Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

April 30, 2010
Russell sharpest QB at mini-camp, Raiders working on long-term deal with Seymour, FB O'Neal waived

JaMarcus Russell was not only still a Raider at the opening of today's mandatory mini-camp in Alameda, but, brace yourself, Raider Nation, he was the sharpest quarterback on the field. It's a topic I opine upon in tomorrow's paper.

But as far as other developments, every player on the roster was here except for fullback Oren O'Neal and defensive end Richard Seymour, who had the franchise tag slapped on him this offseason.

Coach Tom Cable said O'Neal had been waived and that the Raiders are actually in negotiations with Seymour for a long-term deal.

"We're just trying to get it done so he's all ours," Cable said.

KR Nick Miller (shin splints), WR Chaz Schilens (soreness) and QB Bruce Gradkowski (left pectoral) were the only player not to practice in the morning session.

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Follow me on Twitter @paulhgutierrez for up to the minute updates,

April 30, 2010
Raiders stay in 4-3 defense, rookie McClain at MLB

The Raiders maintained their 4-3 defense, despite speculation that they'd be switching to a 3-4, and first-round draft choice Rolando McClain played middle linebacker.

"I'm used to being lined up over a guard every play, taking on the guard," McClain said. "But out here, I'm not over guard. I'm able to run, run free, make some plays without so much traffic in front of me. So, it's a little bit easier. I have a good, veteran D-line and today, especially, they did a great job keeping me free. So, I'm looking forward to playing the 4-3."

April 30, 2010
Rookie OT Bruce Campbell switched to RG

Fourth-round draft choice Bruce Campbell, a left tackle at Maryland, has been switched to right guard, backing up Cooper Carlisle.

"Yes, I do feel comfortable," Campbell said. "It's not that bad at all. It's just I have a little more help. I'm not one-on-one outside. I actually am going to start running a lot more than I did at the tackle position anyway. I like to run. I like to use my speed and everything else just to play football. It's putting (me) somewhere and making me do something I like to do."

Said coach Tom Cable: "Let's find out how he learns and how he adapts to what we're doing. Again, if I put him at one of those tackles spots he'd go in there as a third(-teamer). This gives him a chance to get in there in that second(-team) huddle where he's going to get a lot of work and we can start his development right away, rather than retard it if he's getting a few reps as a third."

April 30, 2010
Jason Campbell speaks

Newly-acquired quarterback Jason Campbell was at today's mini-camp and available to the media for the first time as a member of the Raiders. Following then, a transcript of his brief conversation with reporters.


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Q: It looked like you were familiar with the playbook already.
Campbell: I've been through about 10 of them, so somewhere along the line I've run a lot of these plays, trying to find the rhythm, get used to the guys around me and get back into the groove.

Q: You said originally you thought you were starter, feel it's your position to lose?
A: I'm just here to work. Just here to work, get better every day. I'll let coach Cable make that decision and Mr. Al Davis. My job is to come out here every day and compete, keep working on things and try to improve the offense.

Q: Take us back to when first learned trade was going down.
A: It was a conversation that went on during that morning, Saturday, between my agent and the Raiders and the Redskins. They told me they were trying to work out a deal, work out some type of situation to try and make the trade happen, and I pretty much stayed out of the way. It was pretty much a waiting game for myself.

Q: How did you look at it?
A: I just feel like it's a great opportunity to be able to come here, to a young team that's going to continue to get better, work each and every day. I feel like it's a good opportunity for me to come in and be a part of.

Q: Your first impression of this playbook?
A: You have to study a lot. You definitely have to study a lot, because each playbook is different. Some have similarities; a lot of them have some of the same names and a lot of them changes. So for me, with the Raiders, it's pretty much just learning the new language of this offense. But I've done a lot of it before so hopefully once I get back to used to playing, used to practicing with the team, it will work out.

Q: Can you look at the playbook and envision what the team will look like?
A: We have an opportunity to be a real good football team. Just by seeing how the guys were working in the offseason program here this week when I was here and the way the guys practiced every day, and practiced today, you saw a fast tempo, you saw the DBs playing a lot of bump and run with the receivers, and that's only going to make the guys better because that's going to make every pass and every throw competitive. Guys are going to play tight coverage.

Q: Do you see it as a downfield offense?
A: A mixture of everything. A lot of stuff will go off our run game. You try to set the run game up and we'll play-action off of it. I think it's definitely going to be an offense that can stretch the field.

Q: JaMarcus was the No. 1 pick of the draft and you talked last year about how he shouldn't get down on himself, now you're competing with him.
A: You understand that in the NFL, anything is possible. A lot of things happen that are out of your control. One thing you can't do is fight back a situation. You just have to keep moving forward, keep pushing yourself and stay competitive, no matter what the circumstances turn out to in the end, you can't worry about the things that you can't control. Right now, we're all in different positions. Even when I was in Washington, things happen and you always have to be moving forward because you can't control it, you can't dwell on it.

