Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 26, 2010
Raiders-Cardinals in-game Blog: 4th quarter, Cardinals 24, Raiders 23

Raiders start quarter on 3rd and 2 from their own 28-yard line...


Another Lechler punt bounces off another unsuspecting Cardinals blocker...Raiders recover at Arizona 16-yard line.


Raiders can't punch it in from 1, and then 6, so Janikowski with 23-yard FG, Cardinals 24, Raiders 23, 7:59 to play


Raiders get ball back at own 30, 6:20 to play

September 26, 2010
Raiders-Cardinals in-game Blog: 3rd quarter, Cardinals 23, Raiders 20

Murphy with 69-yard catch and run down the left sideline to the Cardinals' 14 yard line.

A holding on Mario Henderson pushes the ball back and then Janikowski hooks right his 41-yard field goal attempt...5:03 remaining in 3rd quarter..


And the shootout continues: Cardinals 23, Raiders 20 on Anderson's 8-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald. Nnamdi released coverage to LB's. 1:01 remaining in 3rd quarter

September 26, 2010
Raiders-Cardinals in-game Blog: 2nd quarter, Raiders 20, Cardinals 17 HALFTIME

Cardinals go 76 yards in 12 plays, Anderson hitting Breaston with two-yard TD pass on 3rd and goal. Looked to be movement on offensive line pre-snap and a pick or two, to no avail.


The Raiders have already been flagged by 89 yards in penalties, on five flags. Maybe Troy Aikman was onto something when he ripped them on Fox telecast of Cowboys-Texans.


With no timeouts and 10 seconds on clock, Darren McFadden barrells in from 2 yards out. Raiders 20, Cardinals 17



September 26, 2010
Raiders-Cardinals in-game Blog: 1st quarter, Raiders 13, Cardinals 10

Raiders win the coin toss, elect to defer to second half.

So LaRod Stephens-Howling takes it 102 yards to the house. Mike Mitchell hit him early, at about the 20, and Stevie Brown had a shot at him inside the 5, to no avail.


Beautifully executed play-action - Gradkowski hits Zach Miller for 22-yard TD.

Big plays on drive were nine-yard catch by Louis Murphy and 15-yard personal foul on Adrian Wilson, 12-yard sweep run by Darren McFadden.


Lechler punts from end zone, ball hits Cardinals Matt Ware and long snapper Jon Condo recovers at 28 yard line.

Raiders get to 4, but stall and Janikowski kicks 22-yard field goal with 6:42 remaining in 1st quarter.


Cardinals respond with Feeley's 42-yard field goal. Big plays - Wells' 24-yard run, 27-yard PI on Routt.


Janikowski puts Raiders up 13-10 with 54-yard FG, 1:54 to play in 1st quarter.

September 26, 2010
Raiders-Cardinals pregame Blog: Robert Gallery, John Henderson, Chris Johnson among the inactives

Greetings from this UFO that landed in the Arizona desert that is University of Phoenix Stadium. Place is huge and reminds many of the new Cowboys Stadium, sans the huge scoreboard danging over midfield and the go-go dancers doing their thing in the corner of the stadium.


The Raiders have announced their inactives for the day - safety Hiram Eugene, cornerback Chris Johnson, linebackers Travis Goethel and Ricky Brown, guard Robert Gallery, defensive tackle John Henderson and receiver Chaz Schillens.


Also, the Raiders have announced the re-signing of rookie safety Stevie Brown and teh release of offensive tackle Erik Pears...again.


FINALLY...the ROCK (Cartwright) is a Raiders captain, along with Lamarr Houston and Samson Satele

September 22, 2010
Bruce Almighty gets the nod over J.C.

Raiders coach Tom Cable just finished his daily press briefing and confirmed an earlier report that Bruce Gradkowski would indeed start at quarterback on Sunday at Arizona.

Initial thoughts - as I said last night on CSN Bay Area's "Chronicle Live" show, Gradkowski gives the Raiders the best shot at winning. And not necessariily because he's a better QB than Jason Campbell. But because he is the more mobile of the two, he can make plays happen when the protection breaks down.

