected pass intended for TE Tony Stewart.

*Russell looked sharp and seemed to be making the right reads. He even practiced looking off receivers when there were no defenders in drills.

*Carter continues to look impressive in drills. He was able to get open with a nice stiff arm of Hall in a one-on-one drill.

*Fargas looks good catching the ball. So does McFadden.

*WR Johnnie Lee Higgins had a good practice, beating CB John Bowie for a couple of nice catches, including a diving grab over the middle.

DB Rashad Baker intercepted a pass that was deflected off Higgins' hands, but Higgins rebounded to strip Baker of the ball and recover the ball.

*Kiffin is trying to be careful and not let things become too physical this year. The NFL docked the Raiders by taking away offseason practices because they were too physical last year.

"That's a pretty hard thing for me, because I really don't know that way of doing things, to really slow them down in those instances," Kiffin said. "We're trying to do everything within the rules as best as we can, but you know, this team needs to be a physical team. I think we made some strides with that last year. We need to continue to make strides that way. We need to be physical. We need to run the ball better, we need to stop the run better. I think that comes with being physical and I really don't know how to back people off to do that."

*QB Marques Tuiasosopo had a few reps. He spent last week (the player's week off) getting acclimated with the terminology after a year in New York.

He doesn't expect that to be too hard since the concepts are similar to what he learned under Jon Gruden.

"It's a lot different," Tuiasosopo said. "It's a great vibe. Guys are into it, fired up. There's a lot of new faces from when I was here before. But it's a good thing.

"There's a buzz here, and guys want to win and turn things around. It's fun. It's a totally different feel-- totally."

*Injured players not practicing were C Jake Grove, WR Ronald Curry, DT Tommy Kelly and DB Jarrod Cooper. All except Grove worked out on a field away from the team.

*The two-hour afternoon practice is slated to start at 4:30 p.m.

--Jason Jones


June 2, 2008
LaMont's still a Raider ...

It's June 2.

And LaMont Jordan is still on the Raiders roster.

Wasn't June 1 supposed to be the day the Raiders said goodbye to Jordan and save on the hit on the salary cap for 2008?

This could change any moment. But it's hard to fathom why the union between two parties that seem to want no part of each other hasn't been dissolved.

Are the Raiders trying to trade Jordan? What general manager is going to take on Jordan's contract ($4.7 million this season) when the Raiders probably have to cut him at some point.

Jordan wants out. And as of now, he's probably the fourth running back. I have no proof, but I'm sure that would make him the highest-paid fourth string running back in NFL history.

I didn't understand the thinking last season of not releasing Jordan last fall when he asked to be let go. It was noted the team didn't want to see him go to Denver or Kansas City and help them beat the Raiders.

Then again, the Raiders weren't going to miss the playoffs because of Jordan, so I remain confused on that thinking. Who holds on to their fourth tailback like this?

If Jordan shows up at minicamp tomorrow and has to stand on the sidelines watching the whole time, it will be a distraction young players like Darren McFadden don't need.

But if the Raiders didn't deal Jordan during the draft for a late pick and haven't made a move yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jordan around tomorrow and in training camp.

That means by time you read this, Jordan will have been released, robbing me of a WWE fan from the locker room.

***
Stuart Schweigert has found employment, signing with the Washington Redskins.

And like most players that have left Oakland in recent years, he's happy to be on a new team.

"It feels like a thousand-pound bear's been lifted off my chest. It's time for a fresh start," Schweigert told reporters in Washington. "In Oakland, I felt as if my time was up there. It was a deal where I wasn't in their future. I feel like I'm in the Redskins' future."

The Redskins were one of the teams that inquired about trading for Schweigert but knew the Raiders would eventually release him.

The Redskins believe Schweigert can play free or strong safety. The Raiders didn't believe Schweigert could play strong safety.

***
I'll be checking in following morning and afternoon practices Tuesday and Wednesday and following with a report on Thursday's lone midday practice.

Football in shells...ooh the fun.

--Jason Jones



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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