Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 30, 2008
Cable makes the wrong decision

OAKLAND - No, you weren't that intoxicated.

You really did see this.

And you thought that 76-yard field goal attempt was wacky...

Interim head coach Tom Cable was going to ask Sebastian Janikowski to take the football and run for a first down.

To no one's shock, the play didn't work and it proved to be a pivotal point in what ended up being a 20-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cable explained the decision by saying the Raiders had practiced the play for two years and that the Chiefs were lined up in a way that the play was designed to work against.

But did anyone really think the play would work.

Most players said the right thing on the record.

They had chances to make plays later in the game.

It was still only a 10-3 game after Maurice Leggett ran the football back 67 yards for a touchdown after the botched pitch from between Shane Lechler's legs to Janikowski.

The off the record reaction was more like "What in the world was that?"

When you have an offense like the Raiders' offense, you can't afford to give away points. And that's what the Raiders did.

Instead of going ahead, 6-3, they trailed and never led again.

Teams try a variety of trick play in practice. Some are just for fun.

But who would have guessed Cable would ask Janikowski to run about 20 yards total for a first down.

"I didn't even see it," said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. "I just saw the guy running down the other way. We do that in practice all the time, but I never knew that it was a real thing that we were going to attempt. When they told me that's what happened, that it wasn't a blocked field goal, I was a little surprised. But Cable owned up to that. He said that that one was on him."

Cable didn't regret calling the fake.

"We just didn't execute," Cable said. "That was my decision. And obviously it was not a good one."

Couldn't have said it any better.

Because for all of JaMarcus Russell's inaccuracy in the second half (3 of 13), the Justin Fargas fumble or even the 91-yard drive by the Chiefs in which the Raiders couldn't stop them on third down, this game was lost on one play.

When Leggett ran it in for a score.

There was no recovering from that.

Or as Russell said: "Looking back at that game, I wish we would have taken the points today."

--Jason Jones

November 30, 2008
Inactives

OAKLAND - Traffic held me up today, so this posting is extremely late.

Here are today's inactives:

3rd QB Marques Tuiasosopo
CB Michael Waddell
CB Darrick Brown
LB Ricky Brown
C Jake Grove
G Dylan Gandy
T James Marten
DE Gresyon Gunheim

Chiefs
CB Patrick Surtain
CB Ricardo Colclough
TE Michael Merritt
LB Pat Thomas
LB Donnie Edwards
T Andrew Carnahan
G Adrian Jones
WR Jeff Webb

--Jason Jones

November 28, 2008
Edwards injury could cause some shuffling

Defensive end Kalimba Edwards is questionable for Sunday's game against Kansas City with a hip injury.

Edwards was injured at the end of Thursday's practice.

If Edwards can't play, at least Derrick Burgess is healthy.

But the injury would alter any plans of a rotation to keep Burgess fresh.

It would also mean Jay Richardson would stay in the starting lineup with Trevor Scott filling in on passing downs for Richardson.

Another option would be give rookie Greyson Gunheim some reps.

Linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) and center Jake Grove (calf) are out for this Sunday.

Look for Jon Alston to replace Brown in the starting lineup and John Wade to start his third straight game at center.

Brown will miss his fifth straight game.

Brown dressed for practice today, but will begin working toward getting on the field again Sunday before the game, when a lot of injured players work out.

Wide receiver Chaz Schilens (Achilles' tendonitis/ankle) and tight Zach Miller (groin) are questionable.

Schilens trying to play with the injury has only made his ankle worse. Miller was hurt in the Raiders' win at Denver.

*Congratulations to Lane Kiffin, who appears to have landed the head-coaching job at the University of Tennessee.

His gamble of taking the Raiders job paid off.

Kiffin interviewed for the job at the University of Minnesota before being hired by the Raiders, so college is a place Kiffin definitely saw himself working.

And after not getting the Arkansas job last year, he actually got a better job in the Southeastern Conference.

No matter what happened with the Raiders, Kiffin was bound to be OK.

If he'd won more than five of the 20 games he coached with the Raiders, he would have been a hot commodity around the NFL for winning games with the Raiders.

And if things flamed out (as they did) no one would hold it against him, as he was a young coach put in a tough spot.

My guess is he won't be as critical of players publicly as he was with the Raiders with boosters all over his every word.

Good luck, Lane. You better hope things work out better for you than the last Raider coach that was fired and ended up with a college job, Bill Callahan.

--Jason Jones


November 27, 2008
Chiefs went from first to worst

ALAMEDA - The last time the Kansas City Chiefs were in Oakland, they left with a 12-10 win over the Raiders on Oct. 21, 2007 and were in first place in the AFC West with a 4-3 record.

The Chiefs have won one game since.

Instead of finishing in contention for a playoff spot in 2007, the Chiefs finished tied with the Raiders for last place in the AFC West.

The Chiefs lone victory came Sept. 28 2008 over the Denver Broncos, who the Raiders just defeated.

After closing out the 2007 season with nine straight losses the Chiefs decided to do what many team won't admit they're doing - rebuild.

It's a different approach than the Raiders, who also finished 4-12, took.

The Raiders opted to spend a lot of money in the offseason (WR Javon Walker, S Gibril Wilson, CB DeAngelo Hall, re-signing DT Tommy Kelly) with the hope of a quick turnaround.

That approach has the Raiders at 3-8, two games ahead of the 1-10 Chiefs.

"It's been hard," said Kansas City coach Herm Edwards in a conference call Wednesday. "But when you decide to do what we've done, blow it up and start all over with all these young players, the thing you know is that you're building something and I see it. You see guys improving from the game at New England to right now."

It wasn't that long ago the Chiefs were a playoff team. Kansas City was a Wildcard team in 2006.

Bur realizing the roster couldn't go much further, the Chiefs dealt their best defensive player, defensive end Jared Allen, for multiple draft picks.

So besides running back Larry Johnson and tight end Tony Gonzalez, you'll probably need a program to figure out whom most of these Chiefs are.

"We haven't won enough games because you always want to win," Edwards said. But I think in the long haul this team is going to be competitive for a long time because we're so young. A lot of these rookies are playing and playing well."

*One of the most amazing stats headed into Sunday's game is the Chiefs having only six sacks as a team.

There are 19 players with more sacks than the Chiefs.

"We have gotten a lot of pressure, we just haven't gotten any sacks," Edwards said. "We haven't gotten a lot of sacks. When you lose a Jared Allen that hurts some. We have had some injury problems with some of our ends. And that hurts you, too."

Linebacker Derrick Johnson leads the Chiefs with 1.5 sacks.

*After scoring 31 points, the Raiders figure not to start another offensive drought against the Chiefs.

Kansas City has held only two opponents under 20 points this season.
The Chiefs allow 29.7 points a game and are last in total defense, allowing 406.3 yards a game.

--Jason Jones

November 26, 2008
Raiders better not overlook the Chiefs

ALAMEDA - Someone asked Raiders interim head coach Tom Cable if the Raiders might (giggle) have a letdown against the 1-10 Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.

"That's ridiculous," Cable said. "First of all we can't have a letdown of any kind because we haven't done anything. Whether it's the Chiefs, the Giants or whoever coming in, that doesn't matter to us. We have to still take care of us."

The Raiders have made a habit of losing at least once at home to a team that most would assume the Raiders should be able to beat at home.

A couple of times it's been the Houston Texans, when the Raiders somehow managed to make Ron Dayne look like the Dayne of his Heisman Trophy days at Wisconsin.

Many assumed the Raiders could knock off the Detroit Lions in their home opener last season.

Of course, the Raiders lost.

Back in 2005, the Raiders lost 9-7 to a bad Cleveland team.

The Chiefs are set up perfectly to be that team this season.

They haven't won since Sept. 28 and are coming off a 54-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

And the Raiders handled the Chiefs 23-8 in Week 2.

But the Chiefs can run the ball, and that could be trouble if the Raiders start thinking about walking over them.

"Those guys are going to look back at the film and see everything," said quarterback JaMarcus Russell. "We're ready to come for a dogfight."

*The Raiders signed guard Dylan Gandy and placed wide receiver Javon Walker on injured reserve today.

Gandy was a fourth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2005 out of Texas Tech. He spent part of this season with the Denver Broncos.

Gandy started 11 games during the Colts' Super Bowl season of 2006.

*Center Jake Grove (calf) and linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) were the only players to not practice.

Wide receiver Chaz Schilens (ankle) and tight end Zach Miller (groin) were limited.

Cable said Miller's injury isn't serious.

*There was a little talk in the locker room about Lane Kiffin possibly landing the head coaching job at the University of Tennessee.

Raiders safeties Rashad Baker and Gibril Wilson both played at Tennessee.

Baker was quick to point out one thing: "You better win right away in the SEC."

*By the way, Sunday's game is sold out and will be televised locally.

--Jason Jones

November 26, 2008
No Brown, Grove

ALAMEDA -- Center Jake Grove (calf) and linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) were not on the field at the start of practice.

Safety Michael Huff (stinger) and wide receiver Chaz Schilens (ankle, Achilles) were at practice.

Updates on who practiced and who was limited will follow this afternoon.

--Jason Jones

November 25, 2008
Brown added, Coston cut

The Raiders only needed to see offensive lineman Junius Coston before deciding to move on.

The team waived Coston and promoted cornerback Darrick Brown from the practice squad to the active roster.

Coston was signed last Tuesday.

Brown (6-4, 200) is an undrafted rookie from McNeese State that signed after the draft but did not make the final roster after training camp.

The Raiders did not have to cut Coston to add Brown to the roster. Putting Javon Walker on injured reserve would have done that.

--Jason Jones

November 24, 2008
Award time

ALAMEDA - Interim head coach Tom Cable promised a lot of game balls would be awarded after the Raiders beat the Denver Broncos, 31-10, Sunday.

Here are the winners:

Offense
WR Ashley Lelie - four catches, 92 yards, touchdown
QB JaMarcus Russell - 10 of 11, 152 yards, touchdown
RB Justin Fargas - 24 carries, 107 yards
RG Cooper Carlisle - Team ran to the right a lot Sunday
TE Zach Miller - three catches, 41 yards
RB Darren McFAdden -10 carries, 38 yards, two touchdowns

Defense

CB Chris Johnson - Held up in coverage as Denver attacked him deep repeatedly, two passes defended
S Gibril Wilson - Six tackles, fumble recovery
S Rashad Baker - Five tackles, good coverage downfield
DT Tommy Kelly - No tackles, but anchored the middle of the defense and didn't allow Jay Cutler to get comfortable in the middle of the pocket
LB Thomas Howard - Team-high eight tackles, interception and pass defended.

Special teams
PR Johnnie Lee Higgins - 89-yard punt return for a touchdown
LB Marquis Cooper - No tackles but was a big part of the special teams coverage units.

Coaches
Willie Brown - Spoke to the team about the importance of the Oakland-Denver rivalry

*The Raiders have a chart in the hallway near their locker room detailing 12 aspects of special teams and whether the team accomplished its goal in each area.

Among the goals is 100 percent kick and punt coverage, winning the battle of net punt average, making a big play, scoring and keeping the opposition from starting across the 50.

For the first time this season, the Raiders had sticker marking off an achieved goal in each category, including the most important: win.

*LB Ricky Brown (groin) and C Jake Grove (calf) are day-to-day, Cable said. S Michael Huff (stinger) is expected to be OK.

--Jason Jones

November 24, 2008
Raiders show signs of growing up

DENVER - As the Raiders piled up a few questionable penalties team officials were become red-faced.

It was if Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler should have been playing two-hand touch.

There were three personal fouls for unnecessary roughness called for hits on Culter in the Raiders 31-10 win at Invesco Field at Mile High on Sunday.

One was on defensive tackle Gerard Warren and two were on linebacker Thomas Howard for hitting Cutler with his helmets.

Howard's penalties were especially questionable.

But something happened during the game.

The Raiders just kept playing.

The team that's loved to blame the officials when things go wrong didn't use the flags as a reason to fold.

They kept playing and won.

"It's touchy when you get to talking about those refs so I'm not going to get too deep into it," Howard said. "All I can say is ... they made the calls, we lived with it. We didn't let it get us down. So we just went back in there and played."

Interim head coach didn't want to say too much but called the penalties on Howard "ridiculous" which might earn him a fine (even though those calls were ridiculous).

But it's a step in the right direction for a franchise that's become accustomed to failure and excuses.

"You know it's kind of been the battle cry the whole time," Cable said. "We're gonna keep pushing, keep playing, keep playing."

Cornerback had an interception return for a touchdown negated when he was called for holding on the same play.

Johnson continued to play well in spite of the call in the second quarter.

"I didn't think it was holding," Johnson said. "But if the refs made that call I've got to respect that call. I couldn't let that one take my confidence away so I just kept playing."

The Raiders are still an incredibly young team in a lot of areas. Sunday's showing was a sign that players are starting to understand what it takes to win.
Dare I say a sign of maturity?

"I guess you could say that," Howard said. "A sign of maturity always sounds good. But it was just us sticking in there. What else can we do when a ref makes a call like that? What else can you really do but play?"

*Johnnie Lee Higgins was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a backflip after his punt return for a touchdown.

The reason? Apparently his falling on the landing somehow is penalty-worthy.

If Higgins had stuck the landing, there would have been no penalty.

*JaMarcus Russell had his second consecutive solid game after completing 10 of 11 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Russell is 25 for 33 (75.8 percent) for 308 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions in his last two games since sitting out the Carolina loss with a knee injury.

