Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 30, 2010
Cable goes mum on injuries, Campbell practices and Raiders cut four players

Checking in from AT&T Park, where the Giants are about to open a critical three-game series with the Colorado Rockies and it sounds like somebody got lectured about being too forthcoming with injury reports over in Alameda today.

Because a day after leading off a conference call with Bay Area reporters by revealing that receiver Chaz Schilens' recent arthroscopic knee surgery was a "three-to-six week issue for us" and saying that running back Michael Bush would undergo a "procedure" on his fractured left thumb today, coach Tom Cable suddenly became Sgt. Schultz. Or was it Marcel Marseau?

"We are going to adhere to the in-season injury policy," Cable said to begin Monday's media session, even though the regular season opener is not until Sept. 12. "And we're not going to talk about injuries, or where anyone's at or what's going on with them."

Cable would not even confirm, or deny, that Bush underwent the procedure today. Maybe Bush was off visiting the Holy Land to find Javon Walker's surgeon, the ultra-secret doctor that purportedly fixed the former Raiders receiver's knee last year?

I kid, I kid. Kinda.

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Good news on the Jason Campbell front, though, was in the starting quarterback practicing less than 48 hours after enduring that scary-looking stinger that laid him out for five minutes on the field and had him leaving in a cart during the 49ers exhibition.

"He threw the ball," Cable said. "Yup, he threw the ball. He did everything we need to do in practice.

"I knew after the game that he would be all right, so it was just a matter of him going back to work."

Apparently, Campbell's right wrist injury is not that big an issue anymore, as Cable said Sunday. Still, Cable said he was not sure yet if Campbell would play in the Raiders' exhibition finale Thursday against Seattle.

"And it has nothing to do with injuries," Cable said. "It has to do with what we're going to do with our team."

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One thing Cable was clear on Monday was who Campbell's back-up is - Bruce Gradkowski.

"I think he certainly went out there and proved he's the back-up quarterback here," Cable said. Meaning Kyle Boller is No. 3 and Colt Brennan is headed to the practice squad?

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In advance of Wednesday's deadline to get the roster down to 75 players, the Raiders cut four today - second-year receiver Paul Hubbard, rookie fullback Chane Moline, rookie guard Allen Smith and, the biggest surprise of all, veteran tight end Tony Stewart.

Entering his 10th season, Stewart, a former union rep for the Raiders, played the previous three years in Oakland while appearing in 47 of 48 games as a special teams standout and catching 21 passes for 159 yards.

I had him as one of three tight ends on my ultra-early roster behind starter Zach Miller and Brandon Myers. The roster battle is now between eight-year vet John Owens and undrafted rookie Eric Butler, who was signed on Aug. 19.

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For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

August 29, 2010
Cable's day-after thoughts on exhibition loss to 49ers, focusing on Campbell, Bush, Gradkowski and McFadden

Raiders coach Tom Cable spoke to Bay Area reporters late Sunday afternoon to discuss the Raiders' 28-24 exhibition loss to the 49ers on Saturday night.

I have written on quarterback Jason Campbell's "stinger" injury for tomorrow's paper, as well as about running back Michael Bush's fractured left thumb (yes, he's a lefty). As such, a sampling of topics Cable hit on:

Jason Campbell cart.jpg

-Campbell's "stinger" that affected his left side seems to have subsided, but the quarterback also endured a right wrist injury that is considered more serious. Still, it is not considered serious enough to keep him out of the season opener at Tennessee on Sept. 12.

"We'll need to see more on that in the coming days," Cable said of Campbell's wrist injury. "

-Cable said Bush will undergo a "procedure" on the thumb Monday and said there was a "good chance" he's still play in the opener as it would be "protected," but not necessarily with a cast.

Michael Bush TD.jpg

-Cable called receiver Chaz Schilens' arthroscopic knee surgery last week a "three-to-six week issue for us." Knowing Schilens' injury history, bet on the latter. Still, when asked if the Raiders had any interest in an available veteran free-agent receiver such as Antonio Bryant or Laveranues Coles, Cable said, "We haven't had any of those kind of discussions at this point. Right now we're more focused on our group and trying to find, really, that fourth and fifth receiver. I think that's really key for us right now."

-Center Samson Satele (ankle) and cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring) are both expected to practice full in this short week. Good thing for them, too, since rookie Jared Veldheer started for Satele against the 49ers and Stanford Routt is gunning for Johnson.

But while defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (elbow) and cornerback Joey Thomas (concussion) are day-to-day, rookie defensive end Alex Daniels (hamstring) and defensive end Jay Richardson (knee) our out.

-Cable made a point this past week to say the No. 2 QB position was still open, what with Bruce Gradkowski missing so much time in OTA's and camp with injuries. So, with that stellar showing against the 49ers, is Cable ready to proclaim Gradkowski as the official backup, over the game Kyle Boller?

Bruce Gradkowski.jpg

"He definitely showed himself well," Cable said, "and strengthened our football team at the quarterback position."

But you're not yet ready to say he is indeed the back-up?

"Well, I think he is," Cable said. "I never said he wasn't."

Got it?

-The Raiders seemed to take a step back in run defense, allowing 5.0 yards per carry. Cable's take?

"I'd like to see us wrap up when we tackle," he said. "That was probably the biggest negative that took away from the game. I was very disappointed in our kick coverage teams. Those two things, we got to play better. And offensive tackle. Those three things, you can put your hand on those pretty clear."

-Of course, the next question was on left tackle Mario Henderson and his job security. It was his man - Travis LaBoy that knocked Campbell out of the game and it was Henderson's guy that injured Gradkowski against Washington last season.

"Everyone has got to continue to improve and all that," Cable said. "I don't see any reason for him not to. My feeling on it right now is that he's not unlike anybody else. He's got to get better."

-I asked Cable what he saw in Veldheer's play at center after watching the tape.

"I saw a guy playing center for the first time in this league," Cable said. "You got to learn where to put his helmet a little bit more consistently. When he did, it was pretty good stuff. So, there's a lot to grow on. It was actually a pretty good effort by him."

-I also asked Cable what he saw out of Darren McFadden, who was making his 2010 exhibition debut and had nine yards rushing on seven carries. He did, however, have a 24-yard reception negated by an illegal formation penalty on receiver Louis Murphy.

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"I saw explosive play," Cable said. "I saw a guy run hard and between the tackles. You know, it's nice to get him back. You know it's good for him to get his first action. I've said all along that when he's healthy...he's very important to what we're trying to do."

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August 28, 2010
Raiders-49ers in-game Blog: 4th quarter, 49ers 28, Raiders 24

David Carr leads 49ers on 80-yard drive in 16 plays and 8:31, culminating in Anthony Dixon's one-yard TD plunge with 1:44 to play.

Carr hits TE Nate Byham for 2-pt conversion and 28-24 lead.

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Gradkowski responds and gets Raiders to 49ers' 40-yard line. But his bomb to Todd Watkins goes through his arms inside the 5-yard line with 67 seconds to go on 4th and 9.

BALLGAME - 49ers 28, Raiders 20

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Postgame injury update - QB Jason Campbell (stinger), RB Michael Bush (fractured left thumb), DL Desmond Bryant (elbow) CB Joey Thomas (concussion)

August 28, 2010
Raiders-49ers in-game Blog: 3rd quarter, Raiders 24, 49ers 20

Raiders, behind Bruce Gradkowski and 1st-team offense, go 72 yards in 9 plays, culminating with Gradkowski's 27-yard TD pass to Zach Miller. The TE barrelled over Michael Lewis in a Bavaro-esque manner.

