Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 31, 2009
No news on Nnamdi's wrist...yet

Coach Tom Cable said Monday there was still no update on Nnamdi Asomugha's chip fracture in his left wrist, though the cornerback was expected to visit a specialist Monday afternoon.

"We should have something tomorrow," Cable said. "Just want to make sure the chip is not displaced or anything like that."

Cable said Asomugha suffered the injury making a hit on the second play of the Raiders 45-7 loss Saturday to New Orleans.


The final exhibition game is usually seen as the most useless of the preseason affairs. But with the wreckage of the Saints loss still smoldering in the background, Cable acknowledged he just might play some starters Thursday in Seattle. Just to get that bad taste out of their mouths and to (hopefully) sharpen their senses.

"That's the decision I'm going to go make this afternoon, this evening," Cable said. "Probably have an answer for you tomorrow."

JaMarcus Russell, for one, thinks he'll see the field.

"From my mind and kind of knowing how coach thinks a little bit, I think we'll go out there for a minute just to get a drive going or something accomplished, but he hasn't told anyone yet," the starting quarterback said. "So we're preparing as if we're going in. If things turn out different, then, Hey, I'm going to be a cheerleader out there for those other guys and see those guys make some plays."

Russell said he wants to make an appearance.

"Of course, I'm a competitor," he said. "Why not? Preseason or not, I'm only going into my second full year of starting. And hey, I need the reps."


The Seattle game figures to be the final battle between Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye for the No. 3 quarterback spot.

"It will be pretty heated Thursday night," Cable said. "It's been that way all along. The plan was to try to give them both a series or a little more in that fourth quarter Saturday but obviously with the way the rotation went we couldn't get there."

Frye has been a starter in Cleveland and, with two victories over the Raiders, has as many wins at the Coliseum - two - as does Russell.

"I'm hoping (to play significant time), but you never know," Frye said. "I don't know how much everybody's going to play, but if I go out on the field - every time I go out on the field I think I'm going be prepared. That's the main thing. If you're not getting a lot of reps you just - you guys see me throwing out there by myself sometimes - have to make the throws and just have confidence in yourself."

August 31, 2009
Raiders down to 75-man roster; CSN California news...

The Raiders released five players Monday to get the roster down to 75, a day before Tuesday's deadline. Those sent home were receivers Shawn Bayes, an undrafted rookie from Kent State, and Will Franklin, a second-year player who had been claimed on waivers after being cut by Detroit, defensive tackle Joe Cohen, who had signed with the team last week, offensive guard Marcus Johnson, who was signed in the offseason to purportedly give the Raiders depth on the line, and undrafted rookie center Jon Compas, the UC Davis product.


Sacramento media personality Jim Kozimor, former Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski and national radio celebrity Tony Bruno will host Comcast SportsNet California's "Raiders Postgame Live" show following Raiders games this season. The hour-long show, which will be broadcast on CSN California immediately following final whistles, begins after the Monday Night Football season opener on Sept. 14 and will be anchored from the CSN studios in San Francisco. Jaymee Sire will conduct onsite interviews.

Also, CSN California announced it will again carry "Raiders Press Conference Live," coach Tom Cable's weekly Monday media conference in Alameda. The show will now air for an hour, will include phone calls from viewers and will be hosted by Damon Andrews and Romanowski.

August 30, 2009
The day after

Coach Tom Cable liked to downplay on-field skirmishes between his players during training camp, often saying of the fisticuffs with a wry smile, "Boys will be boys."

So were they just boys being boys the night before Saturday's 45-7 shellacking by New Orleans, not fighting but partying too much with the shackles of curfew broken thanks to camp in Napa ending two nights earlier? Veteran defensive end Greg Ellis intimated as much after the game.

Cable was asked if he knew anything about it in his conference call with beat writers early Sunday evening.

"You know, I don't," Cable said. "The one thing I can talk about - we talked about it as we broke camp - the one thing as a coach that you're always leery of is breaking camp is because then they get home, they don't have the curfew, don't have those kind of things, and so as grown men we've got to handle those distractions. And be able to take care of our bodies and stay focused on what we're trying to do."


Ready for your bad news, good news story, Raiders fans?

The bad news is, Cable said the Raiders reverted to poor form against the Saints. The good news? At least the Raiders realize it.

"Really, we looked like we have in the past - poor tackling, misaligned, missing some easy reads in terms of protection," Cable said. "Just really some fundamental issues that have kind of been our issue in the past, and felt like we were getting away from it, and it showed up again.

"At some point, the accountability factor has to really come in, and that's all of us...coaches, players alike. To me, it's a great lesson if you treat it that way. If you want to hem and haw, cry in your beer...then you'll have issues past this. But if you face it, and you deal with it the right way and come clean with it in all areas, you can move forward. And that's the way I'm going to approach it...the sky is not falling. It just looks really gray right now, and it's supposed to after you get your tail kicked like that and you really play poorly."


Cable is not worried that rookie receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall pick of the draft, has caught only two passes in three exhibition games and had only three balls thrown his way against the Saints.

"Well, you know, it's already happening," Cable said. "I said this would happen earlier. (Defenses are) already starting to lean towards him in coverage so it's going to help everyone else and obviously that's why those other guys were getting the opportunities they were getting."


With the emergence of undrafted Ivy League rookie defensive tackle Desmond Bryant from Harvard, Terdell Sands not playing against the Saints and cut days looming - 80-man rosters must be down to 75 players by Tuesday, the final 53-man roster is due on Saturday, it would appear as though Sands' days in Oakland are numbered. Right?

"It's too early for all that," Cable said, before explaining why Sands did not get on the field. "It's just where we were at in terms of rotation. (I) didn't expect to play the first group as long as we did in the second half. But (we) had to, and based on the rotation and the way it all worked out, just ran out of time."


Cable also defended another high-priced defensive tackle in Tommy Kelly.

"We actually have had two pretty good games out of him, the last two," Cable said of Kelly. "So it would not be fair for anyone to really question or devalue what he's done in the last two weeks. Is it perfect yet...? No. It was better (against the 49ers), then it was better this game in terms of getting his body down and holding off double teams. They've really not been able to run at his side, if you look at it."


No new news on the status of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's chip fracture in his left wrist, or on the stinger suffered by safety Rashad Baker.


Now at their Alameda headquarters, the Raiders practice Monday and Tuesday at 10:45 a.m., and hold a 10:15 a.m. walkthrough Wednesday before flying to Seattle, where they face the Seahawks Thursday night at 7 in their final exhibition game.

August 29, 2009
Raiders-Saints running game blog

Captains - Tommy Kelly, Oren O'Neal, Sebastian Janikowski

Out - Justin Fargas, Mike Mitchell, Ike Ekejiuba, Kirk Morrison, Slade Norris, Khalif Barnes, John Wade, Matt Shaughnessy, Chaz Schilens

Raiders cut linebacker Napoleon Harris and signed undrafted linebacker Chris O'Neil.


Saints take opening drive 80 yards in 10 plays, culminating with Heath Evans four-yard TD run. Drive took 5:31. 7-0, Saints


Russell, after two completions to move Raiders to New Orleans' 27, fumbles...Saints bal


Raiders with no pressure, and no coverage as Brees hits a wide-open Deverey Henderson for 40-yard TD.
Saints 14, Raiders 0


Raiders go three and out, RIcky Schmitt punts, Shane Lechler still nursing sore groin


Brees is picking this defense come the boo birds


Saints score again...5-yard TD pass Brees to Lance Moore...Saints go 78 yards in 11 plays in 3:53. Saints 21, Raiders 0

Thankfully for the Raiders, Brees is out...Mark Brunell now in...with 11:43 to play in first half


Murphy with his second dropped pass


Raiders defense can't stop anyone right now. Brunell leading Saints down field now. Two PI flags on Stanford Routt on this drive. 1st and goal and Raiders 7 yard line


Carney with a 35-yard field goal, Saints 24, Raiders 0, with 5:09 left in second quarter...


DMC fumbles, Saints ball at Raiders' 6-yard-line


Hiram Eugene picks off Brunell two yards deep in end zone, returns it to the 31 yard line


Robert Meachem rambles 71 yards through a non-tackling Raiders defense and a catch and run before he's caight at the 1-yard line...


TD Saints, P.J. Hill...PAT good, Saints 31, Raiders 0...1:21 remaining in half


Halftime...thankfully. Chris Johnson picks off Brunell's Hail Mary pass in end zone with one second to play and returns it to the 50...


Second half begins, JaMarcus Russell still under center...Jeff Garcia should play most of second half, though


First half horror - Saints outgain Raiders 344 yards to 60, including 92-1 on the ground. Raiders also called for 6 penalties for 69 yards


Louis Murphy with a circus catch, 56 yard pickup before having the ball stripped. Not a good day for the Gator.