And next up is Kansas City, which allows the opposition to complete 66.6 percent of its passes and has only six sacks all season.

*Darren McFadden ran for two touchdowns. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper ran for three scores Sept. 30, 2007 at Miami.

The last time a running back ran for two touchdowns for the Raiders was LaMont Jordan. He scored twice Nov. 27, 2005 against Miami.

*Both of Cable's wins as head coach have come over division leaders (New York Jets, Denver).

*Cable was a bit teary eyed after the game and said it wasn't from allergies.

"It's just been a lot of hard work," he said. "And we're getting there. And I know you all think I'm crazy when I say that for the last month. But the bottom line is I just believe in our players and I believe in what we're trying to do. So you just keep pushing and when you do it right enough, long enough, something good is going to happen. So, I don't know. I'm just happy. I'm very happy, I know I seem calm right now but it's a lot of hard work. Today was a good day for the Raiders."

--Jason Jones

November 23, 2008
Defense befuddles Cutler

DENVER - After scoring 31 points and coming up with three touchdowns, it would be easy to praise the offense.

The offense had gone 15 quarters without a touchdown before coming through with three in the second half of the Raiders' 31-10 win at Invesco Field at Mile High.

But lets give Rob Ryan and the defense some credit for doing a good job against a team that put 41 points on the Raiders Week 1

Jay Cutler hadn't completed less than 50 percent of his passes in a game until today (16 of 37).

Only New England has held the Broncos to few points this season.

"The big thing for us was that was the third scoring offense in the league and we held them to 10 points," said linebacker Kirk Morrison. "Week in and week out Jay cutler has been finding ways to pick defenses apart."

The Raiders didn't sack Cutler, but forced him to move around a lot in the pocket.

And Cutler went after cornerback Chris Johnson no fewer than 10 times. Johnson more than held his own against Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal.

"The first couple times I thought they were going to try go to go the other way after I got the pick (that was called back) and knocked a couple of balls down," Johnson said. "But Jay's a good quarterback and he was going to try to catch me slipping. I just had to stay on my game the whole time."

Johnson is quickly earning the respect of teammates for his play in place of DeAngelo Hall.

"We believe in him because he's been around and he's got good technique and he's not afraid to play guys up close, not afraid to get beat," said Nnamdi Asomugha. "No one was really surprised but they threw a lot balls at him and he played well."

*Like every other team that plays the Raiders, Denver basically stayed away from Asomugha the entire game.

Asomugha nearly had an interception in the fourth quarter when he nearly picked off a pass intended for Darrell Jackson.

Stanford Routt was covering Jackson at the time. Jackson made sure Asomugha didn't hold on to the ball.

"Me and Stanford talked about it," Asomugha said. "I said if they're not going to throw at my guy I'm going to come off and I'll look at your guy ... Cutler told me after the game I'm not going to give you many opportunities. You've got to make the most of it."

Cutler had more nice things to say about Asomugha after the game.

"They have the best cornerback in the game," Cutler said of Asomugha. "He takes away half of the field."

*Darren McFadden scored two touchdowns. The last time that happened was Sept. 30, 2007 in Miami when Daunte Culpepper ran for three scores and Jerry Porter caught two touchdowns.

*The Broncos lived up to their rep as a poor team in defending the pass. JaMarcus Russell completed his first nine passes in going 10 for 11 for 152 yards and a touchdown.

Michael Bush also completed a pass to tight end Zach Miller.

*Jon Alston helped escort Johnnie Lee Higgins to the end zone on his 89-yard punt return for a touchdown while holding his helmet after it came off during the play.

"In the middle of the play I was like I've got to keep my head on a swivel," Alston said. "And try not to get knocked out."

*The Raiders now have 12 touchdowns from the offense. Five have come against the Broncos.

--Jason Jones

November 23, 2008
Alston steps in

DENVER - Jon Alston will start at outside linebacker in place of Ricky Brown today.

Sam Williams had started the previous two games in place of Brown. Robert Thomas started the other game Brown missed with a groin injury.

Alston is a key player on special teams which could hurt the team today.

The Raiders have struggled in kick coverage at times since special teams players such as Hiram Eugene and Rashad Baker took a bigger role on defense.

*Ready for a long field goal today?

Sebastian Janikowski just finished his warm ups with a kick of 62 yards.

Couldn't tell from my seat in the press box if the kick was good, but it definitely had the distance.

*Here are today's inactives:

Raiders

3rd QB Marques Tuiasosopo
CB Michael Waddell
LB Ricky Brown
G Junius Coston
C Jake Grove
T James Marten
WR Javon Walker
DE Greyson Gunheim

Broncos

S Marlon McCree
CB Champ Bailey
RB Selvin Young
S Calvin Lowry
LB D.J. Williams
LB Nate Webster
DT Nic Clemons
DE Tim Crowder

--Jason Jones

November 22, 2008
Kelly starting to play up to his contract

DENVER - It's now been more than a year since Tommy Kelly went down with a knee injury that cost him the 2007 season.

The consensus was Kelly was on his way to his best season as a pro before going down Oct. 28, 2007 in Tennessee.

Kelly still landed a seven-year deal worth $50.5 million ($18.125 million guaranteed) coming off knee surgery.

Kelly was surprised by the deal, as were most around the NFL.

And Albert Haynesworth probably sent Al Davis a "Thank You" card realizing he could command a lot more in his next deal.

Most players coming off a major knee injury need a full year to start to look fully recovered.

Ten games into this season, Kelly is starting to show signs of why the Raiders wanted to keep him around.

The last time Kelly played in 10 games was 2006. Here's how his numbers stack up this season compared to that season.

2006
40 tackles
2 sacks

2008
40 tackles
3.5 sacks

Kelly finished with 68 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2006.

Kelly has played better lately thanks to improved conditioning and strength in his knee.

Twenty-one of Kelly's 40 tackles have come in the last four games.

Kelly has 2.5 sacks in his last two games.

"His weight is right about three pounds of where it should be, his perfect weight if you will," said interim head coach Tom Cable. "Certainly, the leg, there haven't been problems with that. His confidence is up."

Kelly might not reach double-digit sacks, but should surpass his career best of 4.5 in 2005.

Then next season, Kelly might be the player he's being paid to be for 16 games.

*The Broncos have been bad against the pass this season, but the Raiders have been just as bad throwing the ball.

But the Raiders should be able to run the ball at Denver, which will be without linebackers D.J. Williams and Nate Webster.

*Here's the official injury report for both teams heading into tomorrow's game.

Raiders

OUT
LB Ricky Brown (groin), C Jake Grove (calf), WR Javon Walker (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle), QB Andrew Walter (ankle)

PROBABLE
DE Derrick Burgess (tricep), T Mario Henderson (back), CB Chris Johnson (knee), RB Darren McFadden (toe), QB JaMarcus Russell (knee, ankle)

Broncos

OUT
TE Nate Jackson (hamstring), S Marlon McCree (ankle), LB Nate Webster (knee), LB D.J. Williams (knee)

DOUBTFUL
RB Selvin Young (groin)

QUESTIONABLE

CB Champ Bailey (groin)

PROBABLE
RB Peyton Hillis (shoulder), WR Brandon Marshall (hip), RB P.J. Pope (ribs), DT Dewayne Robertson (knees), TE Tony Scheffler (groin), DT Josh Shaw (toe, finger), LB Jamie Winborn (ribs)

--Jason Jones

November 21, 2008
Burgess 'ready' says Cable

ALAMEDA - Interim head coach Tom Cable will have Derrick Burgess on the field for the first time since he's taken over Sunday in Denver.

Burgess practiced all week. He hasn't played since Sept. 28 when the Raiders hosted San Diego.

I once asked Burgess about being in game shape and I might as well have insulted his mother.

He doesn't believe in the notion because as he put it back then, "You're gonna get tired anyways."

Nevertheless, Cable said the Raiders kept tabs on Burgess' conditioning this week and that his fresh legs would be an advantage. Cable added the Raiders might rotate Burgess, considering he hasn't played in almost eight weeks.

"He did a great job with his cardio in his off time," Cable said. "Wednesday we gave him probably 70 percent of practice, yesterday was 80 percent today it was a little more. So he's done everything. Not had any issues. I've asked him twice about it. He's ready to go."

*A Raider quarterback's best friend will start again at wide receiver.

Ronald Curry will start because Chaz Schilens (ankle) is questionable.

Cable was asked how Curry had responded to being back on the field after going from team captain and starter to special teams player in active.

Cable doesn't seem to think Curry's season has been all that trying.

"Well I don't know what he's really gone through," Cable said. "But I think he's done a nice job. He's been a pro, he's worked hard, prepared himself. So I think he's really done a good job."

Curry had six catches for 74 yards in Miami. That's the most catches by a Raider wide receiver all season.

Other players filling in for injured starters will be center John Wade and linebacker Sam Williams.

Wade will replace Jake Grove (calf) who will miss a second straight game. Williams replaces Ricky Brown (groin) who will miss his fourth straight game.

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell (ankle) was limited practice today, but is probable. Backup quarterback Andrew Walter (knee) is questionable and is expected to be the No. 2 quarterback.

Cable said there is a "slim" chance Walter could be No. 3, but Cable said Walter's knee is better.

Cornerback Chris Johnson (knee) was back at practice after taking Thursday off and will start. He was walking with a bit of a limp, but is fine, Cable said.

*The old offensive lineman in Cable hasn't gone away.

That's why he's rooting for bad weather this weekend.

"I hope it snows," he said. "That would be great."

The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies.

--Jason Jones

November 21, 2008
Team looks pretty healthy

ALAMEDA - The usual suspects were missing at today's practice.

Center Jake Grove (calf) and linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) were both not on the practice field.

Grove has missed one game while Brown has missed the last three games.

Cornerback Chris Johnson (knee) was back at practice after sitting out Thursday.

Updates on all who fully participated or were limited will follow in a couple of hours.

--Jason Jones

November 20, 2008
Russell gives back

OAKLAND - Forgive this post for being so late in the evening.

Instead of writing two stories and blogging, I wrote two stories and headed over to Lucky's near Fruitvale where JaMarcus Russell was helping give out turkeys and other fixings to needy families.

"Helping out single mothers, battered women and disabled women was something we decided to do at this juncture," said Ray Russell, JaMarcus' uncle. "With the economy as it is, its hard for them to not be able to provide for their families, especially around Thanksgiving. We wanted them to know someone was thinking about them. That's something we wanted to do as a family and we got it done."

Lucky's, Pepsi and Oakland Cadillac helped make sure the event was a success.

Approximately 450 turkeys were given out.

Russell was still wearing a walking boot on his right foot. But he wasn't moving with a noticeable limp as he posed for pictures with families and store staff.

And the boot didn't hinder Russell's sense of humor.

When a fan asked what was wrong with his foot, he said ants had attacked it.

In reality, he twisted his ankle during the game in Miami.

*Russell knows what Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, Aaron Brooks, etc., all knew.

Ronald Curry can be a quarterback's best friend.

Curry's history as a quarterback must give him a sixth sense because he has a knack for knowing where to go to get open and where a quarterback might look for help.

"I was happy to have him back out there," Russell said. "It was a lot of fun for him and I both. I told him once he got back out there, things were going to be better for him. And they were."

Six of Russell's 15 completions were to Curry.

And to think if Javon Walker wasn't bound for injured reserve, Curry wouldn't be suiting up for games.

*Russell looked as accurate as he has all season at Miami.

"I gave guys a chance to catch the ball, that was the main thing," Russell said. "Put our team in position to make plays that were successful. So I think I did pretty good."

*Greg Knapp said before the season Russell would begin to see things on the field better after eight games.

Russell has played nine games this season and the maturity is starting to show.

"Just since these last five weeks, the difference between him when we started and now is so much better out here (on the practice field) as well as in the classroom," said interim head coach Tom Cable.

Russell is also becoming more of a leader. When Kwame Harris picked up a false start in Miami, the first person to get in Harris' face was Russell.

"I was upset about (the penalty)," Cable said. "At the same time, I'm liking what I'm seeing. That's the leadership you want your quarterback to have. It doesn't matter whether it's the left tackle, or wideout, or back, whoever. It's just the fact that he's in command and he addressed the issue right there. That was great."

*Speaking of Harris, I spoke with him today for a story that will run in tomorrow's paper.

One thing I was interested in was how rotating with Mario Henderson affected him.

He admitted it wasn't something he was ecstatic about. The offensive line is a group that usually doesn't substitute except for injury.

"I don't like coming out of the game," Harris said. "I don't even like coming out of the game when the defense goes in."

Harris said after speaking with Cable, the message was to just relax and play to combat his league-high nine false starts.

His goal is to have no more false starts the rest of the season. You can read more about that when the story runs tomorrow.

*Cable is pleased that Michael Bush has become more agreeable to playing fullback.

Cable spoke of how Bush would add flexibility to the offense by giving the Raiders a legitimate running threat if the Raiders choose to motion the tailback out of the backfield.

Cable added that having Tom Rathman as running backs coach should help Bush. In his nine-year NFL career as a fullback, Rathman had 2020 rushing yards and 2,684 receiving yards.

"To have someone like that with that history and that kind of background, it obviously brings itself to being a positive experience for him," Cable said. "Really the bottom line is Michael sees himself as a runner, so when you ask him to do something that's a little bit different, he doesn't want to feel like, 'Jeez, maybe I can't be a runner at this level.' He can be. It's just a matter of where he is on the depth chart."

But don't expect Bush to be content at fullback, even if Rathman gives him a great pep talk. Rathman averaged only 4.2 attempts a game.

