Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 18, 2009
'Ski named starter, Raiders re-up through '13, Ocho Cinco "loves" the ball

As you've no doubt heard by now, JaMarcus Russell has been benched in favor of Bruce Gradkowski...for the foreseeable future.

With Tom Cable pulling Russell from consecutive home games, I was all for Russell being benched this weekend against Cincinnati. Especially since it's a home game and the crowd would no doubt jump down Russell's throat on his first incomplete pass.

But I'm not sold on Gradkowski getting the gig ahead of Charlie Frye, nor on the move being indefinite, so to speak. And I address that in tomorrow's column.

Perhaps the biggest "news" item to come out of Cable's announcement of the switch following practice Wednesday, though, was the coach basically saying the decision was his...and his alone...when asked if he had to convince Al Davis to greenlight the switch.

"No, no, he left this up to me; this is my decision," Cable said. "We talked about it and he supported it."

So then Cable was asked if having that type of autonomy helps his situation.

"Well, I think it's important," Cable said. "At the same time, as we all know, it's important to include (Davis) in everything so he knows what's going on with this football team."

As such, I asked Cable if he agonized over the decision, or if it was an easy call to make.

"It was an easy decision because I feel the responsibility for this football team to give them the best chance to succeed," Cable said.

So was Frye, in the mix?

"Sure he was," Cable said. "I think you have to look at the whole picture in order to make the right choice."

Of course, Cable said he still sees Russell as the future of the team.

"That's my hope," he said. "This is in no way giving up on the guy. This is just trying to jumpstart this team and really break it down and make a decision based on what gives us the best chance to win."

Russell is No. 2 on the depth chart and Frye is No. 3.

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Speaking of the future, the Raiders and the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority announced Wednesday they have reached a "tentative agreement to extend the term of the Raiders' lease" at the Coliseum through the 2013 season.

"We enjoy a productive working relationship with the City, the County and the Joint Powers Authority and we enjoy collaborating with them on many issues," Raiders Chief Executive Amy Trask said in a release. "Both Supervisor Haggerty and Councilmember De La Fuente have discussed some exciting concepts with us - exciting for the Raiders, the Raider Nation, the community and the region - and we look forward to further pursuing these ideas."

So that should quash the idea of the Raiders returning to Los Angeles...at least for a few days.

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Darrius Heyward-Bey finally re-emerged after his drop inside the 10-yard line led to a game-clinching interception Sunday against Kansas City. The rookie with the rep for the dropsies said he is "conscious" of his pass-catching fundamentals.

"I mean, that play exactly, fundamentals went out the window," DHB said. "You know, that's me being a rookie, getting so excited. Everything I've been working on since Day 1 went out the window. And that's something that I know, so that's something that I can improve on. And everything I work on in practice needs to carry over into the games."

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In an "unrelated" note, Bengals receiver Chad Ocho Cinco told Bay Area reporters in a Wednesday morning conference call that "sure hands" are born, not taught.

"It's natural man. It's natural," he said. "You have some people who are just natural pass catchers and everything is smooth. Then you see some receivers and they sort of fight with the ball, it's a struggle. Or you have some who always catch with their chest. I'm just natural.

"I lovethe ball. If you ever watch me play, I make love to the ball when it comes in."

OK...

"You can't be in the NFL and try to work on it now because it's too late," Ocho Cinco added to a room full of guffaws and chuckles.

"I'm not trying to be funny, guys," he said. "Come on now, seriously. When you get to this point this is not the point where you need to be coached. This is the point where you need to get better at your craft but you should already come in with a foundation already set. You should be ready to play.

"You can't come into the NFL as a receiver, be in the NFL and then they have to teach you how to play receiver. Because you're missing the boat, you're going to miss the ship if you don't know how to play receiver before you get here. You're going to miss the ship already."

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Ocho Cinco also had a message for cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha: "Somebody tell Nnamdi, don't forget to relay this message, the message is, 'I love you but you've got to kiss the baby.'"

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And lastly, because we can't get enough Ocho Cinco, here are his thoughts on the Raiders: "Dude, watching the Raiders on f...... defense, that front line is awesome, the corners are awesome. I can't for the life of me understand how they are not winning. I don't get it. I don't get it. Because what I see on film, the record does not show. Because they look a lot better than their record shows so I'm not understanding what's going on."

Join the club, Ocho Cinco. Join the club.

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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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