With the Raiders' starting defense still on the field, Saints score again...Hill with 11-yard run. Saints 38, Raiders 0, 4:40 remaining in third quarter.


Garcia finds Murphy, who holds onto the ball, for a 16-yard pickup...


Garcia finds Murphy, who picks up 30 yards and does not fumble...1st and 10 at Saints' 20 yard line...


Raiders turn ball over on downs, and Joey Harrington - remember him? - leads a scoring drive. Saints 45, Raiders 0...Raiders lost a preseason game to Chiefs, 48-0, in Portland Ore


Garcia hits Jonathan Holland and he eludes two tackles for a 43-yard score... Saints 45, Raiders 7. 6:06 to go


Post game news - Nnamdi Asomugha has a chip fracture in his left wrist, Cable says he should not miss much time, if any at all

August 28, 2009
Friday notes, looking forward to the Saints

With Napa is in the rear-view mirror and Alameda the Raiders' home for the next four-plus months, some notes from Friday's walk-through practice as they prepare for Saturday's all-important third exhibition game, against the visiting New Orleans Saints and their high-powered passing attack...

Coach Tom Cable said JaMarcus Russell would play the entire first half and possibly into the third quarter before giving way to Jeff Garcia. That leaves little, if any, time for the guys competing for the No. 3 quarterback spot, Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski.

"I want to see Jeff play," Cable said. "We need to see Jeff play."

Speaking of the No. 3 competition, Cable said Thursday that his vision for the position is not necessarily for a guy who best simulates opposing QBs for scout team duty. Rather, "It has to be the best chance for us to win," Cable said, should he be called into duty.


Cable said rookie receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy would again start, as they did against the 49ers. Plus, they could also conceivably start the opener on Sept. 14 against San Diego.

"I don't think that's an issue to us quite honestly other than the fact that they are rookies," Cable said. "Shoot, they're doing really, really well, both of them. They just keep getting better as they have progressed all the time. That's enabled us to do it."


Javon Walker (offseason right knee surgery) just started practicing this week but figures to see time against the Saints.

"He's ready to go, wants to go, and we want him to go," Cable said. "We'll just kind of take that as we go into the game."


Free safety Hiram Eugene (flu) and rookie outside linebacker Slade Norris (foot) will be gametime decisions.


Fifth-year middle linebacker Kirk Morrison suffered a dislocated left elbow against the Niners and is out for at least another week, possibly even the opener. A few "Tweets" from the San Diego State and Bishop O'Dowd High product on Friday.

"I can't believe tomorrow will be the first game in my entire life of football, that I will miss a game due to injury. Unbelievable" and "I've been playing football since I was 9 years old and I have never ever missed a game ever. 18 years of football and never missed a game."

August 27, 2009
Raiders break camp in Napa with a flourish

The Raiders broke camp Thursday morning and the final play put an exclamation point to the month-plus long affair. Running the second-team offense's 2-minute drill to perfection against the second-team defense, Jeff Garcia led his squad 80 yards in nine plays, culminating with a 26-yard TD pass to Todd Watkins on third-and-nine. The big play of the drive was a 34-yard pass to Jonathon Holland two snaps into the drill.

Earlier, the first team offense went against the first-team defense and JaMarcus Russell moved the team past midfield before the drive stalled. It should be noted, however, that Russell had one of his best practices of camp passing the ball.


The battle for third-string quarterback between journeyman Bruce Gradkowski and former Cleveland starter Charlie Frye has been a nip-and-tuck affair. Thursday, Frye appeared to gain the upper hand, though.

Frye consistently found seams with his passes and was much better at threading the needle between defenders in the red zone. Gradkowski, meanwhile, threw at least two interceptions and had a ball batted down at the line.


Funny scene - As Nnamdi Asomugha was surrounded by cameras, microphones and notepads, offensive lineman Khalif Barnes limped by and shouted at the highest-paid Raiders player, "Hey, Nnam, buy me a car."

Barnes, who broke his left ankle early in camp, was walking without crutches or a boot on the foot.


Coach Tom Cable was asked what kind of identity his team forged in Napa.

"The biggest thing we had to do, leaving this place, is be more like a team, more like a team that plays the game for each other, they work at practice for each other, they care about each other," Cable said. "Scheme isn't going to matter We'e got good players, like everybody else in the NFL. Scheme is scheme. Everybody's got a good one. It's just a matter of doing it right, for each other with the right purpose. I think we accomplished that."


And today's daily Cable comment on his alleged incident with assistant Randy Hanson: "I haven't even thought about it," when asked if he had any thoughts on a report that Napa police want to speak with him.

August 25, 2009
Raiders sign a DT, Flores and Plunkett leftovers, Raiders in space

The Raiders have made two roster moves today, per They waived injured cornerback Jason Horton, who had been signed by the team in March, and claimed 6-feet-2, 310-pound defensive tackle Joe Cohen off waivers from Miami

Cohen, 25, was originally a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2007 out of Florida. While he has no NFL stats, the Raiders most likely brought him in camp to see if he can help shore up the team's porous run defense.


In reporting my two stories that ran Sunday and Monday - recapping the Silver and Black's Last Six Years of Futility and opining that coach Tom Cable's alleged physical altercation with assistant Randy Hanson would actually galvanize the team - I spoke with two of the most revered Raiders in the organization's history - Tom Flores and Jim Plunkett. Aside from being the two biggest snubs from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they also had interesting takes on their team. Both are currently broadcasters.

Flores spoke about how much promise this wet-behind-the-ears Raiders squad has shown him.

"It's exciting to watch a young team grow up because I've been there before," said Flores, the first quarterback in Raiders history. "I've seen this team grow up in the early '60s and finally, unfortunately, I was gone when they did reach the pinnacle and go to Super Bowl II. But still, you could see it coming."

Flores went to Buffalo for two-plus seasons and was a backup with the Kansas City Chiefs when they beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

So I asked Flores, who coached a pair of grizzled Super Bowl winners in 1980 and 1983, if fallout from the "Wrangle in Wine Country" would retard or hasten this Raiders team's growth.

"I don't know," Flores said. "I think once it's all cleared up, once all the facts are brought out into the open, then we can put it to rest and go on. If this was a veteran team like I had at some points, it would be different - it would bounce right off them. But it's a young team, so you never know how a young team's going to handle it."

Plunkett, meanwhile, regaled with an Al Davis story.

"One of the things that's always stuck with me when I took over in '80, Mr. Davis told me, 'It doesn't matter if you played well; it's only important if we win the game. We can play well next time,'" Plunkett recalled.


NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez grew up in Northern California a fan of the Raiders. So it's only natural that he's taking a piece of his favorite team with him on his next mission, right?

Hernandez, who is on the space shuttle Discovery, is taking a Raiders flag with him to the international space station on the mission, scheduled to blast off tonight.

The Raiders and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers will honor Hernandez at the Coliseum prior to the Raiders-Broncos game on Sept. 27 as part of the team's Fiesta Latina celebration during Hispanic Heritage Month.


The Raiders had the day off today but resume practice Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in Napa.

August 25, 2009
Cable calls Wrangle in Wine Country a "supposed incident"

Tom Cable spoke to Greg Papa, the Voice of the Raiders, Saturday about the "Wrangle in Wine Country" and the interview was aired on Monday night's "Chronicle Live," hosted by Papa.

Cable called the alleged altercation with assistant Randy Hanson a "supposed incident" he could not speak at length about and was "waiting and anxious to get the facts out so that this can all be settled and put behind us."

The firestorm has not been a distraction to the team, Cable said, and he also took a swipe at reporters along the way.

"I know what happened, or what didn't happen, and I'll just let it all come out and then hopefully people do the right thing," Cable added. "And I'm speaking directly to the media when I say that."

While it's clear the story has been widely reported from one angle, Cable has maintained a tight lip and offered plenty of "no comments" when asked to give his version of the "supposed incident."

August 24, 2009
Walker practices, and other Monday notes...

Two surgeries and nine months later, Javon Walker practiced. The veteran receiver looked fluid and smooth in team drills, even if he just one ball, the only ball thrown his way in team drills, on a hook route by the sidelines from Jeff Garcia.

"It feels good, being out there and obviously competing and being in there to help the younger receivers and also help myself, knowing that I can get in and out of breaks real quick and make a catch against NFL-caliber corner(back)s."

Granted, the catch came in front of John Bowie.

Coach Tom Cable said Walker looked like, "A guy kinda getting back into it. Looked a little rusty but he ran some good routes, caught some balls, looked decent in individual (workouts). We'll kind of bring him along a little more each day as we go through the week."

Cable also said he hoped to get Walker into Saturday's exhibition game against New Orleans and had to guard against pushing him to much, too soon.