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RT Langston Walker was lost with what appeared a jaw injury in the drive and was replaced by Erik Pears, who had consecutive penalties.

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Jason Campbell has returned to the sideline. He was chatting up Mario Henderson, whose man beat him to blast Campbell on the sack. Wonder what that conversation was about?

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Shane Andrus' 38-yard field goal gets 49ers within 21-20 with 5:44 to play in third quarter.

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So I guess if and when the Raiders have to kick a 57-yard field goal from the infield dirt against the St. Louis Rams in Week 2, they now know they can do it. Sebastian Janikowski makes it 24-20 at end of third quarter.

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August 28, 2010
Raiders-49ers in-game Blog: 2nd quarter, 49ers 17, Raiders 14

1st quarter ended with 28-yard pickup on a slant pass from Alex Smith to Delanie Walker, beating Kamerion Wimbley.

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On 4th and inches, Nnamdi Asomugha called for holding on Ted Ginn on timing route. 49ers get a fresh set of downs but Raiders do not yield a single yard.

Joe Nedney with 28-yard FG, culminating 55-yard drive on 9 plays in 3:50.

Raiders 7, 49ers 3

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Jason Campbell gets the Brett Favre treatment - sacked hard by a blitzing Patrick Willis.

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Shane Lechler's punt goes 57 yards...Phillip Adams goes 83 yards for the TD. 49ers 10, #Raiders 7, 9:41 remaining in 2nd quarter

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Jason Campbell sacked hard by Travis LaBoy, who beat Mario Henderson badly on left end. Campbell stayed down a good 5 minutes and was carted off the field as trainers kept his neck stationary. Was a scary sight, until Campbell got up on his own power and rode "shotgun" on the cart taking him off the field.

He was diagnosed with a "stinger" and Bruce Gradkowski has replaced him.

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This supposedly "new and improved" run defense is getting shredded now. Plus, Alex Smith is picking aprt the pass defense underneath.

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49ers march 60 yards in 10 plays, Smith hitting a wide-open Josh Morgan for a 16-yard TD 19th 1:13 to play in half. Raiders defense looks deflated, and for good reason.Wimbley and Branch seem to be "discussing" who blew the coverage.

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Gradkowski, out of the shotgun, hits Louis Murphy in stride on 2nd and 9 for a 74-yard TD. Murphy spun safety Reggie Smith around and beat him badly on what was nothing more than a simple "go-route." That can't make Samurai Mike happy.

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HALFTIME - 49ers 17, Raiders 14

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August 28, 2010
Raiders-49ers in-game Blog: 1st quarter, Raiders 7, 49ers 0

VERY impressive opening drive by Raiders, 81 yards, 9 plays - including TWO DHB catches for 29 yards - in 5:32, culminating with Michael Bush 2-yard TD. Other big play was a 44-yard pass to fullback Marcel Reese.

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Niners answer by driving to Raiders' 19-yard line, keyed by 49-yard run by Frank Gore, who bounced off both Michael Huff and Stanford Routt. But Gore lost three yards on a fumble, a penalty ensued and then Joe Nedney shanked a 37-yard FGA wide right.

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Raiders go three and out on Darren McFadden's 2010 debut - he runs between the tackles for a two-yard gain and then is stopped by Patrick Willis for a one-yard loss. Brandon Myers drops Campbell's perfectly-placed ball for what would have been a first down on 3rd and 9.

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Appears as though rookie center Jared Veldheer's inexperience is affecting McFadden's ability to run between the tackles as Patrick Willis is running untouched in Oakland's backfield. But McFadden has shown the ability to create when passed the ball in space - his big pickup negated by a penalty on Louis Murphy before going for 15 yards on 3rd and 19 on a similar pass.

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August 28, 2010
Raiders-49ers exhibition pre-game blog

Checking in from the Coliseum, the Raiders' first home exhibition of 2010. Baffled, baffled I say, at the two dudes rocking JaMarcus Russell No. 2 jerseys in the front row, directly behind the Raiders' bench...Then again, six rows back is a guy wearing a No. 31 Buchanan jersey.

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Looks like there will be a decent crowd tonight, what with people already sitting atop Mt. Davis.

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Of course, the baseball infield dirt will present a challenge - the Coliseum and Miami's Sun Life Stadium are the only football stadiums to share parks. With Thursday's exhibition against Seattle, imagine how tore up this grass will be Friday for the A's.

The Raiders will play only one game on the infield dirt, the home opener against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 19, unless the A's somehow make the playoffs.

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Raiders inactives - CB Chris Johnson, C Samson Satele, WR Chaz Shilens and DE Jay Richardson.

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Raiders captains - QB Jason Campbell, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, LS Jon Condo

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49ers win toss, elect to defer. Raiders to receive opening kickoff.

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August 26, 2010
Hue Jackson speaks, No. 2 QB spot wide open and other Thursday nuggets as Raiders break camp in Napa

First-year offensive coordinator Hue Jackson spoke publically for the first time since his Jan. 26 hiring - seven months to the day - at the conclusion of practice today in Napa, just as the Raiders broke camp and headed home to Alameda.

I've written a column on what he said and what it means for tomorrow's paper. A sampling, then, of Jackson's Q&A with assembled media...

Hue Jackson.jpg

Jackson, on how the offense will look different this season:
"I hope it's already looking different. The most important thing is, we're striving for balance. We want to be a team that we can run the football when we need to run it and we can throw it when we need to throw it. We're a multiple-formation team. We have some no-huddle. We do a little bit of everything. We do whatever it takes to win football
games. That's the most important thing that I've stressed from our coaches to our players that whatever it takes to win, that's what we're going to do."

Jackson, on if he sees running backs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden splitting carries:
"Well, I don't know. Darren hasn't played yet. Obviously he'll get an opportunity in this game and then we'll kind of see where it goes from there. I'm excited about getting a lot of our pieces out on the football field and watching them play. I have not seen Darren play in a game. That's going to be exciting. I haven't seen Bruce (Gradkowski) perform in a game. That will be exciting for me as a coach finally seeing the other pieces we have to have an opportunity to go out and compete in a game-type environment."

Jackson, on how receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey has progressed:
"I think the sky's the limit for the young man. I just think he needs to go play and I think he will this week. Obviously we've been in one game with him, he didn't play very much the first game, didn't make it to last week's game. I'm looking forward to watching him play. Again, that's what I'm saying. I'm excited about watching a lot of our pieces finally come out and play together for an extended period of time and see where we are."

Jackson, on if his coaching style meshes with that of head coach Tom Cable, with whom he previously coached at Cal State Fullerton in 1990 and at Cal in 1996:
"There's no question. Tom's one of those old throwback coaches. He likes to get down in the dirt and get after it, and so do I. We kind of do it with a little flair. There's a flair to what we do. I think our players enjoy it. I think you guys have talked to our players. I think they like the direction we're heading. That's the biggest thing. There's a confidence about this football team. It permeates everywhere. It's not just our team. It's in the equipment, it's in the weight room, it's with our media people. It's everywhere. This is a different time in Raider football, and I'm excited about it, and we all are."