In six quarters, Campbell has not looked comfortable behind the Raiders' leaky offensive line - really, who would? - while the frenetic Gradkowski has thrived.

September 20, 2010
Campbell or Gradkowski? Cable plays coy on starting QB

Tom Cable did not divulge who the Raiders' starting quarterback would be this week at Arizona but reading the tea leaves, it would seem that if Cable had his way, it would be Bruce Gradkowski.

Cable acknowledged that the Raiders were in the wrong formation when they went for it on 4th and 1 from the Rams' 6-yard line early in the fourth quarter and Marcel Reese was stuffed for no gain.

Benched Jason Campbell.jpg

And when asked if the quarterback should have recognized they were in a wrong formation, Cable said, "Yeah, absolutely. In the heat of the battle, whatever it is, we didn't get it done."

Later, Cable was asked what he ascertained about the QB situation.

"I'll probably talk more about it come Wednesday but, for right now, I want to say this to you: We're pretty lucky to have the three quarterbacks that we have. And the two guys who played, obviously, we haven't had that kind of depth around here, I don't think, in quite some time. I heard a deal where, if you have two backs like we do, Michael (Bush) and Darren (McFadden), we have a tandem of running backs. But if you have two quarterbacks, we have a controversy. There isn't going to be a controversy. I'll make a good decision, the right decision, and we'll go from there."

Bruce Gradkowski wins.jpg

Asked if he already had a starter in mind, Cable said, "I'll say this. I'm pretty sure about the direction we have to go as a football team and I just think it's a matter of looking at the next opponent and looking at our team, really studying this, and all the situations, but I have a pretty good idea what we're going to do."

Cable may have shown his had a bit, though, when he was asked if it could be considered a setback that Campbell, acquired as the presumptive franchise QB, had to be benched after a mere six quarters.

""I think before you go into all that or read into all that, it's about winning on Sundays," Cable said. "A decision was made yesterday to do that. Some of the benefits to it are the fact that Bruce has been around, yes, but if you remember, he's had less work in the new system than Jason.

"Again, I think we have a good issue here. We're not going to let it be a negative or make it a negative. The bottom line here is we've got two guys we think can play. We'll do what we think is best for our team. If we need to make a switch again down the road - we're going to need them both, probably need all three of them before the year's over with the way this league is. I like where we're at."

So even Kyle Boller was shown some love.

But the biggest thing on everyone's mind is if Cable has the autonomy and control to make such a unilateral decision. He was asked if the decision was solely his call.

"Well, I think it has to be," he said. "When you sit in the chair I do, you have to be able to go out and coach your team and make your decisions and do those things. If you don't, I think you put yourself in a bind."

September 20, 2010
Victory Monday notes, quotes and nuggets

Michael Bush has had the stitches removed from his left thumb and maintains hopes that he can make his season debut Sunday at Arizona.

But with his training camp roommate, Darren McFadden, enjoying such early success - his 240 yards rushing rank second in the NFL to Arian Foster's 300 yards - Bush is enjoying the view. Even as he wants to give McFadden a breather.

"I don't think he even gets a break," Bush said. "I'm his biggest fan on the sideline if you watch it, I'm over there cheering and happy. As a player, I feel like I'm missing a part by not being out there."

And Bush's gameplan for this week?

"This whole week, I'm going to go through the whole practice as if I'm playing," he said, "and make a decision by the end of the week."


Johnnie Lee Higgins returned three punts for touchdowns in 2008 but then slumped badly last season. Sunday against the Rams, he was re-inserted as the Raiders punt returner -after the since-released Yamon Figurs handled those duties at Tennessee - and returned his first punt 53 yards.

"I got my swag back and it's on," Higgins said. "Once I got past the first wave, everything opened up. I felt good...I was so amped. It was the (home) opener, planes flying over. Everything just got me amped.

"When I go up out there, I feel like every one is the one. No matter if I get positive one hundred yards or negative one hundred yards. I always feel like it's the one. I just go out there, and I just catch and run. I let the other 10 guys and I just try to read their blocks and I just try to run."


