Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

May 26, 2010
DHB opens eyes in OTA practice, and other news and notes


Who was that "masked" man in the No. 85 jersey looking like a legit No. 1 NFL receiver at the Raiders' open OTA practice on Wednesday?

Yes, we realize it's only a non-contact OTA, with players in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts with no contact. But Darrius Heyward-Bey, last year's much-maligned first-round pick from Maryland, had the best practice of his short career.

Looking a bit thicker in the arms, and showing off his vaunted speed, DHB victimized the likes of Stanford Routt and even Nnamdi Asomugha, catching a simple out pass on the left sideline before spinning away from the prone Asomugha and up the field. Hoots, hollers and a lot of trash-talking from new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson (who I write about in tomorrow's paper as the Most Interesting Man in Raider Nation) followed.

DHB.jpg

"That's the best practice since I've seen him here," Asomugha admitted. "Today was a good day for him to build off of and (we'll) see how he comes out tomorrow. It's days like this you want to keep stringing along. You don't want to fall back after a day like this.

"He was catching the ball, I don't know that he dropped a ball. Caught maybe eight or nine balls, so that was good for him."

In explaining DHB's success, Asomugha and coach Tom Cable both seemed to throw some salt in the direction of the long-gone JaMarcus Russell.

"I don't think it's new plays," Asomugha said. "We've always had all these plays. It's just that now they're running them. Last year they were taking more time on their basic plays whereas now he's going straight into everything and it's helping them out."

Sounds like they had to dumb some things down for Russell, no?

"When you have someone throwing the ball where you can catch it and on time and those kinds of things, it gives them a chance to have success, and build their confidence and grow as a unit," Cable said.

How much was DHB feeling it on Wednesday? He broke out some choreographed celebrations in the end zone with Louis Murphy and Tony Stewart by way of squatting and hand slaps.

"We're having fun," said DHB, who changed his jersey number from 12 to 85 for a fresh start. "We're having fun right now. We know it's OTAs, its time to learn, but it's also a time to have fun with each other, get to know each other. A lot more guys are going out to dinner with each other, spending time. We're more than just teammates, we're friends out here and we're having fun."

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New linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, acquired in a March 14 trade with Cleveland, is not only running with the first-team defense, but also as a pass rusher in nickel packages.

"We're trying out a lot of stuff," he said. "Obviously, this is early and as we wind down these OTAs and (head) into training camp we'll probably solidify some more things.

"Right now I'm getting good work off the ball in the 'over' situation and then when we go 'under'...I get up on the line and get work, similar to what I was doing in Cleveland. And then in the nickel, hand down. I'm doing a lot of different things here. I think playing in the scheme that I came from definitely helps to come out here and do some of the things they're asking me to do."

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Fourth-round draft pick Bruce Campbell's transition from left tackle to right guard continues.

"It's a totally different experience," he said. "I'm used to space on the outside. Now I'm on the inside with a lot of help. People would say it's easier, but I don't see it being easier right now.

"It's also different playing against 'D' tackles rather than going against defensive ends because they're a lot bigger. The game inside is about leverage."

Still, Campbell insists his head is not spinning.

"I'm hanging in there," he said. "It's just a matter of getting used to the speed. I'm handling the playbook really well. It's just a matter of getting used to the game speed at the guard position."

He also expects to return to his natural position...at some point.

"They're going to use me (as) a guard and then (after) I learn guard...they're going to start putting me at tackle," he said. "I'm going to be a versatile offensive lineman."

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Those in attendance but not practicing due to injury or illness - LB Ike Ekejiuba, QB Bruce Gradkowski, WR Phil Hubbard, WR Chaz Schilens and DE Matt Shaughnessy.

Undrafted rookie DE Alex Daniels is still in school at Cincinnati.

Cable said DT Tommy Kelly was "excused," as was CB Chris Johnson, though OTA's are voluntary.

That also explains the absences of punter Shane Lechler and placekicker Sebastian Janikowski.

DE Richard Seymour still has yet to sign his franchise tender and was a no-show.

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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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