Jackson, on if Saturday's exhibition really matters:
"Our whole thing is if they're keeping score, everything's important. That's just kind of the way I am. If they're keeping score, I want to win, and I think that's the way our players are. We're going to walk out there, and they're going to put a ball out there and we're going out there to play, and we're going to play to win. We're not just going out there to play. Any time we take the field and we're wearing that uniform, that's what our intention is, to go win a football game."

Jackson, on the No. 1 quality he looks for in a quarterback:
"His ability to lead men. I think it's very important that the quarterback is able to take players and get those guys around him to follow him, to understand exactly what the message is that's being sent, not just on the field but also off the field. And I think we've got four very capable guys, and they're working at it each and every day, and I feel good about direction that we're going in."

Jackson, on how often he taps into Al Davis as a resource:
"Very often. Very often. Because, again, let's make no bones about it, this is his football team, and I have a great respect for that. I've been with a lot of different owners in the league, the Dan Snyders, the Steve Bisciottis, the gentleman at Atlanta, and they are fine, fine men But this guy knows as much about football, and he is as sharp about football as any man I've ever been around, so to have a resource like that and not be able to use it, I don't think would be very smart on my part. Just watching how he ran the draft. Again, this is an exciting time in my opinion in Raiders football. We've had an outstanding draft, we've brought some great players here, and now the leadership puzzle, as Nnamdi (Asomgha) has said, is in place, for us to have an opportunity to have something special happen here."

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Coach Tom Cable said the back-up quarterback position, presumed to be the exclusive domain of Bruce Gradkowski, is instead up for grabs. Gradkowski has been beset by injuries as last season ended with a pair of knee injuries a week after his stirring comeback win at Pittsburgh, a weigh-lifting accident led to surgery on his left chest and a strained groin has kept him out of the first two exhibition games. Kyle Boller, meanwhile, has performed admirably against Dallas and Chicago, leading the comeback victory against the Cowboys.

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Also, those that did not practice in the morning walk-through - WR Chaz Schilens (knee), C Samson Satele (ankle), DE Alex Daniels, who moved back to defense from fullback (hamstring), DE Jay Richardson (hamstring) - are not expected to suit up against the 49ers Saturday night at the Coliseum. Neither is DB Chris Johnson (hamstring), though he did practice.

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Because the game did not sell out, it cannot be shown on live television in the Bay Area. But in Sacramento, you can watch it live on KCRA. TV broadcast rules differ in the preseason from regular season contests.

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Lastly, I will be on Friday's special "Chronicle Live" on CSN Bay Area from the Raider Nation Celebration at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. The hour-long show airs at 5 p.m. but the festivities, free and open to the public, go from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Those scheduled to join host Greg Papa (the voice of the Raiders) on the show include coach Tom Cable, QB Jason Campbell, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DL Richard Seymour, TE Zach Miller, TV analyst Bill Romanowski, TV host Jim Kozimor and Oakland Tribune columnist Monte Poole.

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For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

August 23, 2010
Cable's Monday conference call transcript

Raiders coach Tom Cable spoke to Bay Area reporters late Monday morning to discuss the Raiders' 32-17 defeat of the Chicago Bears on Saturday night. He spoke of the what he say on the game film, injuries and what he sees in rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain. He also said receiver Chaz Schilens may need arthroscopic surgery on a knee. A transcript, then, of Monday's conference call:

Question: After reviewing game film, what stood out?
Answer: The long run concerned me, obviously. We got cut out of the gap and didn't play it very well from the back side. That concerned me in that it was really something that could have been prevented. We just didn't play it very good. I felt like defensively we played team defense for about two-thirds of the game. But about a third of the time just breakdowns here and there. We had a couple of missed assignments, guys not running to the ball, guys came out of coverage on the one touchdown we gave up (and) we took our eyes off the man in man coverage. Things like that. Fortunately, they're all things we can definitely fix. I'm excited about that. I'd rather it just didn't happen. Next thing, probably the offense. Nice start in terms of first drive, obviously. But I think there was a lot more out there for us running the football. We didn't execute that part of it very well. We need to clean some things up up front.

Q: Your thoughts on the kick returners so far?
A: I'm excited because I think we definitely have upgraded the people there in terms of some depth and all that. We missed a great opportunity twice on the kickoff return for some big returns. Even just to start the game, missed a block that really would have put the returnerone on one with the kicker. Having seen that on film, a little disappointed in that. Again that is something that is very fixable. So I'm excited to go back to practice tomorrow and get to work on those kinds of things because we're so close.

Q: Any update on Samson Satele's ankle?
A: We probably won't know more until this afternoon some time. I know they will do an X-ray today and look at it in depth. But we'll know more this afternoon.

Q: Will the guys who missed the Bears game be back at practice tomorrow?
A: Most of them. The only guy who probably won't get back looks to be Chaz Schilens. He actually is seeing a specialist for a knee issue and he may need a procedure, a scope procedure done. We'll find that out as well this afternoon. But I think we're getting a lot of those guys back like (Darren) McFadden, (Darrius) Heyward-Bey, I don't have the list in front of me right now but the majority of those guys will be back to work tomorrow.

Q: How concerning is another injury for Chaz?
A: I'm very concerned. It's been a tough road for him. We get through the foot thing now and something else has kind of reared up on us. We'll take care of it and get him back as soon as we can.

Q: Was there something specific that happened to him?
A: It sounds like something that was overcompensation for the foot, to be honest with you.

Q: If he needs the 'scope," could he be back by the first game?
A: That's the hope. That's the hope.

Q: With the way the other receivers have played, does that calm your nerves if you have to play without Chaz?
A: I think the group is developing, I certainly do. It was nice to see Jacoby Ford being able to contribute the other night. He did some nice things against a couple of tough coverage looks and had discipline to run the routes right and run them at their depth and all that and then caught the football. I'm encouraged by that group. Hopefully we don't lose Chaz for any time here. But if it does happen, I do think we're developing that group.

Q: What has been the key to your screen game and can it be bigger part of the offense?
A: It's always been a part of the offense. To me, we're doing a decent job right now of executing it. That's exciting. We've got some linemen who can run. They're getting out and getting people on the ground. The backs are making nice cuts off it and the timing by the quarterback has been good. I'm very encouraged by it. We just seem to be doing a better job of it this year thus far.

Q: What did you expect out of Kamerion Wimbley, and has he exceeded expectations?
A: I think he is who we thought he was. He played outside linebacker at Cleveland. That's what he's been known for. He's done a fine job with it here. Our plan all along as we talked about was to use him on third down in terms of rushing the passer. He showed up the other night. That's exciting for our team. He's exactly what we thought. He'd be a guy who could rush the passer in passing situations and play the SAM linebacker on the other downs.

Q: As nice as his four sacks were, what about his coverage on Greg Olsen down the sideline?
A: Absolutely. I think that play, from a coaching standpoint, was as big, if not bigger, than the sacks. That was something we were waiting to see and Olsen is a quality, quality player. It shows Kam has the ability to do those things. It certainly brings something to our defense.

Q: What makes him such a good pass rusher?
A: He has great speed off the edge. He's a dynamic rusher in terms of what he's doing with his hands and his pass-rushing moves. He works on it diligently. To me, I think if you look back at the history of him even coming out or Florida State, that's always been his one real niche is the fact that he could get to the quarterback. I just think it's a combination of his speed (and) athleticism with a guy who understands what he's doing, in terms of the technique of rushing the passer.

Q: Did the Browns call you to shop him, or did you call them?
A: I don't even remember. I don't know.

