Tom Cable's pseudo-passive aggressive start to training camp - begin with a day full of meetings, follow with four straight days of non-contact two-a-day practices in helmets and shorts while installing new schemes on both sides of the ball - seems to be a hit among the Raiders veterans.
"You know, in 17 years, I've never seen anything like this, but I can't believe how much we're getting out of it," Cable said Lorenzo Neal told him after Friday's morning practice. "Just in our talks, in our room, or in meetings, or whatever, it's a chance to really sort it out and work through it before, all of a sudden, you put the combative part into it, which will start on Monday."
Meaning full pads and hitting.
"I'm young, so I've only been through a few camps (but) I think it's a great thing," said third-year offensive lineman Mario Henderson, who has been working at left tackle with the first-team offense. "For one, you prevent injuries...in my opinion at camp when you get out the first day, you sometimes are not really focused on trying to do the right things; you're just focused on going out there and trying to win the starting job. Sometimes that can be bad because you are going fast, but you're not really doing your assignments. Now we have four days where we get everything down pat so then when it comes time Monday to earn a job, it's not your assignments slowing you down. I think it's a great thing."
But don't let the seeming New Age, meditative mental approach fool you. Cable, an offensive line coach at heart, is as old school as they get.
"Well, this game is still about who and how," Cable told reporters. "At the end of the day, we all love football and the players love playing football. So, when you hand them a set of pads and it's time to go do that, they get into that part of it rather easily. That's the way they're wired. But when it comes down to it, if you really know who you really got and how you got to do it, you can do it that much quicker and that much more violent and so you just kind of fit the two together.
"Remember now, the NFL season starts now and it hopefully ends sometime in February for you. The human body can only take so many car crashes."
- Still no word on the whereabouts of two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess, who is purportedly holding out for a trade.
- Rookie receiver Louis Murphy, a fourth-round draft pick from national champion Florida, has already impressed in what figures to be a wide-open battle among the youngsters for wide receiver slots.
"He's a guy that came out of a good program and is very passionate about playing the game," Cable said. "For him, it's just learning our offense, a new system for him and just keep doing it but he's progressing very well."
- Second-year running back Darren McFadden, whose myriad of talents were wasted last season by running him between the tackles so often, has been lining up at wide receiver. Expect more such looks to take advantage of his play-making abilities this season, such as screen passes, pitches, Wildcat formations, etc...At least I hope the Raiders use him in that manner.
- Ricky Brown is working at both middle and outside linebacker in the Raiders' 4-3 scheme but says he does not prefer one over the other.
"I've proved that I can be the opening day starter at the SAM linebacker," he said. "I think maybe my more natural position would be MIKE, just kind of the way I'm built, having good change of direction and all, but either one's fine. Really, ever since I played MIKE my second year, which was 2007, it gave me a chance to know the entire defense. So I feel comfortable playing all three."