Walker's 2008 season ended with ankle surgery and he underwent offseason surgery on his right knee this offseason.


The Raiders brought back a familiar face in Monday's signing of middle linebacker Napoleon Harris, who had been traded to Minnesota in the Randy Moss deal in 2005. Cornerback Ricky Manning Jr., signed nine days ago, was cut in the corresponding roster move.

Harris, 30, was the Raiders' first-round pick out of Northwestern in 2002.

"It's a little different, a lot of new faces," said Harris, who spent three seasons with the Vikings and one with Kansas City. "It's not the same Raiders teams I played with but hopefully we can have some great results like we did the first year when I was out here."

Cable said the loss of Kirk Morrison for at least two weeks with a dislocated left elbow, along with a porous run defense against the 49ers, who ran for 275 yards on 47 carries, prompted the signing.

"Just trying to be smart there," Cable said.


The first-team offense and first-team defense stayed away from each other in Monday's practice, as cable is attempting to simulate a regular season game week heading into Saturday's exhibition against the Saints.


Cable said he has not heard from either the Napa Police Department or the NFL in regards to the alleged incident with assistant Randy Hanson.


A quality little scrape went down between undrafted rookie and UC Davis product Jonathan Compas, a back-up center, and veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren. Nice to see a little spunk from the Aggie trying to make the team with the first cuts coming on Monday.


Another interesting scene - JaMarcus Russell running sideline-to-sideline sprints with Warren and defensive end Jay Richardson after practice.


The players are off Tuesday and resume practice Wednesday at 3:30.

August 23, 2009
The day after with Cable

Notes and observations from Tom Cable's Sunday conference call with Bay Area reporters.

Cable said Kirk Morrison, who dislocated his left elbow making a tackle early in Saturday night's 21-20 exhibition loss to the 49ers, should be back by the regular season opener on Sept. 14 and could possibly play in the Raiders' exhibition finale on Sept. 3. More intriguing, though, was Cable's stance that Morrison was leading in his training camp battle with Ricky Brown for starting middle linebacker. And while Brown was also in the mix with Jon Alston for starting strongside linebacker, most of Brown's more immediate reps will come in the middle with Morrison injured.


Run defense is a point of emphasis for the Raiders, so watching the Niners ramble for 275 yards on 47 carries is not a good thing. Far from it. So how will Cable address it this week?

"You've got to set your jaw," he said, "and decide you're not going to get your read end kicked like that."


Javon Walker has been pointing to Monday for his first day of practice. The wide receiver has been such an enigma in his two seasons in Oakland, though, that no one would be surprised if it does not happen.

"As far as we know," Cable said when asked if Walker was still on schedule to practice Monday, "today, right now, yes."

To be fair, though, Walker has looked like the hardest-working player in camp during his individual workouts.


Poor Nick Miller. All the undrafted and undersized rookie receiver/returner was trying to do was reach for an extra yard on a punt return when he fumbled away the ball to seal the loss for the Raiders. Then again, a man's gotta know his limitations. As such, he was getting no love from Cable for his efforts.

"I don't think you get the benefit of the doubt when you turn the ball over," Cable said. "He'll learn from it and we'll move forward."


Cable cited the play of depth chart-challenged defensive tackles Desmond Bryant and William Joseph as impressive, as well as receiver Louis Murphy, who started alongside Darrius Heyward-Bey to give the Raiders a pair of starting rookie receivers.

"He continues to get it done," Cable said of Murphy, who caught two passes for 34 yards, including the 24-yard TD pass from JaMarcus Russell in which Murphy absolutely used Niners cornerback Nate Clements.


The battle for third-string quarterback between Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye is still too tight to call, Cable said.

"One day it's one guy," Cable said, "one day it's the next guy."

Still, I have a sneaking suspicion the Raiders might just keep both guys, making purported No. 2 Jeff Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowler, the odd man out. Not saying it's going to happen, nor do I think it should - that would be ridiculous, given Garcia's pedigree. Just something to file away.

This week's schedule - players practice Monday at 3:30 p.m., have Tuesday off, practice Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., break camp in Napa following an 8:30 a.m. practice on Thursday, have a walkthrough at the Alameda complex Friday at 10:15 a.m., play host to the New Orleans Saints at 1 p.m. Saturday in their third exhibition game and take Sunday off.
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August 22, 2009
Garcia makes his 2-minute debut, and other notes from Niner game

The plan was for Jeff Garcia to make his Raiders debut somewhere in the middle of the second quarter. Instead, and for no particular reason other than it just happened this way, he took the field in the heat of a 2-minute drill, the Raiders on their own 40-yard line with 1:59 remaining in the half.

It was vintage Garcia as the four-time Pro Bowler took command and moved the offense. After a false start on Robert Gallery. Garcia threw two passes, scrambled for nine yards, threw another couple of passes, handed off to Michael Bush and spiked the ball at the 49ers 28-yard line with 48 seconds remaining. Then he threw a pass slightly behind and a tad high to Johnny Lee Higgins, the ball caroming off the receiver's hands and into the waiting grasp of Allen Rossum for an interception. Garcia's day was done.

"It's a game of inches; you can't miss like that," Garcia said. "What could have been maybe the completion of a positive drive turned out to be a negative ending to my limited time. So, it was good to get back out on the field. I'm not quite, where I would want to be, just because of limited practice, but, just to get out in the mix and have some opportunities to make some plays, I thought there were some good things that took place tonight."

Garcia, 39, also said his strained right calf is still lingering but he has fully accepted his role as a back-up quarterback and mentor to JaMarcus Russell. Even if Garcia has not embraced it.

"Well, that opportunity (to compete for the starting job) isn't presenting itself, and I realize that," he said. "So I'm not in a position to where I can necessarily compete for that starting job. That's not the role that I've been given. My job right now is to push myself to be the best that I can be and to help JaMarcus grow as a quarterback and help him to continue to better himself, and to look at the little details of the game that can help him in the long run. And I think if we can grow together in that sort of way, it can make the position stronger and it'll help the position be more successful."

Garcia was asked if Russell has been receptive.

"I think early on there was a lot of just feeling out as to, I am a teammate, but I'm sure there was a sense of, They're bringing in this veteran who has been in the West Coast system for a number of years, who's had success on the field," Garcia said. "And I'm sure that in a way there was a sense of being threatened in that way. But never have I tried to make this a battle between him and I, and I think the more that we've gotten a chance to be around each other and become teammates the way that we are now, especially through training camp, the relationship, the friendship is definitely grown quite a bit."

Communication has come easier.

"I'm not going to tell him how to play the position," Garcia said. "He's been playing the position a long time, and he's had a lot of success playing the position. But I can help him in understanding certain things, nuances, and just the approach to the game, and just the things that I see on the field, and we can talk about that and figure out what the best approach is. And so in that sort of way, I think things have gotten a lot better between us, and they'll continue to get better. I'm here to support him and help him be the best he can be for this team."


Call it a piece of sweet revenge. With the way the 49ers defensive backs were woofing at the Raiders' young receivers during the joint practice session Wednesday in which they had five interceptions in a red-zone drill, you'd think Louis Murphy would holler back. After all, the rookie from Florida, who was credited with getting the Niners' blood going with some trash talk, used cornerback Nate Clements on his 24-yard touchdown reception from Russell midway through the second quarter.

Instead, Murphy took it in stride.

"It was just a good call against the coverage they were playing," Murphy said. It just happened that he bit on the coverage and I ended up in the back of the end zone."


Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison is out for at least two weeks after dislocating his left elbow on a tackle.

"Someone landed on it," he said. "I got up and my elbow was just kind of hanging."

Asked if it hurt, Morrison smiled and said, "I'm a warrior, baby."


A scene to remember - undrafted rookie Nick Miller, trudging off the field, shoulders slumped and head down, after his fumbled punt with 3:30 to play effectively ended the game. No one walked with him until special teams coordinator John Fassel ran up behind him, put an arm around him and whispered something into his ear. Classy move by Fassel, even if the fumble, committed when he was trying to gain an extra yard when his fate was already sealed, doomed his chances at making the team.


The Raiders have added a No. 95 sticker to the back of their helmets in memory of late linebacker Marquis Cooper, who died in a tragic boating accident this offseason in the Gulf of Mexico.

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August 21, 2009
The Napa PD press release

Here's the press release announcing the Napa Police Department is re-opening its investigation into the alleged assault committed by Tom Cable on Randy Hanson on Aug. 5. It is important to note, however, that while the investigation is re-opened, no charged have yet been filed. Nor has the Napa District Attorney's office received a police report.

Napa Police Department
Press Release Information

August 21, 2009

Assault Investigation (Oakland Raiders)

On August 6, 2009, the Napa Police Department was dispatched to the Queen of the Valley Hospital regarding a report of an alleged assault that had occurred the previous day at the Raiders Training Camp Facilities in Napa, CA. The victim reported he had been assaulted by a staff member of the Raider's organization. The incident took place at approximately 10:00 AM on August 5, 2009.

