Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 29, 2010
Raiders opening camp Blog


The four straight days of two-a-day, non-contact practices to kick off training camp for the second straight season was met with relief by at least one veteran.

"Trust me, I'm not complaining," said defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who got camp off to a raucous start by riding into Napa on the rookie bus. "C'mon, think about it. You've got wine country, you've got this weather, it's a nice way to come to camp. We're in T-shirts and helmets, you definitely can't beat that."

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New starting quarterback Jason Campbell is on, by his count, his ninth different offensive system.

"Sometimes it's like speaking my second language," he said. "We were in a meeting the other day and coach asked me what was the protection change here and I called out one of my protections in last year's offenses when I was in Washington. But it started with the same letter."

Campbell laughed.

"Sometimes you have to block those things out and just focus on just trying to learn these
plays. I've done a lot of these plays before. But I don't really focus on the different systems or anything like that, I just want to play football."

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In giving praise to Campbell, a few offensive playmakers threw former quarterback JaMarcus Russell some backhanded slaps.

Louis Murphy, on Campbell's presence: "Oh, man, it was great. He came in, commanded the huddle, very sharp on the plays, really spoke highly, loudly in the huddle, and commanded the huddle so it was good to be able to follow our quarterback."

Chaz Shillens, on Campbell coming to the Raiders and Russell being shown the door: "It's unfortunate the way everything went down. I really don't want to get into that too much, but right now I feel we've got a good guy, a dependable guy, a guy who's going to work hard, who will be there for us every day. He's not going to shy away from anything. You know what to expect. We know what to expect.

"You know where the balls are going to be. That's really all you can ask for as receivers, a dependable guy that's going to go out and work hard every day. So we have that now. We're ready to work. We're ready to forget about everything else and move forward."

And finally, Darren McFadden, on the season's high hopes: "Right now there's an uproar around the team. People are looking forward to a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, so he's going to bring different things to the offense. The new quarterback is a great leader. He gets back there and takes control so we're looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can put together."

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The Raiders also waived two players this morning - defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti and wide receiver Damola Adeniji.

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Follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

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UPDATE!!!

Afternoon practice...

Schilens walked off the field early in practice and never returned. He was not limping, though. The Raiders had no official comment or medical update, even as he was seen walking without a noticeable limp after practice.

OL Khalif Barnes also walked off the field but there was no word on an injury to him, either.

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Best fireworks of the session - rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston and left guard Robert Gallery going at it. Houston lost his helmet in the scrum.

July 29, 2010
No holdout; McClain signs with Raiders

Just heard from a reliable source that first-round draft pick Rolando McClain has agreed to a contract and signed with the Raiders. McClain, the Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker, was taken with the No. 8 overall pick out of Alabama. No contract details are known at the moment, but he was expected to get in the neighborhood of what last year's No. 7 overall pick, Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, received - a guaranteed $23.5 million over five years.

That means all nine of the Raiders' draft picks are signed, though it's unclear if McClain will be in Napa in time for this morning's 8:30 a.m. practice, the first of training camp.

July 28, 2010
Cable sounds off in Napa to kick off camp

Since I'm writing about Tom Cable outlasting JaMarcus Russell in Silver and Blackdom and putting his own stamp on the team for tomorrow's paper, a few quick hits from Cable's presser today in Napa.

Tom Cable.JPG

-Cable confirmed the rumblings I head last week, that the first four days of two-a-day practices will be the same as last year - non-contact "intensive learning" sessions "about trying to get this team up to speed."

Even Al Davis was wondering last week if the Raiders were going to start with the passive-aggressive mode again.

Cable's reasoning: "I think being a longtime college coach and the way the college game
evolved you started to rely on freshmen more. Guys were only going to be at your school for three years if they were any good so you had to get a good portion of that freshman class ready to play right away. This gives you a chance to kind of bring them up to speed, if you will, and not have it be so taxing mentally. It's really paid dividends in college and I think it was really good for us last year. Like I said it worked for us
mentally as well as physically."

-Cable "hopes" that first-round draft pick middle linebacker Rolando McClain is in camp by tomorrow's first practice. "I know that's an ongoing process right now," Cable said of negotiations. "There's really nothing more to say until it gets all done. We'll just hope and see what happens."

-Cable confirmed reports yesterday that Jason Campbell was entering camp as the starting quarterback.

-Cable said everyone that is signed had reported.

-Cable said new offensive coordinator will be on the field, rather than in the booth, during games.

-Cable on new DT John Henderson's pre-game routine, in which someone takes a hand to his face to fire him up: "I love it. I think it's awesome. I hope I'm the guy that gets to slap him. I think it will be great. I just don't want him to hit me back. That's a big dude. That's a big dude.

Please, no Randy Hanson jokes.

-Cable said Langston Walker enters camp as the starting right tackle.

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Follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

July 28, 2010
Seymour riding the rookie bus a class move, ploy or not

P.R. ploy or not, you had to love Richard Seymour showing up in Napa on Tuesday on the bus with the rookies and other no-namers.