Q: Of the five different QBs, how are you different?
A: Each one has their own ability. Each one does something different. My mindset right now is to focus on what I can do better as far as my footwork as far as improving and try to fit myself within the offense. That's the only thing I can worry about at this standpoint.

Q: Did you get a fair chance in Washington?
A: It's just something . . . I can't answer that.

April 29, 2010
Raiders make Cartwright signing official, preseason schedule finalized

What had been reported since Monday was officially announced by the Raiders on Wednesday - the signing of the player with the best name in pro football in former Washington fullback/kick returner Rock Cartwright.

Oren O'Neal, who has played in just four games since the end of the 2007 season due to injury, and Luke Lawton, who still has two games to serve on a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, are the only true fullbacks on the Raiders roster.

Plus, Cartwright has averaged 24 yards on 222 career kickoff returns. The Raiders were last in the NFL in kickoff returns last season with a 18.2 average.

The bowling ball-like Cartwright, who is 5-foot-7, 223 pounds, was a seventh-round draft choice (No. 257 of 261) by Washington out of Kansas State in 2002.

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Also, the Raiders will be holding two practices on Friday and Saturday and one practice on Sunday as part of their mandatory mini-camp in Alameda.

The dates of OTAs' - May 18-20, May 25-27, June 8-10 and June 15-17

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The Raiders have also finalized their exhibition schedule.

After opening at Dallas on Thursday, Aug. 12, they will play at Chicago on Saturday, Aug. 21.

Two home games follow, against the 49ers on Saturday, Aug. 28 and against Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 2.

April 27, 2010
The JaMarcus JaSituation

What should the Raiders do with JaMarcus Russell now that they've gone out and acquired a veteran starting quarterback in Jason Campbell and another former first-round draft pick in Kyle Boller while retaining fan and team favorites in Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye?

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The kneejerk reaction is to cut Russell. Like, yesterday. And while you'd have trouble finding fault in kicking Russell to the curb in these parts, there's another, more thought-out, albeit, probably less-popular-with-the-fans option.

Having already sunk some $39 million into the top pick of the 2007 draft, and on the hook for another $9 million more this coming season, the Raiders could ask Russell to take a massive pay cut. Tell him to accept a reduction in salary to the veterans minimum, a reported $630,000, and if he refuses, as he's already claimed he would do, then cut him. Because who else in their right mind would sign Russell to anything more than the veterans minimum?

Indeed, the bargaining chip the Raiders would hold over Russell is that no matter what happens, he will make no more than the veterans minimum in 2010.

This way, the Raiders could give themselves one last shot to see if Russell finally gets it. Why else would Al Davis extend Campbell through 2011 if they didn't think they could put Russell in mothballs for two seasons and, hopefully, he'd get his act in order? He's still relatively young and has shown the Raiders just enough flashes to convince them there's some talent buried beneath his lackadaisical veneer. Plus, new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is supposed to be a miracle-worker, right?

And if he refuses the pay cut, or shows up for this weekend's mandatory mini-camp sulking or out of shape...again...then the Raiders would have their definitive answer.

What would you do with Russell?

April 24, 2010
Raiders use final pick on Michigan SS Brown

And with the 251st, and their final, pick of the 2010 draft, the Raiders have selected Michigan strong safety Stevie Brown, a 5-feet-11, 210-pounder who has run a 4.42 40.

Brown was ranked 15th out of 144 strong safeties by NFLDraftScout.com and the Raiders and Bengals invited him for visits after his strong Pro Day showing. He was not expected to be drafted before the workout.

April 24, 2010
Raiders select MSU CB Ware at No. 215 in seventh round

And with the 215th pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the Raiders have selected Michigan State cornerback Jeremy Ware, a 5-feet-10, 184-pounder who has run a 4.36 40.

Ware, an honorable mention All-Big 10 Conference selection, was rated 60th out of 168 cornerbacks by NFLDraftScout.com.

The Raiders have one selection remaining, at No. 251.

April 24, 2010
Sixth-rounder Goethel a sure-tackling LB from ASU

Arizona State linebacker Travis Goethel was the Raiders' sixth-round draft choice, No. 190 overall.

The 6-feet-3, 240-pounder was ranked eighth of 128 inside linebackers by NFLDraftScout.com and he might help the Raiders' run defense, which was 29th in the NFL last season.

Following is the NFLDraftScout.com analysis of his tackling skills: "Strong, secure tackler who brings a load on every play. Lacks the speed to track down ballcarriers before they get to the sideline but somehow wraps up the legs of players with hustle and taking the correct angle. Is always moving toward the ball no matter where the play occurs. Gets leverage to push piles inside to prevent extra yardage. Does not recover from cut blocks well and takes times to get going after contact. Will be eluded in space because of lacking change-of-direction agility."
The Raiders have two picks remaining in the draft, both in the seventh round, at No. 215 and No. 251 overall.