Upon initial contact the victim did not want any police action or formal charges filed. The victim refused to identify the responsible or any potential witnesses. Due to a lack of information provided to the police department the case was closed. Since that time, new information has come to light which has resulted in the investigation to be re-opened. Due to this being an ongoing criminal investigation no other information will be provided at this time. Any future updates related to this case will be posted in the Press Releases section on the Napa Police Department's webpage at the following address:

August 21, 2009
Napa PD re-opens investigation

Tom Cable genuinely seemed blindsided during his sparsely attended media session following a 30-minute walkthrough practice on Friday. Maybe it was because the news that the Napa Police Department was re-opening its investigation into the alleged assault committed by Cable on assistant coach Randy Hanson had hit just as the Raiders took the field.

Asked if he had any comment on the news, a flushed Cable said, "I don't."

Then, asked immediately thereafter who his starting linebackers would be Saturday against the 49ers, Cable seemed stunned.

"Um - you caught me off guard here with that one," Cable said, before answering, "Thomas Howard, Kirk Morrison and Jon Alston."

Following is the link to the breaking news story:

August 20, 2009
More weirdness in Wrangle in Wine Country

Things keep getting more and more weird in the Wrangle in Wine Country. The National Football Post is reporting that Randy Hanson is about to talk to Napa police, which could lead to felony assault charges against Tom Cable.

Meanwhile, Yahoo! Sports posted an article detailing years of purported similar behavior in Silver and Blackdom.

August 19, 2009
Neal released, Baker signed

The Raiders' surprising release of fullback Lorenzo Neal prior to Wednesday's second joint practice with the 49ers was a shocker in more ways than one. First, it means that third-year fullback Oren O'Neal, who suffered a devastating left knee injury on the opening kickoff of an exhibition game against Arizona on Aug, 23, is healthy enough to carry the load, or at least share it with Luke Lawton. Second, it means that Neal's quality character was better than his production. At least in the eyes of the Raiders.

Because remember, the Raiders mightily touted the leadership skills of the four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection when they signed the 38-year-old from Fresno State who is still widely considered the best blocking fullback of his era.

Besides the similar names, O'Neal is 13 years younger than Neal, who was trying to catch on with his eighth team. Plus, they have similar punishing styles coming out of the backfield.

"I'm just preparing for where we need to be as a football team, really, and what we thought we have, and whether that was enough and all that," said coach Tom Cable in explaining the move. "So it was time to go in a different direction there."

Still, when Neal signed in May, many questioned the logic as his skills as a blocking back were not all that necessary thanks to the Raiders' zone blocking scheme. So Cable was asked if Neal simply did not fit the system.

"No, he fit it," Cable said. "It wasn't anything to do with that. It was just really, you know, who's here and what we think's best for the team at this point."

O'Neal is coming back from torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments as well as surgery to reattach a hamstring muscle to the knee.

Shockingly, O'Neal could start on opening night.

"You know, I think this - if he continues to progress like he's doing right now, he'll have a great shot at it," Cable said. "I think that's the best way to say it right now. He's doing really, really good."


- Neal's release allowed the Raiders to bring back safety Rashad Baker, who appeared in 10 games with Oakland last season, starting one. The move can be viewed as a insurance, what with rookie safety Mike Mitchell's strained hamstring a lingering issue.

"Potentially, yes," Cable said. "And then just having someone back in here that was a heck of a special-teams player, and a guy who also really worked himself into being that third safety when Tyvon (Branch) went down last year. So (the signing) gives us good depth."

Baker, who was cut by Philadelphia on Tuesday, had three interceptions with the Raiders last season, tying DeAngelo Hall and Chrish Johnson for the team lead.


- News on the Chaz Schilens front: the second-year receiver who broke a bone in his left foot on a freak, untouched play, reportedly underwent surgery Wednesday. Cable said Schilens, who had been the best player in camp while emerging as a favorite target for JaMarcus Russell, will return in 4-to-6 weeks.


- The Raiders did not embarrass themselves in the fourth and final practice with the 49ers, as the offense had in the morning session with five interceptions.

"It was a tremendous response," Cable said. "Defensively, really lights out on third down. Just want to see us make a couple of those throws down the field. You saw one get tipped and you saw one get dropped. And one got tipped and intercepted. So I just want to clean up those three plays. Third-down run looked good; blitz looked good there at the end. Two of them, I thought, we mis-keyed it, but other than that, pretty good."

August 19, 2009
Raiders serve a "buffet" of INTs to Niners

While the 49ers defensive backs were calling it the best practice they've ever had - Wednesday's five-interception performance in the joint morning session here in Napa - the Raiders were licking their wounds and attempting to move on.

Or, at least, move on as quickly as you can from being humiliated in a red-zone drill with four interceptions (the Niners also picked off a pass in a 7-on-7 drill)

JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski were each intercepted twice and the Niners' secondary got mouthier with each pick.

"What we just talked about is how you respond to it, really, said coach Tom Cable. "Those kinds of things happen to you (in a) game, so you've got to be able to handle those adversity moments and just get back on the horse and go again and I didn't think we did a very good job of that. But I may have put them in a negative situation, too."


"Pressing your quarterback to cut it loose," Cable said. "Take some chances, if you will."

No doubt Russell is still a work in progress in this, his critical third season, though only his second with a full training camp thanks to his rookie holdout. He agreed he was trying to "cut it loose" in the red zone.

"And it kinda backfired a little bit," Russell said. "But other than that, go in and learn from that, come out the next practice, try to set a fire."

Russell said he was not worried about throwing behind his receivers, making the interceptions easier to come by.

"Hell, you play football, things happen," Russell said. "It ain't like it's the end of the world. If it is, you show me, but other than that, just go from it and go to the next play."

While the Niners were hootin' and hollerin' after their big plays, and Niners cornerback Dre Bly added some spice later by saying the Raiders QBs "were feeding us; that buffet was good," Russell took it in stride.

"Well, yesterday they weren't doing too much of that and hopefully we can get it back to the same thing this afternoon," Russell said. "Guys are gonna make plays. Those guys make big money to play their position as well. It's not a one-sided sport."


- Seems a rookie got the 49ers veteran secondary in a lather with his mouth. Louis Murphy, never one to back down from a game of trash talk, engaged in some with Shawntae Spencer just before the pick-fest began.

"That's just me, man," Murphy said. "It's all football. I just talk to the guys, man. It's just football...and if it's anything personal, man, it's just football.

"That's how I get motivated."

Apparently, it also motivates the opposition.


- You could hear the beep, beep, beeping of the bus backing up over former coach Lane Kiffin. The driver? Cable.

Well, Cable discussing Russell's stunted growth his first two seasons could be referred to as Cable throwing Kiffin under the bus and rolling over him a few times, to and fro.

"Since (Russell) got here, he's really been held back, if you will," Cable said. "So I think it's my responsibility to see if we can open that up a little bit."


- An interesting scene was Javon Walker in full pads, AFTER practice, getting in some on-field world by catching passes from athletic trainer Scott Touchet. Recovering from off-season knee surgery, Walker has been the hardest worker in camp, even if his workouts have been by himself. He aims to practice for the first time on Monday.

August 18, 2009
NFL gumshoes investigating

Day 2 of the Wrangle in Wine Country lost a little steam on a national level, thanks to Brett Favre's return to the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. But reports that coach Tom Cable had punched out defensive assistant Randy Hanson and broke his jaw earlier this month at the Raiders' training camp facility would not go away.

Not when the Associated Press reported the NFL would investigate said reports.

Cable was in no mood to discuss such things in his daily media briefing Tuesday, following a joint morning practice with the 49ers.

"Listen," he said briskly when asked if he had been contacted by the league, "you want to talk about this football team and the players on this football team, I'll talk about it with you all day, otherwise I'm not getting into it."

Asked if he understood that the media had to ask the questions, Cable answered, "I respect that, but you have to respect the fact that I want to talk (about) my team."

His initial remarks to local media about the purported dust-up were that it was an "internal matter" and he would have no other comment. Yet, he later told ESPN's Mark Schlereth, a former teammate of Cable's at Idaho in the late 1980s, "nothing happened" between Cable and Hanson.

So, of course, Cable was reminded of his remarks to ESPN and asked again if anything had happened with Hanson.

"Nothing happened," he repeated.

Nothing, apparently, has happened with Hanson's job status, either, as Cable was asked if Hanson was still on his staff.

"Not gonna answer that," Cable said.

- This is the second consecutive year the 49ers have come up to Napa to join the Raiders for practice. This time, though, they are together for a pair of two-a-days. So what brought the NorCal rivals together again?