Q: Were you surprised that guy who's been around four years and had some success was available?
A: Honestly I'm just happy we got him. I'm not going around it. It just seems so long ago. I don't remember all that. I'm glad we got him. I'm glad that they didn't want him, if that's the case, and he's ours. I'll leave it at that.

Q: How would you assess your fullback situation?
A: We're getting some nice play out of Marcel Reece. He's improving, definitely. Even if you take away the screen play to him he made a nice run on. I just like where he's going as a blocker. He's becoming more and more physical with each game. He certainly understands now what we're asking him to do. He's been good in pass protection. I think he's improving and that's good to see. Manase Tonga, he has shown some things being physical (to) assert himself that way and caught the ball well the other night. It was good to get Luke Lawton back in the mix. He'd been out for quite some time. I feel like there's good competition there.

Q: Has Chane Moline been moved to running back?
A: No. We're just trying to keep some fresh guys in the game. Losing Darren, losing that set of legs, just probably being a little more cautious or smart with the situation rather than running the rest of them in the ground.

Q: What have you seen out of Rolando McClain in his first two exhibitions?
A: I've seen great awareness. I've seen good speed to the ball. I've seen excellent pass defense. I've seen a guy who is around the ball in the run game. Probably he would be the first to tell you, he needs to pull the trigger a little bit more. But his recognition at the speed of it and getting to the ball has been excellent. The thing that I'm most pleased about is he's done a nice job of getting us lined up and adjusting, and then the pass defense. He's been more than we thought.

Q: What do you mean by pull the trigger?
A: There are some times for him to blow it up or make a big play in there sometimes. He's making the play but I think there's a little bit more energy that can be brought to it.

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August 23, 2010
Schilens' knee now bothering him, might need surgery

Chaz Schilens, whose 2009 season was short-circuited by a broken foot suffered in training camp and then underwent offseason surgery, is now enduring a painful knee.

Raiders coach Tom Cable said in a conference call with Bay Area media today Schilens may need a "scope" procedure. Asked if Schilens, who did not play in either of the Raiders' two exhibitions at Dallas or Chicagoi, could potentially return in time for the season opener at Tennessee on Sept. 12, Cable said, "That's the hope."

Cable also said he thought the knee issue could have flared up as a result of Schilens overcompensating for his foot.

August 21, 2010
August 21, 2010
Wimbley, Campbell star in Raiders' 32-17 demolition of Bears

A few thoughts on the Raiders' 32-17 demolition of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field (I watched on television and will travel with the Raiders in the regular season), while keeping in mind exhibitions are near meaningless in terms of wins and losses:

-What in the world were the Cleveland Browns thinking in letting linebacker Kamerion Wimbley go for a mere third-round draft pick? Yes, I realize that this was an exhibition game, but Wimbley getting four sacks, mostly as an edge rusher in nickel packages, was a welcome development for the Raiders.

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-Wimbley's sacks were four of the six the Raiders had on the night, with Tommy Kelly and Thomas Howard each contributing one. Speaking of Kelly, the high-priced defensive tackle came to camp some 30 pounds lighter and decidedly more motivated.

-When was the last time you had to pick which first series was more impressive, that of the offense, which went 81 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes, 33 seconds to score a touchdown, or the defense, which sacked Jay Cutler on second and third down to force a punt? Keep in mind the offense had to atone for two Robert Gallery penalties in the first four snaps.

-Jason Campbell, playing without receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Chaz Schilens, showed the poise of a veteran leader and touch of a veteran quarterback the Raiders have been so sorely missing since Rich Gannon retired. At least early on. After completing his first five passes, Campbell looked a tad uncomfortable as he was just five of 15 thereafter, including an all-advised interception in the red zoned. But he finished with 170 yards passing and had good pocket presence and sense enough to scramble and buy himself more time when he sensed the pocket collapsing. I won't even get into how many times JaMarcus Russell cost the Raiders with his lack of pocket awareness.

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-Looks like new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is not afraid of calling some misdirection, every now and again. Especially the play-action screen pass. It worked well enough on third-and-17 from their own 12-yard line that Michael Bush rumbled for 24 yards and a first down. Marcel Reese also picked up 40 yards on a similar play.

-Speaking of Bush, he looks comfortable getting reps as the featured running back. Wonder how that sits with his camp roommate, Darren McFadden? Truth be told, would be interesting to see McFadden, who sat out his second consecutive exhibition with a sore hamstring, on the receiving end of such passes and enabled to create in space.

-With Charlie Frye lost for the season after undergoing wrist surgery this week and Bruce Gradkowski still nursing a sore groin, Kyle Boller made another strong case to be Campbell's backup. Boller completed seven of nine passes for 55 yards and, like Campbell, had a rushing TD. Colt Brennan also got in for two series and completed his lone pass for 14 yards. Gradkowski had better feel some sort of pressure.

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Defensive starters Nnamdi Asomugha, Chris Johnson and Richard Seymour all sat out.

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August 17, 2010
J-Rich undergoes knife, Frye next, Gradkowski takes second-team snaps and other nuggets from Napa

I have written about the oft-injured Darren McFadden for tomorrow's paper and how his health is key to the Raiders' fortunes this season. As such, the news from Napa today...

Defensive end Jay Richardson underwent a knee "scope" today.

"Not sure until we get a chance to talk to the doctor after the procedure and all that," coach Tom Cable said when asked how long Richardson would be out. "So we'll know, again, something tomorrow."

As such, Chris Cooper and Greyson Gunheim are splitting time as backup defensive ends in Richardson's absence.

Also, quarterback Charlie Frye's bothersome right wrist will sundergo "a procedure" tomorrow, Cable said.

"I don't know the medical terms of it," Cable said. "I'll be able to explain more of it tomorrow."

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Bruce Gradkowski, who missed the Dallas exhibition game with a sore groin, looked to be taking the majority of the second-team snaps. Kyle Boller was in the mix as well. So with Boller's showing in that comeback exhibition win against the Cowboys, does the Cal product have a shot at being Jason Cambell's backup?

"Well, first of all, like I said the other day, Bruce isn't back all the way yet," Cable said. "We're bringing him back. That's really more the issue than anything."

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With Darrius Heyward-Bey missing his second consecutive practice to "rest," per Cable, and Chaz Schilens still nursing a sore foot, backups Todd Watkins and Nick Miller have been given opportunities to stand out.

Watkins, on how long it's taken him to get comfortable as a pro: "There is a steep learning curve from college to the NFL. Some guys handle it better than others. A lot of it depends on the type of offense you ran in college. We had a real simple offense at BYU, so it took a lot more learning."

Miller, on if he really got both feet down in the end zone on his touchdown catch against Dallas: "I thought it was good. Good call by the refs."

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Left guard Robert Gallery, on the offensive line's play at Dallas: "It was a start. We got a lot of things we got to clean up, as usual, for the first game. But we got out and got our feet wet. We got to improve this week."

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Strange scene of the day: An excited female autograph-seeking fan, upon seeing a quarterback making his way to her: "Hey, it's Charlie Frye!"

The chagrined player: "Nope. I'm Kyle Boller."

A smiling Boller signed for her, nonetheless.

