I have written a column that will appear in tomorrow's Bee, saying that the key to the Raiders' offensive success this season reside not so much with JaMarcus Russell, but with Darren McFadden. Or, with the play calling that SHOULD utilize Run DMC more to his playmaking talents.
I will post the link to the column when it goes up, but in the meantime, here are a few leftovers from when DMC spoke to reporters at camp in Napa.
Hampered by turf toes injuries last season, a thicker, but not fatter, McFadden said he was "fresh, 100 percent, ready to get out there and play ball."
The biggest difference between his rookie camp and this season's camp?
"Just being a lot more comfortable with the play book," he said. "Last year I was still kind of iffy about it, but now I feel like I know it so I can go out there full speed with it."
It's helped his confidence as well.
"It's a lot different, he said. "I know the playbook a lot more. I feel a lot more comfortable being back there running the plays, picking up the blocking schemes. So I'm a lot more comfortable with it."
The Raiders' Flash, Dash and Smash three-headed rushing attack of McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush has also fostered a competitive battle in the backfield.
"It's always a competition out there," McFadden said. "We know it's a friendly competition for us. We go out there and just show the coaches what we can (do), and they can decide what they want to do."
Hopefully, they utilize McFadden in space and use Fargas and Bush as the battering rams.
McFadden also spoke of the coaching difference between Tom Cable and Lane Kiffin.
"Coach Cable, he's been more of a 'I'm-going-to-put-my-foot-down' type of guy," McFadden said, "and not let things slide back."
- Sunday was the last day of four straight days on non-contact two-a-day practices, meaning the Raiders will be in pads and hitting during Monday's single practice at 3:30 p.m., following a morning walk-through.
Cable acknowledged there is a fine line between sticking guys and simply impressing the coaching staff when the pads are on.
"Just take care of our own," Cable said. "We want to light it up and have the purpose, the right kind of purpose behind it. The most important thing is to stress - these are your teammates.
"You'll see us have a different tempo," Cable added. "In other words, I've kind of let the periods run over if we needed to clear something up. We won't have to do (that) with the tempo that we go at. The most important thing is speed of play when the ball is snapped. That will be dramatically different."
- Besides the promise of hitting by 80 guys in camp, the reality is guys really start auditioning to make the 53-man roster.
"Competition starts tomorrow; it's on," Cable said. "And everyone's got to fight for a job to get this thing down to 53 and the right 53 and inside of that obviously who your starters are and so forth."
- Cable said to not read much into the fact that back-up QB/mentor Jeff Garcia is not throwing the ball, even with the start-stop manner of snaps. Seems like the 39-year-old four-time Pro Bowler is merely pacing himself.
"Really it's the way he does it at this point of his career, in terms of camp," Cable said. "This would be normal so there's no issue there."
- Mario Henderson is the leader at left tackle, ahead of free agent signee Khalif Barnes and Cable acknowledged whichever offensive lineman loses out there, might start at right tackle.
"I'll pick the five best guys," Cable said, "so however that works out."
Barnes, it should be noted, has played nothing but left tackle in his pro career.
- Speaking of Henderson, the third-year lineman who wears Howie Long's number, was more than a pleasant surprise in protecting JaMarcus Russell's blindside last season after Kwame Harris flamed out. Henderson also has his own blog. Check it out at www.mariohenderson75.com
- And finally, asked if there was any update on hold out defensive end Derrick Burgess, Cable said succinctly, "No."
So there you go. The longer Big Smoove holds out, the less relevant he becomes, methinks. Especially with Greg Ellis itching to prove he still has something in his tank and the rapid maturation of Trevor Scott.