"Well, I was just a part of it last year for that one day and I think both teams felt like it was a great benefit," Cable said. "When Mike (Singletary) started talking about - Hey, let's add another day because it was so good and then it was over - we wanted to add the extra day, and like I said, I think they feel the same. We got a lot out of today."

- One major benefit of facing the 49ers is they run a 3-4 defense, the scheme favored most in the Raiders' division.

"I like it for a change-up," said left guard Robert Gallery. "You get used to going against the same guy every play. These guys are new guys, they have different moves, different type of player, so it's good just to hone your skills on a different type of animal. It's good for us.

"I think we play 8-10 games against 3-4 teams, so this is good work for us because it's a different animal, you got different rules and whatnot. But it's definitely going to be good work for us and good to see them this weekend in the exhibition game."

Gallery missed the start of camp due to an emergency appendectomy and has only been practicing since last week. The sixth-year pro is also used to controversy in Silver and Blackdom. So, he's deft at deflecting questions about it, as he did when asked if offensive line meetings ended in fisticuffs, what with the Cable-socking-up-Hanson rumors still swirling.

"Yeah, you know, we knock each other out once a night," Gallery joked. "No, it's crazy. I have no idea what happened, if anything happened. I could really care less."

August 18, 2009
Cable goes on cable, kinda sorta

While Tom Cable refused to discuss with local reporters reports that he had punched assistant Randy Hanson and broke his jaw, Cable apparently found a friendly media type on the national level at ESPN.

According to ESPN's Mark Schlereth (, Cable told him that no punches were thrown. Schlereth, who split his 12 years as an NFL offensive lineman between Washington and Denver, played his college ball at Idaho, which is also Cable's alma mater. Cable's coaching career began at Idaho as a graduate assistant in 1988 and 1989, when Schlereth was playing for the Vandals.

August 17, 2009
Garcia shows up for work

Oh yeah, there was some other news emanating from Silver and Blackdom on Monday. Jeff Garcia made good on his word to return to Raiders camp and was quickly inserted into the back-up quarterback slot and ran the No. 2 offense. Rust was apparent.

It was the 39-year-old's first practice in pads as he had not taken a snap in over two weeks due to what had been described as a strain in his right calf.

"It felt great," Garcia said after practice. "I felt as fresh as ever. I almost feel bad because I'm not aching now, and I'm not sore or tired. I'm fresh and ready to go and excited to be out there and I know a lot of guys have been battling every single day in camp and right now they're going through those feelings of wanting a little bit of a break. So it felt good for me to be out there and hopefully this is something that will continue."

Garcia said there is no lingering pain in his calf. In a column today (, I wondered if there were more than physical issues going on with him. Such as a bruised ego, while wondering if he was promised more of a shot at the starting job until he got to camp. In any case, he acknowledged being frustrated in not participating.

"I want to show what I'm capable of to my teammates and show I have a strong work ethic and I'm excited about being here and I want to transfer my enthusiasm on to them and just go out and compete and practice," he said. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to do that for the first two weeks and that was really frustrating for me, but if there was ever a time for something like this to happen, it was probably the best time. Hopefully now, I can put this behind me and we can get prepared and get ready to hopefully play in some of these preseason games and earn a spot on this team."

August 17, 2009
Cable responds...kinda

With reports swirling that he was the one who punched out defensive assistant Randy Hanson in a training camp dust-up earlier this month, Tom Cable went into a defensive stance when asked if he could address said reports.

"Yeah, I can address it," Cable said. "It's an internal issue that we are dealing with and that's all I'm going to say."

Asked if he could say whether he was involved, as reported, Cable blanched.

"It's an internal issue that we are dealing with," Cable repeated, "and that's all I'm going to say."

Asked if Hanson was still employed by the team, Cable paused before answering, "I'm not going to comment on that."

Told that there were reports that he had punched Hanson in the jaw, Cable again issued a no comment before a Raiders P.R. official three times interrupted follow-up questions, ending the Q&A with reporters.

August 17, 2009
Cable punches out assistant?

That's the rumor of the moment, that Tom Cable broke the jaw of defensive assistant coach Randy Hanson in a training camp dust-up earlier this month. I was assigned to cover the A's tonight in Oakland when the news broke so I drove up to Napa from the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. Just got here. Practice ends in about half-an-hour so we should get more info on this then. Stay tuned.

Interesting to note, however, that Hanson had a run-in with then-coach Lane Kiffin last year, though not physical. As the story goes, Kiffin wanted to fire Hanson, who was then a quality control coach, and the move was blocked by none other than Al Davis himself.

If the Cable-clocking-Hanson story is true, you can expect some discipline from the NFL.

August 16, 2009
Knee-jerk reactions? And more Sunday camp notes

In what feels to the outside world like a pair of knee-jerk reactions, the Raiders made a pair of roster moves over the weekend.

On Saturday, diminutive cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. was signed and tight end John Paul Foschi was released. Sunday, undersized and well-traveled linebacker Morlon Greenwood was signed and defensive end Derrick Gray was waived.

"It's just to make sure we have enough legs at that position," coach Tom Cable said of the Manning move. "He's here obviously to give us more juice and to compete as well."

The Raiders could not have been happy with the rough night turned in by Stanford Routt at the corner opposite Nnamdi Asomugha against Dallas. But in practice on Sunday, Manning, listed at 5-feet-9, 195 pounds, was given the Elvis "Toast" Patterson treatment as well by the Raiders wideouts. Manning is wearing No. 28.

Greenwood, meanwhile, is a 6-feet, 238-pounder who has played four years for both Miami and Houston on the outside and as a special teams player. He is wearing No. 56, Derrick Burgess' old number. It is no secret the Raiders are trying to push Kirk Morrison so the signing signals more of the same. Just makes you wonder if they're trying to push Morrison out of the picture entirely. Plus, Jon Alston has foot issues and Ike Ekejiuba suffered a shoulder stinger against the Cowboys.

"There's some history there and we want to take care of that and not get him back into it too soon where perhaps he may reinjure it and now he's out for an extended period of time," Cable said. "Probably more to do with Ike than Alston."

- The big news coming out of camp Sunday was that Jeff Garcia would return to practice Monday at full speed. The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback has not taken a snap in more than two weeks, or since before the team put on pads and started hitting due to what was described as a strained calf.

But many have started to wonder if there was more than a strained calf. Bruised feelings, perhaps? I go into it in a column that runs in tomorrow's Bee.

- There's a time frame now for Javon Walker joining the team for full workouts. Kinda. Sorta. O.K., here's how Cable put it.

"We're actually very close," Cable said. "I think it could be as soon as right after the San Francisco game (on Saturday). So we're just days now."

Just watching Walker work on his own during practices has been encouraging as it seems the veteran is working harder than any other receiver.

"I've watched a couple of those workouts, and not just the conditioning part of it, but the change of direction, the ball-catching, and I've been very impressed," Cable added. "It's exciting for us, for him. It feels really good. So hopefully when he gets out here and gets to work he can have some success."

- Another position battle to follow in camp - fullback. Rarely does a team carry two and in the veteran Lorenzo Neal, 38, and in third-year man Oren O'Neal, returning from a catastrophic knee injury last preseason, you'd think one was looking at the other in a mirror.

"You know, I think that's going to be decided as we get through these next few weeks," Cable said. "They are very age difference is really the only difference in the two guys. They're both very physical; both catch the ball well, can get better at that, and understand their role and embrace their role. I think they are very similar."

- Those that did not practice Sunday - Louis Murphy, Walker, Khalif Barnes, Marcus Johnson, John Wade, Garcia, Terdell Sands, Ekejiuba and Mike Mitchell.

August 14, 2009
The afterglow of a 31-10 exhibition victory

Yes, it was just an exhibition game. But when things have been as bad as they have been at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway the past few years, you take what you can get. And a 31-10 defeat of the Dallas Cowboys in both team's exhibition opener is more than enough reason to get excited.

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell looked and played like a leader...for the two series in which he was on the field.

Chaz Schilens looked like a legit option at wide receiver.

Darren McFadden showed flashes of brilliance coming out of the backfield.

The defense was hawking to the ball.

"I thought we played with really good effort," coach Tom Cable said. "I thought we were playing at a very fast pace with good speed in all three phases. We had some goals going out. We wanted to get in some rhythm offensively and I thought we did that throwing the ball. A couple of protection issues in that first half that we got straightened out. Defensively, we wanted to be disciplined and stay in gaps. Part of that I feel decent about and part of that has to improve.

"Biggest negative I saw was too many penalties."

The Raiders were called for 14 penalties for 107 yards.

- First-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey's pro debut was nondescript as the No. 7 overall pick from Maryland started and caught one ball for eight yards. Russell, though, went deep to him and underthrew him for an incompletion.