*Here's today's injury summary:

Did not practice
C Jake Grove (calf)
LB Ricky Brown (groin)
CB Chris Johnson (knee)


Johnson is expected to start Sunday. He fell on Wednesday and was held out as a precaution.


Limited
T Mario Henderson (back spasms)
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle)
QB Andrew Walter (knee)
Russell (ankle)

--Jason Jones

November 20, 2008
Thursday's early practice report

ALAMEDA - The only players missing at the start of practice were linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) and center Jake Grove (calf).

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell wore extra tape on the outside of his right cleat to help with a sore right ankle, but was at practice.

--Jason Jones

November 20, 2008
Marshall on Nnamdi

ALAMEDA - Wednesday's conference call with Mike Shanahan wasn't the only praise Nnamdi Asomugha received from Denver.

Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall was asked a lot about Asomugha.

Marshall didn't play in the season opener because of an NFL suspension for repeated arrests.

And if the Broncos want to involve Marshall, chances are they'll have to throw at Asomugha.

Asomugha might be the best cornerback in the NFL. The only other logical choice would be Marshall's teammate, Champ Bailey.

Funny thing is on a conference call last year, Bailey didn't even think that Asomugha was a starter because he'd watched film of a game that Asomugha missed because of injury.

Here's part of the Q&A with Marshall.

Q: Thoughts about matching up with Asomugha?
Marshall: He's definitely probably one of the best corners in the league. Well, he is, a top-three corners in the league. I'm excited, I'm excited. It's always good to play against somebody that will give you a run for your money.

Q: After going against Champ Bailey in practice, can you gauge who is better?
Marshall: For me, Champ is going to be better. I could be biased, but they're two good corners, man, they're two of the better corners in the league and they both do a good job of closing down one side of the field.

Q: Are Asomugha and Bailey similar?
Marshall: The biggest similarity they have is how smart they are. They're both students of the game and they do a good job of preparing themselves week in and week out. That's what I see as the biggest similarity.

Q: How often will you shift you to other side of the field for a favorable matchup since raiders don't move him around?
Marshall: We're going to stick to our game plan. If the ball's on the right hash and I'm on the short side of the field, and they put me right, I'll go right. If they put me left, I'll go left. We're just going to play ball. We've got a couple of good receivers that can get the job done and we're going to find the best matchup and take advantage of our opportunity.

--Jason Jones

November 19, 2008
Bush gives fullback a try

ALAMEDA - Michael Bush is your backup fullback and he's not happy about it.

It was a topic he reluctantly discussed today.

"I kind of don't really want to talk about it or say nothing wrong," Bush waid.. But we did some (fullback) today. There's nothing I can do. I told (Tom Cable) no the first time, you know? I guess it's either I do something or I don't. I don't know. It is what it is. Do I like it? Do I want to play there? Do I think I'm a fullback? No."

Bush has been asked to play fullback more than once. It was first mentioned when Oren O'Neal was hurt in August. The talk picked up more when Justin Griffith went down for the season Oct. 26.

Bush said he's "Never had the kind of mentality to go run into a wall."

Nevertheless, he's going along with the plan.

"I just want people to know what position I play," Bush said. "I'm not a fullback. I think it's a waste of my talent. I'm not trying to be any negative person that don't want to help the team. I'm doing it so they can't say I'm not helping this team. What can you say?"

The Raiders cut Jason Davis, the backup fullback, on Tuesday. So if something happens to Luke Lawton, Bush would be the fullback.

Cable thinks Bush would be a good fullback in the zone-blocking scheme because the fullback has to be a good athlete and operates like a running back when trying to find a running lane.

But one can understand why Bush would be apprehensive. After all, the Raiders tend to change coaches regularly. And no player wants to be pegged at a position he doesn't want to play with a new staff likely on its way.

*Mike Shanahan really likes Nnamdi Asomugha.

"He is the most underrated football player, to me, that I have ever been around. For people not to talk about him as the top corner in the NFL, along with Champ Bailey, to me, is a crime."

But wait, there's more.

"The people that throw at him usually get beat," he said. "He's not going to be challenged but he plays 100 percent on every play. He plays the run, he plays the pass, the guy is a competitor. He's the most underrated top player in the game -- I can't say the history of the game because I haven't been around here that long -- but I can say in my 25 years, he is by far the most underrated player. I've never met him but I'm going to shake his hand after the game because I keep on looking for him but I never get a chance to talk to him. He's one of my favorite players, even though he is with the Raiders. That shows you how much I like him."

Let's hope Shanahan doesn't drool when the Raiders are in town this weekend.

By the way, Asomugha figures this is just a ploy by Shanahan.

"He's coming after me," Asomugha said.

*Cable said the team did try to find another tackle to backup Cornell Green as it's apparent the team doesn't believe James Marten is ready to play.

But after not finding anyone of "quality" the team settled on guard Junious Coston, who was at practice today wearing No. 62.

"We looked, and did a nice job, I thought, the personnel people, getting a list together," Cable said. "But there wasn't a quality, quality guy out there to do that with. He was the best player available at offensive line."

Though Coston has played tackle, Cable said he would be guard for the Raiders and won't be available to play this weekend.

*QB JaMarcus Russell was wearing a walking boot on his right foot and was limited in practice. Cable expects Russell and receiver Chaz Schilens (ankle) to play Sunday in Denver after being limited, too.

Cable said Russell would not miss any practice this week to attend funeral services for his godmother, Teresa Roberts, who passed on Sunday.

*DE Derrick Burgess practiced without limitations. He will make his return to the field this weekend after missing six games with a triceps injury if he holds up fine this week.

*C Jake Grove (calf) and LB Ricky Brown (groin) were the only Raiders not practicing today.

Grove thought he'd hurt his Achilles when he went down against Carolina. But it's just a calf strain. He's hoping to return this week but next week could be a more realistic goal.

Grove said he hurt himself trying to get by Tyler Brayton Nov. 9 against Carolina.

And some of you cynics thought Brayton's impact on the Raiders was done.

*With many of college's rivalry games this week, I have a little wager with Kwame Harris, who attended the evil school known as Stanfurd where I'm from. I'm assuming Jon Alston will jump in on this, too.

So I'm begging Cal to win this weekend and spare me the humiliation of wearing a Furd football jersey next week.

--Jason Jones

November 19, 2008
Today's injury update

ALAMEDA - Sebastian Janikowksi accused Ricky Brown of being thief.

While the rest of the Raiders were about to start practice, Janikowski was leaving the field and passed by Brown, the starting linebacker that is trying to comeback from a groin injury.

Brown was on a separate field doing drills.

"Are you on IR?" yelled Janikowski. "That's the IR field ... you're stealing money."

Brown responded with a laugh. But true, he isn't back to practice yet after missing the last three games.

Derrick Burgess (triceps), however, was back after practicing once last week. He's missed six games.

Jake Grove (calf) was also not at practice. He missed Sunday's game.

--Jason Jones

November 18, 2008
Transactions

Offensive lineman Junius Coston signed with the Raiders today. To make room on the roster, the team cut fullback Jason Davis.

Offensive lineman/defensive lineman Fred Wakefield was also waived from injured reserve.

Coston is in his fourth season out of North Carolina A&T. He was with the Green Bay Packers and was released with an injury settlement after going on injured reserve with a knee injury before the start of the season.

Coston (6-3, 313) played in 13 games last season with seven starts.

He was a fifth-round draft pick in 2005 and can play all five line positions.

In trying to find some information on Coston, I found this quote from Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Coston after his release.

"I'll be surprised if he's not on a roster," McCarthy said. "Body type. Length. Athletic ability. Knee bend. He's got all the attributes."

That Davis was let go probably means Michael Bush is the backup fullback whether he wants to be or not.

Luke Lawton is the only fullback on the roster.

--Jason Jones

November 18, 2008
Fassel likes to write letters

Below is a transcript from Jim Fassel's appearance on The Opening Drive" on SIRIUS NFL Radio with hosts Bob Papa and Randy Cross.

Fassel was the Raiders offensive coordinator from 1990-92 and quarterbacks coach in 1995.

It was recently reported that he sent a letter to Al Davis to make his pitch to be the next Raiders head coach.

Fassel doesn't know "what the big deal is" because he communicates with a lot of people in the NFL.

Is he trying to get a job with everyone he communicates with? Who knows?

Randy Cross: "Having your name associated with a job, is that a positive in your mind?"

Jim Fassel: "You know, Randy, I don't really know. I really don't know what's going on and really I've kind of tried to not figure it out anymore. I enjoy what I'm doing and if somebody says we want to go hire a veteran coach [who's] got a winning record and all that, fine. I enjoy what I'm doing. It's interesting. That story broke a couple of days ago and I think, 'Oh, good, I'm going to New York and I'm going to be doing a lot of media and then tomorrow I'm going to be on ESPN all day,' and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to get that question all the time.' I can honestly say this and I mean this with all sincerity. I know Al Davis. I've talked to him at different times and I've worked for him and I can honestly say, I can't speak for everybody, but I can honestly say the year I was there (as QBs coach in 1995) - we were doing good now, we were lighting it up pretty good on offense until we lost [QB Jeff] Hostetler - he never interfered with me one time. I think he called me a couple of times and asked me a couple of things and said, 'Well, if you need anything just let me know. Other than that, just keep on doing what we're doing, I guess.' He didn't interfere at all. He treated me great. He paid me really good money and we did this. So I don't have the same problem that, maybe, other people do. I'm just going to see what jobs open up and who is interested in me and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

Bob Papa
: "Have there been any conversations with Mr. Davis or is this just all media speculation at this point?"

Fassel: "No, we haven't had any conversations and the thing is some of the things got blown out of proportion. I kind of ride the fence. I've been [in] coaching and I understand the one side of it. And I'm in the media on the other side of it [where] everybody's trying to find out everything and magnify it. My job now is I communicate with a lot of people in the NFL. I write letters, I get e-mails, I get calls, people want to know something from me, they want this or that or to find out about this. I get calls from all kinds of people. The only people I don't talk to are players. I never talk to players. When I left the Giants I didn't want to call those guys because it's not right. I communicate with all kinds of people and if somebody said I wrote a letter to Al Davis and make a big deal out of it, do you want a list of how many people I've talked to over the last six months about NFL and things? I do it all the time. I don't know what the big deal is."

--Jason Jones

November 17, 2008
The move Bush doesn't want to make

ALAMEDA - Interim head coach Tom Cable is clear about one thing:

Michael Bush should be a fullback.

Bush doesn't want to be a fullback. Cable has approached him privately about playing the position, but he wants to be a tailback.

The pressure to make the switch has increased since Justin Griffith was lost Oct. 26 for the season with a knee injury.

But as long as Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas are healthy, Bush might have a lot of games like Sunday's where he doesn't play at all.

Bush was the only active player that didn't get in the game for the Raiders. There's been a sentiment from Raiders' brass that Bush should be a fullback.

That's something former coach Lane Kiffin fought.

But Kiffin's not around to fight that battle anymore.

"He can be a special, special fullback in this league," Cable said. "And we've talked about it with him, and I don't think it's something he's real comfortable with yet. We'll continue to do it. I think he wants to be on the field, and that may give him the opportunity to do that."

Teams like the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins have found ways to keep three running backs involved. Cable isn't interested in doing that.

McFadden and Fargas will be the primary ball carriers in his offense.

"Every runner has to get a feel for the game," Cable said. "And so if you start using three guys as the runner, none of them would get a feel for the game, and you'd probably have a lot of negative gain out of it."

Bush is the Raiders best pass-blocking back, but even that's not enough to get him on the field.

Cable said Bush would be valuable as a fullback because if the team were to motion the tailback out of the backfield, Bush would give the offense a ball carrier - not just a blocker - in the backfield.

Bush's reluctance to play the position is why he hasn't played fullback during games.

"You don't want to put a player out there unless he's kind of keyed up to go do it," Cable said. "And its just something he's not real comfortable with."

*For those wondering who will be the starting left tackle on Sunday in Denver, it will be Kwame Harris.

"He's the left tackle of the Oakland Raiders," Cable said.

Harris was benched in the second half Sunday after two false starts in the red zone.

But after being complimentary of Harris' replacement Mario Henderson after the game, Cable watched the film and received a dose of reality.

He said Henderson played "poorly" and that Harris wouldn't have to rotate with Henderson this week.

"We've got to clean up the penalties with (Harris) but he was playing quite well other than those two false starts," Cable said.

Cable said Harris' issues are physical, rather mental.

Shocking for a Stanford player, right? (And yes, that's a small jab during Big Game week)

"Kwame is a brilliant guy, a very intelligent guy," Cable said. "I think he has a tendency to over-analyze rather than just relax and play."

• Even after Ronald Curry's good game in Miami, he's no cinch to move up the depth chart and crack the starting lineup if Chaz Schilens is healthy, Cable said.

• In response to the ESPN report that Jim Fassel is already whispering in Al Davis' ear to become the next coach, Cable didn't sound bothered because he is just the "interim" coach.

But if the team improves in its final six games, Cable would like to keep his job.

"If I can get this team turned around, absolutely, absolutely," Cable said.

• DE Derrick Burgess (triceps), LB Ricky Brown (groin) and C Jake Grove are all listed as day-to-day, Cable said.

All three could return to the field this weekend.

Cable said John Wade had some struggles against Miami that were due to his barely playing this season.

Cable expects Wade would play a lot better if needed this weekend.

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell left the game briefly with an ankle sprain but is fine, according to Cable.

