Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 30, 2008
Raiders release a statement

"Lane Kiffin has been released as head coach of The Oakland Raiders for cause. The Raiders will address the media at 2 p.m. this afternoon (Tuesday) at the team's permanent facility in Alameda."

What is "cause?" Sounds like legal talk that will be used so Al Davis won't have to pay Kiffin the reported $3.5 million he's owed.

More to come later on this.

--Jason Jones

September 29, 2008
Update

Thanks to all those that sent well wishes now that I'm a new father. Mom and son are home and resting fine.

I'll be back on the beat full-time sometime after the Raiders play in New Orleans -- just in time to see Brett Favre at the Coliseum.

A lot can happen before then.

Lane Kiffin could be fired.

The new head coach could be selected by pulling a name from a hat with members of the coaching and public relations staffs eligible to replace Kiffin as long as he publicly states his loyalty to Davis and the organization.

Kiffin and Al Davis could make nice, leading Kiffin to sign a contract extension and declare he bleeds silver and black.

Well, maybe not.

Thanks, again. I'll be adjusting to my new sleeping schedule, watching Cal and NFL football and getting in some XBox 360 time when the lil man wakes me up at 3 a.m.

--Jason Jones

September 25, 2008
Injury report

*RG Cooper Carlisle (ankle), OT Seth Wand (knee), TE Ben Troupe (foot), RB Justin Fargas (groin) and DT Gerard Warren (pectoral) did not practice.

RB Darren McFadden (toe), CB Nnamdi Asomugha (elbow), CB Stanford Routt (ankle), DE Derrick Burgess (triceps) were limited in practice.

The team is holding out hope Warren can play on Sunday.

*FYI: I'll be on paternity leave for a week or two. Unless Lane Kiffin is fired before then, I'll be blogging sporadically, if it all during that time.

I'll be watching the game on television like a lot of you on Sunday.

--Jason Jones

September 24, 2008
They're still laughing

ALAMEDA - Media access in the locker room was worth quite a few laughs.

Several players had seen or heard about John Herrera vs. Tim Kawakami.

Many couldn't stop laughing.

Others wanted to know if Herrera was really working against their coach.

As the video began circulating Monday, players said they were either called or emailed the video of the pressroom confrontation.

As one player put it: "Wow. The things you see happen here."

Players say all the talk and quirks of the Raiders don't affect them. Some simply want to know why Al Davis would want to fire Kiffin.

As one Raider rep put it, Davis' opinion on the situation is well known.

I still say it's time for Davis to speak for himself.

Lane Kiffin told San Diego reporters in a conference call he's received supportive messages from coaches and general managers throughout the league as he's dealt with the Raiders situation while his pregnant wife encounters realtors who want to know if the Kiffin home will be on the market.

That can't make Davis happy because there's no doubt some of those calls came after the Herrera incident followed by laughter, just like many of his players did.

But we'll continue to wait until Davis speaks for himself.

****

Here's the Raiders' official injury report for Sunday's game against the Chargers:

CB Nnamdi Asomugha (elbow),
DE Derrick Burgess (tricep)
RG Cooper Carlisle (ankle)
RB Justin Fargas (groin)
RB Darren McFadden (toe),
CB Stanford Routt (ankle)
LT Seth Wand (knee)
DT Gerard Warren (pectoral)

Burgess will once again show how tough he is.

His MRI on Monday showed a slightly torn triceps muscle in his arm.

"We still think he's going to be able to play," Kiffin said. "He's tough. I don't think some guys would but I think he'll play."

Didn't get a chance to ask Burgess about the injury during media availability. Chances are he wouldn't say much anyways.

After dealing with injuries in Philadelphia, Burgess has never enjoyed discussing injuries.

Of the injured players, Warren, Fargas and Carlisle aren't expected to practice tomorrow.

Kiffin said Chris Morris would fill in for Carlisle. Carlisle has a nasty bruise on his left ankle from the injury and is still in a walking boot, as is McFadden.

Fargas is likely to return after the bye week.

Warren's injury doesn't appear to be a long-term injury, Kiffin said. But missing him for just a game would hurt the defense immensely.

Kiffin said Warren is day-to-day with his slightly torn pectoral.

The Raiders would have only three defensive tackles and would lose they're best pass rusher from the interior in Warren.

Fred Wakefield would backup Tommy Kelly and Terdell Sands. The team has had concerns about the conditioning of both, which is why Warren has been so valuable.

The team isn't likely to sign another player this week because Warren isn't expected to miss a lot of time.

Instead, Wakefield and possibly Jay Richardson would move in from defensive end to help out because Kalimba Edwards has played well to start the season.

One person not on the injury list is LT Kwame Harris, who will start after missing two games with a knee injury.

"I think that makes us all feel better," Kiffin said of Harris' return in place of Mario Henderson.

****
San Diego could be a nice model for the Raiders to look at in building a winner.

They've drafted well in recent years and haven't had to rely on luring free agents with big contracts to fill voids.

Their depth is such that there usually isn't a big drop off when a player is injured or leaves.

They replaced a Pro Bowl quarterback (Drew Brees) with a Pro Bowl quarterback (Philip Rivers).

Darren Sproles has been solid filling in for LaDainian Tomlinson.

And Jyles Tucker has two sacks filling in for All Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman.

"Whenever they get an injury you think they're going to get weak in there somewhere and they really don't," Kiffin said. "They just plug the next guy in there. They've done a great job through the draft and building their team through a little bit of free agency but mostly through the draft. And you see it"

****
The newest Raider, TE Ben Troupe, could be on the field helping out as soon as Sunday.

After being released by Tampa Bay last week, he visited Atlanta before coming out to Oakland on Friday for a workout that morning and signing that afternoon and heading to Buffalo.

He said the Raider offense isn't complicated (which is seen as a problem as to why the passing game hasn't worked by some) but after an offseason with Jon Gruden's multiple sets, Troupe isn't complaining.

"It feels good to actually get into a regular kind of offense again," Troupe said. "Jon Gruden, his mind was always working."

--Jason Jones


September 24, 2008
The depleted defense

ALAMEDA -- Checking in for the first time today after some family business held me up today.

Just left the practice field where three defensive starters and a key reserver are not practicing today.

DE Derrick Burgess (triceps), DT Gerard Warren (chest), CB Nnamdi Asomugha (foot) and nickel CB Stanford Routt (ankle) are not practicing.

And considering how San Diego played on Monday night, the Raiders need all of their defenders healthy. Warren would appear least likely to play with a partially torn pectoral muscle.

Things aren't looking so good on offense, either.

RBs Darren McFadden (toe), Justin Fargas (groin) and RG Cooper Carlisle (ankle) are not practicing.

McFadden is likely to play against the Chargers. Fargas and Carlisle aren't looking as if they'll be ready.

John Wade was practicing at right guard in place of Carlisle.

LT Kwame Harris (knee) was back at practice for the first time since being hurt Sept. 8 against Denver.

****
Former Raider employee Mike Lombardi mentioned on his blog that Raiders coach Lane Kiffin agreed to an interview with the NFL Network, but had the interview canceled because owner Al Davis said it would be insubordination and grounds to fire him without pay.

That would mean Davis has no legal grounds to fire Kiffin without pay at this time. Davis can't stop Kiffin from speaking to local media as it is mandated by the NFL. But if Davis wants to silence his coach from talking to the NFL Network, there's only one solution:

Davis needs to talk.

He's the only one that can end all the speculation and explain the following:

1. Why is Kiffin still the head coach and does he really plan to fire Kiffin during the season?
2. What is his role in the defense?
3. Why didn't he fire Kiffin in January?

And there's plenty more to ask. Having John Herrera speak for him doesn't cut it. Davis is a Hall of Fame member and one of the most respected owners in the NFL.

His franchise is being mocked, largely because of his decisions.

It's time for Davis -- not Kiffin or Rob Ryan -- to answer some of these questions.

--Jason Jones

September 22, 2008
The press room incident

Here's a copy of the video with Raider executive John Herrera and San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami exchanging words.

The Raiders never disappoint when it comes to drama. I'm told there's a version of the video where I can be seen laughing at this whole scene following the press conference.

Thankfully, you don't have to watch me on this.

September 22, 2008
Dirty laundry being aired out

ALAMEDA - I've already received some email about what the commotion was during Lane Kiffin's televised press conference today.

Here's the background:

There was some mention last week of a Raider employee handing out a copy of an article to writers that was critical of Kiffin.

You want to know why that's a big deal? Remember when Art Shell was mad a couple of years ago about a team employee undermining him? It's the same thing.

That was the Raider employee in question yelling "that's not true" when a question was asked referencing articles being passed out to writers.

The Raiders deny articles were passed out and I wasn't given one, hence I never mentioned it.

What started during the press conference led to a shouting match between the employee and reporter in front of media and television cameras after the press conference ended with a few nasty accusations aimed back and forth, attacking each other's credibility.

For an organization that is often labeled dysfunctional, it's not exactly the way you want things to go on television.

Ideally, such talks need to be had behind closed doors. Because in these spats in which the media reports on a team that doesn't have a history of being friendly with the media, chances are the team won't look too good.

****

Javon Walker wants everyone to know that he feels fine.

And no, he doesn't know why he didn't play more during Sunday's 24-23 loss at Buffalo on Sunday.

"I was ready to go," Walker said. "I just didn't get into the game."

Walker missed the season opener and made a brief appearance in the Raiders' second game, a 23-8 win at Kansas City.

Walker registered his first two catches as a Raider on the opening drive against the Bills, but didn't catch a pass the rest of the game.

"When you only throw the ball three times in the second half there aren't many balls to go around," Kiffin said. "Javon did make two plays in a row there, and there weren't that many balls after that."

****

Here's how Kiffin responded to the reports he'd been told by team officials that he'd be fired besides saying he'd wait to hear from Davis.

"I'm not going to get into what's been said around here by other people, or what I've been told by other people, because that really doesn't mean anything until the owner makes a decision and tells me himself. That's where it's at. I have not had a conversation with him about it, nor has he gotten in touch with me. So I can't worry about what other people say. If we believed everything people said around here, we would be in a lot of trouble."

Kiffin continues to be impressed that the team remains focused even with all the speculation.

But Kiffin won't reach out to Davis for a resolution. Kiffin said he hasn't spoken to Al Davis since prior to playing Denver in Week 1.

"Yeah, there's so many things to worry about running an NFL team and keeping this team together and coaching it, and our staff, that I'm not about to tell Al how he should be handling this situation. He's been doing this for a long time, has had great success in the league for a long time. I got enough things to worry about, so I don't need to worry about telling him how he should handle it. He'll do what he feels in the best interest of our team, I'm sure."

****

This is Kiffin on Gibril Wilson's ejection:

"From what I saw on the film Gibril deserved to be thrown out. He clearly punched the guy. I don't know what happened before that because you can't see it on the film. I'd love to protect him in this situation but there's no reason for that. No matter what's happened before there's no reason for that and it hurt us. It hurt us with field position and it hurt us by not having him in there. We're playing Branch, a rookie, instead of a guy who's one of the highest paid guys and one of the leaders of our defense. I don't like the decision that he made. I'm sure Gibril regrets it as well."

****

Here's the injury report after the game:

DT Gerard Warren has a partially torn left pectoral muscle.

DE Derrick Burgess is having an MRI on his triceps.

RB Darren McFadden's toe isn't expected to cause him to miss this Sunday's game against San Diego.

RB Justin Fargas' groin injury will likely keep him this week with after the bye week as the target for his return.

RG Cooper Carlisle's left ankle injury is serious. Kiffin said Carlisle is day-to-day, but Carlisle was wearing a walking boot today with his ankle taped today in the locker room.

LT Kwame Harris is expected back after missing two games with a knee injury.

--Jason Jones

September 22, 2008
Kiffin stays until Al says so

ALAMEDA -- Raiders coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't respond to reports that he'd been told by team officials that he'd be fired directly.

The usually open Kiffin didn't deny that a team official told him he'd be fired.

"Until I'm told by Al Davis that I'm not the head coach here anymore we're going to keep plugging away the same way that we have," Kiffin said. "So I have not been told by Al Davis that I am not the head coach. So until he tells me directly I'm just going to keep plugging away."

More to come later from Kiffin's press conference. By time it was over, a Raiders official was yelling at a reporter.

--Jason Jones

September 22, 2008
Nothing new

ALAMEDA -- As of now, Lane Kiffin is scheduled to address the media at 2 p.m., as head coach of the Raiders.

Players have no clue who the coach will be Sunday when the Chargers are in town. Others around team headquarters also have no idea if Kiffin will be fired today, tomorrow, next week or next year.

It's not the ideal way to run any business, but this how the Raiders do business.

--Jason Jones

September 22, 2008
Kiffin's status

ESPN and Fox Sports both reported late last night that Lane Kiffin's firing could happen as soon as today.

From what I've been told, it hasn't happened yet. But assuming it does happen today the candidates to replace Kiffin would be either two long-time defensive employees (coordinator Rob Ryan or linebackers coach Don Martindale) or receivers coach James Lofton.

Lofton and Martindale have been loyal employees for five years. Never complaining, just going about their jobs and are popular amongst players.

Lofton would be an interesting selection because his first game as head coach would be Sunday against the team that fired him as receivers coach, the San Diego Chargers.

It was said during the offseason that owner Al Davis was keeping potential head coaches on staff or a phone call away so that when he was ready to fire Kiffin he wouldn't have to look far for a replacement.

It's (obviously) impossible to know exactly what Davis is thinking. Does he really blame the entire loss in Buffalo on Kiffin?

Who knows. But there needs to be a resolution quickly or this season -- which isn't lost yet -- will be.

--Jason Jones

September 21, 2008
Postgame notes

Here's some of what was said that was forwarded to me after today's 24-23 loss at Buffalo.