April 24, 2010
Auburn CB McFadden Raiders' fifth-round selection

The Raiders addressed their secondary concerns in drafting Auburn cornerback Walter McFadden in the fifth round, No. 138 overall.

McFadden ran a 4.39 40 at his pro day and was ranked 17th out of 168 cornerbacks by nfldraftscout.com

Following is the nfldraftscout.com analysis of his man-to-man coverage skills: "Natural coverage skills. Rare timed speed, which translates well onto the field. Loose hips and quick feet to turn and run with receivers. Changes directions smoothly and shows a burst to break on the ball. Quick, active hands for press coverage. Lacks the bulk teams are looking for in a press coverage corner, but is aggressive. Doesn't back down from the challenge of a bigger receiver.

And the NFL.com analysis of the pick: The Raiders nab a good value with the selection of Walter McFadden. The Auburn standout has underrated cover skills, and gives the team a ball hawk at the position. Though he isn't regarded as a tough or physical tackler, he shows enough skills in the passing game to merit the selection at this point.

April 24, 2010
WR Ford addresses Raiders' need for speed

Jacoby Ford, selected with the fourth-round draft pick (No. 108 overall) they acquired from Jacksonville for middle linebacker Kirk Morrison, is an undersized wide receiver at just 5-feet-9, 186 pounds.

But, he's fast, running a 4.28 40-yard dash.

He should help the Raiders' ailing return game as they were last in kickoff return (18.9 yards) and 29th in punt return (4.9 yards).

Following is the NFL.com analysis of the pick: The Raiders continue their tradition of selecting outstanding track athletes with the addition of Jacoby Ford. The former track All-America has exceptional speed and quickness, and gives the team a versatile receiver/returner. With his explosiveness, Ford could develop into an impact player for the Silver and Black."

April 24, 2010
Raiders trade Kirk Morrison, acquire QB Jason Campbell

After shipping out middle linebacker Kirk Morrison to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fourth-round draft choice Saturday morning and then using the pick on speedy wide receiver Jacoby Ford of Clemson, the Raiders acquired Washington quarterback Jason Campbell in a separate trade.

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Terms of that deal have not been disclosed but Campbell told ESPN the Raiders have added a year to his existing contract as he is scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2011.

"I talked to Mr. Davis, and he wanted me for two years," Campbell told ESPN. "He wants me to help their team to a new level."

Could this spell the end for JaMarcus Russell? What about Bruce Gradkowski? Or Kyle Boller? Or Charlie Frye? Or even J.P. Losman?

April 24, 2010
Raiders get their man Campbell...in the fourth round

After spending yesterday afternoon and evening at AT&T Park covering Mark McGwire's return to the Bay Area as the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting coach, I'm back in my Silver and Black saddle today.

The Raiders continue to have what many observers see as a solid draft. In fact, they finally got their man this morning. Or the man everyone thought they wanted in the first round.

But instead of using the No. 8 overall pick on Maryland left tackle Bruce Campbell, they were able to land him 98 picks later, in the fourth round. Campbell was the Combine's Ultimate Workout Warrior, not to be confused with the guy who took Hulk Hogan's WWF heavyweight belt at WrestleMania VI in the belt-vs.-belt showdown at the SkyDome.

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Honestly, I love this pick. Especially here. In the first round? Not so much. He is so raw and malleable it will be interesting to see what Tom Cable, an offensive line guru at heart, can make of him.

Following is the NFL.com analysis of the pick: "The Raiders pick up the most athletic offensive tackle from the NFL Scouting Combine with their selection of Bruce Campbell. Though many expected the team to nab him in the first round, the Raiders patiently waited to acquire him with the 106th pick. While he is raw in several aspects of his game, Campbell's outstanding athleticism gives him a chance to develop into a solid player in time."

April 23, 2010
Raiders pick 6-8 OG in third round

The Raiders selected offensive tackle Jared Veldheer with their third-round pick.

Veldheer played all 46 games of his college career at the Division II school in Michigan. He may be the tallest pick in the draft at 6-foot-8.

On Saturday, the Raiders are scheduled to have a Round 3 pick, Round 4 pick, two Round 5 picks, a Round 6 selection and two Round 7 choices.

--Bill Bradley

April 23, 2010
Raiders take DT Houston in second round

The Oakland Raiders have selected Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston with their second-round pick in the NFL draft.
The Raiders traded down five spots in two trades before taking Houston with the 44th overall pick Friday. Oakland also got a fifth-rounder from Tampa Bay to move down three spots and then a sixth-rounder from New England to drop two more spots.
The Raiders have placed a high priority on improving their leaky run defense. They previously selected linebacker Rolando McClain with the eighth overall pick in the first round Thursday. Oakland finished 29th in run defense last season, allowing 155.5
yards per game.
--Associated Press

April 23, 2010
Live chat replay: Gutierrez critiques the Raiders draft picks
April 23, 2010
Live Raiders chat today (Friday) at 12 noon


Join me today (Friday) for an online chat at 12 noon at www.sacbee.com/live to review the Raiders' first-round draft pick - Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain - and preview what the Raiders might do with their second- and third-round picks today.