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For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

August 13, 2010
Cable's day-after conference call transcript

Raiders coach Tom Cable spoke to Bay Area reporters late Friday afternoon, the day after the Raiders' come-from-behind 17-9 victory at Dallas in their preseason opener. He spoke of the team's health coming out of the game, why rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston was in the game at the end and the play of new quarterback Jason Campbell. A transcript, then, of Friday's conference call:

Question: Did you come through the game healthy?
Answer: We spoke of three guys last night. Walter McFadden, Sam Williams and Swayze Waters. We'll know a little bit more about each one of them, Walter McFadden is definitely not anything serious at all. In fact, he may be ready to go to work tomorrow. Sam Williams may have a slight concussion so he'll start the protocol today for that. Swayze Waters, very fortunate, when he got roughed on the PAT attempt, but it's just a bruise. No one else came up today following the game, so we came out of it in pretty good shape.

Q: Looking over film, what were your impressions of the first-team offense?
A: It's a guy here and a guy there. It looks to be probably a little better than what I thought last night after the game, so I think we can fix it, and fix it rather quickly. The biggest negative I see is the four false-start penalties. Good ball security, no turnovers or anything like that. I thought both (Rock) Cartwright and (Michael) Bennett ran the ball tough. I thought the second group of linemen blocked some things, the longer (they) played, I think the better they got. I think Kyle Boller went in there and did some nice things. There are some things I'm sure he'd like to do over again, but he was able to make some big throws and get us in some plays and give us a chance.

Q: Specifically, how did Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell look with the second line?
A: You know, it was OK for the first time out. A lot of mistakes, but the longer they played I thought the better they got. That's encouraging, and I'll look for bigger and better things this week vs. Chicago.

Q: In terms of getting the plays in and out, in terms of Jason Campbell getting the team to the line of scrimmage and just looking like an organized team for the first time out, how would you rate it?
A: I thought good. I thought we could have been maybe a little faster in our tempo in and out of the huddle, but that's normal for the first game of the preseason. But in terms of communication, we even ran a little bit of no-huddle. He handled that very well. So I was pleased with that.

Q: How important was it to get Lamarr Houston back on the field to close out a game in terms of his growth and maturity?
A: Well, you have to understand, he and (Matt) Shaughnessy both are with the second nickel team, so they were going to be in there regardless. Guys wanted to make the point where they were playing all game. That really wasn't by plan. Normally they wouldn't be in there, with the first nickel group it would be Trevor Scott and Kamerion Wimbley. But once we took the starters, so to speak, and started to play the second units, they're part of that second unit, therefore they had to play a little bit.

Q: How encouraging was the play of Shaugnessy and Houston?
A: I think it's exciting. They were productive. They were productive not only rushing the passer, but against the run. They can do better at some things, for sure. I think definitely an encouraging start.

Q: How do you weigh going for a field goal with Swayze Waters versus going for it on fourth down?
A: I think getting us ready to play. We were pretty lucky last night in that we got to deal with an incredible amount of situations throughout the game. Usually it doesn't happen like that, not in one game or even this early in the preseason. I really just kind of took the situations as they came and we coached them and adjusted to them. It was really good for our team. That's the thing we'll take out of it. We were able to be in a number of different situations. You just kind of go with what you have planned and you go from there.

Q: How important was that last drive for Jason Campbell in terms of getting rhythm for that group, keeping him in to start the second quarter?
A: The rhythm thing was most important. I did not like the second series very much. It just felt like we were going to put the line and the quarterback back out there together and see if they can kind of put some cohesiveness together, which they were able to do a little bit. The thing I am encouraged about is it was a guy here or a guy there that were breaking down. I look for us to be better this week.

Q: Do you expect the guys you held out - Darren McFadden, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, Chaz Schilens, Jay Richardson, etc... - to come back this week?
A: We don't know that yet. The report today is they are all better and improving. We'll see how the week goes.

Q: How would you assess the play of the centers?
A: There was really not a lot of pressure other than the second drive of the game. Samson (Satele) did get beat. That was a tough series of plays. I mentioned that. I didn't like it so I put them back out there. I think prior to that and certainly after that, protection was pretty good all night.

Q: No kickoff returns, but how did you like Johnnie Lee Higgins on punt returns?
A: I mentioned this before. It's a big emphasis for us to improve the return game. Unfortunately (Dallas' kicker) was knocking the ball to the back of the end zone every time. Hopefully we'll get some more chances here in the next three weeks. I did like the one return Johnnie had. I thought he handled the ball well. I look forward to getting those other guys in there as well and seeing what they can give us.

The Raiders had Friday off and have one practice Saturday, beginning at 4:20 p.m.

August 13, 2010
Cable's day-after conference call transcript

Raiders coach Tom Cable spoke to Bay Area reporters late Friday afternoon, the day after the Raiders' come-from-behind 17-9 victory at Dallas in their preseason opener. He spoke of the team's health coming out of the game, why rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston was in the game at the end and the play of new quarterback Jason Campbell. A transcript, then, of Friday's conference call:

Question: Did you come through the game healthy?
Answer: We spoke of three guys last night. Walter McFadden, Sam Williams and Swayze Waters. We'll know a little bit more about each one of them, Walter McFadden is definitely not anything serious at all. In fact, he may be ready to go to work tomorrow. Sam Williams may have a slight concussion so he'll start the protocol today for that. Swayze Waters, very fortunate, when he got roughed on the PAT attempt, but it's just a bruise. No one else came up today following the game, so we came out of it in pretty good shape.

Q: Looking over film, what were your impressions of the first-team offense?
A: It's a guy here and a guy there. It looks to be probably a little better than what I thought last night after the game, so I think we can fix it, and fix it rather quickly. The biggest negative I see is the four false-start penalties. Good ball security, no turnovers or anything like that. I thought both (Rock) Cartwright and (Michael) Bennett ran the ball tough. I thought the second group of linemen blocked some things, the longer (they) played, I think the better they got. I think Kyle Boller went in there and did some nice things. There are some things I'm sure he'd like to do over again, but he was able to make some big throws and get us in some plays and give us a chance.

Q: Specifically, how did Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell look with the second line?
A: You know, it was OK for the first time out. A lot of mistakes, but the longer they played I thought the better they got. That's encouraging, and I'll look for bigger and better things this week vs. Chicago.

Q: In terms of getting the plays in and out, in terms of Jason Campbell getting the team to the line of scrimmage and just looking like an organized team for the first time out, how would you rate it?
A: I thought good. I thought we could have been maybe a little faster in our tempo in and out of the huddle, but that's normal for the first game of the preseason. But in terms of communication, we even ran a little bit of no-huddle. He handled that very well. So I was pleased with that.

Q: How important was it to get Lamarr Houston back on the field to close out a game in terms of his growth and maturity?
A: Well, you have to understand, he and (Matt) Shaughnessy both are with the second nickel team, so they were going to be in there regardless. Guys wanted to make the point where they were playing all game. That really wasn't by plan. Normally they wouldn't be in there, with the first nickel group it would be Trevor Scott and Kamerion Wimbley. But once we took the starters, so to speak, and started to play the second units, they're part of that second unit, therefore they had to play a little bit.

Q: How encouraging was the play of Shaugnessy and Houston?
A: I think it's exciting. They were productive. They were productive not only rushing the passer, but against the run. They can do better at some things, for sure. I think definitely an encouraging start.

Q: How do you weigh going for a field goal with Swayze Waters versus going for it on fourth down?
A: I think getting us ready to play. We were pretty lucky last night in that we got to deal with an incredible amount of situations throughout the game. Usually it doesn't happen like that, not in one game or even this early in the preseason. I really just kind of took the situations as they came and we coached them and adjusted to them. It was really good for our team. That's the thing we'll take out of it. We were able to be in a number of different situations. You just kind of go with what you have planned and you go from there.