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin on why he didn't try to save some time with timeouts on the Bills' last drive:

"I didn't want them to call another play. Watching what was going on, they kept moving on each play that they ran. I didn't want to call a time-out earlier. I wanted to keep the field goal where it was, give us a chance for them to miss that, as opposed to calling those time-outs, letting them hand off to Lynch again and all of a sudden be down there on the 5-yard line and have a chip shot."

On the impact of Gibril Wilson's ejection in the fourth quarter and having to play rookie Tyvon Branch:

"Looking at it quick, I saw one play where the guy slipped off and got about 6 or 7 yards extra. We just got to make better decisions. That was a crucial 15-yard penalty, too. It takes away the chance for a big return when you're kicking off after a personal foul."

On was this his last game as coach:

"I don't even think about that because what's that going to do? I'm going to watch the film on the way home, like I always do, of the game, and see how we can get better. I can't control."

Overall, Kiffin said the entire team was to blame for this loss.

*The offense didn't milk the clock late to put the game away -- This is where Justin Fargas was so good last year.

*The defense didn't get the stops late

*Special teams didn't produce a big return late.

*DT Gerard Warren left the game with a neck injury. If the injury is serious, the team will almost certainly need to add another defensive tackle. The team would have only Tommy Kelly, Terdell Sands and Fred Wakefield without Warren.

--Jason Jones

September 21, 2008
Head scratchers

Questions that need to be asked after this game:

1. What happened to the defensive pressure? Was it just me or did the Raiders just let Trent Edwards sit back and have his way in the second half?

2. What's up with the cushions? Edwards started playing better because he had so many easy throws to make. DeAngelo Hall was playing off his man and the Bills took advantage.

3. What can be done to get the offense to take advantage of good situations? Sebastian Janikowski was good today, but the offense settled for too many field goals.

4. How does Zach Miller have zero catches? I only remember one pass that went his way.

5. Why didn't the Raiders use a timeout on the Bills' final drive? Johnnie Lee Higgins had one long kickoff return. Why not give him a chance to make a play by saving some time?

--Jason Jones

September 21, 2008
Higgins breaks out

That's the first touchdown catch of Johnnie Lee HIggins' career. It covered 84 yards. Higgins had only 47 receiving yards as a rookie.

--Jason Jones

September 21, 2008
It could have been worse

It didn't take much for the officials to eject Gibril Wilson. Players have stayed in the game without a penalty for more than Wilson's open hand push/slap.

If Tyvon Branch replaces Wilson, his ability to tackle will be an issue with the cast he's wearing on his right hand. The other options would be Rashad Baker or Hiram Eugene.

--Jason Jones

September 21, 2008
Halftime notes

*JaMarcus Russell has attempted 16 passes, one fewer than the entire game last week in Kansas City.

*After no sacks in the season opener, the Raiders have eight sacks in their last six quarters of football. The Raiders had only 27 all of last season.

*The defense held the Bills to 3.8 yards a carry.

--Jason Jones

September 21, 2008
Pete on his pupil

In reporting today's NFL Audible on the trials and tribulations college coaches face when they make the jump to the NFL, the Bee's Paul Gutierrez jumped on the weekly Pacific 10 Conference football coaches' conference call and fired a few questions at USC's Pete Carroll.

Not only is Carroll embattled Raiders coach Lane Kiffin's previous boss, Carroll is also a former NFL head coach, having spent a combined four years with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, so he figured to have a unique perspective on things. Following then, is Carroll unplugged...

Q: Have you been able to keep tabs much on what Lane is going through up here in Oakland and if so, do you talk to him much, and what do you tell him?
A: We have communicated some and I'm just continuing to support him to do what he knows how to do and do what he can do best and that's coach a football team and do the game plan and all that. All of the rest of that stuff is really so counter-productive, to be talking about it and answering questions. It sounds like he did a good job and it's just business as usual as best as possible. I don't know why anybody would want to make this thing so disruptive right now. They're trying to win football games and they played a great game last week and got a great effort out of the defense and Rob (Ryan) did a great job of getting everybody playing well and they ran the hell out of it. So, you know, they've got a big game coming up. I don't know what else you could even be focused on in letting the word out that they might be focusing on something else. The coaching staff sounds like they're really together and they're going to try to do a great job and get this thing going.

Q: For you, obviously, it's been a while, but having been a head coach in both the NFL and in college, what is the biggest difference - is it simply more fun in college?
A: There's a couple of different ways to look at it. The numbers of people involved at the high levels, you know, the owners and the GMs and the coaches, it's really hard to get everybody on the same page and it doesn't happen very much, particularly in the enormous, the egos involved with all that; it's hard. And it's hard to support the guy who has to have the support, which is the head coach. He's the guy that's making the kid do the stuff and it seems difficult to get everybody on the same page, quite often, and that's why there's so many coaching changes and personnel shifts and stuff like that. It's difficult. Here, I do everything here. I'm the G.M., I'm the personnel guy, I'm the academic advisor; I'm the head coach and all that stuff. And it makes for one voice and the leadership and the direction of it all comes out of one office. So it's much, much easier to guide.

Q: Why would anyone want to leave a situation like college for the NFL?
A: Guys that have never done it before, guys that have been in college their (whole) career and haven't had the chance to do it, they should do it. I mean, it's extraordinary. The NFL's a blast, man. It's fun and challenging and all that. It's different in some ways and it's different good and it's different bad. Going the other way, this is like a breath of fresh air. The kids are all young; they're all eager and ready to go and you have tremendous control. So that's my whole thing. I think I do better when I have full control and you don't have to try to match your philosophy with somebody else's. I don't have to do that. You've got to ask Dave at Pittsburgh and guys all around and what they think, but that's the biggest issue for me.

-Paul Gutierrez

September 21, 2008
Checking in

Hello folks. Because Mrs. Jones is due to give birth any day now, I'm watching the game from home and Paul Gutierrez is in New York to cover the game.

I'll be checking in during the game and following up with postgame notes.

Today's inactives are:

WR Todd Watkins
C John Wade
T Seth Wand
RB Justin Fargas
T Kwame Harris
TE Ben Troupe
CB Chris Johnson
3rd QB Marques Tuiasosopo

Darren McFadden will start for Fargas. Mario Henderson starts for Harris.

--Jason Jones

September 20, 2008
Transaction completed

To make room for TE Ben Troupe, the Raiders waived TE John Madsen.

--Jason Jones

September 19, 2008
New tight end?

The NFL Network (which means it's probably correct) reports the Raiders have signed TE Ben Troupe.

The team would need to release a player to add Troupe, who was recently cut by Tampa Bay.

Why would the Raiders want another tight end?

If Troupe proves to be a good blocker, it all makes sense.

The Raiders are looking for ways to free up Zach Miller to be a bigger part of the passing game.

Here's what Kiffin said about Miller on Thursday when asked him about moving Miller around to create more opportunities in the passing game:

"The thing with Zach, as we talked about before, is he's so good at other things. He's so good at blocking, he's so good at pass protection that that's hurt him a little bit in the passing game because of the way we use him. We use him a lot to help our guys. We use him a lot to stay in protection. With our other tight ends, we don't necessarily have a dominant blocker with our other tight ends. They're more pass receiving type guys. As far as numbers and catches, he's hurt himself a little bit that way because he's so good that we use him so much in protection."

Having another tight end that can catch and block gives the offense flexibility in the passing game and makes it less predictable.

Perhaps an official announcement will come sometime tomorrow.

Here's some background on Troupe:

*6-4, 260

*Second-round pick of Tennessee (40th overall) from Florida

*Signed with Tampa Bay this year. Was released when suspended tight end Jerramy Stevens was activated.

*He has 106 catches for 1,056 yards and seven touchdowns for his career. His best season was 2005 when he caught 55 passes for 530 yards and four touchdowns for the Titans. He had only five catches in 16 games with two starts last season. He didn't catch a pass in two games with the Bucs.

--Jason Jones

September 19, 2008
Running back situation

ALAMEDA -- Darren McFadden didn't do a lot today in practice according to coach Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin said McFadden would need a pain-killing injection in his injured to toe play Sunday in Buffalo.

McFadden spent the last couple of days getting accustomed to running with a steel plate in his shoe to protect the injury.

Depending on how McFadden feels, Michael Bush could start the game and the Raiders could use McFadden as a change-of-pace back.

Justin Fargas (groin) won't play unless he wakes up and suddenly feels 100 percent. He hasn't practiced this week.

*WR Javon Walker will play. How much is anyone's guess. It all depends on how his hamstring feels on Sunday.

*Barring a miraculous recovery from Kwame Harris, Mario Henderson will start at left tackle for the second consecutive week.

*Kiffin said Bills DT Marcus Stroud will be tough to handle. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound two-time Pro Bowl player anchors the middle of the defense.

He's in the mold of the Titans' Albert Haynesworth and the Vikings' Kevin Williams, big DTs the Raiders struggled to block last season.

"So much of zone, you're hooking guys, you're hooking guys, the ball goes outside, but they're so big and so strong, you think you have a block, then all of a sudden he pushes and the next guy can't get to him because they're so big and powerful," Kiffin said. "So they cause this system a lot (of problems), especially when you're running at them. It's better when you're running away because you try to get them on the ground. The only way this system works is if you get these guys on the ground. Especially the big guys, otherwise it makes for along day."

The solution to that is cut blocking.

"Once you put it in his head guys are going to cut, and they feel that, now they slow down," Kiffin said.

*The Raiders are ready for the Bills' special teams.

"We've got 20 different fakes on film over the years from (Bills special teams coach Bobby April), and so we have to be on our toes at all times," Kiffin said. "They're not afraid to do anything."

Bills punter Brian Moorman threw a 19-yard touchdown to defensive end Ryan Denney on a fake field goal in Week 1.

--Jason Jones

September 19, 2008
Fargas, Harris still out

ALAMEDA -- RB Justin Fargas and LT Kwame Harris are the only players not dressed for today's short practice before the team flies to Buffalo.

That means neither is likely to play on Sunday. Darren McFadden would start for Fargas while Mario Henderson would replace Harris.

--Jason Jones

September 18, 2008
On steel footing

ALAMEDA - Darren McFadden practiced today with a steel plate in shoe and looks on course to play Sunday in Buffalo.

But you could imagine, running with steel on the bottom of your foot isn't exactly comfortable.

He did about 70 percent of his usual work in practice.

"It made me feel like I was running flat-footed," McFadden said. "I feel like once I get used to practicing with that, playing with that, I'll be all right."

McFadden's biggest challenge this week will be pass protection.

With Justin Fargas expected to miss Sunday's game in Buffalo, the job of protecting JaMarcus Russell back there would fall on McFadden and Michael Bush. Justin Griffith would also help, but he would limit the playcalling according to coach Lane Kiffin.

****
The Raiders running game is averaging 225 yards a game after two weeks, bolstered by a 300-yard day in Kansas City.

Here's Kiffin on how teams defend the Raiders' running game when asked if teams were crowding the line of scrimmage to take away the running game.

"I would say dating back to Miami, the fourth game of last year, that that hasn't changed. I don't think that we rushed for 300 and all of a sudden ... since that Miami game last year no one's played us soft. Everybody's been concerned about our running game and not very concerned about our pass game and it's shown what they played. As you watch Kansas City it's not like it was a secret we were coming in running there, JaMarcus' first road start. Sometimes there's too much looked into. 'Well, they think we're going to run so we're not going to run.' You still have to stop it, like anything. Last week they were in an eight-man front and the week before they were in an eight-man front and I would think until we really show somebody different, and to where your pass game not just becomes good but where your pass game becomes better than your run game you're not going to see much two-high safety."

*****
Kwame Harris (knee) is doubtful for Buffalo, meaning Mario Henderson would get another start at left tackle.

Henderson would have to step his game up against Bills DE Aaron Schoebel, who has played in the last two Pro Bowls.

Fargas and Harris were the only Raiders to miss practice.

Javon Walker (hamstring) finished practice after leaving practice early yesterday.

****
There weren't any questions asked of Kiffin about his job status - the first time since before the Raiders played Kansas City.

But some fans are making their opinion know.

They've started www.keepkiffin.com.

And in the interest of equal time during the political season, if there's a get rid of Kiffin site, feel free to pass it along to me.

--Jason Jones


September 18, 2008
McFadden returns, Fargas and Kwame sit

ALAMEDA -- RB Darren McFadden was at practice this morning after sitting out yesterday's session with turf toe.

We'll find out how much he actually does in practice in a couple of hours when coach Lane Kiffin gives the injury report.

LT Kwame Harris (knee) and RB Justin Fargas (groin) aren't practicing. Harris has been out since a Denver defender rolled into his leg during the Raiders' season-opening loss.

--Jason Jones

September 17, 2008
Is there a game this week?

ALAMEDA - Anyone want to talk about the Buffalo Bills?

There are plenty of Raiders that would love to do that instead of answer questions about Lane Kiffin's job status.

But without owner Al Davis saying anything publicly in support of his coach, the questions continue to come about if/when Kiffin will be fired.

"We'll just keep plugging along until we hear different," Kiffin said. "I said before, the only thing that I don't like is for our players, they have to deal with this and it's a distraction. It shows a lot about our group because if you had some different guys, they could take advantage of the situation, all the stuff in the media and the paper, all the reports from our front office that there's going to be a firing yesterday and today, all that stuff. They could take advantage of that situation. 'We're not listening to you. We've been told, according to the paper, from our front office, that you're being fired. It's just a matter of when.' So, it shows a lot about our guys."

And Kiffin appears to be on to something about the locker room.

It's always interesting when you hear players talk about their coach. Some think once the players start talking like their coach, that means the message is sinking in.

Then again, the Raiders are probably so used to all the talk of a coaching change, it doesn't bother them anymore.

But here is how a few Raiders responded to more questions about Kiffin:

"You can only control what you can control," said running back Justin Fargas. "And that's your effort, your approach to your game and your work. That's what I try to do. That's what the team tries to do, come in here, and go to work. We know we have an opponent coming in to play the next week, and regardless of whatever has gone on outside, with the outside distractions, the ball's going to be kicked off and we've got to go out there and perform."