Backup Andrew Walter is having tests done on his knee after being bothered by a sprained ankle and a calf injury.

Cable said if the Raiders practiced today, every player is healthy enough to participate.


November 17, 2008
AFC Dreaming

MIAMI - It was a simple question.

"If we win the next three does that mean anything?"

That's what Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha wanted to know after Sunday's 17-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Raiders next three games are divisional contests. But it looks as if the Raiders talk of still being in contention to win the division is pointless these days.

But you have to forgive Asomugha for asking. He's just trying to find a glimmer of hope in this lost season.

And he thought he had it until he was told Denver won its game to improve to 6-4.

San Diego is 4-6 and in second place.

The Raiders are 2-8 and in third.

Had the Raiders beat the Dolphins and managed to win their next three games, they would have been 6-7. And if Denver had lost three straight, they would be tied with the Raiders.

And I could win the lottery.

Interim head coach Tom Cable dangled the "we can still win the division" carrot when the Raiders were two games out of first for a couple of weeks, even he hasn't mentioned the division lately.

At some point, everyone has to accept reality.

*Once again, only one wide receiver had a catch in a game. The last two games that receiver had been Javon Walker. Sunday it was Ronald Curry (six catches, 74 yards) that was the only receiver to make a catch.

Zach Miller is still JaMarcus Russell's favorite target. And it looked as if the Raiders finally made a real effort to get the ball to Miller.

"The way they were playing (me) they allowed me to get open," Miller said. "They called a few more plays to go to me so that helped."

Miller still had to block Dolphin linebacker Joey Porter and did fine in one-on-one situations. Porter's sack came when he was blocked by Mario Henderson.

*Johnnie Lee Higgins wins the award for best analogy of the day.

He was asked about the feeling of putting the Raiders ahead with punt return for a score only to watch the Dolphins drive down the field and score.

Higgins compared it to a bad day I the candy shop.

"At the end of the day your stomach is gonna hurt," Higgins said. "That's exactly what it feels like. I did some things, I'm eating all the candy, I've got a sweet tooth. But later on that night, you're going to be crying for momma saying come save me, something's wrong with my stomach. And that's exactly how I feel."

Sunday's loss left a lot of Raiders feeling that way.

*As of Sunday night, it wasn't know if JaMarcus Russell might leave the team part of this week after the passing of his godmother, Teresa Roberts.

This is an area in which being a Raider is good. Owner Al Davis has always been known to be sympathetic to anyone that is part of the Raider family that loses a loved one.

Don't expect any scandal about whether the team would allow Russell to grieve if he were to leave part of this coming week.

--Jason Jones

November 16, 2008
Russell's bigger loss

MIAMI - JaMarcus Russell's solid outing in his return from a knee injury meant little as he exited the visiting locker room in a hurry.

Russell had received word his godmother, Teresa Roberts, had passed away after the game.

Roberts was like a second grandmother to Russell.

So that's why you won't see any quotes from Russell in stories about today's game.

*Johnnie Lee Higgins' 93-yard touchdown on a punt return gave him two on the season. He's the only Raider with two scores this season.

*Amid all the losses, Tommy Kelly is playing his best football of the season. He was credited with 1.5 sacks Sunday. That gives him 3.5 on the season and 2.5 sacks in the last two games.

*Gerard Warren didn't get the safety on Chad Pennington, but he deserves credit for forcing the Dolphin quarterback into Jay Richardson.

Richardson credited "Money" Warren for forcing Pennington to move in the pocket.

*Kwame Harris was clearly stunned that he was benched after two false starts when the Raiders had first and goal from the five before halftime.

Harris is usually detailed and thoughtful in his responses to questions. But he was short and at a loss for words after the game.

When told Cable said he was benched for false starts, not for poor blocking, Harris simply said, "OK."

Harris isn't the only struggling offensive lineman. Right now, Robert Gallery and Jake Grove are the only linemen that haven't given Cable reason to complain publicly lately.

*The Raiders lack of discipline continues to be a problem on defense.

Players getting out of the gap responsibilities continue to lead to big runs by the opposition.

That's a problem when teams go to formations like the Wildcat.

"A couple times, you overrun it and that's the thing about it," Cable said. "You've got to see the ball, get seated, is it handed off? It's hard to see in there with all them bodies. So at times, OK, at times we had a couple times where we overran it."

--Jason Jones

November 16, 2008
Progress, but no win

MIAMI -Kirk Morrison is about as optimistic a player you'll find.

But he was extremely disappointed the Raiders allowed a seven-yard completion on fourth and five that kept Miami alive and set up their game-winning field goal in the Raiders' 17-15 loss.

"That's a tough one," Morrison said with a sigh. "It's hard. It's definitely hard. I wish we could have got that play because we got them all the way down to that point."

Interim head coach Tom Cable said the Dolphins are now confident they can win close games and how the game ended was evidence.

The Raiders made progress today in that today's contest was competitive.

The Raiders last four losses had been by a combined score of 104-19.

"You know this is good for us," Cable said. "It hurts because you lost but we're getting closer. And I know that and the players know that and we've got to keep pounding away and we'll get a break one of these days."

The Raiders have no offensive touchdowns in 13 quarters so it's getting tough for players to wait for that break.

But you could tell in the locker room that players that have been around for some time, getting close isn't good enough.

They'd like to see some wins.

"We know what we've got to do at the end of games," Morrison said. "We've got to put points on the board and stop people. We're getting better but not where we want to be at."

Cable believes the Raiders will hold things together. But with the playoffs not a realistic possibility, the Raiders are left playing for pride with six games to go.

This would be the perfect time for players to start planning their vacations.

Cable doesn't see that happening.

"You know really it's just the character of the men in that (locker) room, the players, the coaches and doing right by each other every week," he said. "It's been outstanding and I don't expect to change."

*Here are the "Wildcat" offense totals.

Miami:
RB Ricky Williams
Five carries, 23 yards

RB Ronnie Brown
Five carries, 29 yards, one fumble

Oakland:
No Wildcat formation

That's an indication Darren McFadden still isn't 100 percent.

He admitted his feet were a bit sore after the game. But his inability to stay healthy is a big reason the Raiders are struggling on offense.

--Jason Jones

November 16, 2008
Raider inactives

MIAMI - Today's Raider inactives:

CB Michael Waddell
FB Jason Davis
DE Derrick Burgess
LB Ricky Brown
C Jake Grove
T James Marten
WR Javon Walker
3rd QB Andrew Walter

And in other Raider news ...

ESPN's Chris Mortensen (yes, the man Al Davis called a professional liar), reports Jim Fassel wrote a handwritten letter to Davis expressing his desire to coach the Raiders next season.

Fassel was at training camp this summer and said he was an invited guest of then coach Lane Kiffin.

--Jason Jones

November 15, 2008
Passing game worries Dolphins?

Checking in before enjoying Florida a little bit before tomorrow's game.

The Miami Herald's David Neal notes that Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano said the Raiders' "vertical pass game is very good."

Then again, coaches need to say something before a game, right?

The Raiders are last in the NFL at 139.2 yards a game. Oakland's 5.7 yards a pass is 30th among 32 teams.

Sparano's praise was directed at tight end Zach Miller.

But if things go the way the Dolphins would like, Miller won't be a factor in the passing game because he'll be helping block Joey Porter.

*Here's the official injury report for tomorrow's game:

Out
C Jake Grove (calf)
WR Javon Walker (ankle)

Doubtful
LB Ricky Brown (groin)
DE Derrick Burgess (tricep)

Questionable

RB Darren McFadden (toe)
QB JaMarcus Russell (knee)
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle)
QB Andrew Walter (ankle)

Probable
S Gibril Wilson (back)

--Jason Jones

November 14, 2008
Russell 'ready' for Sunday

ALAMEDA - JaMarcus Russell will start at quarterback Sunday in Miami for the Raiders.

"Right now I'd say he's good to go," said interim head coach Tom Cable.

Russell sat out the Raiders' 17-6 loss to Carolina with tendonitis and a bone bruise on his right knee.

The injury was aggravated when Russell fell during practice last week.

*The competition at left tackle yielded no clear-cut winner.

So Kwame Harris will start at left tackle and share time with Mario Henderson.

"They both had a great week so I'm going to play them both, try to play them even this week," Cable said. "But both of them did a nice job this week so I think competition there now is really on, it's a really good thing. It's good for us."

Henderson only played in the second quarter.

Cable was asked if Henderson could still play right tackle. Cable said he has Henderson focused on playing the left side for now.

*New acquisition Justin Miller will return kickoffs. Johnnie Lee Higgins will handle punts.

*If WR Chaz Schilens' ankle remains a problem, Ronald Curry would start for him. Ashley Lelie will start for Javon Walker, who is out and was scheduled to have ankle surgery today.

Cable said the focus was on Sunday's game and any decision to add a receiver or promote Jonathan Holland from the practice squad would come later.

The Raiders usually dress five receivers and would have that Sunday with Curry, Schilens, Higgins, Lelie sand Todd Watkins.

*Jake Grove's calf injury shouldn't keep him out too long.

"They need to get all the swelling and everything out," Cable said after Grove missed practice this week.. "For sure, probably the week after. Maybe next week."

*Cable expects all the players limited in practice on Friday - Russell, RB Darren McFadden (toe), S Gibril Wilson (back) and QB Andrew Walter (ankle) to be available Sunday.

Marques Tuiasosopo took a lot of snaps as the No. 2 quarterback this week, but it hasn't been decided he will be Russell's backup.

DE Derrick Burgess (triceps), LB Ricky Brown (groin) did not practice.

--Jason Jones

November 14, 2008
Still no Burgess

ALAMEDA -- It looks as if Derrick Burgess' return to the field won't be this weekend.

Burgess was not practicing this morning, meaning the Raiders' best pass rusher would miss his sixth straight game this weekend in Miami. He's been out with a triceps injury.

Burgess practiced on Wednesday but hasn't practiced since. Interim head coach Tom Cable said he'd want to use a healthy Burgess as an every-down player and didn't want to bring him back just to play on passing downs.

Andrew Walter (ankle) was on the field, but we'll find out in a couple of hours if he actually practices. If not, expect Marques Tuiasosopo to be JaMarcus Russell's backup.

Linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) jogged onto the field but is not practicing.

--Jason Jones


November 13, 2008
Who replaces Walker?

ALAMEDA - Normally when a team's top receiver goes down, the question becomes who will get the balls that were normally aimed at him.

But with the Raiders, it's not that simple.

It's not as if Raider receivers not named Javon Walker have had passes thrown to them a lot.

Walker said he's out for the season and the NFL Network reported Walker would have surgery on Friday because the bone is separated at the ankle.

In the last two games no Raiders receiver has a catch other than Walker.

It wouldn't seem like 15 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown would be hard to replace. But if you've seen the Raiders on offense this season, you could see why it would be tough to replace.

The Raiders have two vets that have been forgotten (Ronald Curry, Ashley Lelie) and three youngsters (Chaz Schilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Todd Watkins) left at receiver.

Lelie will be the starter in place of Walker. Curry was inactive last week. Schilens is dealing with an ankle injury. Higgins' biggest role has been special teams while Watkins, the star of training camp, had been inactive until the last two games.

*There's finally some good news for the Raiders' offense, because Darren McFadden feel's good.

He said he's fine wearing the specially made Nike cleats to help with his turf toe.

"It feels good to be able to go out there and run and not have pain feel like you're doing you," McFadden said.

Cable said McFadden is "ready to go."

He and quarterback JaMarcus Russell (knee) are expected to play Sunday in Miami.

"He was good today," Cable said of Russell. "He was much better and took the majority of reps in practice."

*Andrew Walter (ankle) didn't practice making it likely Marques Tuiasosopo would be Russell's backup.

Fatigue was the reason defensive end Derrick Burgess (triceps) sat out practice. He might not be ready until next weekend so that he can be 100 percent and not be limited to being a situational player.

"This injury, you gotta be right to do it," Cable said. "Otherwise it could tear and it's done, you gotta have surgery to fix it."

*Center Jake Grove (calf) and linebacker Ricky Brown did not practice. They'll be replaced by John Wade and Sam Williams as starters, respectively.

Safety Gibril Wilson (back) was limited in practice.

*Kick returner Justin Miller practiced and could take over that job from Higgins as early as Sunday.

He's averaged 27.1 yards on kickoffs in his career with three touchdowns.

Miller, however, has only three kickoff returns since his Pro Bowl season of 2006 after going down with a knee injury after two games in 2007.

Miller appeared in one game for the Jets this season and had a kickoff return of 22 yards.

Miller's injury cost him his job to Leon Washington. Miller was inactive when the Jets played in Oakland Oct. 19.

"It's been a very consistent team as a special teams unit," Miller said of the Raiders. "We studied them coming in before when we came out here to Oakland and played. We knew then it was a successful unit out there and they played together and they played well. I think any time a team plays together and they play well, then they feed off each other. One positive play turns into a whole lot of positive plays, and that's the main thing. As long as you can get going as a special teams unit, you can make things happen, and a lot of good things will come form it."

Cable said he liked Miller's explosiveness and that he had some "wiggle" to him.

Miller said he doesn't have a "style" of returning kicks.

"At the end of the day, I try to score," he said. "I think that's what anybody tries to do. If you ask any kick returner, I don't think anybody will tell you, I'm just going to give you straight speed, or I'm going to give you power, or I'm going to cut back or I'm going to bounce it out. I think any returner is going to tell you that they want to score at the end of the day and that's the main objective. I think any player on the team, any person on the team will tell you, we scored on kick returns, so we're happy at the end of the day."