Q: How important was that last drive for Jason Campbell in terms of getting rhythm for that group, keeping him in to start the second quarter?
A: The rhythm thing was most important. I did not like the second series very much. It just felt like we were going to put the line and the quarterback back out there together and see if they can kind of put some cohesiveness together, which they were able to do a little bit. The thing I am encouraged about is it was a guy here or a guy there that were breaking down. I look for us to be better this week.

Q: Do you expect the guys you held out - Darren McFadden, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, Chaz Schilens, Jay Richardson, etc... - to come back this week?
A: We don't know that yet. The report today is they are all better and improving. We'll see how the week goes.

Q: How would you assess the play of the centers?
A: There was really not a lot of pressure other than the second drive of the game. Samson (Satele) did get beat. That was a tough series of plays. I mentioned that. I didn't like it so I put them back out there. I think prior to that and certainly after that, protection was pretty good all night.

Q: No kickoff returns, but how did you like Johnnie Lee Higgins on punt returns?
A: I mentioned this before. It's a big emphasis for us to improve the return game. Unfortunately (Dallas' kicker) was knocking the ball to the back of the end zone every time. Hopefully we'll get some more chances here in the next three weeks. I did like the one return Johnnie had. I thought he handled the ball well. I look forward to getting those other guys in there as well and seeing what they can give us.

The Raiders had Friday off and have one practice Saturday, beginning at 4:20 p.m.

August 12, 2010
Raiders' 17-9 exhibition-opening defeat of Dallas a positive step

A few thoughts on the Raiders' come-from-behind 17-9 preseason opening victory at Dallas (yes, I saw it on TV the same as the most of you. I'll travel with the Raiders in the regular season).

- The defensive front four looked much improved. Dominant at times, what with five sacks in the first half while limiting the Cowboys to 31 yards rushing and 86 yards passing. And I loved, just loved rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston going back in the game at the end after starting. Gave the kid a sense early of what it felt like to close things out in an NFL game, albeit an exhibition. Matt Shaughnessy was an absolute force as well.

Lamarr Houston.jpg

- Jason Campell was as advertised - solid, but not spectacular - in his Raiders debut under center. He was seven of 13 passing for 49 yards in four series and seemed to have trouble early finding a rhythm against the Cowboys' first-string defense, badly overthrowing an open Zach Miller on a fourth-and-one play.

- Kyle Boller, meanwhile, may have shown Charlie Frye the door and is knocking on Bruce Gradkowski's door to be Campbell's backup. Granted, a gift-wrapped interception fell through the Cowboys' hands inside Dallas' 10-yard line late but Boller looked legit against backups. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 148 yards, included a beautiful four-yard fade to the diminutive Nick Miller in the left corner. Boller's play may have also sealed Colt Brennan's fate as the recent emergency acquisition - Frye has a sore right wrist, Gradkowski an injured groin - was supposed to play but did not with Boller leading the comeback.

Kyle Boller.jpg

- Speaking of Nick Miller...so THAT'S why the Raiders used a valuable roster spot on him and his broken shin virtually all of last season. At just 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Miller stands out on a football field for his lack of size. But his acrobatic fourth-quarter TD is what got the Raiders on the scoreboard and got things rolling.

- Michael Bennett made a statement for being the third running back. He rushed for 68 yards on 12 carries and took a screen pass 33 yards in the game-winning drive.

- Yes, it's just a preseason game, but it was a win. And it came against the Cowboys. Plus, it means the Raiders' third-teamers are better than the Cowboys' third-teamers. For at least one night.

- And just when you think you've heard the last of JaMarcus Russell, he tells ESPN that he tested positive for codeine after the Raiders drafted him No. 1 overall in 2007.

That might be the first time I can recall him ever showing accountability.

But he also said he's been using it for three years but does not have a drug problem.

I don't know which story elicits bigger yawns - Russell's non-admission admission, or Reggie Bush apologizing to new USC athletic director Pat Haden.

August 10, 2010
Davis compares Campbell to Plunkett on SIRIUS NFL radio show

Al Davis appeared on Gil Brandt's SIRIUS NFL radio show today from Napa and not only said this year's Raiders team reminded him of the 1980 team that won Super Bowl XV as a wild card, but compared new quarterback Jason Campbell to Jim Plunkett.

A sampling of the Raiders owner's thoughts, courtesy of SIRIUS...

On last decade: "In the year 2000 we played the Baltimore (Ravens) in the championship game. In the year 2001 we played the New England Patriots in the great 'tuck' game up in Boston in which we had thought we had won the ballgame, but had it taken away from us in the moments by officials that changed the call and took a win away from the Raiders. In 2002 we played in the Super Bowl. So we thought that the decade of the 2000s would be ours. But boy we slipped. We slumped. And now we come into the year 2010 and I really liken this team a great deal to the team of 1980 in which the great Jim Plunkett pulled us out of the doldrums, took us to the Super Bowl as a wild card and we had so many great players who eventually made their way into the Hall of Fame."

On Campbell and Plunkett: "I see this young Jason Campbell as a football player like I saw Jim Plunkett. He has everything. He was 13-0 in college at Auburn. He can throw up the field, he can run, he's big, he's smart. I really predict great things for him. I hope he doesn't let me down. I don't think he will. I think we have a team that's pretty similar. We don't have as many Hall of Fame players as we had on that '80 team, which was the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl, but this team has a lot of potential and a lot of great young players."

Davis on what burns brightest for him: "The will to win will always be here. The fire that burns brightest in me and my family, Carol and Mark, is the will to win. We just want the Raiders to do great. As you know, I'm 81 years old but I still can contribute a great deal. We do a great deal for the team. I think we have our stamp on this team. It's our personnel, it's our picks, it's our want to be great once again, to join the ranks of the elite and get back that number one rating in terms of wins and losses since we've come into the league. And to make the National Football League - which it is - the greatest game that's always played by the greatest players, the greatest coaches, the greatest plays, the greatest games and, of course, the greatest fans that anyone could want."

August 10, 2010
Rookies get shorn, McFadden sits again and other Tuesday camp nuggets from Napa

Bonding moment, or hazing terror?

Call it what you will, but the haircut hijinks toward rookies that ensued between practices Tuesday resulted in some of the ugliest 'dos this side of Tim Tebow's Friar Tuck look.

Lamarr Houston looked like a New Age B.A. Baracus. Jered Veldheer had sideburns, a pocket of hair above his forehead and one above his neck. Bruce Campbell's look was so bad he covered it with a baseball cap. Rolando McClain had one small ring-worm hole carved out of the back right side.

As the final practice ended, Steve Brown and Walter McFadden, their pretty heads thus far untouched, booked out of the locker room.

Maybe the Cowboys will let the Raiders veterans shave their too-good-to-carry-shoulder-pads rookie receiver Dez Bryant's head on Thursday?

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Those that sat out practice Tuesday and "most likely won't play in the (Cowboys) game," per coach Tom Cable:

WR Jacoby Ford (quad)
WR Paul Hubbard (hamstring)
WR Chaz Schilens (foot)
FB Luke Lawton (concussion)
RB Darren McFadden (hamstring)
QB Charlie Frye (wrist)
QB Bruce Gradkowski (groin)
DE Jay Richardson (left knee)

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With Gradkowski and Frye out, Kyle Boller will back up Jason Campbell and newly-signed Colt Brennan will be the third quarterback. I have written a feature on Brennan, who has now gone through four total practices with the Raiders, for tomorrow's paper.