Here's Tommy Kelly on the rumors:

"I really don't pay attention," he said. "That really ain't my business so I worry about whoever I'm lined up in front of. Because the business between them, that's their business. I can't worry about that."

Kelly on if that's something you learn playing for the Raiders:

"Yeah," he said with a laugh. "You just got to worry about what you can control. I can't control that. I think Lane is doing a great job and guys are playing hard and playing together. I think everybody in the locker room on the same page. I don't see the problem but hey, I don't know what's going on between them, so hey."

****
Speaking of Kelly, he talked about is arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence on Sunday night.


"'(Kiffin) was like, you can't take that risk,'" Kelly said. "'Don't even do it.' He understood. What you do in your off time, you do it but understand the risk you're taking. It was a dumb decision on my own. If I could go back I would have probably just left my car at the hotel and came back and got it the next day."

Kelly went out without the usual designated driver that accompanies he and his friends for a night out.

He doesn't plan to make that mistake twice.
"I doubt if it'll ever happen again," Kelly said "I severely doubt it. It won't happen again."

Kelly said his lawyer is handling the legal matter. The team won't discipline Kelly and he will play Sunday in Buffalo.

****
RB Darren McFadden (toe) and Fargas (groin) did not practice. Fargas doesn't think he'll be able to play on Sunday.

Kiffin said if he had to, McFadden could have played in a game today.

WR Javon Walker (hamstring) didn't finish practice.

Not having Walker is hindering the passing game's development.

"Here's a guy that is supposed to be the No. 1 receiver when he comes in," Kiffin said. "Unfortunately, he's had some issues and had the injuries, and here we go again. We're warming up for the game on Sunday hoping that finally this was going to be the time that he would get to play. He didn't feel very good then. Today, he comes out, we talked about it being a big week for him. He played really well against Buffalo (for Denver) last season at the start of the year, had a good game against these guys. I started talking to him yesterday about it, about a big week, this team needs you, and, unfortunately, halfway through practice he can't go anymore."

LT Kwame Harris (knee) did not practice. He worked on the side and could return to the practice tomorrow.

If Fargas and McFadden were unable to play, the Raiders would lean on Michael Bush, Justin Griffith and possibly elevate Louis Rankin from the practice squad and cut someone to make room for Rankin.

But it sounds as if McFadden will be fine. Kiffin said Sunday McFadden could have returned to the Chiefs game if needed.

Bush is ready for the challenge of being the top back if needed.

"I've been waiting to play for a long time so whatever they come up with I'm ready for it," Bush said.

--Jason Jones

September 17, 2008
Lane is getting the star treatment

Here's some of what Lane Kiffin had to say to Buffalo reporters on his conference call:

On waking up Wednesday and not knowing if he's going to be the coach:

"How about when you go for a jog yesterday and you fell like it's paparazzi because the TV cameras are following you and they're asking you if you're still the coach of the Raiders. I felt like Brad Pitt. "

Ever think you'd be treated like Britney Spears:

"I said Brad, not Britney."

On communication with Al Davis:

"No I have not had communication with him over the last two weeks. All I know is what people tell me or what's in the paper that front office people have informed them that he's making a decision whenever it's coming, all the different things that come across each day. As crazy as it sounds, I know as much as you guys know."

September 17, 2008
McFadden and Fargas take it easy

ALAMEDA -- Running backs Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas were able to spend some time chatting prior to practice because neither is participating today.

After practice there will be an update on McFadden's toe injury and Fargas' groin injury.

Left tackle Kwame Harris was also not practicing today.

Tommy Kelly is practicing. Whether he'll talk about his recent DUI arrest isn't known. Wilie Brown, who handles a lot of the off-field issues with players for the Raiders, was speaking to Kelly before practice along with another team official.

Nnamdi Asomugha left the field before the start of practice with trainer H. Rod Martin. He didn't appear to be injured, but you never know.

--Jason Jones

September 17, 2008
Buffalo loves Langston Walker

ALAMEDA -- Today's conference calls had an interesting start.

The call with Buffalo coach Dick Jauron was supposed to be a national call. But when you were finally connected to the call, there was no coach. Instead there was an earful of political talk radio with someone afraid of what would happen if John McCain were to "drop dead" and Sarah Palin had to be to be the president.

After that foray into politics that even left Jauron laughing, the conference calls took place with Jauron and Buffalo QB Trent Edwards.

That meant it was time to get an update on former Raider offensive lineman Langston Walker, who many out here accused me of being a Cal "homer" for saying he wasn't horrible as a Raider and that he took an unfair amount of criticism.

Walker signed with Buffalo as a free agent before the 2007 season.

Walker is doing just fine in Buffalo.

"We're really happy to have Langston and we really did like him when he entered the free agent market," Jauron said. "We did a lot of film study on him and thought he had a very good feet, a very good feel for the game, and then we did some research on the guy, really liked the guy, a very smart guy, likes to play, outstanding teammate. He's been a real good find for us, a real good get, really in free agency, and he fits in with our group very well."

Walker has endeared himself with his quarterback, too. He filled in well at left tackle while Jason Peters was holding out of training camp.

And Walker's sense of humor always made him fun to be around in Oakland.

Here's Edwards on Walker:

"He's just a fun guy to be around. He's obviously one of our best offensive linemen that we have around here right now and he plays big for us in big situations. He's a physically big person. And sometimes, too, what we were talking about earlier, our different sizes of the guys, there's sometimes where Langston will block the right defensive end and we'll have Roscoe Parrish on a post route or Texas route over Langston and you can't even see Roscoe behind him because Langston's so big. But he's fun to have in the huddle, fun to have in the locker room, he's a great teammate. And it's just fun to have another bay area guy to talk Stanford-Cal rivalry. I made him wear a Stanford sweatshirt all after the big game, all week that was probably three sizes to small for him. I did that to him last year when Stanford beat Cal."

****
More from the conference calls:

*Jauron on facing the Raiders' running game:

"On tape they look like a very talented football team. They're well put together, well conceived, well coached. They did a really nice job last week. As you pointed out, when you rush the ball for 300 yards against somebody in our league, that's pretty good, that's a great accomplishment, so we've definitely got our work cut out for us and that's our league, every since week is a terrific challenge."


*Edwards on how to deal with Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha in the passing game.

"Nnamdi can't cover everyone out there so we have four guys other than the guy being covered by Nnamdi to get the ball to."

*Jauron on what adding Marcus Stroud does for the the Bills' defensive line:

I think, No. 1, and probably the most obvious thing, is made us bigger. We're bigger, we're probably a little more physical than we were a year ago. The guy is an established player. There wasn't any doubt how he was going to play. We'd studied a lot of tape on him. A terrific guy for us in terms of leadership, in the locker room, on the field, he's a real pro. And he had a track record. It wasn't one of those things you had to doubt or hoped he did it, because you'd seen a lot of tape when he'd done it. That's what he's brought to us."

*Edwards on being too careful as a young quarterback:

"Well what happens when there's a deep throw and a chance to take the ball down the field and you're passing up an opportunity to make a play when you're being told not to turn the ball over? There's a fine line you have to walk at this position to know when to check the ball down and when to take chances too. But it's kind of an instinctual thing that you have to have. It's going to happen and when it's there you've got to know when to take your shot and when not to. A coach can tell you not to turn the ball over but you have to be able to take your shots or you're not going to put points on the board."

****
Yes, Lane Kiffin is still the coach around here. Those around these parts that can't wait to see Kiffin fired have to love Jauron calling the team "well coached."

--Jason Jones

September 16, 2008
Not much good press these days

The Raiders win a road game and all anyone wants to talk about is is/when their head coach will be fired.

After signing Tommy Kelly to a seven-year deal worth up to $50.5 million ($18.125 million guaranteed), many wondered why the Raiders were paying so much for Kelly.

Now that he's been arrested for driving under the influence, the team can expect to be criticized even more.

The Raiders don't need distractions, but the team has a way of creating them.

From Lane Kiffin being honest to a fault, Al Davis' indecision about firing Kiffin, the team trotting out defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to contradict Kiffin and players and coaches wondering what's going to happen next, the Raiders are setting themselves up for a bad week.

Adding Kelly being arrest to the mix means a player that shuns media attention will find a lot of reporters and television cameras looking to ask him about his situation.

Are these Raiders mentally tough enough to ignore the distractions and beat a Buffalo Bills team that is better than a lot of people realize.

The team hasn't shown in recent years it can sustain success amid coaching instability. Assuming Kiffin is at work tomorrow, he'll have a tough job on his hands.

--Jason Jones

September 16, 2008
What's next for Kelly?

Below is information from the NFLPA web site on what happens to players charged with a crime.

Persons Charged With Criminal Activity
Any Covered Person arrested for or charged with conduct prohibited by this policy will be required to undergo an immediate, mandatory clinical evaluation and, if directed, appropriate counseling. Such evaluation and counseling must be performed under the direction and supervision of the NFL Vice President of Player and Employee Development. Failure to cooperate with evaluation and counseling (including being arrested for or charged with additional criminal activity during the evaluation and counseling period) shall itself be conduct detrimental to the National Football League and shall be punishable by fine or suspension at the discretion of the Commissioner.

The next portion comes from the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse

III. Discipline for Alcohol-Related Violations of Law or Abuse of Alcohol.
A. Abusive Consumption.
Although alcoholic beverages are legal substances, when consumed abusively they can
produce or contribute to conduct that is unlawful and threatens the health and safety of
players and other persons. Such conduct is detrimental to the integrity of and public
confidence in the NFL and professional football. In addition, the abusive consumption of
alcoholic beverages may indicate a substance abuse problem that requires medical
attention.

B. Alcohol-Related Offenses.
The Commissioner will review and may impose a fine, suspension, or other appropriate
discipline if a player is convicted of or admits to a violation of the law (including within
the context of a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, disposition of supervision,
or similar arrangement including but not limited to nolo contendere) relating to the use of
alcohol. Absent aggravating circumstances, discipline for a first offense will generally be
a fine of two-seventeenths (2/17) of the amount in Paragraph 5 of the NFL Player Contract to a maximum of $50,000. If the Commissioner finds that there were aggravating circumstances, including but not limited to felonious conduct or serious injury or death of third parties, and/or if the player has had prior drug or alcohol-related misconduct, increased discipline up to and including suspension may be imposed. Discipline for a second or subsequent offense is likely to be a suspension, the duration of which may escalate for repeat offenses.

--Jason Jones

September 16, 2008
Tommy Kelly arrested

Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was arrested in the last 24 hours. Radio station KHTK reports the charge is driving under the influence.

--Jason Jones

September 15, 2008
Kiffin addresses his situation

ALAMEDA -- Below is a portion of Lane Kiffin's press conference today. No one really wanted to talk about the last game, which is usually Monday's topic.

Most of the talk was about whether Kiffin would be fired soon, if he was worried about and his relationship with owner Al Davis.


Q: Have you met with Al Davis about your situation?
A: "Not that I know of. I have not spoken with him or I have not been told anything."

Q: Did part of you wake up this morning thinking you were going to be fired?
A: "Not necessarily. I'm worried about what I can control. I've said that now for over a year and a half since we've been here. There are certain things I can control, there's certain things I can't. This happens to be the next one. He has a decision to make. It does me no good to worry about it right now. I was extremely pleased the way that our coaching team and our staff focused. The best thing that can happen for us -- you guys have to do your job and ask the questions -- is the more that we can stay focused as a team, as a coaching staff, and go forward from here, the better we will be."

Q: Is it an issue in the building, among players and assistants?
A: I think you feel it a little bit anytime that there's so much media coverage about something and so many things, and you read something, and 'this comes from the building, and this comes from the building,' anytime that that happens, I think you have some issues. But like I said, that's what I was most proud of our guys, for hanging together and not letting them be a distraction. As long as I'm here, we're gonna have to continue to do that all the time. So this happens to be the next week, and we'll continue to do that.

Q: Do you feel like something is going on with Davis regarding your job?
A: Well, I don't know. I would think so. If every paper that opens up, that they're writing about it, that - whatever the term is that's used around here - a team spokesperson is saying that job security's an issue, or saying there's a press conference today or later today, there must be something. But like I said, I've not had contact, or no one's told me directly about it.

Q: Q: Have you met with Al Davis about your situation?
A: "Not that I know of. I have not spoken with him or I have not been told anything."

Q: Did part of you wake up this morning thinking you were going to be fired?
A: "Not necessarily. I'm worried about what I can control. I've said that now for over a year and a half since we've been here. There are certain things I can control, there's certain things I can't. This happens to be the next one. He has a decision to make. It does me no good to worry about it right now. I was extremely pleased the way that our coaching team and our staff focused. The best thing that can happen for us -- you guys have to do your job and ask the questions -- is the more that we can stay focused as a team, as a coaching staff, and go forward from here, the better we will be."

Q: Is it an issue in the building, among players and assistants?
A: I think you feel it a little bit anytime that there's so much media coverage about something and so many things, and you read something, and 'this comes from the building, and this comes from the building,' anytime that that happens, I think you have some issues. But like I said, that's what I was most proud of our guys, for hanging together and not letting them be a distraction. As long as I'm here, we're gonna have to continue to do that all the time. So this happens to be the next week, and we'll continue to do that.

Q:Want to have this settled by Wednesday, when players return for practice to prepare for Buffalo?
A: I haven't thought about it that way. It's not my call. You've got to go somewhere else to find that answer. We just finished up going over this game in all three phases, and now we're moving on to Buffalo until I know something different."

Q: Regret anything you've said?
A: I don't know that I'd use the word regret. I think you're always learning from different situations and handling them situations. I think, unless you're going to be stubborn and think you have all the answers. I think in any profession, you're going to look at yourself, you're going to evaluate it. The same way that you managed the game yesterday. What are the things we could have done better? Could we have played this guy better, could we have done different things to prepare for during the week? So I'm always in a competitive mindset of how I can get better and handle situations better with players, coaches, management, everything. So I'm always going to look at that.