Seymour, you'll recall is not only a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end but is the Raiders' franchise tag player, making $12.398 million this season. Plus, he had not spoken publicly since the end of the season.

"Camp is the foundation that you build your success on for the season," he said, according to Associated Press. "During the season, you're spending so much time with gameplans and focusing in on your opponents that you really don't have the time to work on a lot of individual things.

"This is my time, where I really get into me and focus in on the things I need to do to make myself a better player. Come in and knock some of the rust off and be ready to go."

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Also, the Raiders announced the hiring of former middle linebacker Greg Biekert as an assistant coach on defense.

He spent nine of his 11 seasons in the NFL with the Raiders and, according to the team's web site, Biekert "may be best remembered for recovering Tom Brady's fumble in the 'Tuck Game' against the New England Patriots."

Classic. Just. Classic.

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Coach Tom Cable's media availability from Napa at 12 noon today (Wednesday)will be broadcast live on CSN California with Jim Kozimor hosting from the Bay Area studio and Kate Longworth reporting live. I'll be joining Longworth as an analyst, of sorts, pre- and post-Cable.

Until then...follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

July 27, 2010
Jack Tatum, 1948-2010

As you've no doubt heard by now, former Raiders safety Jack Tatum died this morning in an Oakland hospital of an apparent heart attack. Tatum had reportedly been dealing with diabetes for several years and lost his left leg due to circulation problems.

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Of course, and perhaps unfortunately, he was best known for paralyzing New England receiver Darryl Stingley in a 1978 preseason game. Tatum never apologized for the hit, though some maintain he need not be sorry for what happened in a brutal, violent game. Stingley died in 2007 and the two never met after the unfortunate hit.

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Following is the Raiders' official statement on Tatum's passing:

"We are deeply saddened by the news of Jack Tatum's passing. Jack was a true Raider champion and a true Raider warrior.

He was a great player and person and has been a big part of our lives since we drafted him in 1971 as a first round pick out of Ohio State.

Jack was the standard bearer and an inspiration for the position of safety throughout college and professional football.

Our thoughts, prayers and well wishes go out to his wife Denise and family."

Also, former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon spoke of Tatum on his SIRIUS NFL radio show.

"I got to know Jack during my time with the Raiders," Gannon said. "Just one of the all-time greats. A very good football player on a lot of those great Raiders teams. He'd come around and watch practice and talk to the young players and was always a sounding board, particularly for the young defensive players. He played the game with a little chip on his shoulder, very physical. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame. It's really a sad day for all Raiders and for all Raider fans across the country."

Tatum's former defensive backfield mate and roommate, Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown, offered his thoughts on the Raiders web site.

"He took care of me," Brown said. "I always (told) Jack to stay in the post. With that in mind, with his hitting ability, the receivers wanted no business of going inside because Jack would be there waiting on them. So he made my job easier by playing outside because I knew nobody could run a slant (pattern) because the team already told them, Don't run a slant on Jack Tatum because, hey, you won't get up off the ground without somebody helping you up."

July 26, 2010
Raiders ink second-round draft pick Houston

Checking in from AT&T Park, where the Giants are playing the Florida Marlins and hours before the Raiders are due to begin arriving in Napa for training camp, they announced the signing of second-round draft pick Lamarr Houston.

That leaves only first-round pick Rolando McClain left unsigned with eight of the nine draft picks now under contract. Just another positive vibe in an offseason full of them for an organization thirsting for positive moves since 2003.

July 22, 2010
Raiders sign seventh-rounder, only two draft picks remain unsigned

And now, there are only two unsigned Raiders draft picks a week before they start training camp practices.

Oakland announced today the signing of seventh-rounder Stevie Brown, a safety from Michigan who also played linebacker for the Wolverines in his college career. The 6-foot, 210-pounder was taken with the No. 251 overall pick.

All that remains unsigned are first-round middle linebacker Rolando McClain, drafted eighth overall out of Alabama, and second-round defensive end Lamarr Houston, selected 44th overall from Texas.

July 19, 2010
Raiders sign another draft pick in fourth-rounder Ford

The Raiders announced today the signing of fourth-round draft pick Jacoby Ford, a wide receiver from Clemson who is expected to take over kick return duties.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Ford was the Raiders' second fourth-round pick, going No. 108 overall, with a selection that was garnered in a trade with Jacksonville.

In all, the Raiders have now signed six of their nine draft picks, with first-round pick Rolando McClain, a middle linebacker from Alabama taken eighth overall, second-rounder Lamarr Houston, a defensive lineman from Texas drafted 44th, and seventh-rounder Stevie Brown, a safety from Michigan drafted 251st overall, still unsigned.

Word is top picks are waiting for No. 1 overall draft choice Sam Bradford to sign with the Rams to set the bar so negotiations can trickle down from there.