A few early thoughts:

Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell, the Combine's Ultimate Workout Warrior, is still available, as are USC left tackle Charles Brown and Stanford running back Toby Gerhart. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen is still out there, too, but will probably be gone when the Raiders pick seventh today, No. 39 overall.

April 22, 2010
Raiders select Rolando McClain at No. 8

The Raiders have drafted Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain with the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL draft.

It is just the third time Al Davis has used a first-round pick on a linebacker, the first time the Raiders owner has ever used his top pick on a linebacker while in Oakland.

Napolean Harris was a first-rounder in 2002, but he was the Raiders' second pick of the first round, behind Phillip Buchanon. And Rob Fredrickson was the first-round pick in 1994, when the Raiders called L.A. home.

Heading to the Tom Cable news conference now. Check back in a few.

April 22, 2010
Raiders Draft Day Blog

Greetings, Raider Nation....

Had a strange omen, of sorts, leaving home and on the way here. Was following an SUV with Raiders stickers all across the back window. Good sign, right? Then, turning a corner, saw three police cars and a young kid wearing a Nnamdi Asomugha jersey getting cuffed and thrown in the back of a cruiser. Hmmmmmm...

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Checking in from the Raiders' Alameda complex and the Rams are on the clock...

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No shock here with Bradford and Suh going 1 and 2.

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Chalk with the first four picks, Eric Berry a slight surprise to Kansas City at 5. Could Bulaga and/or Okung be on the board at No. 8?

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Okung to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. Two picks to go, and Bulaga still out there...

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Browns pick Joe Haden at No. 7....Raiders on the clock with Bulaga still in the board, along with Anthony Davis, Bruce Campbell, Rolando McClain and Dan Williams.

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follow me on Twitter @paulhgutierrez

April 22, 2010
Live Chat: NFL Draft Day with Paul Gutierrez
April 21, 2010
Live Raiders chat today (Thursday) at 12 noon

Join me today (Thursday) for an online chat at 12 noon at www.sacbee.com/live to preview the draft and what the Raiders might do with the No. 8 overall pick.

A few early thoughts:

The safe, "chalk" pick - Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis.

The intriguing, oh-so-Raider pick - Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell

The inspiring, it-makes-too-much-sense pick - Alabama inside linebacker Rolando McClain or Tennessee nose tackle Dan Williams

April 21, 2010
Raiders contemplating move to 3-4 defense with trade for Groves?

The Raiders have consummated a trade today, though not for a certain disgraced quarterback whose name rhymes with Ren Mothballsburger.

Instead, Oakland acquired linebacker Quentin Groves from Jacksonville for a reported fifth-round draft pick, Earlier this offseason, the Raiders traded for fellow linebacker Kameron Wimbley and coach Tom Cable said last week that Wimbley would start on the strong side and Trevor Scott would start on the weak side.

But acquiring the somewhat undersized Groves, a second-round draft choice (No. 52 overall) of the Jaguars out of Auburn in 2008, along with the similarly fleet Wimbley and last year's big pickup of Richard Seymour lends credence to the notion that the Raiders are tinkering with the notion of switching to a 3-4 defense from their long-held 4-3 alignment.

The truth may come in tomorrow's draft. Because if the Raiders select Butkus Award winner Rolando McClain from Alabama wit the No. 8 pick, or even Tennessee nose tackle Dan Williams, that should be a sign. McClain was an inside linebacker for the Crimson Tide and Williams is the best pure nose tackle in the draft.

Stay tuned...

April 21, 2010
Raiders should trade No. 8 pick for Roethlisberger, or not

OK, so now we know for sure that Ben Roethlisberger has been slapped with a six-game suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that could be reduced to four games with, ahem, good behavior.

And we keep hearing that Pittsburgh is willing to trade their disgraced franchise quarterback for a Top 10 pick in tomorrow's draft, especially since the Steelers just reacquired Byron Leftwich.

So of course, that means the Raiders, who hold the No. 8 overall pick, are a logical landing spot, right? Absolutely. Yeah, but not so quick.

Following then, five pros and cons to the Raiders making a realistic run at Roethlisberger:

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PRO - With apologies to Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russell, Kyle Boller and Charlie Frye, Roethlisberger is a better quarterback than anything the Raiders currently have on their roster.
CON - Yeah, but he's going to miss at least the first four games of the season and possibly the first six. How much good could he do if he's already missing a quarter of the season? Plus, Gradkowski beat Roethlisberger, 27-24, in Pittsburgh this past Dec. 6 and the Raiders were rallying around his brand of leadership before his season ended with a pair of knee injuries a week later.