Dec. 28, 2003 was the last time the Raiders scored on a kickoff return. The team needs help with Tyvon Branch out for the season and Higgins' inconsistent play.

"He was looking for a fresh start and obviously we have a great need there," Cable said. "And he's excited, we're excited. Watching him today was very exciting."

*Cable said while head coach at Idaho, he also coached the offensive line and called plays on offense.

Getting used to doing that again forced Cable to use timeouts early.

"It was a little bit like getting back in rhythm," Cable said. "Really by the middle of the second quarter I thought I was fine and ready to go from there. So it's just kind of getting back to it."

*Cable said pass protection is the biggest reason the Raiders have converted just 22.4 percent of their third downs.

He'll announce who will start at left tackle Friday after letting Kwame Harris and Mario Henderson compete for the job. One of them will have to deal with the Dolphins' Joey Porter, one of the NFL's best pass rushers.

--Jason Jones

November 13, 2008
Walker done for the season

ALAMEDA -- Raiders wide receiver Javon Walker said Thursday he is out for the season and that he needs surgery on his left ankle.

"I'm done for the season," Walker said as he left the locker room on crutches and a boot on his left foot. "They've got to put some screws in."

When asked if he was serious, Walker said, "yeah."

Raiders interim head coach Tom Cable was unavailable for comment as Walker was seen after Cable had addressed the media.

Walker was deemed "doubtful" for Sunday's game in Miami by Cable on Wednesday.

Walker injured his ankle during Sunday's 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers but finished the game.

"That's what they don't see," Walker said. "How tough you have to be."

Walker has 15 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown this season. He was signed to a seven-year, $55 million deal in the offseason. He received an $11 million bonus when he signed.

(update: Walker's deal is for six years)


November 13, 2008
Where's No. 56?

ALAMEDA - Defensive end Derrick Burgess was not at practice this afternoon a day after practicing for the first time since Oct. 6.

Burgess has been out with a triceps injury and missed the last five games.

No sign of wide receiver Javon Walker, either. Interim head coach Tom Cable said Walker is doubtful for Sunday's game in Miami.

Quarterback Andrew Walter (ankle) was back on the practice field. Starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell (knee) and running back Darren McFadden (toe) were both practicing.

Linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) remains out as does center Jake Grove (calf).

New cornerback/kick returner Justin Miller was at practice wearing No. 22.

--Jason Jones

November 13, 2008
Running wild(cat)

ALAMEDA - Everyone is going wild about the Wildcat.

The formation features a running back at quarterback and another running back motioning into the backfield has become the rave with more teams implementing their version of it after the Miami Dolphins and Ronnie Brown used it to batter New England, 38-13.

Here's Miami coach Tony Sparano talking how the team decided to use Wildcat:

"Honestly, it's something that we cooked for an awful long time. When I say cooked, I mean, we practiced during OTAs, during the course of spring. Our first game, our opener, was against the Jets, and they had been doing some stuff a year ago with their special player there, I think it's (wide receiver Brad) Smith, they were doing some different things with him, so we went out and practiced vs. it. More importantly, we had a coach on our staff (quarterbacks coach David Lee) that coached at Arkansas, he coached (Darren) McFadden and that group of people. It was something that we just thought, we would maybe at some point need, we took a look at it, we went out, we practiced it, several days during the spring, then we just kind of left it out there. We weren't sure if our personnel, we weren't sure of any of those things, and it took a long plane ride home and a good beating that we got in Arizona to sit there and say, hey, we need to be able to do some of this stuff. Maybe we need to give our offense to put their arms around and we've that, and it's a little part of what we do."

Sparano admitted it's become harder to run the Wildcat with so many teams now studying it:

"Now, you lose the advantage. Early on the advantage was that defenses had to prepare for you. All of a sudden, as you get later in the season and you start this process, and teams start to figure out what you're doing, you need to prepare more for them now. All of a sudden you're playing the what-if game, and the number of looks that you could see, and all those things. Now, that being said, sometimes, defensively, the more you do isn't always better versus stuff like that, you know, we need to chase those things at time."

Someone who should be equipped to deal with defending that kind of offense is should be Raiders interim head coach Tom Cable.

After all, he coached with the Atlanta Falcons who had Michael Vick, which was probably the most dangerous form of the Wildcat in the NFL.

Because Vick was a quarterback, the Falcons had two receivers, not a quarterback on the outside of the formation.

And what makes the offense hard to defend is most pro defenses are designed to account for a quarterback in the running game.

"They look very similar to me in what we did in Atlanta with Vick," Cable said. "So I'm very familiar with it and we'll continue to put it in as Darren is healthy, comfortable and all that. Obviously he looked good today so we'll see."

The Raiders haven't run much Wildcat because of McFadden's injuries. For a struggling offense, the Wildcat just might be what the Raiders need.

Here's a look at what Lee did with McFadden in the Wildcat at Arkansas.


****
Cable said he'd lean on Greg Knapp, the offensive coordinator who he stripped of play-calling duties, for advice on third downs and in the red zone.

That's odd.

Those are two of the areas the Raiders have struggled the most.

If Knapp was the latest fall guy for the lack of offense (see other names such as Norv Turner, Tom Walsh, John Shoop, Lane Kiffin, etc.) why would he be the one to turn to in those situations?

Here's a look at the red zone.

*The Raiders are six of 21 in scoring chances in the red zone this season (28.6 percent).

*In games under Knapp, the Raiders were two for eight (25 percent).

*In Cable's only game calling plays, he failed to score in one trip inside Carolina's 20-yard line.

Then there are the third-down struggles, which are embarrassingly bad.

Unless it's third-and-1, Shane Lechler should probably be warming up.

Here are the numbers courtesy of NFL.com with some help from STATS, LLC.

*The Raiders have converted 28 of 125 third downs this season (22.4 percent). That ranks last in the NFL.

*The Raiders, however, have converted eight of nine on third-and-1.

*But the Raiders are more likely to be in and long, but even third-and-2 or 3 has been a struggle.

*The Raiders have converted only seven of 23 third downs (30.4 percent) in those situations. That's really bad for a team that fancies itself a running team.

*When the Raiders need six to nine yards, they've converted just three of 34 times (8.8 percent).

*So when it's third down and more than 10 yards to go, the Raiders are 10 for 59 (16.9 percent).

*Under Knapp, the Raiders were 13 of 55 on third down (23.6 percent), or better than the season.

*Knapp's best day in that category was Oct. 12 at New Orleans when the Raiders were six for 16 (38 percent) on third downs.

Turning to Knapp sounds like the polite thing to do, but it's hard to imagine Cable would, especially if he wants to be accountable for the offense.

The Raiders went two for 17 against Carolina under Cable.

****
Per Stats LLC, left tackle Kwame Harris leads the NFL with seven false starts and has allowed seven sacks, tied for fourth most in the league.

Right tackle Cornell Green is 11th in the NFL, having allowed 5.5 sacks and tied for second with five false starts.

Harris and Mario Henderson will split snaps in practice before Cable announces a starter on Friday.

There's no such option at right tackle.

Who would have guessed losing Paul McQuistan, who could play guard and tackle, would hurt so much.

McQuistan was decent at right tackle last season when Green was lost for the season with an injury.

--Jason Jones

November 12, 2008
Knapp addresses his demotion

ALAMEDA - Here's a brief Q&A with Greg Knapp, who had his play-calling duties taken away by interim head coach Tom Cable last week.

Knapp will still assist in weekly planning and be the voice in the headsets of quarterbacks during the game.

Q: How do you feel about the decision?
A: Frustrated. I wish I could still be doing it in defense of a young quarterback, trying to help his growth. I think it's important that there's as many constants as you can have for a young quarterback's development. It's important that you try to keep some consistency for him. So he'll be going through his third play-caller now when he gets back on the field. I'm frustrated because I'm trying to help this guy develop and become a very good quarterback in this league.

Q: Ever been in a season with three play-callers?
A: This is my first experience going through it.

Q: How hard for is this for JaMarcus Russell?
A: It's very hard because you have to get to know the new play-caller and what he's feeling. Tom will do the right thing. He'll talk to the quarterback, he'll get to know him well and get a feel for what he likes in the game plan. So he'll do his homework to prepare for the game but it's still, as a process, for that young quarterback to have to go through, to have to learn what's that play-caller feeling.

Q: Were you caught off-guard?
A: Yeah, I was surprised. I was very surprised. Felt like we had a pretty good game against the New York Jets, we were making strides with a young offense despite the fact that we've gone through some personnel changes on offense. QB played very well, had a better quarterback rating than the guy across the way. Came back against Baltimore, had a tough first half but the second half of the Baltimore game we had almost 200 yards of offense in Baltimore. Definitely frustrated at the Atlanta game. We just didn't play well enough as a group.

Q: Four-game tryout enough time?
A: It's for me, as a former play-caller, I'm OK. But for the players to get to know the feel of the play-caller, it takes some time, and that takes a little longer than four games..

Q: Tom's explanation?
A: He felt like he wanted to give the offense a little different look based on the most recent game. It was based on the Atlanta game when he talked to me about it. Because of that, that's what he felt like he needed to do.

Q: Do you think (owner Al) Davis had a say?
A: Uh, that will be something you have to ask Tom.

Q: Cable said Davis didn't have input. You're thoughts?
A: I ... I don't know but, uh, I don't know for sure so I'd hate to speculate on the question that might be directed one way or the other.

Q: Does it make sense for Cable to want to take over considering he is the head coach?
A: That's a very good point. I have not been in that man's shoes, at that position's shoes, a head coach's shoes. From that perspective, they need to do that and if he feels like that's the best for the organization and feels like that's the best for us to win, as a subordinate, as an assistant coach, you have to follow that lead.

Q: How much of playbook is gone without Darren McFadden?
A: Darren's one factor of it. There's more than just one piece of this puzzle. That's what makes this game so great. The fact that we lost Drew Carter in preseason, getting Chaz Schilens growing in the offense, that was a big stride for us, unfortunately he's hurt now. Darren was one factor. That's definitely something we had done a lot of preparation work for in training camp and OTAs as far as moving him around and playing him in different spots. It still ultimately falls on the team to move the ball.

Q: How much have the problems with the offensive line been a factor in the offensive struggles?
A: Tom has said publicly that we have struggled with protection lately. That was something we had to concentrate on and so we've changed some schemes in order to give our quarterback more time to throw the ball. That has been a big issue as far as preparing for our game plan.

Q: How good can this offense be if everyone is healthy?
A: It's going to take time. It's going to take time, you're exactly right. Even if we had everybody healthy I still believe it takes time. When you have a brand new offense coming together and a new quarterback this year, essentially this guy is a rookie this year. Last year didn't count really with missing all of training camp so this is truly his rookie year since he came out early. It's going to take one, two probably three years to be on the same page. Just look at the history of the NFL. The Tom Bradys, the Peyton Mannings, Donovan McNabbs. The same system and the same offense didn't look as good year one as it did in year three. Even with all the pieces healthy it takes time and patience is needed. In order to build your foundation I truly believe, your foundation is your quarterback, as much continuity as you can have around him both on the field and off the field the faster that will grow. Until that continuity stays the same it will be hard for that guy to grow.

Q: How can Cable handle the offensive line, calling plays and be the head coach?
A: It will be a new challenge for a guy to handle.

Q: Does that change what JaMarcus has to deal with?
A: The schemes have not changed a whole lot, maybe some of the protections have. But it is the third play-caller. Going through a third play-caller you do have to take time to adjust to that guy has. The play-caller has to get to know the QB and the QB has to get to know the play-caller.

---------------------------------------

Cable is taking on a lot of responsibility -- too much from the outside looking in.

He's now the head coach, play-caller and offensive line coach.

"I feel responsible for where we're at offensively," Cable said. "With that being the case and my nature and my personality I've got t o find a way to do more and help where I can. I really haven't been active in that role, obviously as the line coach, but I feel that responsibility now and want to shoulder that responsibility; so I'm more involved."

Considering the offensive line is a big reason why the offense is struggling, it would seem strange for Cable to take on more.

But he insists that it's not a problem and that he won't step back from managing the offensive line.

"In meetings, the installations, the teachings and all of that (with the line), I will not give that up," Cable said.

Cable said offensive line assistant coach James Cregg has taken on a bigger role in managing the linemen and running drills.

• Cable said Kwame Harris and Mario Henderson would split time in practice and he'd announce the starting left tackle on Friday.

Henderson played in the second quarter Sunday against Carolina.

• Remember Quentin Moses? The third-round pick that the Raiders cut last year plays for Miami.

Here's Miami coach Tony Sparano on Moses:

"One of the things we saw, it was toward the end of the year when we were evaluating the film, is some pass-rush ability. So, he was a big guy, a big, young player that we thought had some pass-rush ability. Quentin has proven that in the preseason and in the training camp that he has the ability to rush the passer, he's starting to get his hips turned. He has a lot to learn right now, obviously. He is playing a little bit different position right now, as he's playing up as a Sam linebacker for us, but he's getting better and better every day. He's a good young prospect that is, as we would say, is an arrow-up guy."

• Today's official injury report:

Limited players:

QB JaMarcus Russell (knee)
RB Darren McFadden (toe)
DE Derrick Burgess (triceps)
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle)

Players that did not practice:
WR Javon Walker (ankle)
C Jake Grove (calf)
QB Andrew Walter (ankle)
LB Ricky Brown (groin)

Walker is doubtful, according to Cable.