"I knew the ball might be coming my way," DHB said. "Outside release, corner did a good job, safety got over and helped pretty fast. Tried to make a play, didn't happen."

Said Russell: "Due to his speed...he has to get an outside release to give him more room to work on the boundaries."

"At the same time, those guys will see his speed and those safeties were getting over pretty fast."

- Russell is a fan of Michael Vick, so the Raiders QB was happy to hear the disgraced dogfighting quarterback was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles earlier Thursday.

"I thought it was great," Russell said. "Giving him another chance, best wishes goes out to him and it was sooner or later before somebody gave him a shot and Philadelphia did and let's see him out there."

- The Raiders eschewed the blitz last season but showed at least four blitzes in the first half alone.

"We're going to keep working to be who we are on defense," Cable said. "I think our personality is becoming that of an attacking group. We like who we have in the secondary, so why not use those other guys as weapons?'

- Three players did not finish the game - Jon Wade (stinger), Nnamdi Asomugha (heel) and Ike Ekejiuba (shoulder).

August 13, 2009
Interesting scene

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just walked out of the tunnel and was cheered loudly by Raider Nation. He even stopped by the Black Hole, where he shook hands and was hugged by the fans.

August 13, 2009
Huff with a much-needed pick

Relegated to second string free safety, Michael Huff just intercepted Jon Kitna at the Oakland seven yard line midway through the second quarter. Huff read the play beautifully and ran over from the middle of the field to pick off Kitna's long-bomb attempt to Sam Hurd.

No doubt it's a confidence booster for Huff, the No. 7 overall selection of the 2006 draft.

August 13, 2009
That's it for JR

JaMarcus Russell is out of the game, as expected, after one quarter of play. He looked poised in completing six of nine passes for 50 yards. He stood tall in the pocket, except for when it collapsed around him when Jay Ratliff batted down a pass, and looked free and easy when the pocket disappeared entirely and he bolted for an 18-yard run.

August 13, 2009
Exhibition update, Cowboys 7, Raiders 3

Tony Romo just carved up the Raiders' purportedly revamped defense by driving 71 yards in nine plays in 4 minutes and 49 seconds. Cornerback Standord Routt was beaten a few times on the drive, which ended with Jason Witten eluding Routt in the front of the end zone for an eight-yard score.

August 13, 2009
Exhibition update, Raiders 3, Cowboys 0

With a second-and-goal at the Dallas two yard line, the Raiders went backwards thanks to a holding call on Cooper Carlisle and an ill-advised pass to Lorenzo Neal behind teh line of scrimmage before JaMarcus Russell hit Chaz Schillens at the four yard line.

It was eerily similar to last season, when the Raiders would be frustrated and go in reverse in the red zone.

Sebastian Janikowski's 23-yard field goal ensued.

August 13, 2009
Exhibition opener pregame notes

Team captains are Shane Lechler, Justin Fargas and Greg Ellis...

- No surprises in scratches dur to injury as Jeff Garcia (calf), Mike Mitchell (safety), Jon Alston (foot), Mark Wilson (back), Khalif Barnes (ankle), Robert Gallery (appendix) and Javon Walker (knee) are out.

- Somewhat surprise starters are Ricky Brown at strongside linebacker and Chris Morris at left guard.

August 12, 2009
Hamstrung Mitchell to sit out

Bad news, it appears, for fans who want to see rookie safety Mike Mitchell light somebody up on the field. The second-round draft pick from Ohio re-tweaked his hamstring at practice on Tuesday morning, underwent an MRI later that day and the injury is worse than expected. So he won't suit up for the Raiders' exhibition opener Thursday against Dallas.

"It's going to be a little while," coach Tom Cable told reporters after Wednesday's walk-thru in Napa. "How long? We don't know."

Mitchell initially strained his hamstring during the mandatory May mini-camp and had said this week that he was at full strength.

"Disappointing, but it is what it is," Cable added. "You've just got to deal with it. Rehab and get him back."

August 12, 2009
Tim Brown, remember him?

Raider Nation is suspicious by nature, conspiracy theorists of the Oliver Stone order. But that doesn't mean it is wrong. Need more proof that the Raiders are overlooked by national media types? Check out Peter King's latest column on as he forecasts next season's Pro Football Hall of Fame Class (

Of course, a million times of course, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith will be enshrined in their respective first years of eligibility...and they should. But in his list of others to consider, there is no mention of another guy who will be eligible for the first time. Guy who is second all-time in receiving yards and third in receptions. Guy who played for the Raiders from 1988 through 2003. Guy by the name of Tim Brown. Yup, that Tim Brown.

King says pass catchers Cris Carter and Shannon Sharpe might deserve more HOF love, while failing to mention Brown.

It's been written here that Tom Flores, Jim Plunkett, Ray Guy, Cliff Branch and Kenny Stabler (in that order) all deserve to have their busts in Canton and now, it appears Brown will join them as Canton-snubs. Too bad. Too, too bad.

In my opinion, it all goes back to the Hall of Fame selection process being one of the most flawed systems in sports, a 44-elector board that many times, according to more than one elector I've spoken with, falls into a vote-for-my-guy, I'll-vote-for-your-guy mentality.

August 12, 2009
New Sactown radio home for the Silver and Black

In what may seem a strange fit, a leading Conservative radio station has acquired the rights to broadcast Raiders games (insert joke here). But seriously, I just received an email that KTKZ 1380 am is the new Sacramento affiliate for the Raiders, beginning with the regular season opener on Sept. 14 and will also broadcast the pregame shows.

KTKZ currently broadcasts the A's, Cal football and basketball and select Sacramento high school football. For more information, goto

August 11, 2009
Ready for some position battles?

With two days to go until the exhibition opener against Dallas at the Coliseum, coach Tom Cable sounded the competition alarm Tuesday. Cable said he was looking forward to the camp battles being resolved between Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye for the No. 3 quarterback spot, at center between newly signed Samson Satele, who's been playing almost exclusively with the first team, and John Wade, at middle linebacker, where Kirk Morrison and Rickey Brown are sharing time, and in the secondary, where Hiram Eugene and Michael Huff are competing for free safety and at left corner, where Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt are dueling it out.

"The battle's not really between me and another quarterback," Frye told reporters after Tuesday's morning practice. "The battle's between me and myself...that's all I can control, is how I prepare...the chips will fall where they may."

- Of course. Just in time for my feature story on hard-hitting Mike Mitchell, which runs tomorrow in advance of the Raiders' exhibition opener against the Cowboys, the Raiders' much-maligned second-round pick from Ohio re-aggravated the hamstring injury Tuesday he initially tweaked in May's mandatory mini-camp.

Cable has played it safe throughout camp with niggling injuries, not hesitating to hold guys out of practice. As such, don't be surprised if the hard-hitting Mitchell's NFL debut is postponed at least one game. Might wanna keep those Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum comparisons on hold.

- Backup quarterback Jeff Garcia (calf), linebacker Jon Alston (foot), cornerback Jason Horton (foot), Huff (ribs) and right guard Mark Wilson (back) did not practice due to injury while defensive end Greg Ellis and defensive tackle Gerard Warren had the day off.

August 10, 2009
Gallery suits up, and other Monday camp notes

Left guard Robert Gallery, who underwent an emergency appendectomy last month, donned the pads and hit for the first time in training camp in today's lone afternoon practice. It was a pleasant surprise, as Gallery was not expected to be back until Saturday.

"They're good about letting me go as I feel good," said Gallery, who acknowledged that he won't have to wear any special padding over the scar, "so they're not going to throw me back on full speed but (I can) do the little things, and if I keep feeling better than I'll get back to full go."

Meaning he won't play against the Dallas Cowboys in both teams' exhibition opener on Thursday. Plus, as he admitted, he has limitations.

"I'm fat," he said with a laugh. "No, I've just got to get in game shape. You can run all the want, but until you get out there and put the shoulder pads on, just get back in shape is the main thing, sharpen things up. I'm a little rusty with the timing and that stuff but I felt good."

Said coach Tom Cable: "We're obviously way ahead and he feels great and felt great today. I just talked to him right after, no problems...just kind of ease him back into it today and tomorrow and then we'll get through Thursday night and get going with him on Saturday."

Gallery said he hopes to play in the second exhibition game, on Aug. 22, at the 49ers.

-On the 12th day of camp, rookies Louis Murphy and Mike Mitchell got into the best scrap yet, a slap-and-punch-filled donnybrook that ended with Mitchell flipping off Murphy's helmet and the safety taking the receiver down to the ground as linebacker Kirk Morrison shielded teammates from breaking it up...too soon.

"Them having little quarrels is good, remember that," Cable said with a grin. "This is football and they're men. If you have a brother, you know that it's O.K. to settle some things once in a while."

Both rookies agreed.