PRO - He's already win a pair of Super Bowls - Jim Plunkett and Tom Brady are the only other QBs to have won multiple titles and not be enshrined in Canton, and Brady's bust will be in the Hall of Fame six years after he takes his last snap.
CON - Yeah, but he's also presided over a pair of ugly post-Super Bowl hangovers as the Steelers failed to make the playoffs the season after winning the championship. Some might say that speaks to a lack of focus in the afterglow of a title.

PRO - Even at 6-feet-5, 240 pounds, Big Ben is far from immobile. In fact, his size belies his nimble feet as he is one of the toughest quarterbacks in the NFL to bring down. And with the Raiders' oft-leaky offensive line, the Raiders need a quarterback that can think on his feet, like what Gradkowski and Frye showed flashes of last season, and unlike what Russell has shown in three seasons.
CON - Yeah, but with the problems of the aforementioned offensive line, you could throw Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and/or Brett Favre under center for the Raiders and they'd have trouble managing a game, what with running for their respective lives and being on their backs so often. The O-line has to be fixed, or at least be serviceable.

PRO - He's 68-28 as a starter, including the postseason, since entering the league in 2004 as the No. 11 overall pick out of Miami of Ohio so he'd bring a winner's mentality into a locker room that hasn't experienced winning on a consistent basis since 2002. That kind of thing rubs off on other players, right?
CON - Yeah, but how much winning could he do from the sidelines, where he'll be for at least the first four games? Plus, he's 0-2 against the Raiders themselves, with both losses coming as defending Super Bowl champs. And if he can't beat the Raiders...but I digress. Then there's this - bringing in another franchise quarterback would mean Al Davis admitting he was wrong on Russell.

PRO - Despite the reams of negative news, appalling accusations and scandalous stories surrounding Roethlisberger - twice in the past year he has been accused of sexual assault and anecdotes showing a purported caveman attitude toward women continue to pop up - he has not been charged with a crime. He's guilty of bad judgment, certainly, and probably a sickening sense of self-entitlement. But maybe this suspension serves as a wake-up call and he's better for it. Plus, isn't Oakland where the NFL's bad boys go to resurrect their careers, if not their images?
CON - Yeah, but that Silver and Blackdom serving as a Last Chance Saloon for wayward players-story has become trite. Plus, for all of his eccentricities, make no mistake about Davis having a very strong moral compass on matters of family and loyalty. As such, he might not welcome an accused rapist in his house. And to you fans, while you might not have any issues with taking your kids to sit in the Black Hole during a game, would you want your young daughters hanging out with Big Ben after the game?

So what say you, Raider Nation, should the Raiders see if the Steelers would take the No. 8 pick for Roethlisberger?

April 20, 2010
Raiders open at Tennessee, at home against Rams; no night games for second time in franchise history

The Raiders will begin the 2010 season on the road, facing the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 12, and open at home on Sept. 19 against the St. Louis Rams.

The NFL released its schedule this afternoon and, for just the second time since the 1970 merger (2007 being the other time), the Raiders are not scheduled to appear on a primetime national T.V. game. In fact, it is only the second time in the franchise's history it will not play a night game.

Before last year's Monday Night Football opener at home against San Diego, a last-minute Chargers victory, the Raiders had been beaten by an average score of 25-6 in the previous six games under the lights, by a cumulative 268-101 in their previous 10 such games.

Although, keep in mind the NFL reserves the flex scheduling the last seven weeks so if the Raiders are in contention, they could potentially show up in a night game.

Also, because the A's regular-season home finale is Sept. 26, when the Raiders are at Arizona, the Raiders should only have one game at the Coliseum with the infield dirt in place. Unless the A's advance to the playoffs.

The Raiders will play nine games before their bye week, equaling the 1991 and 2004 seasons as the longest run of games before the break, which was instituted in 1990.

Last season, the Raiders had December and January games in such cold-weather climes as Pittsburgh, Denver and Cleveland. This time - San Diego, Jacksonville and Kansas City close out the road schedule.

The entire schedule:

Sunday, September 12 at Tennessee Titans 10:00 a.m. CBS
Sunday, September 19 ST. LOUIS RAMS 1:05 p.m. FOX
Sunday, September 26 at Arizona Cardinals 1:15 p.m. CBS
Sunday, October 3 HOUSTON TEXANS 1:05 p.m. CBS
Sunday, October 10 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 1:15 p.m. CBS
Sunday, October 17 at San Francisco 49ers 1:05 p.m. CBS
Sunday, October 24 at Denver Broncos 1:15 p.m. CBS
Sunday, October 31 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 1:15 p.m. FOX
Sunday, November 7 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 1:15 p.m. CBS
Sunday, November 14 BYE
Sunday, November 21 at Pittsburgh Steelers 10:00 a.m.* CBS
Sunday, November 28 MIAMI DOLPHINS 1:05 p.m.* CBS
Sunday, December 5 at San Diego Chargers 1:05 p.m.* CBS
Sunday, December 12 at Jacksonville Jaguars 10:00 a.m*. CBS
Sunday, December 19 DENVER BRONCOS 1:15 p.m.* CBS
Sunday, December 26 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 1:05 p.m.* CBS
Sunday, January 2, 2011 at Kansas City Chiefs 10:00 a.m.* CBS

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Also, the Raiders have confirmed dates and kickoff times for two of the four preseason games.