• The Raiders claimed CB/KR Justin Miller off waivers from the New York Jets and waived tight end John Madsen.

Miller, 24, was a Pro Bowl kick return after the 2006 season when he averaged 28.3 yards a return and scored two touchdowns.

Miller was a second-round pick out of Clemson in 2005 but played in only one game this season. He played in only two games in 2007 before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Miller figures to challenge Johnnie Lee Higgins for the role of kickoff returner. Cable said Miller can also return punts.

And the intern I saw on the field wasn't an intern. It was quarterback Jeff Otis, who was re-signed to the practice squad.

He'd been working at an investment firm back east, putting that Columbia education to good use, and helping out high school kids as a volunteer coach and working out to stay in shape.

November 11, 2008
Cable's recent history running an offense

Interim head coach Tom Cable has slowly taken a bigger role in the offense which culminated with him being the primary play-caller during Sunday's 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

That job belonged to offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

Cable's last job running an offense was when he was offensive coordinator at UCLA (2004-05).

Here are some key averages from his time in charge of the Bruins' offense, a span of 24 games.

*34.6 points
*172.8 rushing yards (39 TDs)
*247.7 passing yards (56 TDs)

Here's some of what Cable had at UCLA:

*One of the best running backs in the nation in Maurice Drew (now going by Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars)

*A star tight end in Marcedes Lewis (also of the Jaguars)

*The same quarterback for two seasons (Drew Olson)

Right now, Cable's most explosive running back, Darren McFadden, is hobbled.

His tight end, Zach Miller has elite skills. But those skills are wasted half the time because he has to pass block to help out the tackles.

Cable's starting quarterback, JaMarcus Russell is hurting. So is Russell's backup, Andrew Walter.

How about Marques Tuiasosopo at quarterback?

Here's what Cable is trying to overcome.

*Since taking over, the Raiders have managed seven points a game.

*In three of four losses, the Raiders' points were the lowest or tied for the lowest that team had allowed all season (Carolina shut out Kansas City).

--Jason Jones


November 10, 2008
Tackles preventing Miller time

ALAMEDA - The Raiders best passing threat is not being used effectively.

(Yes, this is a recording)

Tight end Zach Miller has been relegated to doing a lot of pass blocking lately.

Statistically, Miller is on pace for better season than his rookie campaign. He's the Raiders' leading receiver, but should be having a Pro Bowl season.

But with ineffective play by the Raiders' tackles, Miller will have to settle for being a good blocker and catching passes sometimes.

Miller by the numbers:

*Through nine games in 2007, Miller had 21 catches for 184 yards and a touchdown.

*Through nine games in 2008, Miller has 25 catches for 363 yards and a touchdown.

*Miller's 14.5 average per catch is second among tight ends with at least 20 cathces.

*His 25 catches are 12th among tight ends.

*His long reception of 63 yards is the second-best among tight ends.

*Miller is tied for second among tight ends with seven catches of 20 yards or more.

*52 percent of Miller's catches result in first downs. That's the only area that's keeping Miller from being an all-around elite tight end.

But that number is lower because on third downs, Miller is often blocking a team's best pass rusher.

Sunday he tangled with Julius Peppers a lot. This Sunday in Miami, Miller will have to deal with Joey Porter at some point.

For a team looking to jumpstart its offense, turning Miller loose would help. But Miller is basically being punished for being a good blocker.

"(Miller) has done a great job when he is in (blocking)," said interim head coach Tom Cable. "But you're also taking one of your better players out of the mix."

Cable is unhappy with the play at both tackle spots, which relegates Miller to being an extra tackle.

Cable intimated Mario Henderson could start at left tackle this week but said there's no one on the roster to replace Cornell Green at right tackle.

James Marten is the only other tackle on the active roster.

*Don't look for Ronald Curry to help out the offense anytime soon.

The Raiders will dress five receivers when they're all healthy. Right now, Curry is No. 6.

The Raiders don't score a lot and I figured why not let Curry play a little option quarterback?

The Raiders had Curry at quarterback for the "Wildcat" formation a week ago against Atlanta, but apparently Curry was just a fill-in.

" The plan there all week was Darren (McFadden)," Cable said. "We had practiced Darren in that package and invested in that package. So when it became apparent Thursday that Darren maybe wasn't gonna go, there'd been enough time invested in it that we needed an answer, and so we used Ronald that way. It's something... Again, there's a whole package there for No. 20 once he's healthy and once we get him going."

Cable added that Curry is a possession receiver (yep, slow) and that even though he excelled on third down in the past, there's not much Curry can do if it's third-and-18.

*Now for a look at special teams.

Johnnie Lee Higgins might have lost his job as a kick and punt returner.

He fumbled the opening kickoff, something Cable called a "disaster."

And he managed only 2.4 yards a punt return.

Rashad Baker and Michael Waddell could take over on punt returns. That duo, along with Michael Bush could assume kickoff duty.

Cable also might ask punter Shane Lechler to put a little more hang time on his punts because with Tyvon Branch out for the season, linebacker Ricky Brown injured and safeties Hiram Eugene and Baker playing more defense, the coverage teams aren't as good.

*The following players are "day-to-day" with their injuries:

McFadden (toe)
QB JaMarcus Russell (knee tendonitis, bone bruise)
QB Andrew Walter (ankle sprain)
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle sprain)

These players are "week-to-week" as of today:
Brown (groin)
DE Derrick Burgess (triceps)
C Jake Grove (calf)

John Wade will start in place of Grove.

Cable said there's a "chance" Burgess could play this week.

WR Javon Walker (ankle sprain) had an MRI today and more will be known Wednesday. He did finish the game Sunday.

--Jason Jones

November 10, 2008
Injury updates

Being around the Raiders theses days requires one to study up on medical terminology.

But there's no time for that, so here's the latest on three of the Raiders' most pressing injuries from the players themselves.

QB JaMarcus Russell (bone bruise, right knee)

Russell said he aggravated the knee from falling on it during games, but only recently did it become too painful.

He sat out yesterday's game.

"Actually I did it again in practice a few days ago," he said. "Then the next day just practicing on it and trying to plant and push off on it one time and there was too much pain on it and it like shot through my leg."

RB Darren McFadden (turf toe)

He didn't try to play yesterday and missed his third straight game. And he won't try to use medicine to get on the field.

"Nah, I ain't taking no shot," McFadden said. "The last time I took a shot (Buffalo), it made it worse on me, so that's something I'm not gonna do again."

Defensive end Derrick Burgess (triceps)

He's missed five straight games with a slight tear in his triceps.

"I'm a football player," Burgess said. "That's what I do but, you know, everything happens for a reason so I take it for what it is. When I get healthy, I get healthy and I'll get back. Until then, there's nothing I can do about it."

Burgess said he is feeling better.

"It's way more weight bearing so that's good," Burgess said. "I don't have any pain. We just want to make sure we do the right thing."

Tom Cable will update the media on when the players are expected back shortly.

--Jason Jones


November 10, 2008
The Raider sickness

OAKLAND - A former Raider once told me being an Oakland Raider is a disease that can only be cured by finding a new team.

It's a harsh analogy, but doesn't appear too far from the truth.

Take Raider receiver and return specialist Johnnie Lee Higgins.

He's one of the funniest guys around. You wouldn't believe Higgins would suffer from a lack of confidence.

But after he fumbled the opening kickoff and looking lost on punt returns, interim head coach Tom Cable said Higgins is simply just a Raider.

"Johnnie's a product of this football team," Cable said. "Just finding enough belief and faith in ourselves that we can break through and make a play."

The Raiders "disease" has afflicted many.

Being associated with the Raiders often means being labeled a bad player just because you're a Raider.

But circumstances surrounding the Raiders such as constant coaching change only worsen the disease.

And until there's a coach that can step in and change the culture of the Raiders, the only way to fix this problem is to leave.

Here a few players who were "cured" upon leaving the Raiders:

*WR Randy Moss (2005-06)
Does this really need any explanation?

*OT Langston Walker (2002-06)
Unfairly maligned as a Raider, he left as a free agent for Buffalo and has been a solid player.

*RB Dominic Rhodes (2007)
Wasn't good enough to play for the Raiders most of last season. He's back in Indianapolis and scored the winning touchdown for the Colts on Sunday.

*CB Charles Woodson (1998-05)
Was oft-injured by the end of his Raider tenure. Left Oakland for Green Bay and is playing like the All Pro he was at the start of his Raider career.

*DE Tyler Brayton (2003-07)
Played three positions for the Raiders (DE, LB, DT) and finished his Raider career as a backup. He's starting for 7-2 Carolina.

--Jason Jones


November 9, 2008
The offense is bad (but you knew that, right?)

OAKLAND - The Raiders offense continues to be sad.

At least the Raiders scored this time.

The team is averaging seven points under Tom Cable after managing six points today in their 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The Raiders have gone nine quarters without a touchdown.

For those of you who thought Andrew Walter playing instead of JaMarcus Russell would make a difference, it really didn't.

Walter completed less than 50 percent of his passes (14 for 32). He was sacked three times.

And in only two series, Marques Tuiasosopo was sacked twice.

Cable said the gameplan isn't an issue.

"(Greg Knapp and I) work on that together and we'll continue to do so," Cable said. "I thought it wasn't really about play calling. I thought it was our ability to stay out of those third and longs. Really, the game on first and second down I thought we were really quite proficient but golly, penalty here, penalty there, next thing you know, it's third and 9, it's third and 8, it's third and 11, it's third and 20, it's third and 14. It's just too much to overcome. We're not there yet so we'll continue to go to work on it and keep working our tails off to score touchdowns."

For the record, the Raiders had four offensive penalties. Only one was in the second half.

The defense gave the Raiders the ball three times in Panthers' territory. The offense managed two field goals and an interception with those chances.

And it's obvious the Raiders have little confidence in their wide receivers.

Of 15 completions, only two were to a wide recevier. Both were by Javon Walker.

Most of the passes called were set up for the running backs and tight ends.

If the offense is to score, the receivers need to make some plays.

*The Raiders turning Sebastian Janikowski into a circus sideshow might have resulted in an injury.

Janikowski said he hurt his quadriceps on his 58-yard field goal attempt with 13 seconds left.

He said he'd been standing around for 10-12 minutes and wasn't ready to go in.

"I thought we were going to go for it, so as a kicker you just stand on the sideline and watch it," Janikowski said. "Then he called it and there were no balls into the net so I couldn't get warmed up."

Four of five misses by Jano have been from beyond 50 yards, including the ridiculous 76-yard try against San Diego

SeaBass became the team's all-time leading scorer with 865 points, surpassing George Blanda's 863 with his second field goal of the game..

"I'll probably just frame it, put it in a box and just keep it in my office," Janikowksi said of the ball.

*According to Stats, LLC, Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme became the second quarterback since 1970 to throw four interceptions, complete less than 30 percent of his passes and still win a game.

Ken Anderson was the other, going 4-19 with 4 picks and 75 yards in 14-10 win over Raiders on Oct. 19, 1975.

*Players that did not finish the game were center Jake Grove (calf) and receiver Chaz Schilens (high ankle sprain).

Quarterback Andrew Walter (ankle) and receiver Javon Walker (ankle) left the game but returned.

*Former Raider Josh McCown stopped by the Raiders locker room to say hello. He chatted with Walter and seems to be enjoying being on a team with some stability on the coaching staff for the first time in his career.

McCown even had a little fun with me. I usually wear a suit on gameday and when he jokingly asked me if I was feeling a little presidential considering the result of the recent presidential election.

McCown is a good guy and I'm glad to see him on a good team.

*The Raiders radio broadcast said Russell didn't just have a knee tendonitis. It said he also has a bone bruise.

Other Raiders out with injuries included running back Darren McFadden (toe) who missed a third straight game.

Defensive end Derrick Burgess (triceps) missed his fifth straight. Linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) missed his second straight game.

Receiver Ronald Curry isn't hurt, but obviously he's fallen into the doghouse. He was inactive, which is probably a first for a healthy team captain.

At this rate, you have to wonder when Michael Huff will be inactive. He's been reduced to being a special teams player.

Clearly, someone doesn't like either player.

*Rashad Baker had two interceptions today. He had two in his career and none since 2005.

*Cable went out of his way to praise the play of cornerback Chris Johnson, who replaced DeAngelo Hall as a starter.

Nnamdi Asomugha said the team helped Johnson with double coverage whenever Johnson was on Steve Smith.

*Mario Henderson played in the first half in this rotation with Kwame Harris at left tackle. Harris played the entire second half.

When Henderson was in, tight end Zach Miller still did a lot of the pass blocking against Panthers' star defensive end Julius Peppers.

*Tui's appearance in a game was his first since Oct. 22, 2006.

*A look at a dominant defender:

Here's Peppers' stats for the day:

Seven tackles
Three sacks
One quarterback hurry
One pass defense
Two forced fumbles

"It was a good day production wise for me individually," Peppers said in stating the obvious.

Peppers wasn't sure how the defense did as a whole, but noted the most important thing.

"We didn't give up a lot of points and that's the main thing that counts."

No need to worry, Julius. These Raiders don't score a lot on anyon.

*It's also the second week in a row the Raiders allowed three sacks by a defender.

John Abraham did the same thing for Atlanta last week.

--Jason Jones

November 9, 2008
Walter in, Russell out

OAKLAND - Andrew Walter will start at quarterback against the Carolina Panthers.

JaMarcus Russell is listed as the No. 3 quarterback, meaning he would only play if Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo left the game.