"We just got into a heated moment," Murphy said. "Mitch is the kind of player that you run that play, you're blocking, but me and Mitch we're good friends. We quarrel just like close friends. We get into it on the field but after that, it's the end of it."

Said Mitchell: "Louis is one of my best friends, actually, in life. We bonded over the summer and he's definitely one of my guys. It was hot out there today. I don't know, things happen, but we talked about it afterwards. He's going through some stuff right now so it's all good."

Gallery was bemused by the scuffle.

"It's tough, tempers get flaring, but at the end of the day it's about football," Gallery said. "I think when we're all young, you get in fights and when you get older you realize it doesn't do any good besides making you tired. I used to be that way and want to fight everybody and now it's just part of the game. Everybody gets mad at times but you just have to be professional about it and take care of it the right way."

-Darrius Heyward-Bey, who sat out Sunday's practice with a sore toe, was back and had the catch of the day, a one-handed, over-the-shoulder grab down the left sideline to beat Jason Horton on a pass from Charlie Frye.

"I thought maybe this was Darrius' best day in camp," Cable said. "(He) caught the ball well, caught everything, the underneath, the over the top, the big ball on the sideline, the one-handed catch. Those are well for his confidence. We want to keep that coming."

-Javon Walker (knee), Khalif Barnes (ankle), Mark Wilson (back), Justin Fargas (hip), Jeff Garcia (calf), John Bowie (groin), Greg Ellis (back), Michael Huff (ribs), Jon Alston (foot) and Jonathan Holland (knee) did not practice due to injury, though Cable said none were really serious. Still, Walker, Barnes, Wilson and Garcia will not play against the Cowboys. Plus, Cornell Green and Cooper Carlisle were given the day off.

-Cable said the first-stringers will play the first quarter Thursday against the Cowboys.

-The Raiders return to two practices Tuesday, at 8:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

August 9, 2009
DHB sits out practice, works on his hands

JaMarcus Russell held a "passing camp" in his native Alabama this summer in which youngsters Will Franklin, Jonathan Holland, Louis Murphy and Todd Watkins attended.

Second-year receiver Chaz Schillens played catch this offseason with Jeff Garcia.

And now, first-rounder Darrius Heyward-Bey, owner of the most watched hands in camp, has taken part in Danny Southwick's Passing School. Well, not really, but it was something to behold during Sunday's lone practice in oppressive heat.

While the Raiders went at it in group drills, seven-on-seven, nine-on-nine and 11-on-11 scrimmages in full pads, DHB was off on a side field, taking passes while standing still - 10-yard bullets, 20-yard floaters - from the recently cut quarterback who has taken an internship with the Raiders.

Raiders coach Tom Cable, though, said DHB was not being punished; he was actually nursing a sore toe.

"No it's not...serious at all," Cable said. "Just, let's be smart and not do something that may prolong anything."

- Charlie Frye, who has won as many games at the Coliseum as a starting quarterback as JaMarcus Russell, appears to have finally overtaken journeyman Bruce Gradkowski for third-string, behind Russell and Jeff Garcia.

Frye looked impressive in practice with his touch passing while taking more snaps than usual.

- A scary moment came in live drills when Chris Johnson broke up a pass and rolled up Nnamdi Asomugha's legs. Asomugha shook it off, though, and shimmied his shoulders as Raider Nation exhaled.

- So who says it doesn't get hot in wine country? It was sweltering - had to be near triple digits on the field for guys in full pads - and Cable loved every sweaty moment of it.

"We needed a little bit warmer weather, we got it, did a nice job today of pushing through and dealing with that so it was good to see that happening," he said. "Now, with the weather the way it's going to be in the next few days, that should really help us. So, I'm happy that it's going on."

The heat seemed to contribute to 6-feet-4, 330-pound defensive tackle Gerard Warren looking out of sorts early and the quick skirmish between receiver Nick Miller and cornerback Stanford Routt late, which included Miller punching Routt in the helmet.

- The Raiders also piped in crowd noise for the first time to give the scrimmages more of a game-time feel.

- Heyward-Bey, Garcia, Javon Walker, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Barnes, Robert Gallery, and Mark Wilson did not practice Justin Fargas and John Bowie were limited or did not finish.

- This week's schedule - the Raiders will practice in full pads Monday at 3:30, have two practices on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m., hold a walk-thru on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., play host to the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum on Thursday in both teams' exhibition opener at 7 p.m., take Friday off, have an 8:30 a.m. and a 4:20 p.m. practice on Saturday and a 3:30 p.m. practice on Sunday.

August 6, 2009
J-Rich speaks out

Talking about departed linemate Derrick Burgess, defensive end Jay Richardson revealed for the first time that he had undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in June, which was why he has been held back in camp. He was also asked about new defensive coordinator John Marshall's scheme and if it was basically the same from years past.

"Sure, this is Al's defense," he said, referring to owner Al Davis. "It's the same deal and we love it. And I love what coach brings to the table...I love his attitude, that he doesn't want us to change everything we're doing but he wants us to do things the right way. He's really detail-specific and detail-oriented and I think that's really important because last year there was a lot of gray area on our defense."

-The Raiders have brought in referees to officiate plays during scrimmages. They will be in Napa for the next two days.

The reasoning?

"There is no secret that we have had a discipline problem in the last few years," said coach Tom Cable. "So we have really stressed that, before they got here and tried to clean it up so that will be the goal here the next three days to really use them, get the players to really talk to them about what they are calling and why. So, they have an understanding of what those guys are looking for."

Linebacker Kirk Morrison said the refs gave camp an early sense of regular season play.

"We know that the last couple years we've been penalized a lot on both sides of the ball," Morrison. "So (let's) get them out here now and really understand why they're here. Clean up some of those small areas that can cost a football team, five, 10, 15 yards here and there."

-First-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey had a solid day but fellow youngster pass catchers Louis Murphy was spectacular with a diving reception at the goal line and Chaz Schillens continued to impress.

-Chris Johnson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Oren O'Neal, Jeff Garcia, Terdell Sands, Mark Wilson, Robert Gallery and Javon Walker did not suit up for the evening practice.

With the exhibition opener against Dallas less than a week away, Cable said Garcia would be the backup quarterback, "if he's practicing (by then)."

August 5, 2009
Barnes has a broken ankle

The competition at left tackle between Mario Henderson and Khalif Barnes is over, what with Barnes telling reporters after Wednesday's lone afternoon practice in Napa that he is out for up to two months with a broken left ankle.

Ironically, the play on which Barnes, who has played on nothing but the left side in his NFL career, was injured came with him working at right tackle. The pile rolled up on his leg as he also suffered a bruised knee in the Tuesday morning practice.

"It (stinks) but it's the nature of our game," Barnes said. "They say 6 to 8 weeks or something like that, so something positive I can take out of this is (to) get into the (play)book and keep the mental aspect of it. I can be a better player mentally so when I do come back just work on the physical stuff and I think that can come easy. The biggest thing about it is staying mental and staying positive."

So with Barnes out, here's the latest projection at the opening night starting O-line - LT Henderson, LG Robert Gallery, who is still recuperating from a recent appendectomy, C Samson Satele, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Cornell Green.

"I think Mario's a good player," Barnes said of Henderson. "We have good players who are competing for positions and jobs. When you have a strong line and everyone's strong and coaches have a decision play, that means you have a good O-line. I love the competition and everybody was doing well and we had a good thing going on, but this break happened and I'll bounce back from it."

Said coach Tom Cable: "It sets us back a little bit. You just move forward in this business. He should be back rather early (so) we are fortunate that way. He should be back rather early in terms of the regular season so we will at least (have the) depth we were counting on there in the first place."

August 5, 2009
Barnes has a broken ankle

The competition at left tackle between Mario Henderson and Khalif Barnes is over, what with Barnes telling reporters after Wednesday's lone afternoon practice in Napa that he is out for up to two months with a broken left ankle.

Ironically, the play on which Barnes, who has played on nothing but the left side in his NFL career, was injured came with him working at right tackle. The pile rolled up on his leg as he also suffered a bruised knee in the Tuesday morning practice.

"It (stinks) but it's the nature of our game," Barnes said. "They say 6 to 8 weeks or something like that, so something positive I can take out of this is (to) get into the (play)book and keep the mental aspect of it. I can be a better player mentally so when I do come back just work on the physical stuff and I think that can come easy. The biggest thing about it is staying mental and staying positive."

So with Barnes out, here's the latest projection at the opening night starting O-line - LT Henderson, LG Robert Gallery, who is still recuperating from a recent appendectomy, C Samson Satele, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Cornell Green.

"I think Mario's a good player," Barnes said of Henderson. "We have good players who are competing for positions and jobs. When you have a strong line and everyone's strong and coaches have a decision play, that means you have a good O-line. I love the competition and everybody was doing well and we had a good thing going on, but this break happened and I'll bounce back from it."