They open at Dallas on Thursday, Aug. 12 and close at home against Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 2.

They play at Chicago between Aug. 19-23 and play host to the 49ers between Aug. 26-29.

Teams cannot begin training camp more than 15 days before their first exhibition game. So circle July 28 in Napa on your calendars.

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Follow me on Twitter @paulhgutierrez

April 17, 2010
Roethlisberger a good fit on Hegenberger?

Was on "Chronicle Live" Thursday night on CSN Bay Area and heard the beginnings of a trade rumor involving the Raiders and a fallen-from-grace, on-the-market, face-of-a-franchise quarterback.

Then I tuned into the Friday episode of "Chronicle Live" and the rumor became more if a rumble. Host Greg Papa, who is also the radio voice of the Raiders, suggested the Raiders package the No. 8 overall pick in Thursday's draft and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and send it to the Rams for the No. 1 overall selection. Then, the Raiders could send the No. 1 pick to the Steelers for Ben Roethlisberger since the Steelers would want a franchise QB to replace Big Ben. With the top selection in the draft, the Steelers would be free to pick Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy and be rid of the distraction that is Roethlisberger.

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I don't know. I mean, just taking into account his on-field success - he's won two Super Bowls - Roethlisberger is better than anything the Raiders currently have on their roster in Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller, Charlie Frye and JaMarcus Russell.

But his off-field baggage - being accused of sexual assault twice in the past year with more damning alleged details coming out seemingly by the hour- raises a huge red flag. And yes, I realize he has not been charged.

So what do you think, Raider Nation. Should the Raiders pursue putting Roethlisberger on Hegenberger?

April 15, 2010
Gradkowski tears pectoral muscle

Curious as to why the Raiders suddenly went out and signed another quarterback in former Cal standout Kyle Boller today?

Profootballtalk.com is reporting that Bruce Gradkowski tore a left (non-throwing) pectoral muscle lifting weights on Wednesday and will have surgery Friday. He expects to start throwing again in four weeks and should be ready for the start of training camp.

Consider the Boller signing as insurance, or the end of Charlie Frye's "run" as the Raiders No. 3 quarterback.

Strange, in his 21-plus minute Q&A with reporters today, Cable did not mention the Gradkowski injury, the Boller signing or Cable's lawyer asking for Randy Hanson's civil suit against him to be thrown out or decided to an arbitrator. Oh well.

April 15, 2010
Cable praises DHB, Raiders sign Boller

Tom Cable is still the Raiders coach - for now, and I'll opine on that in tomorrow's paper - as he met with the media today in Alameda. He said he'd only take draft-related questions, which seemed innocuous enough.

But as I was putting the finishing touches on my column, the Raiders Tweeted they had signed free-agent quarterback Kyle Boller, the No. 19 overall pick of the 2003 draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

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Now, I don't think they brought the former Cal star to compete for the purportedly "open competition" under center, but it does give some perspective to Cable's tepid endorsement of JaMarcus Russell in the Q&A.

"He's here," Cable said of Russell. "He's working. He's doing everything that everybody else is doing, has been here since the start of the second week. Has been doing
it like everybody else. That's all I can tell you."

Meanwhile, Cable could not say enough to praise the work and development of receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey this offseason.

"You guys will be excited when you see us in OTA's, the improvement Darrius has already made," Cable said. "That guy has jumped out at us since winter program, or offseason program, just the quality of work he's done. What he did between the end of the season and when we started on March 17 is phenomenal, and probably no one is more excited about a guy on our team than Darrius right now. He really, really has taken this thing leaps and bounds, further probably than what we thought we could go with it this quickly. It will be nice to get him on the field and get him into coverages and get him into route concepts and doing those kinds of
things."

Cable wasn't done recruiting for the DHB Fan Club. Asked if he thought DHB being over his rookie season jitters was a factor, Cable smiled.

"I do," he said. "That's the biggest part of it. It's like, 'Hey, man, you went through it. We picked you where we picked you, everybody said we shouldn't have, and, oh, my God, you carried the weight of the world on your shoulders, you don't want to embarrass your family and all this and
that. And then you get hurt.'

"It is what it is. So, you come back, you go to work. Having gone through that and put it behind him. That's a guy, I'm watching him work out on Tuesday doing dumb bell press at 130
(pounds). He's a wide receiver. That's impressive. His speed, his catching ability, looks like a totally different guy to me than what I saw last year. So, again, I'm really excited for him. He's going to be just what we hoped he would be."

