Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 5, 2009
Garcia among 22 cut by Raiders

The 22 roster cuts have been made and announced by coach Tom Cable and while I'm not all that surprised that Jeff Garcia is gone, that doesn't mean I fully agree with it. As I wrote from Day 1, the only way JaMarcus Russell would thrive under Garcia's purported mentorship was if both quarterbacks accepted their roles - Russell as dutiful padawan, Garcia as wise Jedi.

Seems neither fully embraced it, no matter how Cable tried to spin it that Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye outplayed Garcia in the preseason. Still, Russell is in need of motivation and Garcia nipping at his heels served just that purpose. Even if it was becoming a bit of a distraction. Now, the fear is that Russell will get complacent. Stay tuned.

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Following then are the 21 other players who were also sent packing on Saturday - S Jerome Boyd, DB Darrick Brown, DE Greyson Gunheim, WR Jonathan Holland, OL James Marten, LB David Nixon, LB Slade Norris, LB Chris O'Neill, FB Marcel Reece, RB Gary Russell, P/K Ricky Schmitt, TE Darrell Strong, OL Mark Wilson, DT Ryan Boschetti, LB Morlon Greenwood, CB Justin Miller, DT Terdell Sands and T Seth Wand.

Players waived with injury settlements were DBs Michael Hawkins and Rashad Baker and C John Wade.

Sands is a big name as well, both literally and figuratively, given the four-year, $17-million contract he signed in 2007. And it doesn't reflect so well on your scouting department when you cut a fourth-round draft pick in Norris. Especially not when you've already cut a sixth-rounder in Stryker Sulak...before training camp began.

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As far as my predictions for the 53-man roster went, I correctly picked 16 of the 22 players cut, missing on QB Bruce Gradkowski, FB Luke Lawton, RB Louis Rankin, WR Todd Watkins, DT William Joseph and LB Sam Williams. Still, I'll take a half-credit for writing, "Then again, I wouldn't be shocked if Garcia was the odd man out. Just sayin'"

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More questions? Then just peep the transcript of coach Tom Cable's conference call with Bay Area media, explaining the organization's decisions on cut day:

Q: What was the thinking on cutting Garcia?
Cable: I think first and foremost, we are committed to JaMarcus Russell as our starter. I think that when you look at the preseason, and practices in camp, and the games, that we played, all four of the games, three of the four which Bruce and Charlie played, and they probably were the most productive in terms of scoring points and moving the football team. I think that the fact that whether or not he's comfortable in his role as a backup, it is what it is. JaMarcus is our guy and those other two guys did a great job in terms of performing on game night.

Q: Did Garcia ask to be released?
Cable: There was some talk about whether or not, how he would fit and all that, but for right now, the best way for me to approach it was the fact that that those two guys played so well and we're committed to JaMarcus.

Q: Did his missing time with that strained calf hurt?
Cable: I don't know that, it's hard to say. It's unfortunate that he had to miss any time, but how that affected him, only he would know that.

Q: What affect will this have on JaMarcus since now there's no one to push him?
Cable: I don't think so. I think both guys in the room with him now, Bruce and Charlie, bring a lot to the table in regards to JaMarcus. I think his relationship with the two of them is strong. I think that they understand that they have to be there and push him every day just like Jeff would if he was here, but he's not going to be, and so you just move forward. For JaMarcus Russell to think he was anointed or something like that would be ridiculous. I don't think he's that way.

Q: Why Louis Rankin over Gary Russell?
Cable: I just think, again, it came down to production. That was a tough call, no question. Gary Russell is a fine football player, as is Rankin. I think with the release of Justin Miller, needing depth at the kickoff return spot as probably part of the difference. But certainly, Louis Rankin, he's been pretty solid the whole way through, his improvement, as a blocker, I think is what put him on this football team.

Q: You have seven wide receivers because Chaz Schilens won't be available in the opener?
Cable: That had something to do with it, just making sure that we continue on the right path with that group, and not having Chad, having six going into that game, we'll probably only dress four, maybe five, so you just want to make sure you've got the right numbers.

Q: There a chance there will be someone different on this roster tomorrow?
Cable: I don't know that yet. We'll listen to anybody that's willing to talk right now, certainly. We'll that all the way up to the deadline, but whether or not it will be different tomorrow, it would be hard to tell you at this point.

Q: Is Rankin's ankle injury from the Seattle exhibition an issue?
Cable: A slight ankle sprain but if we practiced yesterday he could have practiced so no not really

Q: Tough to cut a fourth-round draft pick? What happened with Slade Norris?
Cable: Just overall development and his ability to make the transition from being a guy rushing the passer with one hand down to standing up and playing it enough. Although he did some of it in college it just didn't feel like it came along quick enough. So we'll see what it means.

Q Terdell Sands, lack of ability or Desmond Bryant coming on?
Cable: Oh I think both, I think both. There's no question, both.

Q: Wade and Baker stinger injuries pretty serious?
Cable: They both would be out for an extended period of time as of right now. I don't know exactly how much time but I know it's a long period of time and so we need to put this team together now with who's available.

Q: Who's the No. 2 quarterback?
Cable: You know I think that's yet to be decided. I think those guys both as this thing kind of played itself out they really were equals. That's really kind of the approach to it now. We'll have to make a decision when we get to game day.

Q: How can you determine that since JaMarcus will get all the snaps now?
Cable: We'll do that as we go. That's just something for another day.

Q: What are your thoughts of rookie DE Matt Shaughnessy and his return from injury?
Cable: I think leading up to the foot injury, Shaughnessy did nothing but get better every day, kind of like Bryant did. We know we have a really good young player there. Then he comes back and even though he's really just coming off the injury, did nothing but get better each day he was practicing and I think he showed up big time on Thursday.

Q: Did Sam Williams' ability to play as a middle linebacker help him make the cut, as well as his special teams play?
Cable: I think he did show we've got some versatility there now. But primarily, the role was to be on special teams and give us a backup linebacker.

Q: Why will you practice Sunday, just to get your 53-man roster together?
Cable: No it's just the fact that we're playing a Monday night so the week is a little different in terms of the practice schedule and all that.

Q: Who's your starting center?
Cable: Right now it'll be Chris Morris.

Q: How did that come about?
Cable: I think that, you know it, it probably came to him that he's going to have to take his game to another level. I think he did that and he did that consistently. I think that...you know about offensive line play, consistency is what wins. It doesn't have to be pretty. It doesn't have to be the biggest or the baddest. You have to be consistently good and I think Chris has done that.

Q: Who are your starting linebackers?
Cable: I'll get into all that when we get closer.

Q: Has John Bowie stepped up his play lately?
Cable: I think really John stepped his game up. He did give up the big play the other night but he made a bunch of plays on the field, tackled well. Again the guy just played himself onto the football team. That's what it really came down to.

Q: Did you overlook Nick Miller's punt-return fumble at the 49ers because he can be a playmaker?
Cable: Naw, I don't think you ever overlook a turnover. I think understand a lot of those happen with a guy like Nick who is pressing so down hard to make too many big plays or make a big play every time he touches it. He'll learn rather quickly that you just let the game come to you.

Q: How did Jerome Boyd come up short?
Cable: I just think that the drafting of Mike Mitchell in the second round and Tyvon Branch, Hiram Eugene and Michael Huff, that's a good group of safeties. Just wasn't able to break into that group.

Q: What's the progress on Mike Mitchell's strained hamstring?
Cable: Good.

Q: Good as in...
Cable: Good enough to practice.

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Follow me on Twitter @paulhgutierrez

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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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