Other Raider inactives include:

RB Darren McFadden
FB Jason Davis
DE Derrick Burgess
LB Ricky Brown
OT James Marten
C John Wade
WR Ronald Curry

Also, the Raiders waived OL/DL Fred Wakefield and activated defensive end Greyson Gunheim from the practice squad.

With DT William Joseph on the team, the Raiders didn't need Wakefield to fill in as an undersized defensive tackle.

And the humiliation of Curry, a team captain, continues. I wonder if the Raiders will just rip the "C" off his his jersey.

--Jason Jones


November 7, 2008
Russell's knee makes him questionable

ALAMEDA - Here's who is in and likely out for Sunday's game:

DID NOT PRACTICE
TE Tony Stewart (calf) questionable
RB Darren McFadden (left toe) questionable
QB JaMarcus Russell (knee) questionable
DE Derrick Burgess (triceps) doubtful
LB Ricky Brown (groin) doubtful
S Gibril Wilson (groin) questionable

PRACTICED
LB Jon Alston (foot) probable
Andrew Walter (calf) probable
Gerard Warren (knee) probable
Michael Huff (hip) probable

Walter would start if Russell does not play.

Walter finished practice up for Russell yesterday and ran the first-team offense today.

"I'll be ready, but I couldn't tell you," Walter said of possibly starting. "I couldn't tell you anything more about JaMarcus' health. I know they're playing it close to the vest, but that includes me too. I can't really add how he's doing. If he can go, he'll go. I'll just be a pro and, game-time decision."

Cable said the team was just being smart by sitting Russell out today.

"He's got a little tendonitis, I guess," Cable said. "So it's just kind of, it's been there, had it in college, but it's acting up a little bit."

I joined a couple of reporters that waited about an hour for Russell to ask about the knee. He never showed. Nor did he speak on Wednesday as every other starting quarterback does.


Walter's last start was in place of injured starter Aaron Brooks CQ, Dec. 23, 2006 against Kansas City.

He appeared in one game last year for garbage time of a 38-7 loss at Green Bay, Dec. 9, 2007.

Walter was the quarterback of the future in 2006. Then he became a human piñata, being sacked 46 times in 12 games that included eight starts.

He's actually played well in the preseason most of the last two years. But even though Lane Kiffin would later admit he'd outplayed Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper in practices last year during training camp, Walter wasn't given a chance to start.

And once Russell was deemed ready to play, Walter was the fourth quarterback and not dressing for games when the other three were healthy.

"Preseason, you might not be going against other team's first string," Walter said. "Sometimes you are, sometimes you're not. But preseasons have been good the last two years. Obviously the regular season is what it is. I mean, I don't see any reason why I wouldn't be able to play and help the team out."

McFadden, like Russell, will be a gameday decision. He'd been limited in practice the last two days before sitting out today.

Cable said McFadden's toe is getting better.

*Props to Raiders fullback Justin Griffith.

Even though he's a week removed from knee surgery and using crutches to get around, he took the time out to host students from Dewey Academy in Oakland at team headquarters today.

*The Raiders have one touchdown in 48 first-half possessions.

And there's some interesting stats / on how the Raiders have done on offense under Cable at NFL.com.

As a whole, the offense is worse under Cable than it was when Lane Kiffin was calling the plays.

Not that the Raiders were putting up a ton of points under Kiffin but the Raiders are averaging 7.3 points under Cable after getting 19.5 a game under Kiffin.

The bottom line is both coaches were 1-3 after four games.

--Jason Jones

November 7, 2008
Hall signs

ALAMEDA -- According to the NFL Network, recently waived Raider cornerback DeAngelo Hall has signed with the Washington Redskins. It's reported to be a one-year deal. They'll Hall on the cheap since he's already been paid $8 million by the Raiders.

November 7, 2008
JaMarcus not practicing

ALAMEDA - Starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell is not practicing today. He didn't finish Thursday's practice because of right knee tendonitis.

Interim head coach Tom Cable said the injury wasn't serious, but players that don't practice on Friday often don't play on Sunday.

Other players not spotted with a helmet at the start of practice:

LB Ricky Brown (groin)
DE Derrick Burgess (triceps)
S Gibril Wilson (groin)
RB Darren McFadden (toe)
TE Tony Stewart (knee)

Michael Bush was returning kickoffs during special teams practice. Bush said he last regularly returned kickoffs his second year of college.

--Jason Jones

November 6, 2008
An out Routt

ALAMEDA - Stanford Routt isn't a nickelback.

He's just a backup.

Routt said he'd been demoted for not giving effort on special teams. He said after being shown the film, he didn't disagree and he simply needed to "man up" and accept responsibility.

He said he didn't give his best on that play.

Routt said he considered the move a "bump in the road."

So maybe this explains how Chris Johnson became the team's second-best cornerback.

Interim head coach Tom Cable did allude to other changes in the secondary on Wednesday after DeAngelo Hall was waived.

If Routt isn't an option, that leaves Michael Huff, who is already fighting Hiram Eugene and Rashad Baker for time at safety in nickel packages.

Or the team could plug in recently re-signed Michael Waddell, but Huff and Routt would appear to be the likely options.

Cable said Eugene and Baker would be given a chance to play in situations where extra defensive backs are needed. Eugene had been coming out of games for Huff in those situations.

*After saying it wasn't possible for Mario Henderson to start at left tackle, Cable said he'd rotate Henderson with starter Kwame Harris this Sunday against Carolina.

"The more I can create competition all over the team - specifically at that spot, which really in the last couple of weeks hasn't been very good," said interim head coach Tom Cable. "So you have to let the cream rise to the top here. Mario's ready to go."

Either way, both figure to have a tough time dealing with the Panthers' Julius Peppers.

Though he's struggled at times, too, Cable is pleased with right tackle Cornell Green.

"He has had some hand issues, ribs issues and all those things, but he really just had the one bad game at Baltimore," Cable said. "Otherwise, he has been all right."

*Cable expects William Joseph to help at defensive tackle on Sunday after being re-signed yesterday.

"What's nice is he's in tremendous shape," Cable said. "A lot more than you would think for a guy who's been out. He's been going all over, trying out, this and that, but that gives us another 320-pound guy inside. We need another body in there that can make a play, and hold down the point. Those other three guys are really doing a nice job, but they're also getting worn out a little bit. So it's a big plus for us to have that body."

*The other player brought back, Waddell is expected to help on special teams possibly as a gunner and as the backup kick and punt returner.

And in the ever-changing positions of Michael Bush, he could also be a kickoff returner.

*DeAngelo Hall had a lot to say to NFL.com about his release from Oakland.

He contradicts the Raiders, who said the release was about his performance.

"(Owner) Al Davis assured me that it had nothing to do with me, the person," Hall said. "It was a financial thing."

The team saved $16 million by waiving Hall. Hall cleared waivers and is now a free agent.

*Javon Walker wasn't too happy when he was in the locker room today. He wanted to know which local writer published a short story suggesting he'd be waived because of how much money he makes.

No writer spoke up.

In the famous words of Eddie Murphy during his stand up routine in "Raw" ... It wasn't me.

*Practices have been moved back a couple of hours to emphasize more teaching during the day.

The later end time has players remembering some of the long days under Art Shell in 2006.

One of the changes players applauded Lane Kiffin for was shortening the work day.

*Here's the injury rundown from Cable:

QB JaMarcus Russell (right knee tendonitis) did not finish practice. Cable said Russell sat out the last eight plays and the injury is nothing to worry about. Tight end Tony Stewart didn't finish practice for the same reason.

RB Darren McFadden (toe) was limited. Cable said he'd need to see improvement from McFadden on Friday before deciding if he'd play on Sunday.

LB Jon Alston's foot is fine. He missed practice with a stomach illness.

DE Derrick Burgess (triceps), LB Ricky Brown (groin) and Huff (hip) did not practice.

Cable mentioned DT Gerard Warren practiced, but it's not known what injury he'd been dealing with.

Backup QB Andrew Walter (calf) was limited.

Safety Gibril Wilson (groin) returned to practice without limitations.

--Jason Jones


November 6, 2008
Back to the blackout

ALAMEDA - Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers is not sold out and will not be televised locally.

The Raiders had sold out eight consecutive games dating back to last season. The team has sold out six of eight home games in the last two seasons.

The last game not televised was last year's game against Houston.

*Here's who was missing during the period of practice the media is allowed to watch:

DE Derrick Burgess (triceps)
LB Jon Alston (foot)
LB Ricky Brown (groin)

RB Darren McFadden (toe) and S Gibril Wilson (groin) both were at practice.

--Jason Jones

November 6, 2008
Johnson on the hot corner

ALAMEDA - Chris Johnson, beware.

Playing cornerback opposite Nnamdi Asomugha can be bad for your career.

Fabian Washington lost his starting job last year to Stanford Routt and was traded in the offseason.

Routt started 14 games last year, but was demoted when the Raiders traded for DeAngeldo Hall.

Hall's time at the spot led to him being waived on Wednesday after the team deemed he wasn't worth keeping even after giving up two draft picks and having already paid him $8 million.

So what's going to befall Johnson?

It's hard to imagine a player that's on is fourth NFL team would be too worried about anything.

Johnson is definitely confident even though teams will target him.

"I know I'm going to get a lot of balls," Johnson said. "But once we shut both sides down they've got to go somewhere else."

He's not the first to think like that.

Asomugha knows Johnson will be tested and believes he's up for the challenge.

"Chris is a fast player," Asomugha said. "He's the fastest player on the defense, maybe on the team. He's also a quick player. He played well against San Diego. You love his heart and his toughness, and he does study, which you also love about a corner. Stanford has done all those things, but Chris has shown himself ready to play."

Here's a little background on Johnson:

*After being a seventh-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2003 out of Louisville, he did not play in a game until the 2005 season with St. Louis and had one start.

Johnson returned a kickoff for a touchdown that season.

*He was out of football in 2006 after failing to stick with Kansas City. He made the Raiders in 2007 even though he appeared to struggle most of the exhibition season.

Johnson has appeared in 20 games with the Raiders.

*Johnson is the player Raiders owner Al Davis spoke of being deactivated when he shouldn't have been by Lane Kiffin.

*Johnson played a lot against San Diego and had an interception because Asomugha was dealing with an injury.

--Jason Jones

November 5, 2008
Asomugha is unhappy

ALAMEDA - Here's what we learned today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what Cable had to say today:

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

And there's also this from Cable:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was it about Hall's effort?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was it?

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

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

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

But players are confused.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wilson (groin) did not practice.

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

--Jason Jones


November 5, 2008
Welcome back moves

ALAMEDA - The Raiders re-signed defensive tackle William Joseph, the final roster move on the day.

Joseph made the 53-man roster only on Aug. 30, but was released Sept. 2.

Joseph is the second player that didn't make it to the season opener that was brought back today.

He joins cornerback Michael Waddell in that category. Waddell was returning kickoffs during practice.

Running back Darren McFadden (toe) and linebacker Jon Alston (foot) were back at practice. McFadden missed all of last week and Alston had been out for two weeks.

Linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) was not practicing.

November 5, 2008
Goodbye DeAngelo

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have placed DeAngelo Hall on waivers.

Money isn't the issue according to the team, but because things weren't working out on the field.

Interim head coach Tom Cable will address the situation this afternoon.

By the way, Hall will make $8 million, or $4 million for every win he had as a Raider.

The Atlanta Falcons, who traded Hall to Oakland, used one of the draft picks to land their starting middle linebacker (Curtis Lofton) and are still owed a fifth-round pick in next year's draft.

The Raiders are now associated with two of the more dubious trades in recent memory.

Randy Moss was dealt to New England for a fourth-round pick, CB John Bowie, who is on injured reserve.

At least the Raiders have something to show for that and the hope Bowie might contribute in some way in the future (though he'll never do enough to justify the deal).

The team is lighter in the wallet, out of two draft picks, and don't have the shutdown corner they thought they had.

--Jason Jones

November 5, 2008
Awaiting the official word on D. Hall

ALAMEDA - The Raiders plan to announce their decision regarding DeAngelo Hall before this afternoon's practice.

The following moves are official:

Rookie safety Tyvon Branch (shoulder) and linebacker Robert Thomas (hamstring) were placed on injured reserve. Both were injured during Sunday's loss to Atlanta.

The Raiders have re-signed cornerback Michael Waddell and signed linebacker Marquis Cooper to the active roster.

Waddell was cut at the end of training camp and was often beaten in coverage during practices.

Cooper (6-3, 213) was a third-round pick in 2004 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the University of Washington. He's played for Pittsburgh three times, most recently last season.

He's also spent time with Minnesota, Seattle and Jacksonville.

--Jason Jones

November 4, 2008
Front office mistakes haunt the Raiders

Bad teams cannot afford to waste draft picks.

And if the Raiders go ahead and waive DeAngelo Hall, it will be another draft blunder for the team.

The Raiders gave up their pick in the second round of this year's draft for Hall.

The Raiders remain one of the NFL's worst teams because of bad personnel decisions.

A year after cutting a third-round pick, the team could have nothing to show for a high second-round pick, too.

Here are a couple of players they could have drafted with the Hall pick:

WR DeSean Jackson
WR Eddie Royal

All have more catches than any Raider. Either would have given JaMarcus Russell a receiver he might have confidence in and someone to grow with for years to come.

Instead, the Raiders bragged about their second-round pick being Hall. Hall's salary for this million is $8 million.

And what will the Raiders have to show for it, should they waive Hall?

Stanford Routt starting at cornerback, which they could have done to start with and save a lot of money.