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Also, as I Tweeted this weekend, I'm hearing rumblings the Raiders might again begin training camp with four days of two-a-day, non-contact "teaching" practices, as they did last year. The Raiders are reportedly set to report to Napa on Tuesday the 27th, be holed up in meetings all day Wednesday the 28th and begin practices on Thursday the 29th.

Follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

July 15, 2010
Raiders ink two more rookie draft picks, Ware and Goethel

The Raiders have announced the signings of two more draft picks this afternoon. Seventh-rounder Jeremy Ware, a defensive back from Michigan State, and sixth-rounder Travis Goethel, a linebacker from Arizona State, are now in the fold.

They join fellow rookie signees CB Walter McFadden (fifth round), OL Bruce Campbell (fourth round) and LB Jared Veldheer (third round).

Four rookies remain unsigned - first round pick LB Rolando McClain and second-rounder DL Lamarr Houston, as well as fourth-rounder WR Jacoby Ford and seventh-rounder S Stevie Brown.

July 12, 2010
Raiders sign rookie CB McFadden

Checking in from the MLB Home Run Derby here in Anaheim and Tweeted it earlier - follow me @PaulHGutierrez - but the Raiders have announced the signing of fifth-round draft pick Walter McFadden. The former Auburn cornerback joins fellow signed rookies Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell so the Raiders have signed three of their nine draft picks.

Still unsigned before the team reports to Napa on July 28 - first-round Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain and second-round Texas defensive lineman Lamarr Houston.

July 9, 2010
Raiders sign draft picks Veldheer, Campbell

The Raiders announced the signings of two of their draft picks today and didn't even need an hour-long, ego-inflating, look-at-me infomercial with kids as props to show off.

Third-round selection Jared Veldheer, taken No. 69 overall out of Hillsdale College, and fourth-rounder Bruce Campbell, the Combine's workout warrior from Maryland who many pundits predicted the Raiders foolishly selecting in the first round but instead went 106th, have agreed to terms.

At 6-foot-8, 315 pounds, Veldheer worked primarily at right tackle and at center in mini-camp and in OTAs while the 6-6, 315-pound Campbell was mostly at right guard.

July 8, 2010
Ekejiuba says he's been waived

Back-up linebacker and special teams ace Isaiah Ekejiuba Tweeted today that he is a former Raider.

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"Well Raider Nation, it was fun while it lasted," Ekejiuba wrote. "Sure you'll be hearing soon enough I just got waived by the team. Thanx for all the support!"

The Raiders, though, have made no mention of the move on their web site and did not respond immediately to a query. In fact, Ekejiuba was still listed on the roster late in the day. But that means next to nothing.

(UPDATE!!! - Raiders.com now shows Ekejiuba being released)

Ekejiuba, who walked on at Virginia as a wide receiver, has been a Raiders fan favorite since signing with Oakland's practice squad in 2005 and being promoted to the active squad on Oct. 28 of that season. In 64 career games, he had 49 tackles, 44 solo. Not bad for a guy who never played high school football.

He was born in Nigeria and, with his mother working for the United Nations and later teaching at Colgate, has lived in Africa, China, London and New York.

July 7, 2010
Raiders issue statement on Russell, say they tried to help him, rip certain media members

The Raiders have gone and done it again.

Nothing tops an Al Davis media conference, especially one with audio-visual aids. But the random press releases that find their way out of the Raiders compound can come close.

Last month, the Raiders compared second-year receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to such Hall of Fame pass catchers as Lance Alworth, Fred Biletnikoff and Jerry Rice.

Today, the Raiders responded to an apparent storm of criticism they've received in light of former quarterback JaMarcus Russell's arrest for possession of a controlled substance on Monday - codeine cough syrup.

The statement: "We did all that we could to intervene and assist with a myriad of issues with JaMarcus Russell. NFL policy restricts our ability to comment publicly at this time. Therefore, those in the media who declare what the Raiders knew or should have known or what the Raiders did or should have done, are reckless, irresponsible and offensive and do a disservice to all concerned, including the public."

My take? The smartest thing the Raiders have done this offseason was cutting ties with Russell. Too bad they couldn't just leave it alone and not A) try and get $9.55 million back from him and B) turn the page on the whole sordid affair.

July 5, 2010
Former QB Russell arrested...thankfully not Raiders' problem

It was one of those dirty little rumors that made its rounds while JaMarcus Russell was with the Raiders but no one dared write about it without substantial proof - that the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 draft imbibed heavily in the narcotic drink referred to as "syrup."

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Well, with the former Raiders quarterback getting arrested Monday in his native Mobile, Ala., for possession of a controlled substance - codeine syrup - expect the rumors to turn into full-blown stories and grow exponentially.

According to the Press-Register, "Russell was arrested at his home early this afternoon during an undercover investigation. He was booked into Mobile Metro Jail at 4:22 p.m. Russell was released minutes later after making $2,500 bail, according to online records."

Now, for the joke - why couldn't the overweight and under motivated Russell have been peddling diet pills?

Seriously, though, at least the Raiders cut him and don't have to deal with this latest Russell mess.



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.

Raiders stories on sacbee.com

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