Q: Do you have the full support of this coaching staff?
A: Yeah, I don't feel a distraction on this team. I don't feel within our coaching staff or within our team any issues. I think that last week was a hard week for our players and for our coaches because there were so many things being said because we played bad. You guys did your job. You attacked the way that we played, some of our players and some of our coaches, and you should because we didn't coach well in the opener. That's why it was good to have a short week. It was good, I said the next day I said one of the best things to happen in a blowout, it's different than when you lose a game because you miss a field goal at the end of the game or lose by a point and say, "Oh, well we had 'em, we would have beat them if it wasn't for that ref's call or we would have beaten them if we made that field goal.' And you overlook some things and there were a lot of glaring things in that opener to get beat the way we did that we had to come back and get to work on. And I thought our staff and our players did a great job. All three phases, the game plans were very successful in what we put in this week and the players performed and played better.

Q: Do you still have a "working relationship" with Davis. If so, di you speak on the team plane after Sunday's game?
A: No, I haven't. But that's not unusual. Don't make a big deal out of it. That's very normal. We don't sit next to each other on the plane. Al's not around as much as he used to be. He's around the office or he's at practice. He wasn't there all last week so I didn't see him. There's nothing new, that's not a result of anything that happened or any issues with him or I, that's just how the setup is.

Q: How bad to you want to remain Raiders coach?
A: I want to be here. I think we have a real good group of players, and there are so many things going in the right direction with a bunch of young guys. You look on offense when you watch the film, there's so many young guys playing that it would be exciting to see this thing grow the right way and be able to do it, and I've said it before, I think the neatest thing that can happen is when a place has been down for awhile and has not won many games, and you come in and you win and you're part of that process, as opposed to going somewhere that's won for a long time and you just happen to be the next group that comes in. We have a chance to do that, we have a bunch of new players that have come in, that would have a chance to be part of that story, and it starts with a quarterback being drafted to a franchise that's been down, now to add the running back to it. It would be a neat thing to be a part of, if we can do it right to get a turnaround done here.

Q: There's been talk of you being fired since the offseason and you dealing with it today. How much is it wearing on you?
A: It's not. It really doesn't. It's probably crazy, I really don't think about it very much, because what can I do about it, it's not my decision. I think it's a good lesson to our players. I even had coach with a different situation talk about it to me this morning. As long as you worry bout what you an control. I know I'm saying the same things over and over again. I talked about it to our team, quit going after the refs on every call, complaining to the refs every time. Hey, guess what? The next time you're not going to get a call if you keep doing that. You're wasting your energy. You're worrying about things you can't control. Well, that's on a smaller stage than this, but it's the same thing. I think you'll do all right, especially in this profession, if you don't let those things, especially as a head coach, don't let those things affect you. The last thing I'm going to do is let anything that's going on with the media or with the owner affect how I prepare this team every day and every week.

Q: Is this job different than you thought it would be?
A: I don't think you ever know everything no matter where you go. There's always going to be things different than you expect no matter where you go no matter how much you know about a place. So there's things different but I don't know if that's different if it would be anywhere else.

Q: Do you regret taking the job and has it been a good learning experience?
A: No, I don't have any regrets at all. I think it's been a great experience so far for me. And to deal with adversity that I've had to deal with and all the different changes on the roster and all the issue that you guys are continuing to talk about, I think it's great for me to have to deal with this at the age that I'm at. And with this team, to be able to hold the team together, if we can continue to play like we did last week and hold the team together, we can stay together in this thing. A pretty good story.

Q: Is it tough just to get ready to coach with all this stuff going on?
A: Everybody's got issues and problems, I don't care where they are. We just may have different ones than somewhere else. Really, after this 20 minutes that we're in here and you guys ask all these questions, I really don't deal with this after that very much.

****
*RB Darren McFadden (toe) could miss practice on Wednesday.

*RB Justin Fargas had an MRI on his injured groin today. Kiffin said results will be in by Wednesday's practice.

--Jason Jones

September 15, 2008
Waiting on Lane

ALAMEDA -- Raiders head coach is scheduled to speak to the media at 2 p.m an discuss Sunday's 23-8 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Yes, as of now, he's still the head coach. No word on the meeting he was supposed to have with Al Davis last night.

Davis usually arrives at the facility late in the afternoon or in the early evening, so any news might not come until I'm trying to watch Monday Night Raw.

Several players said they aren't concerned about the situation. With the rumors of Kiffin's firing circulating since January, they aren't openly bothered by the talk.

Here's what some of the players had to say about the situation:

WR Javon Walker

"You know what? It's actually a funny situation to me. I'm a new guy coming in. I don't know all the circumstances of what's been going on. Obviously this is something that's been brewing even before I got here. So you know I'm just rolling with the punches. Whatever happens, happens. All I know is we've got to stick together as a team and go out and win. Win games and hopefully let this override and win games."

WR Ronald Curry

"We've been dealing with that since March, or whatever, they've been going back and forth with it. You just worry about the things that you can control. I mean, it's business, and hopefully it doesn't happen. I think Kiffin does a great job, but it's Al's team and I think Kiffin knew that when he got here. Everybody knows what's going on."

LB Thomas Howard

"Lane? I can't be worried about that. I'll let everybody upstairs worry about that. He'll be here next week. He's here now. He's our head coach. He's coaching us and we're going to try to keep winning games for him."

****
Walker didn't catch a pass yesterday in Kansas City. It's kept him in check and not yapping to his peers.

"Usually, I've got a loud mouth about that but I've been pretty quiet," Walker said.

Walker said his injured hamstring is coming along slowly. He expects to have a bigger role after playing sparingly against the Chiefs.

"The minute you feel good... you try to accelerate and stuff and boom, there you go again," Walker said. "We were just being cautious with it."

****
LT Kwame Harris intends to try to practice on Wednesday after missing the Chiefs game with a knee injury.

Harris was happy to see Mario Henderson have some success filling in for him. Henderson has been criticized a lot since arriving as a rookie last year.

"I don't think Mario ever got down in the dumps," Harris said. "That says something about his mettle."

September 14, 2008
Meeting planned for tonight

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Raiders coach Lane Kiffin is scheduled to meet with owner Al Davis tonight to discuss if he will be fired.

Whether Kiffin would attend such a meeting is debatable. Kiffin's attitude might be if Davis wants to fire him, Davis should go ahead and fire him and there's no need to meet about that.

I still hear receivers coach James Lofton would be the choice to replace Kiffin. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan would also be in the mix. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has been interviewed about being the Raiders head coach in the past, too.

It's become obvious the Kiffin-Raiders union must end. Too bad Davis waited until the season to decide this.

He could elect to keep Kiffin around, but why? Kiffin is a coach with no authority (and the players know that) who was publicly pitted against his defensive coordinator.

Owner vs. coach. Offense vs. defense. It's all a recipe for a disastrous season.

And beating the woeful Kansas City Chiefs doesn't change that.

--Jason Jones

September 14, 2008
Kiffin takes the talk in stride

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Lane Kiffin doesn't act like someone about to lose his job.

In fact, he made time to joke about it with a few reporters.

He followed a cordial "See you later" with a "maybe" as the locker room at Arrowhead Stadium cleared out.

A source familiar the Raiders' coaching situation tells me Lane Kiffin wouldn't be fired if the Raiders win today.

But who knows what will really happen?

As for the players that had heard reports of Kiffin's impending dismissal as soon as tomorrow, they were largely unaffected.

After all, changing coaches with the Raiders is nothing new.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha said the talk becomes "redundant." He's had four head coaches in six years.

Whether today's 23-8 win is enough to save Kiffin's job is anyone's guess.

"That's not my decision," Kiffin said. "I'm excited about the way our staff and players prepared this week. And if I'm here, we'll do the same next week."

****
The defense looked like what it was billed to be all offseason. Sure, it was against a struggling offense and a No. 3 quarterback most of the day. But remember someone named Kolby Smith looked like an All-Pro running back here against the Raiders last season.

And Eddie Royal looked like Jerry Rice last Monday.

LB Kirk Morrison said the biggest change was to make things simple. Instead of worrying about trying to check into a defense to match everything the offense does, the Raiders kept it simple and aggressive.

The five sacks and numerous blitzes showcased that.

****
Justin Fargas' status is unknown at this time. He left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury and did not return.

He was wearing sweats in the second half and was out of the locker room by time the media entered for interviews.

****
Kiffin said about 75 percent of the running plays were called away from LT Mario Henderson, who started in place of Kwame Harris, who missed the game with a knee injury.

The crowd was announced sell out, but the stands were noticeably empty here at Arrowhead.

It seems like the locals aren't too thrilled about these Chiefs.

****
I'll check in later when I go over the stats and see how the rest of the NFL did. But I'm about to get some barbecue before I get out of Kansas City.

--Jason Jones


September 14, 2008
Fargas leaves field on a cart

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Running back Justin Fargas was taken to the locker room with a groin injury. His return is questionable.

Fargas left the game in the second quarter. he was running a pass route when he fell down, holding his leg.

--Jason Jones

September 14, 2008
Jano in the record books

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sebastian Janikowski just made a 56-yard field goal, the longest in Raider history.

It's also the longest field goal ever made against the Chiefs.

The Raiders lead 3-0.

--Jason Jones

September 14, 2008
Today's inactives

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Starting left tackle Kwame Harris is among Raiders not dressing for today's game.

The others are:

WR Todd Watkins
S Rashad Baker
T James Marten
C John Wade
OL/DL Fred Wakefield
TE John Madsone
3rd QB Marques Tuiasosopo

The Chiefs inactves are:
QB Brodie Croyle
RB Dantrell Savage
CB Maurice leggett
LB Napolean Harris
G Brian De La Fuente
T Barry Richardson
WR Will Franklin
3rd QB Ingle Martin

--Jason Jones

September 14, 2008
Not if, but when?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tim Kawakami notes in his blog that Lane Kiffin could be fired as early as tomorrow if the Raiders play today like they did in losing to Denver (like an undisciplined, unmotivated bunch) and end up losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Just about every one around the Raiders has been waiting for this to happen since January, when it became obvious Kiffin and Davis didn't like each other.

Kiffin was interested in college jobs. Davis was mad. Kiffin wanted to change the coaching staff. Davis said no.

Kiffin has spent much of the offseason making it clear there are things he cannot control and that Davis is to blame from everything to the roster to the lack of blitzes.

Even though the Raiders had Rob Ryan dispute Kiffin's claim regarding Davis being involved in the defensive gameplan, it's been widely said for years that Davis has a hand in the defense.

And there are those within the organization that would have you believe the plays that went bad against Denver weren't Ryan's schemes, rather plays Kiffin wanted to run.

Why?

There have been those in the Raiders organization that haven't liked Kiffin for sometime. They see Kiffin as having a "here to save this franchise" attitude that's considered an insult to Davis.

He's not a Raider and doesn't understand the Raider way.

There are those on the coaching staff that aren't fond of Kiffin's style, which includes calling out players publicly and saying the roster isn't talented.

Davis has prepared to fire Kiffin for months by putting people in place (James Lofton, Greg Knapp, Jim Fassel) around the team that he's liked as a head coach in the past.

Kawakami reports Lofton, running backs coach Tom Rathman and Fassel are the top-3 candidates should Davis fire Kiffin.

So let's see how long Kiffin remains a Raider. Chances are a win over the Chiefs today extends Kiffin's tenure for a few days.

--Jason Jones

September 13, 2008
Plenty of questions about the defense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - This weekend's mailbag was filled with anger. Most of it is aimed at Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Here are a few examples of what I've been seeing:

Where are the blitzes?

Why no pressure on the quarterback?

This is why Lane wanted to get rid of Rob!!!!

"MeAngleo" Hall sucks!

There's no way to sort through all of the anger after a pitiful opening-night showing.

So here's a sampling of the questions before I head out to enjoy some good Kansas City BBQ.


Question: Why did CB DeAngelo Hall play so far back from the line of scrimmage -- I've never seen such a thing -- especially when he is considered a bigtime, man-to-man, bump-and-run corner?!?. He played like a "third safety," while his counterpart at CB, Nnamdi Asomugha, played tight coverage. Hall's defense was so soft that he gave Eddie Royal huge spacing to make EASY plays all game!!! Was Hall scared to cover Royal tightly and why no coaching adjustment early on eliminating Hall's cushion?!? I think Stanford Routt could have fared much better.

Please explain and THANKS, from a Raider fan (and Broncos-Hater) since 1975.
Tim, Lakewood, CO

Answer: Based on what defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said earlier in the week, the Raiders were experimenting with some zone coverages. They hoped by playing Hall deep, they could bait Denver QB Jay Cutler into deep throws that would be picked off. But as we all saw, Royal just took was available to him. One thing Hall doesn't lack is confidence so I'm sure he wasn't afraid to move up. Ryan said put the blame on him, so you can do that for how Hall looked.


Question: With the defense not getting any pressure on Jay Cutler on Monday night will Coach Ryan start blitzing more? It dosent matter how good the secondary is if the quarterback has all day to throw the ball. And blitzing could also help the run defense if it is done right.
Jim, Crestview, FL

Answer: Ryan plans to blitz selectively. He said his defensive scheme is about winning individual matchups. In that way it is similar to a Tony Dungy-style defense, the famed Tampa 2. In a defense that depends on players winning their matchups, you really ruin the scheme by doing too much different. On the same hand, when players can't win their matchups, some changes need to be looked at. I think there will be some blitzing, but Ryan is going to depend on his players to show up, too.

Question: Jason, first off I enjoy your articles and blogs, not a lot of info on the Raiders in Ohio. I'm not sure but it seems like Rob Ryan is trying not to help out Lane Kiffin, I can't believe that is the defense that he seriously thought could stop Denver. When is Kiffin going to take control of the defense because Ryan cannot call a defense. Next time you see Al Davis ask him how it feels to watch all that money play like garbage. I can't believe his eye for talent is that far out of focus.
Bret, Girad, OH

Answer: Much to your chagrin, Kiffin won't take "control" of the defense.