Maybe he can find a connection with Boller? In seven seasons, Boller has started 46 of the 60 games he's played in with a record of 20-26 and compiled a career passer rating of 70.6. He has thrown for 8,745 yards with 48 touchdowns and 50 interceptions while completing 56.8% of his passes. He started four games for the St. Louis Rams last season, going 0-4.

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Follow me on Twitter @paulhgutierrez

April 14, 2010
Morrison says he signed his tender, will return to Raiders

Despite the Raiders' seemingly lukewarm desire to retain him - how else to describe the team assigning that relatively cheap original, third-round tender to him? - Kirk Morrison is apparently returning to the team that drafted him with the No. 78 overall pick out of San Diego State in 2005.

Kirk Morrison2.jpg

"Just walked into the facility and signed my tender with the Raiders," the middle linebacker Tweeted about an hour ago. "I'm excited to see what the 2010 season holds."

The Raiders have not announced anything and their Web Site only mentioned the signings of linebacker Sam Williams and kicker Swayze Waters in the past two days.

Morrison has led the Raiders in tackles the past four seasons but has often been criticized for a less-than-stellar run defense and not making enough tackles for losses.

He seems happy to be returning, but will Raider Nation welcome him back with open arms?

April 14, 2010
Raiders eyeing Sheppard, Haden to replace Johnson?

With teams staying away from Nnamdi Asomugha's side of the field, fellow cornerback Chris Johnson has taken more than his fair share of abuse. But have the Raiders become so disenchanted with Johnson they are looking to upgrade on that side of the field? CJ

Not only has Florida's Joe Haden claimed this week that the Raiders are one of four teams that have him on their respective radar heading into the draft, NFL.com listed the Raiders as a potential landing spot for free agent Lito Sheppard, who was visiting Detroit. Lito.jpg Sheppard, 29, and released by the Jets on March 4, has 19 career interceptions since the Eagles drafted him with the No. 26 overall pick round out of Florida in 2002. The 5-feet-10, 194-pounder had five picks in 2004, a career-high six in 2006 but only two, one and one in the last three respective seasons.

April 14, 2010
Schedule to be announced Tuesday

So we already know who the Raiders will play this upcoming season and where. We just don't know when, right?

It will all be rectified this coming Tuesday at 4 p.m. PT when the NFL announces its 2010 regular season schedule. ESPN will broadcaster a three-hour "SportsCenter Special: Schedule Release" show on sister network ESPN2 from 4-6 p.m. and continue from 6-7 p.m. on ESPN. According to an ESPN release, "Trey Wingo will host the "SportsCenter Special" with analysts Tedy Bruschi, Tim Hasselbeck and Darren Woodson, as well as NFL Insider Adam Schefter. A number of NFL players and other guests are also expected to participate in live interviews. The program will be aired in a compressed format similar to ESPN's NFL Draft presentation with scrolling team-by-team updates."

So why the delay in getting the schedule out to the starving masses? The conspiracy theory says the schedule-makers want to wait and see what kind of suspension, if any, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gets for his role in the alleged sexual assault in Georgia. Wouldn't want to put the Steelers on national TV early if their golden boy is suspended, right?

The other theory - that the schedule-makers were diligently trying to acquiesce to Commissioner Roger Goodell's request at the recent owners meetings to ramp up the playoff-type atmosphere by having only intra-divisional games in Week 17, thus dealing with stadium availability and the like.

In years past, the national TV games were announced at the late-March meetings but nothing has been leaked yet.

As far as the Raiders are concerned, they have home games against Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, St. Louis, Seattle and AFC West opponents Denver, Kansas City and San Diego. They travel to Arizona, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tennessee, Denver, Kansas City and San Diego.

April 7, 2010
Raiders looking at Clausen, Tebow? DHB changes his number and Raiders bring back a familiar face

This being draft season, mock drafts are like opinions - everyone has one.

This morning, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. projected on a conference call that the Raiders would take Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen with the No. 8 overall pick.

jc.jpg

JaMarcus Russell who? Bruce Gradkowski what? Charlie Frye where? Who cares if the Raiders need to rebuild their offensive line more than drafting another purported franchise quarterback, right?

"Sure, you could take a left tackle," Kiper said. "Sure, you could take a Trent Williams. Sure, you could take a Bryan Bulaga, but they went to that Iowa program a few years ago with Robert Gallery. Would they do it again?

"I went with Clausen because I think (the Raiders) need him. I've been told the money situation with Russell won't prevent them from taking a quarterback and I think Jimmy Clausen at that point would be a heck of a choice.

"The last time I remember them taking a Notre Dame player early was Timmy Brown (and) it worked out pretty doggone well there."

Kiper then said the Raiders might be able to address their offensive line issues with their second-round pick, No. 39 overall.

"Maybe a Rodger Saffold, the left tackle from Indiana," Kiper said. "Maybe (Maryland's Bruce) Campbell falls all the way down to that pick and they get Campbell in the second round. That's not out of the realm of possibility."