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McFadden said he felt his left hamstring tighten up on him in the Saturday morning practice.

"I had kind of slowed down (and) tried to speed up again and then I felt it so I just kind of pulled up off of it before I did anything bad," he said.

"It feels a little tight on me. Hamstrings can be tricky injuries. I didn't want to try to get back on it too fast. I'm just trying to make sure it's 100 (percent) before I do."

He also said it was the first time he's had a hamstring issue since his senior year of high school.

"I ran a track meet and the only call I heard was the final call for the 100 meters," McFadden said. "I didn't get a chance to warm up, and that's the only time I've had hamstring problems.

"You want to make sure it's all the way healthy before you (play) because it's a hamstring, something that can nag you for a whole year...it's very frustrating. I feel like I've been having a good camp."

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Alex Daniels, the converted fullback, is looking forward to his pro debut at Dallas.

"It's just a blessing coming true," he said. "I just always wanted to play in the NFL no matter how I got there. Blocking for Darren (McFadden), blocking for (Michael) Bush, blocking for Rock (Cartwright), blocking for Mike Bennett, just any of those guys that are going to be back there is going to be (a blessing). I'm just going to open my eyes, and just look, I'm going to be in Dallas, in Jerry's world, that stadium, and just be excited to be there, and when the whistle blows, that's when the pads hit and then after that, you go ahead, and it's just all football again."

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Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has been seeing a lot of time on the left side of late, as opposed to his usual right side.

And he's enjoying the freedom of moving back and forth.

"Of course there are games that we've gone into, a handful, where it would be me just going wherever I was going to go," Asomugha said. "We've done it every year since I've been here. But there's been more of a feeling where people are listening. We're doing more things, and I love it.

"I've been playing all over the field pretty much. I've been inside, I've been outside, both sides. It looks like it won't be a thing that's selective based off who we're playing. It's just going to be a thing that we can do whenever we want. It's a part of the package. And that's great. It gets me more involved."

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The Raiders travel to Dallas Wednesday, play Thursday night and have Friday off.

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For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

August 10, 2010
Cartwright plays with a chip on his shoulder

His grandmother used to call him "Rock-baby" when he was little, because of his clumsy demeanor. He's not a "baby" anymore; but, he still runs like a rock.

Roderick 'Rock' Cartwright is fighting for a spot on the Raiders' depth chart. After being released by the Washington Redskins, he is ready for a new start in Oakland.

"We had a lot of stuff that happened in Washington," said the 30-year-old Cartwright. "But, we're past that, it's a new beginning. It's a new start."

At just 5-foot-8, Cartwright has had to overcome knocks on his lack of height throughout his professional career. During Tuesday morning's practice, his quickness and hard running style made him stand out amongst the other 10 players on the second-team offense.

Cartwright adds more versatility to an already dynamic Raiders backfield. His willingness to do "whatever I can do to help the team win" has rubbed off on some of the other newcomers on the Raiders 80-man, training camp roster. Namely, converted fullback, Alex Daniels.

Daniels switched from defensive end to fullback this week, a move Daniels hopes earns him a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Everybody is out there fighting for a job," said Daniels, an undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati. "We're all looking for a job. You've got to have a business approach about it."

While Cartwright is unhappy about how things ended in Washington - where he had spent his entire NFL career - he's now focused on his future with the Raiders.

"They got their own people, so they got who they wanted," Cartwright said of being released. "I'm here now, so I'm worried about the Raiders; not the Redskins."

- Aaron Hilton

August 7, 2010
McClain is "seasoned," says Groves, and other Saturday camp nuggets from Napa

Quentin Groves was a second-round draft pick out of Auburn two years ago yet readily admits he is no sure bet to make the Raiders' 53-man roster. Yet that did not stop the outside linebacker from marveling at the team's first-round pick, No. 8 overall selection, Rolando McClain.

"Seasoned," Groves said when asked what he sees in McClain. "He's a guy that comes from a great conference, great linebacker coaching, he's a guy that is a field general before he even plays the game."

So was Groves surprised he appeared so ready in his first NFL training camp?

"I knew it when he was coming in because my coach, James Willis, coached him at Alabama, and I called James when we drafted him and said, 'What is he like?'" Groves said. "And he was like, 'That's the kind of guy he is.'

"That's what separates him. And I think that's why Mr. (Al) Davis and the guys, Coach (Tom) Cable, they made the pick. Because in the interviews he was a cool, calm, poised guy. And he plays the same way on the field."

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As a seventh-round pick, chances would seem to be slim for defensive back Steve Brown to make the team. But he's been impressing coaches at camp the past two days with a pair of highlight reel interceptions in live drills.

Friday, he picked off Bruce Gradkowski. Saturday, Kyle Boller was the victim on a diving pick after the ball bounced off fellow rookie Walter McFadden.

"You definitely have to do something to stick out from the rest," Brown said. "Whenever you come in, team's been here before, so whenever you're breaking into a new scene you have to do something that makes you stand out from the pack, so that's what I keep trying to do."

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Trevor Scott, on how much more comfortable he is now at linebacker, after making the switch from defensive end midseason last year: "I can't even describe how much more comfortable I am as far as alignment, assignment and just knowing my responsibilities. Last year was just kind of like run and go, and just go find the ball. It was hard because you go from putting your hand in the dirt to dropping four yards off the ball. I understand things so much better now."

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Depending on your point of view, the defense not being able to strip the ball from the offense is a bad thing...or a good thing.

"We're averaging about three balls out a day," Cable said. "That's far greater than what it used to be."

Then it must be a credit to the ball carriers, no?

"Like we started this morning, every other practice, with that turnover circuit, it is a credit to the offense," Cable said. "I think they're taking better care of the ball. But you see the emphasis. When you turn on film and you see seven, eight guys stripping at it every time. They may not get it out, but we're attempting to, and I think that's really a critical issue."

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I asked Cable if he was a fan of four preseason games, or if they could get accomplished what they needed in just two.

"You know what? They're going to decide all that," he said. "I really haven't thought about all that. Coaches coach, and we're really not involved in that stuff so much, so we don't put a lot of thought into it, really."

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Strange Scene of the Day: Right tackle Langston Walker emerging from the locker room with both hands wrapped inside of clear plastic bags and no ice to be seen.

"What, you been handling Anthrax?" a reporter joked.

"Don't worry about me," Walker said with a big grin. "Write that down."

Done.

Maybe it was a way for him to avoid signing autographs?

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A list of those that were either limited or did not practice in the early session Saturday:

Jacoby Ford - sore quad
Jonathan Holland - sore ankle
Chaz Schilens - sore foot
Robert Gallery - sore ankle
Lukje Lawton - concussion
Darren McFadden - tight hamstring
Charlie Frye - wrist
Bruce Gradkowski - groin
Richard Seymour - lower back
Hiram Eugene - dental work

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For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

August 5, 2010
Raiders go bowling, and other Thursday training camp notes

Niggling injuries here and there are taking their toll on the Raiders young receiving corps.

Darrius Heyward-Bey was limited in Thursday's morning practice due to general soreness. Jacoby Ford had a sore quad. Paul Hubbard had a sore hamstring. Louis Murphy did not practice with a bruise on a foot after being stepped on the day before. Jonathan Holland had to be carted off the field with what was described as a sprained ankle.