The one thing that is clear after comments this week from Kiffin and Ryan is Kiffin is not in charge of the defense. If he were, the Raiders would not be running the defense they run now. I think you would see more blitzing from a Kiffin defense, especially after he spent years at USC with Pete Carroll.

If Davis does speak to the media this season and the new players haven't played up to their pay, he will be asked some form of your question for him.


Question: With the money that was thrown around this offseason is there enough money in the Davis fund to pay Asomugha what he deserves. He is easily the best player on the team. Classy, professional, career long Raider. He has a real swagger and leadership and is probably the second best corner behind Champ Bailey. Can the Raiders bring him back? More importantly does he want to be back?
Michael, Long Beach

Answer: Always good to hear from my hometown. There is money to pay Asomugha. There was in the offseason. The problem is the exclusive franchise tag used by the Raiders meant Asomugha could not negotiate with other teams. And with a guaranteed salary of almost $10 million, figuring out what to add to that to get a deal done isn't easy.

Asomugha will be back next season because the Raiders will either franchise him again or agree to a long-term deal.

Asomugha likes playing for the Raiders, being that he is from Southern California and played college football at Cal. But he also wants to win.

I'm sure if the Raiders don't show signs of improvement, he'd be open to looking elsewhere for a chance to win. But that won't happen until 2010.

--Jason Jones

September 12, 2008
Kiffin gets Sirius

Below is a transcript from Lane Kiffin's appearance today on "Movin' The Chains" on SIRIUS NFL Radio with hosts Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwa

Host, Pat Kirwan: "Your offense is a work in progress. We've pointed out the good and what looks like it's on the rise but, at this point in their careers and in the program, you need the defense to do more than they did [against the Broncos]. That's flat out true. Lots of big stories about you guys this week. I have a feeling that you and Rob Ryan have actually come a little closer as professionals."

Lane Kiffin: "Well, Rob [Ryan] and I have a good working relationship. There's no issues between the two of us on a day-to-day basis by any means. Do we have the exact same philosophy on defense? No, but I don't think you meet people who do unless they've come from the same scheme. One game won't define who we are on offense, defense, special teams or as a team. We did not play very well on defense in the game and they came out and got us. We're not going to let one game define us. We'll go into Arrowhead and [we've] got a chance to turn it around this week, get back to 1-1 and let people start writing good stories."

Host, Tim Ryan: "How do you get back to that, Lane, and talking to Rob Ryan, your defensive coordinator? With the ability you've got on the corners, and there's a lot of money out there, there's a lot of ability out there when you talk about Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall. How do you jump start this defense, if you will, to getting some early production in a football game and not sitting back on your heels? Talk about that."

Lane Kiffin: "Well, first off I think it was just another lesson and I said at the beginning of the off-season, once we signed all these players and made all this movement, that that's great we're really good on paper but if we don't play together as units and we don't play together as a team it won't mean anything. And I think that was a really good example on defense. We have all this talent on paper like I said all along but we didn't play together. We had some communication issues, some blown assignments. We didn't even make Denver work hard at times. We let them off before the play even started sometimes in some communication things. You've got to play together as a unit no matter how talented you are and talent doesn't win unless it plays together. We've had a good week of practice and I think we'll be back on track this week."

--Jason Jones

September 12, 2008
Kwame Harris is doubtful

ALAMEDA -- Starting left tackle Kwame Harris is doubtful for Sunday's game in Kansas City. He was on the only Raider that missed today's practice.

He's still having trouble pushing of his right leg after hurting his right knee Monday night against Denver.

Harris will workout tomorrow before the team flies to Kansas City to test out the knee. If there's progress, he could workout before the game with the hope of being activated.

The more likely scenario is the team not forcing the issue after Harris has missed a week of practice and going with second-year tackle Mario Henderson, in what would be his NFL debut.

****
Sure many of you saw comments from former Raider Warren Sapp about the Raiders this week.

Among them were his essentially saying CB DeAngelo Hall was never good and that he wasn't in Oakland long enough to teach DT Tommy Kelly the details of playing three-technique.

Players that heard some of the comments dismissed them as Warren being Warren with a chuckle.

****
WR Javon Walker will play on Sunday, Kiffin said. Whether he would start depends on how much better his injured hamstring feels.

Ashley Lelie would start if Walker doesn't.

DE Kalimba Edwards (groin) will also play. The team hopes he helps the pass rush that produced no sacks in Week 1.

****
While Hurricane Ike's brunt isn't expected to impact Kansas City, thunderstorms are expected Saturday along with rain on Sunday morning.

That's fine with Lane Kiffin.

"We don't want the hurricane, but we don't mind bad weather," Kiffin said.

With Henderson possibly making his first NFL start along with quarterback JaMarcus Russell's first road start, a wet field would mean a lot of running plays, which is what the Raiders want to do.

--Jason Jones

September 12, 2008
Super Mario time

ALAMEDA -- Starting left tackle Kwame Harris is not practicing today, meaning "Super" Mario Henderson will likely start at left tackle when the Raiders play at Kansas City on Sunday.

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin will probably confirm that Henderson will be the left tackle later this afternoon.

Henderson hasn't played in an NFL game and was inactive for Monday's loss to Denver. Coaches have noted he's struggled with his confidence -- not exactly good when you're protecting JaMarcus Russell's blindside.

But Kiffin said yesterday that Henderson had a good week of practice.

--Jason Jones

September 11, 2008
Ryan has his say

ALAMEDA - Rather than give you bits and pieces of the nearly 20 minute press conference with Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, here is a transcript with notes from today below.

Ryan spoke a day after Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said owner Al Davis has input on the defensive gameplan, something that has been said off the record for some time.

Ryan also addressed his defensive calls, using the Tampa 2 (the scheme that Kiffin's father, Monte has used in Tampa Bay for years) and the pressures of being a coach.

I like Ryan. He' a fun guy to talk to and when discussing football, he really seems to know his stuff. It's easy to see why his players love him.

Without further adieu, here's Ryan:

Q: How you doing?
RYAN: Who asked that question? A little bit rough, OK? Just working extra hard and I want to make sure that we give our guys the best chance to play well. Obviously we had an embarrassing loss, didn't have good defense. We were expecting great things, and it didn't work out. Is it going to look like this for 16 weeks? I know it's not. However it came to be, we didn't play well, and that's just the way it is.

Q: How do you approach it, take them apart, encourage them, both?
RYAN: You've got to do both. The thing is, I've been in this business a long time, I'm a professional, I've dealt with bad losses before. Nobody wants to see you when you're going over that tape and you have to point things out, but you've got to get it done to move on, to do the right thing. Were we upset about our style of play? Yeah, it didn't go well. And I've seen some comments out there, some days you guys aren't perfect. I know you're the best at your profession. I am too. I'm man enough to stay up here and say, `I didn't have a good game.' That's kind of (expletive) obvious. I'm sure there's times where you put your work out there that sometimes it doesn't work out like Pulitzer Prize stuff either. Only difference is, you guys, when you're out there, you can hit spell check. After I call a bad one, I can't hit spell check. That's a big difference. I've seen a lot of things out there, written, and there's styles of play, guys, that are different. Our style of play is putting our players, which we have a strong belief in, to win one-on-one matchups and that's how we're best. Last year we lost six games by giving up one offensive touchdown, something like that. We've played Denver five times in a row, before last week, where we hold them to 19, 18 points a game, probably play them better than anybody does. So it didn't go well. But I've seen, 'Tampa, ah, let's play Tampa.' The three worst plays we had last week, we were in (Tampa) `2.' There's a lot of people that want to be experts at my job and I understand that, it comes the territory. And when the whole stadium is booing my name, I kind of got the message. Understand this, guys. There's a chain of command that we have here in Oakland, and I'm just going to say it, that story is wrong and I usually don't read the press, especially after a (expletive) game. But that's all on me. I put the game plan in. I run the defense, and it's all on me. The meeting with the owner, during the week -- I meet with Mr. Davis in the offseason, guys. That thing is just (bull) and I want to make sure you got it right. I meet with the owner in the offseason. He's the boss, he's the man that hired me, and that's been well-documented. I don't meet with him on game plans or come up with all this. Hell, it's amazing when things like this come out when we have a bad week. Let's just be honest about it. Put it on me, that's where it belongs. I'm the man that runs the defense. I'm the man that played Tampa 2 three times and went to (expletive). OK, that's me. I'm that guy. I'm the guy that that had a max pressure in the teeth of max protection and they hit a triple move on our corner, DeAngelo Hall. That's not on him. That's on me, for just a poor call. So put it on me, and that's OK. You guys do a great job, but if it's just not right I just can't not say anything. It's been too long. I've been here five years, and I'm just going to tell you how the mode of operation works. I'm hired to be the coordinator. That's what I do. If it goes great, that's great. If it goes like (expletive), you've still got the same damn guy up here. I'll be the same guy up in front of you next week when we kick ass. But I'll be the same guy if we stumble again. Hell, I've been through some tough times. Look at this (removes hat), I've got gray. This is that National (bleeping) Football League. You're not going to be on point every week. Am I (mad) off about Monday night? You're damned right. It's on me, and come on, guys, enough's enough. Hey, my last name is Ryan. Why aren't you blitzing more? Well, a Ryan won't even blitz -- and we will blitz -- but a Ryan won't blitz in a max protection and all close receivers. Nor will anyone else. Nobody else will. The great documented Tampa coverage teams, and there's some out there that had just as (expletive) weeks than I did. You can look 'em up. Detroit, Tampa, Indianapolis. All of us lost. Our style of play is what it is, and that's me. That's Rob Ryan's style of play for our defense and for our players. Do we have great players? Yes. Every one of those guys, DeAngelo Hall, who seems to be under attack, Nnamdi Asomugha, who nobody gets a completion on. What, did they hit a hitch route on him? C'mon guys. Put it on me, let's not make up some (bull). I've been here five years, let's just get it out on the (expletive) table, and get it done with. I'm man enough to do that. Our whole team is disappointed. We have excellent players, guys working their ass off, and it didn't go well. And I'm not telling you how to do your job because you guys are great journalists. (Shoot), we had one Ryan in journalism, my older brother, and that lasted for like two months because he's a starving journalist, a football coach. Guys, I've been around this business a long time, the Ryans have six Super Bowls, I've won two of them, I've been on defenses that have been in the top one or in the top three, for sure, in run defense at least a couple of times, in pass defense -- hell, I did that here -- in total defense, in turnovers, in sacks. OK, come on. I'm not some incompetent guy standing up here and I'm getting a little bit tired of this (expletive). Put it on me for a bad performance but it ain't going to be that way every week, all right, and just come off our players. Just put it on me where it belongs and get off our players, OK?

Q: Rob, the things that are bothering you are that your players are under attack?
RYAN: "Sure, you're damned right. It's all on me."

Q: And that you don't like to blitz enough?
RYAN: "I'm going to blitz but I'm going to blitz when it's smart to do it, just like you guys will put in a picture with your story when it's the right thing to do. (Shoot), I don't know. I know my business, I don't know yours."

Q: And that whatever you do comes from you and not Al Davis?
RYAN: "It comes with me and it comes with our assistant coaches. Hell, (linebacker coach) Don Martindale has been with me for five years. We get paid to make decisions and when it goes astray, just know where to put the blame. Put it on this damned guy in front of you that is just as disappointed as anybody out there and more so. This is my profession. That's why I was embarrassed by it. That's why I felt like it was my opportunity to face the music, OK? When we kick (butt), that's cool. I don't want it. But we're going to get there, guys. We're going to get there. We had a bad game. Say whatever you want to say. We were trying some different things, and they didn't work. Did we get outschemed? Hey, say whatever you want to say. I've played this Shanahan a long time who is damned good. They got a good staff over there. Did he hit a couple of plays on me? You're darned right he did. It's the NFL, OK? But that's just the way it is. I just want to make sure that the story is legit, OK, and I'll be honest with you."

Q: Just to be clear, Al Davis doesn't have a week-to-week say on the game plan?
RYAN: "Not on a week-to-week basis, absolutely not."

Q: Occasionally?
RYAN: "When I deal with Al Davis, guys, it's in the offseason. And here's the thing: Al Davis knows football. And I'll have four-hour conversations with him in the offseason about everything in this league. About offenses, about players, about scheme, about everything, but during the week, guys, (expletive), I don't have time to talk to my wife, OK. If I'm going to make one phone call, it's going to be her, all right? That's the truth. I'm just telling you the truth. I literally had one conversation with Mr. Davis last week, and it was about (defensive tackle) Fred Wakefield."

Q: That's why we ask you, because we aren't privy to your weekly goings on?
RYAN: "OK. I understand that. I just want to say the truth. There's one Rob Ryan as far as I know and I'm the guy and I would know. That's just the way it is, and I'm going to tell the truth. I'm a smart man but I'll say I'm too dumb to lie. I'm going to tell you the damned truth and that's the way it is. To sit here and say, well, I don't know what the hell to say, what was really said. I saw one article and I'm like, '(expletive) when the (expletive) is it going to stop?' Maybe if we play good defense. OK, we'll stop it next week, then. Alright, let's go. That's the way it is, all right. If I don't blitz, then there's a reason for it. If I do, there's a reason for it. If we get beat for a damned touchdown during an all-out blitz, well, then, obviously, I had a poor call. If I hit them for a safety or whatever, all right, it was a good call. But, guys, everything I do up here is educated. It may not look like it when you give up 41 points, all right, but it's the truth. I'm doing the best job I can and I know it's good enough to win with. My legacy is going to be with this Ryan name, we've been in six Super Bowls, won five of them, five different teams, that's no accident, OK? That's no accident. Did last week look like the (expletive) '85 Bears? (Expletive) no. Come on. You know we didn't (expletive) look like the '85 Bears. OK? But (shoot), maybe it looked like the (expletive) Patriots when we won the Super Bowl and went out there and laid an egg against Cincinnati at Cincinnati, who had a (expletive) team and beat the (expletive) out of us the first game. (Note, I believe Ryan was actually referring to the Patriots losing 31-0 at Buffalo on 9/7/03) OK? Maybe it looked like that. That's the way it is. All right guys? I just want to set it straight because, damn, I've been here five years and you know what, I don't think people necessarily have the right story. I know you guys are doing your best. But (expletive) I can only speak for me. I can't speak for everybody on the team. I'm disappointed but I just wanted to tell my side of the story for once because there's so many other things that come out where I have to read it and take it and I just want the truth as I know the truth. There you go.