Said coach Tom Cable: "It sets us back a little bit. You just move forward in this business. He should be back rather early (so) we are fortunate that way. He should be back rather early in terms of the regular season so we will at least (have the) depth we were counting on there in the first place."

August 5, 2009
Raiders: Thanks for the compliments, we think?!?

Talk about your backhanded compliments., in a feature entitled "25 things we miss in football (," took a couple of swipes at the Raiders.

Here is what was written about your favorite team:

"3. Al Davis when he was a football genius:
Raiders owner Al Davis takes a lot of flak for being stuck in a time warp and rightly so. The only thing more dated than his sartorial taste (how 'bout those jumpsuits?) is his football mind. From the team's half-baked personnel decisions (paging Robert Gallery) to its dubious coaching hires to its bone-headed playcalling, there isn't a problem Davis hasn't made worse. The more he meddles, the harder it is to remember a time when Davis was the football equivalent of King Midas. When he took over the Raiders at age 33, he refashioned them into one of the most successful teams in pro sports. (The ledger: 13 division championships, an AFL championship, three Super Bowl titles and 15 playoff appearances in 19 years.) When the AFL was written off as a joke in the early 1960s, Davis, as its commissioner from 1966-70, remade it into a powerhouse, poaching so much of the NFL's top playing and coaching talent that the two leagues eventually merged. An equal-opportunity trailblazer as well, he didn't shrink from starting a Latino (Jim Plunkett) at quarterback, making a black man (Art Shell) his head coach or putting a woman (Amy Trask) in his front office. For a while there, it seemed like Davis couldn't miss. But then, somewhere in the between his LA-related legal battles with the NFL and his haggles with Jon Gruden, the old man lost his way. Moreover, the losses are mounting right along with the fans' restlessness. Will the Raiders ever get back to their winning ways? Probably, but it'd take one more genius move from Al to make that happen: He'd have to butt out. -Andrew Lawrence

19. Stickum and Eye-Black:
The image of Lester Hayes smeared head-to-toe with Stickum is iconic in NFL lore. While others (primarily his Raiders teammates) used the sap-like substance sparingly, the cornerback nearly bathed in it. And, really, what was so bad about that? Hayes found a loophole in the system and capitalized on it, helping Oakland to two Super Bowl championships and himself to five Pro Bowls. Stickum was banned from the NFL in 1981 and, as a result, Hayes' stats took a nose dive. He became a "mere mortal," he said. The eye black of old was made of actual grease, not over-priced tape with a cute little logo that is merely an extra licensing/merchandising arm for the league. Our take? Bring back the grease. -Nicki Jhabvala"

-Raiders continue to extend the Silver and Black brand
For the sixth straight year, the Raiders will play host to a gaggle of international football coaches at training camp. Markus Krause (Austria), Robert Balazinec (Austria), Alex Adamo (Sweden), Jose Antonio Madinaveitia (Mexico), Fernando Maniega Legarda (Spain) and Mel Martin (Australia) are the six international coaches who are scheduled to arrive in Napa tomorrow (Thursday), listen in on meetings and practice, take part in the team's Raider Nation Celebration fan fest on Saturday and depart on Aug. 14, the day after the Raiders' exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys at the Coliseum.

"The Raider Nation is worldwide," Raiders chief executive Amy Trask said in a release, "and our unique International Guest Coach Program is just one of our exciting initiatives designed to unite our global fan base."

The Raider will not, however, have another International Practice Player as it did last season in defensive tackle Mauricio Lopez from Mexico as the NFL has disbanded the program.

-Gannon gets a show
Rich Gannon has landed his own radio show on SIRIUS NFL Radio. The former Raiders quarterback and 2002 NFL MVP is hosting The SIRIUS Blitz with Adam Schein on SIRIUS channel 124 and XM channel 124 with the show airing weekdays (7:00 - 10:00 a.m. PT) throughout the season.

August 4, 2009
Tuesday Camp notes

Dealing with computer connectivity issues here in Napa, but a quick recap of this morning's practice.

-Khalif Barnes, locked in a battle for left tackle with Mario Henderson, injured his left ankle and knee when the scrum landed on him.

"It's part of ball and stuff like this happens but oit's frustrating," Barnes said as he was leaving the practice field to have an MRI taken. "The good part about it, I guess, is that it is isearly and if it's something that can be corrected in a few weeks, then I have a little time toget ready for (the season) so I won't miss much time."

-Defensive end Greg Ellis sat out most of the morning practice.

"Just being smart with the veterans," coach Tom Cable said.

-Ricky Brown was at middle linebacker with the first-team defense, relegating Kirk Morris, who has led the Raiders in tackles the past three seasons, to the second-team.

"We want to push Kirk and we want to push Ricky," Cable said. "And we want to get the right combination in there...we just want to give everyone the opportunity when it fits and when they've earned it to do that.

"They're very similar players. It's just trying to press the competition as coaches."

With Brown considered a better run stopper at MLB than Morrison, and stopping the run better this season is a point of emphasis, it makes you scratch your head.

"It's just a competitive environment out there," Brown said. "Kirk was with the ones yesterday, I was with the ones today. I'm also playing a little bit of SAM."

-The first skirmish of camp broke out AFTER the morning practice was done. About five minutes later when linebacker Jon Alston and tight end Tony Stewart had to be separated.

"Actually," Cable said with a sly grin, "I think that may have been a practical joke. No big deal there."

Didn't look like a practical joke.

-Nnamdi Asomugha came out of practice with a tight hip flexor.

"It's fine, nothing," he said. "I just need to stretch a little more."

-No news on holdout Derrick Burgess, which is strange, considering he has no leverage to demand a new contract. He's coming off his two worst seasons for the Raiders.

August 3, 2009
Revisiting Run DMC

So in re-reading my column today that said Darren McFadden needs to be used to his full myriad of talents this upcoming season for the Raiders' offense to gain traction, I was again struck by something coach Tom Cable said.

"If you look at us the last six weeks...and particularly the last three weeks, we used him more in that role, extensively in the last two weeks, and it seemed to really complement everybody," Cable said, meaning using Run DMC in space, allowing him to throw the ball, lining him up as the shotgun quarterback in the Wildcat Formation, putting him at receiver, etc... "It opened everybody up.

"It adds a lot to us and he's a guy that...has to get a number of touches in a ballgame and he helps everybody around him."

Ya think? So I went back and looked at Run DMC's stats the last three games.

In a 49-26 home blowout loss to the New England Patriots, McFadden had 12 carries for 46 yards, including a fourth-quarter TD run from 11 yards out, and caught three passes for a season-high 68 yards, including a career-long 27-yard reception.

In the 27-16 home victory over the Houston Texans, he again had 12 rushes, for the same 46 yards, and caught a team-best five passes for 41 yards.

But in the season finale 31-24 comeback road win that not only knocked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the playoffs but booted Jon Gruden off the sidelines and into the announcer's booth, McFadden had only one carry for two yards and two catches for 10 yards. Then again, that was the day Michael Bush ran wild for 177 yards, including his breathtaking 67-yard scoring run.

Sorry to bring up a Niner, Raider Nation, but while McFadden doesn't need to replicate Roger Craig's 1,000-yard rushing, 1,000-yard receiving season of 1985 a 1,300-yard-from-scrimmage campaign would go a long way in getting the Raider offense going. Especially after he ran the ball 113 times for 499 yards and caught 29 passes for 285 yards as a rookie.

- As you'd expect, the passive-aggressive start to Camp Cable, a full day of meetings before four straight two-a-day practices in helmets and shorts with no contact, raised a few eyebrows among the first-year head coach's staff.

"They sat there and looked at me at first, and then it was like, `OK,'" Cable admitted. "The majority of these (coaches) have been in the NFL for quite some time, and it's different. But now that we're into it, and now that they've talked it through, and now that they've done it, they're like, 'Hopefully we'll never do this any different.'"

And the genesis of starting off on such a feel-good note?

"I always thought, when I became the head coach permanently, that's how I would run camp," Cable said. "It's easy to just throw them in there and say, `All right, let's go bang, and let's go practice, let's get into camp,' because that's what everybody does.

"That's one way. The way I think...will work for us is, let's teach them and really get this mental thing under control. Let's get them in the routine of two-a-days, get their bodies used to getting up, all those things, take care of your veterans, take of your skill guys who are running the entire practice, basically, and see if you can't take care of all those things. And the bottom line is we've taught so much situation football the last few days."

We'll see soon enough if it's been productive.

August 3, 2009
Run DMC column...

Here is the column I wrote on Darren McFadden, saying the Raiders need to use him more effectively this season and play to his strengths...

August 2, 2009
Run DMC the real key

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

- 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.

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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