So, does this mean the Raiders have to go out and get another pass catcher?

"I don't know about that," coach Tom Cable said. "Nothing major here thus far, just soreness more than anything, and I'm probably leaning toward protecting them a little more than maybe in the past. I just want to not push it any further than we have to and lose somebody and now we have to go find people."

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Left guard Robert Gallery twisted his left foot at the bottom of a pile during live tackling drills and yelped in pain.

"Walk it off, Gallery," new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson instructed.

After getting the foot taped heavily, Gallery returned to drills.

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Strange Scene of the Day - a pair of defensive linemen barking at each other after a "live" play in Trevor Scott and Alex Daniels. Turns out Daniels was in as a fullback on the play.


Strange Scene of the Day II - Quarterback Jason Campbell turning and making like he was going to fire the football at safety Mike Mitchell after Mitchell pushed Campbell out of bounds...hard. That's why the QB's wear those red jerseys, after all.

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Add safety Michael Huff to the Darrius Heyward-Bey Fan Club. Asked if DHB looks different this season, as everyone has said, Huff was quick to answer.

"Oh, definitely," Huff said. "I've been there, so I know it's tough being the high draft pick, you come in and put all kinds of unwanted pressure on yourself. I came out here and expected to get 10 picks my first year. You feel a ton of pressure. Then, you sit down and watch the film from the season and you realize that you should have just calmed down, played ball and let things come to you."

Huff also said he has talked with the second-year receiver.

"Me, Nnam (Asomugha) and him have the same agent, so we've all sat down and talked," he said. "I took Nnam's lead. It took me four years until I settled in. Hopefully, it takes him a lot less time than me. We're trying to help him get his head right, get him to focus and let everything come, don't force or rush anything."

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New defensive tackle John Henderson is a run-stuffing specialist.

"No pressure, I love stopping the run," he said. "I take a lot of pride in it. That's something we gotta get better at. I live for it. You can take me out on third-and-long. Just put me in on short yardage and all that good stuff."

So who would he rather hit, a running or a quarterback?

"Nailing the running back," he said. "That's weird, ain't it? Think who talks the most - running backs. I want to shut them up. Quarterbacks, he's down there, looking like...running backs talk, I want to shut them up."

**********************************************************************

Call it a bonding experience. It was also the payoff of a bet between Cable and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

Cable picked the Boston Celtics to beat the Lakers in the NBA finals. Asomugha had the Lakers. As such, Cable had to take the entire team out bowling in Napa Wednesday night. And Asomugha's team of Daniel Loper, John Owens and receivers coach Sanjay Lal won.

"It was huge (for team morale)," Asomugha said. "I had never spoken to Loper or Owens, didn't know anything about them, and now we're rooting for each other. We're on the same team, high-fiving. It was great."

Said defensive end Jay Richardson: "Somehow, Nnamdi just keeps on getting money. The rich just get richer, huh?"

Left tackle Mario Henderson, all 6-feet-7, 300 pounds of him, was an individual ringer.

"I don't want to toot my horn, but I had a 204, a 194 and a 175," Henderson said with a devilish grin.

"It was actually pretty much below my standards. First of all, we had practice earlier that day. I had a house (bowling) ball, I didn't have my balls, didn't have my bowling shoes. So I was fighting all odds yesterday but still managed to squeeze out a pretty good game."

Henderson said his favorite PBA bowler is Parker Bohn III.

"I used to bowl in leagues when I was little; I was too big to play in Pop Warner football so I bowled," Henderson said. "So that's what I dominated at while other guys played Pop Warner."

Added Asomugha: "Mario's a monster. He and (Michael) Bush."

Bush, though, was not feeling it.

"My high was about 185, but I was like on the first lane," he said. "First lane is the worst lane to be on because of how the oil is set up. When they put the machine on it's like the first lane that's going on so there's oil. That was my high last night, the highest I (ever) got to was like a 289."

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For more timely updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

August 2, 2010
Highlights from first day in pads in Napa

The first day of hitting in pads is done and I've written about that for tomorrow's paper. As such, some highlights, and lowlights, from Monday's lone practice in Napa.

- Michael Bush and Darren McFadden seem to be sharing time at running back, though Bush is getting run with the first team.

"You know, I've always been the guy that, whoever's in front of me or behind me, I want everybody to have success," Bush said. "That also comes with a good friendship as well. So I feel like, If you're confident in yourself and your game, you shouldn't worry about what the next man is doing."

Anyone following Bush (@michaelbush29) and McFadden (dmcfadden20) on Twitter knows they are roommates here in Napa, fighting over the remote control, and fast friends.

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A collective gasp could be heard when first-round draft pick Rolando McClain was escorted off the field by two trainers in the middle of practice.

Everyone exhaled, though, when he was back, participating in live drills.

"Upset stomach," explained coach Tom Cable, "or restroom."

Other than that, McClain looked impressive in the middle of the Raiders' 4-3 defense. Very physically imposing.

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One of the more intriguing battles in the trenches was DL Richard Seymour vs. RG Robert Gallery. Gallery won the first encounter, when Seymour slipped. Seymour stood Gallery up the second time they met. Advantage: Seymour.

"It's really a good matchup for our team because they're making each other better," Cable said. "Robert is a really fine, fine player and he's proven that. Last year the injury didn't (give him) the opportunity...to show it, but they go in there kind of like iron sharpens iron. They grind and they grind and they win some and they lose some. That's good football. That's how you do it."

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Chaz Schilens, who walked off the field in Thursday's second practice after feeling pain his surgically repaired left foot, practiced Monday but stayed out of the contact drills.

Fellow receiver Louis Murphy (concussion) did not practice.

Al Davis watched practice from his golf cart.

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New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is a quote machine on the field.

"Get back in the huddle," he yelled at a lax offense. "We are not going to take the line of scrimmage like that."

And...

"How can we not have the right personnel in the huddle?" he yelled at his offense. "C'mon, guys. C'mon, coaches."

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Johnnie Lee Higgins, Yamon Figurs, Nick Miller and rookie Jacoby Ford fielded punts...in that order.

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A position battle to watch in camp - cornerback opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.

Chris Johnson is the returning starter but Stanford Routt was given first- and third-round tenders this offseason.

"That's a pretty heated competition actually, Cable said. "What I see in (Routt) is a guy that when he's focused, he's an outstanding talent. I really felt like when he was around in the OTAs there was a much different focus about him. I see it in camp already. I think he probably feels like it's time and it's his time. I'm all for that because he's definitely a talented, talented guy that could help us."

Johnson sees himself as the incumbent.

"Last year really wasn't a season I can be proud of, but I went home and looked at some things and worked on some things," he said. "It's going to be a better year for me this year.

"I came into camp as a starter and I am going to leave as a starter. I never look behind me. If a person looks behind, then he is going to fall behind. So I always look forward, and try everyday to improve my game. I don't ever worry about the next man."

So what did he work on?

"The deep ball and being patient on the line of scrimmage," Johnson said. "I felt last year that I was impatient at the line and I am too fast not to be patient. I can run with anybody in the league."

He was a target with teams shying away from Asomugha.

"It helps get your interceptions up," he said. "I told Nnam the other day that it's boring being him, because he runs up and down the field all game and gets one ball thrown his way. With me, at least I want to work that day. I love competition, so you can call it teams picking on me - I call it working."

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For more timely updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez



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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