Cornerback wasn't a big area of need to begin with. Had the team retained Chris Carr to go with Routt and Chris Johnson, the Raiders would have been fine at cornerback.

At the very least, Hall helped Asomugha in his contract talks with the Raiders in the offseason.

Hall's struggle to adapt in the Raiders' system is more proof it takes a special talent to do what Asomugha does so well and that even talented players can't step in and do what Asomugha does.

The NFL Network reports waiving Hall would save the Raiders $16 million. That would be money well spent on Asomugha.

Profootballtalk.com reported receiver Javon Walker and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly are among as many as 15 players that could be gone soon.

If the team had acted wisely in the offseason, there would be no need to do this.

--Jason Jones

November 4, 2008
Hall might be gone

DeAngelo Hall might not be around to face his longtime rival Steve Smith.

A source speaking anonymously because a decision hadn't been made, said the team is considering waiving Hall eight games into his Raider career.

The NFL Network reported the team considered making the move today but decided to wait.

Profootballtalk.com reports defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and wide receiver Javon Walker also might be gone before the season ends.

Hall, the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback was acquired for a second-round draft choice in the 2008 NFL Draft and a fifth-round choice in next year's draft.

The move would be made in order to save the team money. Hall is due $8 million in base salary this season after signing a seven-year deal worth up to $70 million with $24.5 million guaranteed.

--Jason Jones

November 3, 2008
Finding some balance

ALAMEDA - Tom Cable referred to robbing Peter to pay Paul when describing how the team has gone away from running the ball in recent weeks to get the passing game going.

In case you hadn't noticed, it's not working.

JaMarcus Russell's passer rating has dipped to 69 and his completion percentage is now at 48.6 percent.

His touchdown-to-interception ratio is now 6 to 4.

The Raiders have trailed big in three of the last four games, but passing was still going to be emphasized under Cable, who wanted more balance.

The only balance the Raiders have found on offense is both parts of the game are equally bad.

"I think a little bit getting behind (hurt) but more importantly trying to develop a passing game," Cable said of the lack of running. "Where's that happy medium? Where's that balance at? Maybe we went too far with it."

The Raiders have run for at least 100 yards only once in Cable's four games as interim head coach. It was the only game the Raiders won, against the New York Jets.

And take away Russell's two runs yesterday fir 46 yards, the Raiders ran nine times for 21 yards.

Justin Fargas had 23 yards in six runs with a long of 13. He's now averaging only 3.6 yards a carry on the season.

"I think we've got to block better and Justin would be the first to tell you he's gotta maybe make some cleaner, sharper cuts and all that," Cable said. "But I think he's got to have some better blocking than we've given him. We have not run the ball in terms of number of runs lately like we used to so that has something to do with it too."

*Then there's the run defense ... the very bad run defense.

Cable said there isn't a problem with Rob Ryan's scheme, rather execution.

"It's not necessarily that what we're doing is wrong, it's a little bit of how we're doing in terms of our integrity, staying in gaps with integrity, fitting it," Cable said. "If you're a hard fit (in a running lane), you should fit it hard. Don't be soft about it. If you're a secondary fit, you better be second. Don't try to be first. Otherwise, you vacate or you void that gap. It's really execution. It really comes down to execution."

Cable also said tackling is a problem. But haven't we heard all this before.

Like in 2007. In 2006. And in 2005 ...

What's wrong?

"It isn't for a lack of effort or lack of toughness," said defensive end Jay Richardson. "Guys are playing their butts off. But it's just, playing smarter, understanding what they're trying to do to you and being ready for it. We watch a lot of film, but a lot of times what you see is, you watch the film you get one thing, but on Sunday you get something different. Teams self-scout so they understand that. So you have to be really, really sat in your base disciplines and your principles, and just play 'em, and just believe what you see out there."

*Fullback Justin Griffith was in the locker room briefly today. He had surgery to repair his torn right ACL on Friday.

He admitted watching Sunday's game was tough.

"(I watched) as much as I could, before the Percocet set in," Griffith said.

He still believes the Raiders can make progress. He's a big believer in Cable and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

"This team, I think, is still a good football team," Griffith said. "Got keep into account, this team is young. Once this team finds its niche and starts playing the way we know it can, you're gonna see this team win football games. A lot of football games."

That niche probably needs to be running the football and allowing the passing game to come along with it.

*Derrick Burgess is able to workout but his triceps tear isn't completely healed.

The Raiders are being careful because they don't want to have to eventually put Derrick Burgess on injured reserve.

"You feel good but after taking some pictures, it's still not healed enough - the actual tissue." Cable said. "It's easy to tear again."

*There are still tests to be done on safety Tyvon Branch's shoulder.

LB Robert Thomas (hamstring), LB Jon Alston (foot), LB Ricky Brown (groin), RB Darren McFadden (toe) and Burgess are all considered day-to-day.

McFadden did workout today and wasn't wearing a walking boot on his left foot.

--Jason Jones


November 3, 2008
Young QB struggles

ALAMEDA - JaMarcus Russell is trying to hide the frustration, but it can't be easy.

He's lost consecutive games to rookie quarterbacks in Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan as the talk across the country grows about how the Raiders organization isn't fit for the development of a young quarterback.

Flacco and Ryan have both won five games as rookie starters and appear to have the infrastructure around them to grow into good pros.

Russell has had two head coaches and is 2-7 as a starter.

And the losses aren't easy to deal with.

"You go to looking ... 'What if? What could have been done differently?'" Russell said of yesterday's 24-0 loss to Atlanta. "It puts you in the mind frame of, everything is your fault. Basically, when it all falls down to it, everybody looks at the quarterback and the head coach. Whether you like it or not, it's going to fall back on those two guys."

It's not all Russell's fault.

Coaches would tell you he's done all that's been asked of him. There's just not much help around him.

While the team dealt it's second-round pick for DeAngelo Hall and had no third round pick (because of the 2007 trade for Mario Henderson), the Raiders missed out on the chance to draft one of the many young receivers that were in this year's draft.

The player drafted to help Russell, running back Darren McFadden, has been hurt most of the season.

But not putting the best team around Russell, it means he's not in position to develop properly and he'll have to make bad throws in an attempt to make plays.

And the running game that was supposed to protect Russell has disappeared lately.

With the likelihood Russell will have another head coach next year, the Raiders are setting up Russell for another rocky year with the instability that surrounds him.

At least Russell is trying to take command of the offense. On his 22-yard run, Russell improvised.

"I will admit I was the only one who knew that (I was keeping the ball)," Russell said. "I don't think the coach knew that. It was something we did, we put in. I noticed a guy was blitzing off that side. It was one of our weak runs. It's not good to (run at an) outside blitz so I took it upon myself and just tried something and made a play off of it."

If Russell is going to survive this season and not end up like Andrew Walter did after the 2006 season - needing surgery - he'll need to do a lot of thinking on the run.

--Jason Jones

November 3, 2008
Cable is their guy

OAKLAND - Tom Cable's tenure as interim head coach has done little to make it look as if he's got a grasp of the team.

In Cable's three losses, the Raiders have been outscored 87-13 after the Atlanta Falcons dumped the Raiders, 24-0 on Sunday.

Players continue to say the change to Cable was good for the team with Nnamdi Asomugha noting Cable has brought a new intensity while acknowledging based on recent performance, no one would ever notice.

Safety Gibril Wilson said the players are to blame for the Raiders woes.

"Cable's a good coach for this team," Wilson said. "The guy brings is an attitude that I think is good for us. It's not him. It's none of the coaches. It's us. We're the ones that have got to catch the ball. We're the ones that have to make tackles. We're the ones that have to get sacks. All of that stuff is just a cop out. I think we've just got to play."

JaMarcus Russell has been sacked eight times in the last two games. At least one Raider offensive linemen wouldn't blame a distracted Cable for that.

Cable said he knows how to manage a game while still handling his duties over the offensive line.

"He's still in there with us for the meetings," said tackle Kwame Harris. "Sometimes he has to go hang out with (the media) for a little bit. But it's not a noticeable absence. His presence is still there. He's the O-line coach."

Following the numbers

*In two home games under Cable (one being an overtime win), the Raiders have given up 494 rushing yards.

*By giving up 252 yards to the Falcons, the Raiders allowed Atlanta to take over the NFL lead for team rushing (163.4 yards a game).

*The Raiders are now 30th against the run (157.6 yards a game) and 28th in total defense, allowing an average 373.9 yards.

*The Raiders average 13.4 points. A few more games like Sunday's and they'll approach the 10.5 average of the dismal 2006 season.

The Raiders had 16 touchdowns that season, four coming from the defense.

The Raiders have nine touchdowns this season.

--Jason Jones

November 2, 2008
An all-around bad day

OAKLAND - Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly looked at the final stats and muttered some words not fit for print.

"That's (expletive) amazing," he said. "...Embarrassing."

Of course it was.

The Atlanta Falcons held the ball for 45 minutes, 15 seconds compared to 14:45 for the Raiders.

That's right, the Falcons had the ball for three quarters of the game.

Say what you will about the offense, and yes it was bad (more on that later), but the defense do it itself any favors by not stopping the Falcons on their first four drives and giving up 24 points.

The defense can't say it was on the field too long when a team marches down the field on the first drive of the game.

The Raiders were so bad on offense it took some research to put the game into context.

*The Raiders' three first downs were the fewest in team history.

*The Raiders became the first time since Cleveland in 2000 not to gain a first down passing in an entire game.

*Oakland had minus-2 yards of offense compared to 309 yards for the Falcons in the first half.

*The Raiders gained a total of 77 yards on offense, the fewest in the NFL since Cleveland managed only 26 yards against Buffalo, Dec. 12, 2004.

*It's also lowest yardage total since putting up 56 yards against San Diego in 1961.

*And it's the lowest amount of yards for the team since gaining 93 yards against San Diego, Dec. 7, 1997.

But on the bright side ...the AFC West is still up for grabs.

Because no team in the division seems to want to be a good team, Raiders can try to convince themselves that's something to look for as a goal.

And Vanilla Ice can hope for a Grammy.

But the team needs something to focus on, right?

"We understand what it's gonna take for us to win this division," said linebacker Kirk Morrison. "If you want to go to the playoffs and win this division, (we've) gotta play great the rest of the way out. We know what's in front of us. The opportunities are there for us as a team, and we want to capitalize on them."

The Raiders of the last few years haven't shown they have what it takes to do that.

*The normally chatty DeAngelo Hall was long gone by time the media was allowed into the Raiders' locker room.

I imagine there wasn't much he'd want to say after being beat for the opening touchdown and watching the team that traded him to Oakland dominate the Raiders.

*The Raiders believed they would win based on practice.

"This was actually our best week of preparation," said interim head coach Tom Cable. "So I'm very disappointed. Very disappointed."

One of the newest Raiders finds the situation frustrating.

"During the week we look like we're a Super Bowl team, and we come out there and we're damn near the laughingstock of the league," said safety Gibril Wilson. "And it's ridiculous."

Fans were booing early and often.

"I was embarrassed today," Morrison said. "I was hurting a lot about the way we played. But, at the same time, we got to find a way to persevere and get through this. We say this every week, from week to week, it's something different. I felt like going into this week, we had a great game plan. We just have to execute. We have to."

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell (6-for-19, 31 yards, an interception, sacked four times) said the team is better than it has shown.

He's doing his best not to show frustration as the offense flounders.

"Most of the time if guys see that, then what are they going to look forward to the next series?" Russell said. "I try not to show it at all. At times you got to really pull it together to be the guy that guys look up to. Just keep on fighting, that's one thing I tried to do today. And I'm going to keep on going until I'm unable to do it, just keep on fighting."

When asked how Russell played, Cable said the whole team was bad, but added the Raiders needed to do a better job protecting Russell and the receivers need to play better.

*For the fifth time in six games, the Raiders failed to crack 100 yards rushing since running for 300 Sept. 14 at Kansas City.

Cable doesn't see that as a sign the Raiders can't run the ball any more.

"No I think in some regards we've pushed the envelope trying to develop the passing game a little bit," Cable said. "You rob Peter to pay Paul if you will. We've got to just keep reassessing what we're doing. But I think it's really more rhythm and timing than anything."

--Jason Jones

November 2, 2008
McFadden out

OAKLAND - Running back Darren McFadden will miss his second straight game with turf toe.

The other inactives:

S Rashad Baker
LB Jon Alston
DE Derrick Burgess
LB Ricky Brown
T James Marten
C John Wade
QB Marques Tuiasosopo

--Jason Jones

November 1, 2008
Sideline adjustments

Most head coaches aren't position coaches. That's made Tom Cable's adjustment as interim head coach a little tougher.

"I've come up with a plan that's different than college football to manage the line and then manage the game," Cable said. "That took a couple of games to settle in there."

Cable said he doesn't feel he's had any problems with clock management.

The Raiders have lost the battle for time of possession in each of Cable's games.

Two of those games were blowouts in which the Raiders threw a lot of incomplete passes, which stop the clock.

He admits there are a couple of times (probably in New Orleans) where he should have punted.

That's the one thing he'd work on.

"Primarily, you just handle field position a little better," Cable said.

Fun with numbers

*Justin Fargas is two for two converting first downs on third-and-one situations.

Per the Raiders weekly press release that ties him for first in the NFL at 100 percent conversions on third-and-one.

*The Raiders have held only one team (Kansas City) under 100 rushing yards this season.

*Only one team (New Orleans) has passed for more than 300 yards against the Raiders. Denver (299 yards came close.)

--Jason Jones



About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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