Q: Anything lacking effort-wise on your players part?
RYAN: Not in effort. Sometimes it looked like we were stuck in mud, I swear, the speed of the game. Denver makes you play an adjusting style of game but we've done it before an d it just didn't work out. We were giving up big plays and that's just not our style and what you don't want to do against Denver. That was happening and it was damned disappointing. We don't want to play a game like that. Again, that comes on me. They got us in a couple situations where they got us in a couple different coverages and we just didn't execute.

Q: How do you make the adjustments for the Chiefs?
RYAN: Every week you deal with a different offense and a different style. There will be copycat plays but you go and correct them and that's what you do in those hard meetings, come to Jesus meetings that we all have to have when things don't go well. I know we're on point. We've got great players. They're pros. They'll work. We'll get better. We're all disappointed with how things went. Can it be fixed? Hell yeah. And we gotta do it. (Shoot), we will do it.

Q: How much communication do you have with Lane during the week?
RYAN: We've had good communication this week. He talked about a front that I'm actually running this week. We talked about this could be a good front to run against Kansas City. We have communication, but understand, my job's to be the defensive coordinator and Lane's the head coach. He's got a million hats, I've only got one. Eventually the whole thing comes down to me being a better coach and doing a better job.

Q: What happened with Hall against Eddie Royal?
RYAN: A lot of that was me playing loaded coverage over there but the routes went deeper than we were anticipating and so it looked like he was playing soft when he was actually a deep third player. Usually we get up there in their face and press but I was trying to bait their young quarterback with the big arm into a loaded zone and hell he threw right through it. A couple of those plays were definitely on me. The one max pressure where we hit our head the guy had a triple move on him and (expletive) I don't know who could cover that. Willie Brown, maybe, back in the day. That's just the truth.

Q: Can Hall play press coverage?
RYAN: Absolutely. When they're all in their close, you know teams are going to attack us differently because of the prowess we have at cornerback. When they get in there real tight in bunches you want to go get these guys because that's our styles but sometimes there's formations and tricks that guys do that makes it difficult for you to get in there and press them. We absolutely believe in press coverage and in my opinion we have the guys to absolutely do it against anybody in the league.

Q: You and Lane sharing grooming tips and beers still?
RYAN: Hell yeah. Look, here's the thing guys. I'm an assistant coach. I've worked, it seems like 100 years in coaching. Ten or 11 in pro football. And you have a chain of command and the head coach is in charge. He's in charge and I'm sure he's just as disappointed in me -- probably not as much but a hell of a lot -- in the way things went Monday night and the job that I did. That's just the way it is. I've never had a problem with authority. I was brought up right and I always respect authority.

Q: Can Hall put that game aside easily?
RYAN: That game that he had, it wasn't near as bad as people want it to be. There's a lot of different things that go on in a game. You say it was all him and it wasn't. A lot of it was a loaded zone where he was deep third and they hit that deep comeback and there's no one there. (Shoot), that's not on him. Did he give up a completion or two? Maybe. He was playing a little soft for me in two-minute but bottom line is this guy's got great confidence, he's a super talented guy and a damn good player. Will he bounce back? Man I hope we all bounce back. That's what I'm up here for. We have to bounce back. It's not one of my players. It's me right here, all on me. I just want to make sure we got it right.

****

S Gibril Wilson (elbow) did not practice Thursday but is expected back tomorrow

LT Kwame Harris (knee) and DE Derrick Burgess CQ (shoulder) also did not practice. Burgess is expected back tomorrow, too.

Harris and Burgess dressed for practice but were ultimately held out of full-speed work.

Mario Henderson has been the first-team left tackle the last two days and would start if Harris weren't healthy.

Henderson's motivation to play well is simple:

"I don't want them all yelling and screaming at me," he said.

--Jason Jones



September 11, 2008
Gibril sitting out today

ALAMEDA -- Starting strong safety Gibril Wilson was the only player not dressed for practice this morning.

DE Derrick Burgess (shoulder), LT Kwame Harris (knee), S Tyvon Branch (shoulder) and CB DeAngelo Hall (elbow) were all dressed for practice after sitting out Wednesday's practice.

--Jason Jones

September 10, 2008
An answer to the blitz questions

ALAMEDA -- The inbox has been flooded by angry fans that want to know why the Raiders don't blitz.

Cover 2 teams don't blitz a lot, but they provide safety help. Most teams that play a lot of man defense as the Raiders do, bring extra heat to confuse teams and make life a little easier on their cornerbacks.

That's not the Raider (Al Davis) way.

"Rob and the owner are always in communication," said head coach Lane Kiffin. "For the most part, I let Rob do his thing over there. He has a belief in certain things and he has a conversation with the owner about that. So, that wasn't the way the game plan ended up the other night."

Davis and Ryan meet weekly to go over the defensive strategy. So if you want to tear into Ryan, you've got to tear into Davis, too.

It would stand to reason that with the money being paid to Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall, asking them to play press coverage while unleashing the likes of Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison as blitzers would make sense.

Kiffin wouldn't discuss what his philosophy on defense.

"I'm not going to get really get into if I was the defensive coordinator what I would do because that doesn't really matter," Kiffin said. "I'm the head coach, I oversee everything and I control what I can control. Do I have the exact belief we do on defense? No, but it's hard to have the exact belief that we do. So, it is what it is."

The Raiders did not blitz on 10 third downs on Monday night. They blitzed 15 times on third down all of last season.

That resulted in quarterbacks going 9 for 12 with two touchdowns. The defense registered three sacks on the other plays.

Only Indianapolis had fewer blitzes against the pass last year than Oakland. The Colts and Raiders had 74 total blitzes last year, tied for the fewest, according to Stats LLC.

The Colts' Cover 2 scheme provides helps for the cornerbacks. The Raiders ask their free safety to patrol the middle of the field without giving the cornerbacks much help.

So you can direct your blitz questions to Mr. Davis.

****
CB DeAngelo Hall did not practice because of an elbow injury. He's expected to practice on Thursday along with S Tyvon Branch (shoulder), LT Kwame Harris (knee) and DE Derrick Burgess (shoulder).

And don't worry about Hall's confidence after his rough Raiders debut.

He said he has thick skin and that he's played much worse before.

"I've got the spotlight on me," Hall said. "It's not on me the way I wanted it to be on me but it's on me. Now I can come out and make some plays and do what I do."

****
Kiffin has said plenty of good things about JaMarcus Russell's play against the Broncos.

Russell didn't pat himself on the back.

"Things were OK," he said. "But at the same time when things don't go well I look at myself and what I could have done differently as far as that throw to make him
catch it. But other than that I think I did pretty good."

Russell tried to put a long pass on Ronald Curry's hands in the second quarter that Curry jumped to catch but dropped.

Russell continued to keep the focus on himself rather than blame a teammate.

"It wasn't necessarily about me missing it," Russell said. "It's just put it in a better spot. If I could have it back, I'd put it a little lower on his chest or something."

--Jason Jones


September 10, 2008
Critique from a former teammate

Former Raider offensive lineman Adam Treu is writing for the National Football Post. You can read Treu's take on the Raiders play and appearance against the Denver Broncos.

Treu was a Raider for 10 seasons, playing on the offensive line and as a long snapper. He was cut before training camp last year.

--Jason Jones

September 10, 2008
Hall among those not practicing

ALAMEDA -- Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was on the practice field without a helmet at the start of this afternoon's practice, meaning he won't practice today.

Hall wasn't noted to have an injury after Monday night's game.

Safety Tyvon Branch, defensive Derrick Burgess and tackle Kwame Harris also weren't dressed for practice.

Branch might be resting his broken right thumb. Burgess (shoulder) and Harris (knee) left Monday night's game but are expected to play on Sunday.

More on this and what's up with Hall after practice.

--Jason Jones

September 10, 2008
Wand is back

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have re-signed tackle Seth Wand and placed injured offensive lineman Paul McQuistan (knee) on injured reserve.

Wand was released on Monday when the Raiders claimed tackle James Marten off waivers from Dallas.

--Jason Jones

September 10, 2008
Young Chiefs show poise early

ALAMEDA -- Today's conference calls were with Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards and safety Jarrad (I like to make interceptions that end the Raiders chances of winning) Page.

The Chiefs started six rookies and played 11 in their 17-10 loss at New England last week.

The Chiefs had just two penalties and one turnover.

"When you look at game for us we didn't look at it like those guys were out of place they just played," Edwards said. "They had a good mindset how to play and how we wanted to play and that's a good sign."

It's also a sign the coaching staff is doing it's job.

Coaching so many players that are young could be an excuse to allow sloppy play. Edwards isn't going for that.

He emphasizes no turnovers and penalties as ways to win games. It's the same message Lane Kiffin is trying to get through to the Raiders.

"I'm not saying you have to win that way," Edwards said. "... I just think if you can stay away from that it's going to help you. Last year we didn't do that. We didn't do a good job of that last year. My first year here we did and we've got to get back to that. It's about poise."

****
Here's Edwards on JaMarcus Russell:

"Yeah, he's a good player. Yeah, he's a good player, there ain't no doubt about that. He's a good player. There's no doubt about that. He's a good football player."

****
Edwards isn't putting too much into the Raiders' loss on Monday night. He's said in the NFL, games like that happen.

He's anticipating another close game with the Raiders.

****
Page has for career interceptions against the Raiders in three seasons.

His interception in Oakland last year ended a Raider comeback. He picked off a pass in the end zone with 32 seconds left in 2006 in Kansas City to preserve a win.

"I really can't explain the plays that I've had before against the Raiders," Page said. "But I am from Oakland, so when we play against the Oakland Raiders, I definitely want to have a big game."

Many of the Raiders don't buy much into the old rivalries in the AFC West. Kiffin is on the record for not believing that a coach should put too much into a game just because it's a rivalry game.

That's not the case with the Chiefs.

"They make us understand it," Page said. "They let you know it's an important game. They let you know that the Raiders-Chiefs is a game that's a rivalry. They put it up all around the facility, it's Raider week. They let you know that it's a big rivalry so that's our game, to let younger guys know what it means."

****
The Raiders added OL Brandon Torrey back to the practice squad after releasing him on Monday.

--Jason Jones

September 9, 2008
McQuistan out for the season

ALAMEDA -- Raiders coach Lane Kiffin expects backup offensive lineman Paul McQuistan to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

"We don't know that for sure but we believe that will be the case," Kiffin said.

McQuistan was injured after entering Monday night's game to replace Kwame Harris, who'd hurt his right knee.

Once McQuistan is put on injured reserve, the team could simply re-sign Seth Wand. He was with the team through the offseason after signing late in 2007.

He was released when the Raiders claimed tackle James Marten off waivers. But the team would probably be better off brigning back Wand, now that his salary wouldn't be guaranteed, rather than depending on Marten or Mario Henderson.

--Jason Jones

September 8, 2008
The aftermath

OAKLAND -- It couldn't have been much worse than this.

A 41-14 beatdown by the Denver Broncos that's sure to have Mike Shanahan wearing a big grin all the way back to Denver.

Lane Kiffin stressed it was only one game. But he can't be encouraged by a few things:

*Penalties. The Raiders were flagged 10 times for 96 yards. That included five personal fouls. That's about as bad as it can get when it comes to a lack of discipline.

*The wide receivers are still a problem. Ronald Curry dropped what should have been a big play in the first quarter. The Broncos coaches which can be heard in the press box yelled "Oh (shoot)," when the ball was released by Russell. They were relieved that Curry couldn't make the play.

*The Raiders still can't tackle in space. And no, Stuart Schweigert wasn't out there to blame.

*WR Todd Watkins was the most consistent pass catcher besides TE Zach Miller ... and he was inactive.

*CB DeAngelo Hall said he seems to get "the short end of the stick" when it comes to penalties after he picked up two personal fouls on consecutive plays. I think Hall had a legitimate argument on the second penalty for hitting a Bronco that was already down.

*Kiffin said the team didn't play Javon Walker because the risk of re-injuring his hamstring too great too great.

*Darren McFadden left the game with stinger. He was originally hurt in practice and aggravated the injury on his first carry of the game.

*DE Derrick Burgess (shoulder), T Kwame Harris (knee) and T Paul McQuistan (knee) all left the game in the second half. Kiffin said McQuistan's injury might be the worst of the four.

Harris said he would an MRI on Tuseday.

*Kiffin had a lot of good things to say about JaMarcus Russell:

"I thought the quarterback played well. That's hard to imagine in a blowout like that where you can say a guy played well, but I thought there were some plays that guys could have made for him that could have made the guy actually have a really good night, surprisingly. Unfortunately the ball slipped out of his hand on the slip screen early in the game where McFadden was going to walk into the end zone to make it 7-7. A bunch of other stuff went downhill from there."

*I guess we know the answer to the question of which cornerback offenses will attack. Hall didn't have a good day and he admitted that.

More to come tomorrow morning after I sort through my notebook.

--Jason Jones

September 8, 2008
Walker is out

OAKLAND -- Javon Walker is among the seven Raider inactive players.

That means the man brought in to be the Raiders' top receiver isn't fully healed from a slight hamstring pull suffered last Sunday.

Also inactive are:

DE Kalimba Edwards
T Mario Henderson
S Rashad Baker
C John Wade
WR Todd Watkins
QB Marques Tuiasosopo (3rd QB)

The Raiders also released T Seth Wand and put a waiver claim on T James Marten. He was cut by Dallas. He was a third-round pick in 2007 that the Cowboys reportedly wanted to put him on their practice squad.