Later in the afternoon, NFL.com scouting guru Gil Brandt floated a story on a separate conference call, per Jerry Mac, that had the Raiders already meeting with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
While admitting he wasn't sure if the story was true, Brandt said Tebow was asked to break down a play for the Raiders staff. Tebow's "mental quickness" response: "This is how it's called with Florida. This is how it's called with your organization. And this is how it's called with West Coast (offense) teams."

tt.jpg

"When you get a quarterback and he reacts that quickly, you know that the guy is not only pretty smart," Brandt said, "but he does have that mental quickness to adjust very fast."

Hmmm...

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Meanwhile, former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann ripped Russell on SIRIUS radio today, according to a Tweet by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

"I can tell you conclusively that JaMarcus Russell never will be able to play QB in the National Football League," Theismann said, per Schefter's Tweet. "He just doesn't get it."

Schefter added his own kicker: "Theismann advocates the Raiders trading for Jason Campbell, who does get it."

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Staying with the QB Conspiracy Theory, it's interesting to note the Raiders suddenly have a new number available for a new quarterback, should they acquire one.

Darrius Heyward-Bey has changed his jersey number from 12 to 85, per the Raiders' Web Site. And, as custom, the soon-to-be-second-year receiver had to pay Reebok for the remaining inventory of his No. 12 jerseys, according to profootballtalk.com.

"I had to change it up for myself," DHB told Raiders.com. "It's a new year, new beginning for me and I just needed a change."

Behind the Shield online host Jeanette Thompson asked him why he picked No. 85.

"You go to sleep, you have your dream, you see a number in your head and you're like, you know what, I'm going to go with that," he said.

DHB wore No. 8 at Maryland and said 5 is actually his favorite number.

In case you're wondering, Clausen wore No. 7 at Notre Dame; Tebow No. 15 at Florida.

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And lastly, and in case you missed it, the Raiders have signed former defensive tackle Chris Cooper, who has played for the 49ers, Dallas, Seattle, Arizona and in the UFL for the California Redwoods-turned-Sacramento Mountain Lions since leaving Oakland following the 2003 season. He was the Raiders' sixth-round draft choice in 2001 out of Nebraska-Omaha.

Cooper, you'll recall, was in the middle of the BALCO investigation and was fined three game checks - $187,500 - for testing positive for the steroid THG in 2003, along with Barrett Robbins. Dana Stubblefield and Bill Romanowski also tested positive at the time.

April 4, 2010
McNabb headed to Washington, not Raiders (yawn...)

As you've no doubt heard by now, Donovan McNabb is not coming to the Raiders. And now, a moment for the collective yawn this non-story deserves.

Done? OK. Now get ready for the backlash of stories ripping the Raiders, as if they pulled an Ernest Byner and fumbled the ball at the goal line by blowing a chance to acquire the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback from the Eagles. Because remember, they were the leaders in the McNabb Sweepstakes. Reportedly. dm.jpg But what if the Raiders were never really in hot pursuit, as so many national outlets were reporting? In fact, everything I heard coming out of Silver and Blackdom had the Raiders lukewarm and realistic that McNabb wanted little, if anything, to do with them.

So of course, the story now is that the Eagles wanted to do right by McNabb so they traded him to a contender in Washington with a potential Hall of Fame coach in Mike Shanahan (sorry, Raiders fans, I know that hurts) rather than to the literal and figurative Black Hole (take that how you will).

Sorry, I'm not buying it. Pro football is a business first and foremost and for the Eagles to trade McNabb to a division rival - which will face them twice a year; think he won't want to prove a little something to his former team and city? - lends more credence to a notion of diminishing skills than doing McNabb a favor.

Would McNabb have improved the Raiders the minute he stepped foot in the team's Alameda complex? Absolutely. But that story - real, or imagined - never came to fruition.

What is interesting, however, is what kind of domino effect Washington getting McNabb will have on the draft. Washington seemed primed to take former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen at No. 4.

So what if Clausen is still on the board at No. 8, when the Raiders pick? Surely Bruce Gradkowski, JaMarcus Russell and Charlie Frye are intrigued.

April 3, 2010
Raiders re-sign OL Walker

Maintaining the theme of the offseason that they liked what they had in-house last season, the Raiders on Friday re-signed offensive lineman Langston Walker, a former second-round draft pick out of Cal.

Walker had spent the first five seasons of his career in Oakland before playing in Buffalo in 2007 and 2008. The Bills cut him last year and he re-signed with the Raiders on Oct. 14, 2009. The 6-feet-8, 365-pounder is a tackle by trade but injuries prompted him to appear at guard - he was not, shall we say, thrilled about the development but quickly adapted - last year as he appeared in seven games and started two.

Walker had to spell the injured Robert Gallery at left guard in the comeback win at Pittsburgh. It was his first time at left guard since Dec. 22, 2003.



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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