--Jason Jones

September 8, 2008
Everyone wants to see Run DMC

I'm not talking about the rap group (RIP Jam Master Jay).

In the few radio spots I've done leading up to tonight's game, most of the talk is about Darren McFadden.

Here's what I expect to see from McFadden:

*10-15 carries

*He'll be a part of the passing game. At the very least, he'll be a decoy to free up space for Zach Miller. If the Raiders run some screens, McFadden should be the one catching the passes.

*If Johnnie Lee Higgins fumbles a kickoff, McFadden will return kickoffs.

*JaMarcus Russell for today's paper.

Chatting with Greg Knapp, he expects Russell to have some struggles this season, especially early on.

The Raiders expect to see a lot of blitzes.

"We're still going to have some groing pains throught the first half because he's a still a young quarterback," Knapp said. "Look at all the great ones. The first year that they are the starter there's a lot of learning going on by game experience."

--Jason Jones

.

September 7, 2008
Question time

Week 1 observations:

*Everyone is wondering when the New England Patriots will call Daunte Culpepper.

*The importance of a quality backup QB is evident already with Tom Brady, Vince Young and Brodie Croyle already down.

*Rookie running backs (Chicago's Matt Forte, Tennessee's Chris Johnson) can make an impact immediately.

*Not exactly the way Norv Turner wanted to start the season ... again.

*Philadelphia's defense looks a lot like the group that went to the Super Bowl against New England. They bring pressure from all over the field.

*By the way, Donovan McNabb looked great, too. The Eagles will give Dallas a fight for the NFC East title.

*The Raiders haven't won a season-opener since 2002. If they beat Denver tomorrow night, they'll be in first place in the AFC West (go ahead and laugh).

The Raiders were in sole possession of first place last year with a 2-2 record while the rest of the division was 2-3.

The Raiders went on to lose six straight.

*My fantasy team (Long Beach Eastsidaz) is looking pretty good right now.

Now on to some reader questions ...

Question: Jason, Since the Raiders cut Josh Shaw and later William Joseph; Do you think that the team has any interest in bringing back DT Rod Coleman or DT Ethan Kelley? In regards to OLB Do you think the team will revisit expressing interest in Keith Adams?
Jeff, Los Angeles

Answer: Always nice to hear from the City of Angels. The Raiders appear content with a three-man rotation of Tommy Kelly, Gerard Warren and Terdell Sands. Fred Wakefield would be the fourth defensive tackle and the team could slide Jay Richardson down to DT in certain situations.

I'm in favor of teams having four quality defensive tackles because on long drives those are the players most likely to fatigue. A run stuffer like Grady Jackson might have been an option had he not re-signed with Atlanta.

I'm almost certain the Raiders will add another outside linebacker. The team has already worked out Abdul Hodge and Brandon Moore. Expect more OLBs to get looks in the coming days because contracts signed after Week 1 aren't guaranteed for the rest of the season.

Question: With Joseph cut, that leaves two DTs, five DEs, and seven LBs on the roster. Does that not sound like the makings of a base 3-4 package? Thomas Howard's blog avoids all questions on the subject and some mediots (no offense) have reported seeing the 3-4 in goal line situations. What do you think, Jay?
Mark, Colorado Springs

Answer: With your math I'm assuming you're counting Wakefield as a DE and forgot Sands as a DT. The Raiders did work on some 3-4 looks during training camp. I expect to see some of those looks during the season.

And Howard is smart not to discuss the 3-4. His coaches would probably try to shut his site down if he were giving out secrets of what the team might do.

But I don't see the team going to a base 3-4. That would require possibly making Derrick Burgess a fulltime LB. And could Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren be effective as fulltime DEs in a 3-4?

It would be more likely to see some 3-down linemen looks in passing situations.

Question: Why are they keeping Mario Henderson on the roster? He hasn't been able to block anyone this preseason.
Jim, Crestview, Fla.

Answer: Because Henderson is a third-round pick from 2007. He didn't impress in the preseason, but he will be given every chance to win a starting job - again - next season. The Raiders don't want to put him on the field this year.

Question: Do you see talent in Arman Shields and do you see him making an impact next year like Bush has this year?
Casey, Sacramento

Answer: Shields definitely has talent. When he practiced, he looked explosive when running routes. He has good size and showed promise. The Raiders said his knee injury isn't related to his knee injury in college, even though it's the same knee he injured at Richmond.

This season will be spent strengthening that knee in hopes that Shields can become an impact player next season.

--Jason Jones

September 6, 2008
Walker, Edwards practice and look ready

ALAMEDA -- It looks as if Javon Walker (hamstring) and Kalimba Edwards (groin) will play on Monday night.

"They did everything and both of them ran," said Raiders coach Lane Kiffin. "We'll continue to look at tomorrow but both of them seem fine to me."

Walker said he is ready to go.

"It always feels pretty good when you're out there running around, when you out there and make plays and doing the things you didn't do all week," Walker said. "... I've been putting in a lot of hard work obviously in rehabilitating myself to get to back better, come back from surgery. So I'm looking forward to getting the season on a roll."

*Johnnie Lee Higgins will start off with punt and kickoff return duties. Darren McFadden has practiced returning kickoffs and is still an option to do that on Monday, Kiffin said.

*Higgins is the No. 3 receiver right now, but Kiffin is impressed with how Ashley Lelie has caught on to the offense.

Lelie figures to play a role in the offense on Monday.

"He's a professional," Kiffin said. "And you can see by the way he prepares and how fast he's picked everything up."

*P Shane Lechler and K Sebastian Janikowski are healthy, Kiffin reports.

*If you want on more how McFadden is feeling about his rookie season, you can read his blog on Yardbarker.

--Jason Jones

September 6, 2008
Edwards looks ready

ALAMEDA -- DE Kalimba Edwards was put through some drills by defensive line coach Keith Millard before the start of practice and didn't show any signs of being bothered by his groin injury.

WR Javon Walker (hamstring) was at practice and stood with Ashley Lelie and DeAngelo Hall catching passes. Walker didn't do any running.

S Rashad Baker (ankle) was at practice but did not take part in anything during the time media is allowed to view practice.

--Jason Jones

September 5, 2008
Examining the run defense (again)

ALAMEDA -- OK, we can all agree statistics can be manipulated.

What might look like good run defense could really be very bad pass defense, hence no one ever tries to run on that "good" run defense.

So is the Raiders' much-maligned run defense a matter of numbers being twisted or fact?

Linebacker Kirk Morrison has long maintained the Raiders weren't "bad" against in the run, even though they ranked 31st out of 32 teams, allowing 145.9 yards a game.

"When you actually break down what we did last year, it wasn't that they were getting five yards, five yards, five yards, 10 yards," Morrison said. "It would be one-yard gain, two-yard gain, three-yard gain, 40. The big run is what made the numbers a little bit skewed."

This what defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had to say about the run defense:

"Stats, you can do anything you want with them. If you get leads, obviously, you're going to face more passing game. We haven't had that luxury around here lately. As always every year, we're making a big emphasis on stopping everything they do, run and pass. We got players we're making more responsible for their gaps. We got real good tacklers in the secondary that's going to help. Our linebackers are coming on. "

So what do the numbers say besides the Raiders were 31st last year?

*Opponents ran the ball 486 times against the Raiders, the fifth most attempts in the NFL.

*The Raiders allowed a league-worst 4.8 yards a carry.

*The Raiders allowed 24 rushing touchdowns, most in the NFL.

*The Raiders allowed 121 rushing first downs, third most in the league.

*The Raiders allowed 18 runs of 20 yards or more, tied with Denver for the most in the NFL.

*The Raiders were one of only three teams (Chicago and Cincinnati) to allow five runs of 40 yards or more.

Only Miami (409) saw fewer passes attempted against its defense than Oakland (439). Miami is also the only team to rank lower than Raiders in run defense.

What does all this mean?

*The Raiders had A LOT of problems stopping the run. Even without allowing some of the big runs, it's apparent there was an issue with gap discipline and tackling. It's hard to argue many of those stats as being a result of not always having the lead.

*Because teams were able to run a lot, it did lead to a lot more yards. That can be attributed to teams not passing because if they had a lead, it was only smart to run the ball and eat up clock, knowing the Raiders didn't have the ability to strike back quickly. It was also because the Raiders never consistently stopped running backs. There's no excuse for letting Ron Dayne gauge you up the middle.

*Even if the game was close, teams were more likely to keep trying to run, figuring the defense would eventually breakdown.

If the Raiders can score points, the Raiders run defense will improve automatically. When Rich Gannon was putting up all those points in 2002, the Raiders were third against the run. After all, this isn't college and teams can't make up a deficit quick with an option offense.

And even back in the day, Tom Osborne threw it sometimes, didn't he?

But even if the offense improves, the Raiders still need to tackle better and maintain gap discipline.

Because it won't matter if the Raiders score 30 points because all the opposition can always run its way back into the game.

Then there would be disputing the numbers.

--Jason Jones

September 5, 2008
Tomorrow's practice is pivotal

ALAMEDA -- Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said his three injured players, WR Javon Walker (hamstring), DE Kalimba Edwards (groin) and S Rashad Baker (ankle) would need to practice on Saturday to be able to play on Monday night.

Walker and Edwards looked closer to returning to practice, Kiffin said.

The loss of Baker wouldn't hurt like losing Walker or Edwards. Without Walker, Kiffin said the team would turn to Johnnie Lee Higgins and Ashley Lelie.

Edwards is the team's pass-rushing defensive end. Rookie Trevor Scott could fill that role or the team could just leave Jay Richardson in the game on third down.

*You know that infield dirt that Randy Moss reportedly despised at McAfee Coliseum, so much that he changed routes whenever he had to run on the dirt?

It has a fan in Kiffin.

"I actually asked if we could keep it on, and the league doesn't let you," Kiffin said.

Kiffin's rationale was anything you have that the opponent isn't used to is an advantage.

Nevermind that a lot of his players hate playing on the dirt, too.

***
The Raider captains this season are:

QB JaMarcus Russell
WR Ronald Curry
DE Derrick Burgess
LB Kirk Morrison
CB Nnamdi Asomugha
P Shane Lechler

****
Former 49ers LB Brandon Moore was in for a workout. It's clear the Raiders aren't happy with the group they have. They also worked out LB Abdul Hodge on Thursday.

If the Raiders make a move to add a linebacker, it would be after the first game when contracts aren't guaranteed.

****
Kiffin said he's reminded Russell he needs to slide when running.

Kiffin added he's not sure if Russell would use a technique offensive coordinator Greg Knapp used to teach.

"Greg used to teach his guys to go head first," Kiffin said. "But he's so big I can't see that happening. There was a study a long time ago, more injuries come from going feet first, actually because you've seen collisions, when you go head first, guys are able to control their direction and the contact isn't as much. But I don't see him going head first."

****
Morrison will wear the headset that allows Rob Ryan signal in plays to him. Ricky Brown is the other player that can wear that kind of helmet, but only if Morrison isn't on the field with him wearing his helmet with the headset.

--Jason Jones

September 5, 2008
Roll call

ALAMEDA -- Every Raider was present at the start of practice today.

That includes Javon Walker (hamstring), Kalimba Edwards (groin) and Rashad Baker (ankle). They've all missed practice time at some point this week.

Today's musical selections for team stretching included The Lox's "Money, Power & Respect" and Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Gin and Juice."

Being from Long Beach, I can always appreciate some Snoop over the speakers.

That's all to report for now. Lane Kiffin will update us on who didn't practice and anything else of note.

****
It was nice to hear Mike Shanahan's moment of honesty in admitting his hatred for Raiders owner Al Davis.

Rivalries don't mean nearly as much to players. But Shanahan sincerely hates the Raiders, which makes for some fun.

"No, it doesn't dissipate at all," is how Shanahan responded to a reporter in Denver when asked if nearly 19 years had helped thaw his feelings about Davis, who fired him.

Fun times, indeed.

--Jason Jones

September 4, 2008
Bored on the corner

ALAMEDA - Nnamdi Asomugha is looking forward to more action in 2008.

"Last year I probably saw around 30 (passes) but the year before that I probably saw around 60 or so. You never know. It could double this year. Of course with teams like Denver and those types of teams that don't really care they're going to take they're shots at whoever they want. But I'll definitely see more balls this year. I know teams would be scared of (DeAngelo Hall) because he's been dangerous in the past so I expect to get more balls."

Asomugha isn't one to get caught up in the "Who is the best cornerback?" debate, even if he is in the conversation.

After eight interceptions in 2006, Asomugha had only one last year.

One of the reasons the Raiders traded for DeAngelo Hall was to make it tough for offenses to focus the passing game to one side of the field.

"It will be interesting this year with DeAngelo here to see if guys go at him more often," said Raiders coach Lane Kiffin. "I don't know where they're going to go. Last year Nnamdi did not get very many attempts thrown at him. He'll get the ball more I think with DeAngelo being here, number one, and number two, if we stop the run he'll get the ball more."

****
Javon Walker has faced Champ Bailey, Asomugha and Hall in games.

He said the nod goes to Bailey ... right now.

"The only thing that's seperating them is Champ's got longevity," Walker said. "When Nnamdi's going in his 10th year, when DeAngelo's going in his 10th year, they're going to be ranked up there with him."

Walker was held out of practice because of his hamstring injury. He's expected to practice tomorrow.

"When something's wrong, they take their time and make sure you get it right and go into the game," Walker said of the training staff.

****
Kiffin once referred to Nnamdi Asomugha as "perfect" in his approach to the game and play.

Bailey joined Kiffin's perfect group today.

"Champ is as good as we've ever played against in a game. He never gets help, hardly
ever. He's out there on an island. Last year they ran a lot of blitz zero with no one anywhere near him. Unfortunately one time we tried to go after him with a double move when we were backed up, up there and he intercepted it, which is unusual for a guy to be able to do all by himself on a double move. He is just as complete a guy as you'll ever see. He can cover and he can tackle. He's not just a cover corner. He tackles as good as anybody. He's perfect the way I look at it.

****
Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said LB Kirk Morrison was one of the team captains, but didn't have the names of other players that were voted captains.

*DE Kalimba Edwards (groin) did not practice. S Rashad Baker (ankle) was limited in practice.

*Free agent LB Abdul Hodge worked out for the team today. He was cut by Green Bay on Monday.

--Jason Jones

September 4, 2008
No blackout

ALAMEDA - Monday night's game is sold out. There might be scattered tickets available when Denver returns any of its tickets not used.

Regardless, if you don't want to fight traffic, you can enjoy the season opener from your home, favorite bar, etc.

Raiders CEO Amy Trask said season ticket sales are trending up this season.

--Jason Jones

September 4, 2008
Roll call

ALAMEDA - All 53 players were present at the start of practice.

Not much else to report right now.

I'll check back in after media availability.

--Jason Jones

September 3, 2008
A long day's work

ALAMEDA -- Today's practice was as long as any practice lately.

The reason?

Lane Kiffin said he had to "restart a few things" because of mistakes.

Not exactly the best way to start practicing for Denver. But guys are a little antsy to play games that matter.

Rookie running back Darren McFadden said the mood was positive even though practice was over two hours.

"No one was making any complaints or anything about length," McFadden said. "So we had a pretty good practice, even though it was so long."

In case you didn't know, McFadden grew up a fan of John Elway and Terrell Davis. Does that mean any of you are now burning your No. 20 jerseys?

****
Ashley Lelie has something to look forward to on Monday night. His family can watch the game in the stands comfortably.

"Every time you come into the Coliseum as an away team, the coach always gives you a speech about the fans, tell your family not to wear team colors," Lelie said. "So it's actually going to be kind of good where my family's gonna fit in, cause now they're rooting for the Raiders."

Lelie said the offense is similar to what he ran in Denver and some of the terminology is the same because he played under Greg Knapp in Atlanta.

That should aid his ability to get on the field for the season opener.

****
So much for Denver signing former Raider Josh Shaw to get some inside tips on the Raiders.

Well, Kiffin isn't worried that Shaw will be giving the Broncos an in-depth scouting report of the Raiders' strategy.

"I don't that a D-tackle can tell you very much about the game plan," Kiffin said. "They just kind of line up and go. I'd be nervous if it was a quarterback especially. Not that Josh isn't a smart guy, but I don't think Josh can tell you much about our game plan."

****
Don't expect quarterback JaMarcus Russell to be in awe of playing on Monday night.

Russell is always steady and that shouldn't change.

"Actually my first Monday night game was against Tennessee in conference play," is how Russell responded to being asked if he was ready for the prime time game.

Russell is expecting the Broncos to come at him with a lot of pressure.

That doesn't bother him either.

"Not knowing exactly what they're going to do, it's important for us to concentrate on what we're going to do," Russell said. "We'll have to react to whatever is happening out there. But at the same time, having a young quarterback out there, there's certain things you would want to do to him to get him rattled and upset in certain spots."

****
DeAngelo Hall is willing to concede Denver's Champ Bailey is the best cornerback in the NFL.

As for the best tandem, he said it's easy.

Himself and Nnamdi Asomugha.

"Me and Nnamdi you can toss it up and pull it out of a hat, two and three," Hall said. "So there's no comparison. No comparison when you have two and three or one and whatever there's no comparison."

The whatever in this case is Hall's good friend, Dre' Bly.

Hall practiced without a cast on his right hand. He said he can't catch the ball like he normally does, but feels good going into the Denver game.

****

*WR Javon Walker is "day-to-day" with a hamstring injury. Kififn said Walker intends to play against his old team, Denver, on Monday night.

DE Kalimba Edwards is also day-to-day with a groin injury.

Both were limited in practice.

*McFadden said he only catches punts during practice for fun. Kiffin added McFadden wouldn't return kickoffs so he could focus on offense.

*The team worked out free agent WR Chad Jackson on Tuesday. Nothing came of the workout as the team opted to sign Lelie.

--Jason Jones

September 3, 2008
Words from Denver

ALAMEDA - Here are highlights from today's conference calls with Denver coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Jay Cutler.

Shanahan on not having suspended receiver Brandon Marshall:

"I just look at it as a guy sprained his ankle on Friday. At least we have the whole week to get somebody else ready. And you never know for sure who's going to be ready to go on game day so that's just one of those situations that you don't worry about because you have no control over it and you just get ready to go."

On why Javon Walker's time with Denver ended:

"I'm not going to go getting into those type of details. I just wish Javon the best and leave it at that."

On how improved the Raiders' running game might be:

"Hopefully not because they averaged 187 yards a game against us in both games. Hopefully they don't get too much better or we'll really be in trouble. They're very well coordinated, they're very well coached, they play extremely hard together. You can see that the system has been very successful."

Now here's Cutler.

On facing the Raiders' secondary:

"They're going to have one of the best secondaries in the league. I mean, going and getting (DeAngelo) Hall from Atlanta. And the guy they got there on the other side (Nnamdi Asomugha), he's one of the best in the league. They made their safeties better. So they're going to be good. Obviously we've watched the films from Atlanta, and Hall, he's one of the best out there as well. So we've got our hands full, especially with Brandon Marshall out."

On Walker:

"He'll be good. Javon's a good guy. He means well, and his knee got a little bit messed up last year, and you know, that makes things hard. I mean, he wants to be on the field. He's a competitor. I mean, when he's out there, he's explosive. He makes plays."

On what JaMarcus Russell can expect as a young quarterback

"If they can't get the running game going, it's going to make a long day for him. Probably the coaches are going to keep things basic, try to run the ball and get eight in the box so he gets some one-on-ones outside. And he's going to see some blitzes that he's not accustomed to seeing, because teams are going to test him, see if he's on his stuff protection-wise. It's a learning process. There's a learning curve, and you've got to go through it to be successful."

--Jason Jones

September 3, 2008
Morning update

ALAMEDA - Had to cut short watching special teams practice to catch the conference call with Denver quarterback Jay Cutler. I'll have more on that later.

Here's the important Raider news:

*Fullback Luke Lawton is officially back on the team after being cut on Saturday. The team waived injured linebacker Robert Thomas to make room for Lawton on the roster.

*Punter Greg Pakulak was dropped from the practice squad and replaced by rookie defensive lineman Derrick Gray. Gray was cut on Saturday.

*It looks like Jon Alston wasted little time in claiming No. 55, which was worn by Thomas.

*The Raiders say Darren McFadden won't return punts. But he spends an awful lot of time catching punts with Johnnie Lee Higgins during special teams practice.

*Ashley Lelie was with receivers coach James Lofton, presumably getting caught up on the offense.

*When I left the field, Javon Walker hadn't made it out to practice yet. He is reportedly dealing with a hamstring injury.

--Jason Jones

September 2, 2008
What is success?

While working on the Lane Kiffin for The Bee's 2008 NFL preview, I asked him what make the 2008 season successful.

Coming off a 4-12 season, Kififn could have thrown out something like "8-8 would be a big improvement."

But Kiffin isn't one to put numbers on anything.

Here's how Kiffin summed up success for 2008.

"If we play really well," he said. "I never talk about numbers with these guys. Just because you say a number has nothing to do with how many you're going to win."

Kiffin will continue with his belief that no one game is more important than the other.

"That's the way I was taught to do it," Kiffin said. "Because if you start putting too much emphasis on one game or a number what happens once you lose so many games that you can't reach that number?"

We all know what happens. Players start planning offseason vacations.

****
The Raiders made the addition of WR Ashley Lelie official today. DT William Joseph was released to make room for Lelie on the roster.

Lelie will wear No. 87.

****
Raiders owner Al Davis chartered a flight to Washington, D.C., for Gene Upshaw's memorial.

Davis, his wife Carole and several former Raiders made the trip.

Clem Daniels, Otis Sistrunk, Morris Bradshaw, Tom Flores, Rod Martin, Willie Brown, George Atkinson, Raymond Chester, Art Toms and Jack Tatum attended the service.

--Jason Jones

September 1, 2008
More receiver news

The NFL Network reports WR Javon Walker is questionable with a hamstring injury.

When I last saw Walker on Sunday, there was no limp and he looked fine.

The Network also reports the Raiders will host Chad Jackson for a visit on Tuesday.

He was a second-round pick of New England in 2006. I wonder about his ability because of New England's track record.

New England isn't a team that cuts good, young players. If it becomes obvious that a player isn't going to work out, the Pats will rid themselves of the player and not worry about looking bad for wasting a high draft pick.

So if the Raiders do add Jackson, I wouldn't expect a lot from him.

Jackson played in only two games last season after tearing his ACL during the 2007 Playoffs.

He has 13 catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns for his career. All of that came in Jackson's rookie season.

--Jason Jones

September 1, 2008
Lelie is on his way

The Raiders have agreed to terms with WR Ashley Lelie on what will likely be a one-year contract.

The Raiders would be Lelie's fourth team in the last four seasons.

Lelie, 28, spent last season with the 49ers. He was with Atlanta in 2006 and spent the first four seasons of his career in Denver.

Lelie would fill the role that was supposed to be Drew Carter's as a deep threat. Lelie has averaged 17.2 yards a catch for his career, but is coming off a career-worst 11.5 yard per catch season with the 49ers.

Lelie played in 15 games and finished with a career-low 10 catches. He was bothered by a calf injury during training camp with the 49ers and cut on Saturday.

Lelie's best season was in 2004 when he started 16 games with 54 catches for 1,084 yards with seven touchdowns.

In terms of catches and touchdowns, Lelie's career numbers rank behind only Javon Walker on the team.

The Raiders were woefully inexperienced behind Walker and Ronald Curry. And if the Raiders give Lelie a limited set of plays that utilize what he does best -- get down the field deep -- he could be active for next Monday's season opener against Denver.

The Raiders will need to make a roster move once the signing is official. Chances are one of the team's extra offensive or defensive linemen would be released.

FB Luke Lawton's hasn't been officially re-signed yet.

--Jason Jones

September 1, 2008
Mail time

Here's my latest attempt to get to reader questions. Enjoy.

Question: Jason, What was the reason for LB Ed Hartwell's release? Due to the injury to Robert Thomas it appears that the team is in search of another linebacker; any idea which linebackers are on the radar? Would the Raiders have interest in Antwan Applewhite a San Diego State product out of Los Angeles?
Jeff, Los Angeles

Answer: Hartwell was released because at his age and after several injuries he couldn't run in coverage as well as the Raiders would have liked.

And the inability to run hurt Hartwell's ability to play special teams, which he would have needed to be able to do as a backup linebacker.

Applewhite is now on San Diego's practice squad. The only way the Raiders could sign him would be to add him to the active roster.


Question: Why haven't we heard/read much about Andrew Walter? I think he showed alot of spunk and did a pretty good job in the second preseason game.
Dorothy, Ione

Answer: Not hearing a lot about Walter is actually a good thing. That means he hasn't been awful and forced the Raiders to find a competent backup.

Walter's skills are suited for the offense because he's not as mobile as JaMarcus Russell or Marques Tuiasosopo. But Walter has improved in that area.

He even had a nice run in Seattle to close out the preseason.


Question: What's going on with picking up a receiver? We still need one bad! I think we should get a veteran like Joe Horn. He would be perfect. All is we need is someone reliable to move the chains and help the young guys along. It has worked out in the past a la Jerry Rice, Andre Rison.
Morgan, Santa Barbara

Answer: A veteran receiver will probably come after the Raiders' first game.

If a veteran with at least four years of experience is on the roster Week 1 has to be paid his full salary even if the team cuts him later in the season. That's not the case if the player is signed later.

As for a player like Horn, I'd expect him to try to sign with a team that's more of a playoff contender since he's 36.

I think Koren Robinson would be an ideal fit. He would also give the Raiders an option as a kick returner until Tyvon Branch is healthy.

Question: Who in the HELL is looking at the waiver wire for the Raiders, because they let WR Marcus Monk get by !!!!!!!!!!! To the Giants who are at the bottom of the list!
Tony, Monrovia

Answer: I'm not sure who to blame for that, but I will say this. The Raiders might not want Monk because they are in need of a receiver with experience. Adding another rookie would not do them any good.

--Jason Jones

September 1, 2008
No more tears

ALAMEDA - It's a week away. And Michael Bush is excited.

"I'm ready," Bush said. "I can officially say I'm in the NFL."

Bush's Raider career has been filled with a few ups and a lot of downs.

There was the disappointment in 2007 when he thought he'd be added to the active roster after spending much of the season on the physically unable to perform list.

And even after an impressive preseason there was a very brief discussion of Bush playing fullback.

That won't happen.

Bush was almost in tears when he made his preseason debut. He doesn't expect the season opener to be as emotional.

"I think I've got it all out the way now," Bush said.

Bush will be what Zack Crockett was for so many years. Bush is going to be the hammer around the goal line.

****
The business of making predictions isn't easy.

In today's newspaper, my predictions for the 2008 season are there for all to mock.

The toughest call for me in the AFC was whether to make Houston instead of New York a Wildcard playoff team.

But I opted not to go with the Texans because they have yet to prove they can consistently run the ball in the regular season.

I know it's easy to predict the Patriots to win the AFC, but the Colts and Chargers have serious injury concerns.

In the NFC, the Cowboys are an easy pick because they have the most talent.

The last time I picked the Super Bowl winner correctly was when the Colts won.

****

For those that are curious, here's what I think the Raiders can do this season.

An 8-8 record is a possibility for a few reasons:

1. Darren McFadden will win at least two games with his athletic ability.
2. The defense will be better.
3. Without injuries, the Raiders are now talented enough to be able to beat the worst teams in the league, and upset a good team or two.

****

A computer error somehow prevented my blog from Saturday from posting. I wrote it up and even checked and it appeared to be posted on Saturday.

It wasn't until I received an email that I saw it wasn't posted

My apologies. I hope you were able to see the story about the cuts that posted a few hours after my blog was supposed to be posted.

--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.

Raiders stories on sacbee.com

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31