Quote of the Day: "We have two capable guys and we haven't had that in the past." - Tight end Zach Miller, on quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski.


Rams gunslinger Sam Bradford completed nine of his first 10 passes and looked on his way to being the latest rookie quarterback to light up the Raiders, following in the footsteps of Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez.

Then the Raiders defense stepped up, confusing Bradford and sacking him three times.

"If you have a really good secondary, with the guys that we have, and they're out there making plays, like Stanford Routt did in the second half, I think it allows you to be able to rush with four," said linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. "And if you can do that, rushing with four men, and still get pressure than it just helps us out.

"It's a long game, so I think we were definitely getting back there and putting some pressure on him, it kind of probably affected him a little bit later in the second half, but we new coming into this game that we would have to pressure him. He is an inexperienced quarterback, so maybe that played a factor, but I think he'll be a real good quarterback here in the future.


With Richard Seymour out with a strained hamstring, nine-year veteran John Henderson got the start at defensive tackle.

He was shuffling about the locker room Monday morning with a protective boot on his right foot.

"This ain't no big deal," Henderson said. "Just a foot. No pain, no gain."

September 19, 2010
Raiders-Rams in-game Blog: 4th quarter, Raiders 16, Rams 14 FINAL

Raiders driving...McFadden just went over 100 yards. Just his second career 100-yard rushing game.

Raiders ball at the Rams' 25-yard line with 12:38 to go.


Janikowski with 22-yard field goal. 9:50 to play.


Stanford Routt told me he didn;t expect an especially busy day against Bradford. He picks him off.


Gradkowski picked off on 3rd and 10. Getting greedy?


Rams drive down and score on a 17-yard TD pass from Bradford to Clayton. 3:18 to play.


Gradkowski seals it with clutch 14-yard pickup to Murphy on 3rd and 8.





September 19, 2010
Raiders-Rams in-game Blog: 3rd quarter, Raiders 13, Rams 7

Bruce Gradkowski in at QB to start second half, to the delight of the crowd.

He takes Raiders to Rams' 23-yard line - big play a 26-yard completion to Louis Murphy - and Janikowski converts a 41-yard field goal.


Raiders defense doing the job, force another punt.


Gradkowski doing his thing, hits DHB for 16 yards, then Zach Miller for 23 yards.

Raiders ball at Rams 43.


Gradkowski hits Murphy for 4-yard TD on 3rd and goal.

September 19, 2010
Raiders-Rams in-game Blog: 2nd quarter, Rams 7, Raiders 3

Rams go 64 yards on six plays - big one a 25-yard swing pass from Bradford to Jackson in which McClain whiffed on tackle on 3rd down - and score on 7-yard pass to Clayton on 2nd and goal.


Looks like Jared Veldheer in at left tackle in place of Mario Henderson. Veldheer called for holding on first play.


Raiders go from own 22, back to own 12, to Rams 36, then Campbell sacked for 10-yard loss on 3rd and 10 from Rams 41. Punt it away


Rams ball, 1st and 10 at own 7...

Raiders force Rams into first 3 and out of the day...punt away, penalty and Raiders ball at Rams 29. 5:34 remaining in half


Raiders finally get on scoreboard, Janikowski 38-yard field goal with 3:22 remaining in half. Raiders actually had the ball at the 11 but a sack-fumble, recovered by Veldheer, moved them back.


Raiders hold, force a 4th and 24 and Rams punt...Raiders take over at own 16 with 1:22 to play in half.

Campbell curiously throws ball away when screen play blown up. Then hit and recovers own fumble. And sounds like crowd is booing him.


Yup, crowd is definitely booing Campbell, especially after he overthrows Louis Murphy and is intercepoted by James Butler.

Crowd then starts chanting, "BRUCE! BRUCE! BRUCE!"



September 19, 2010
Raiders-Rams in-game Blog: 1st quarter, Raiders 0, Rams 0

Rams win coin toss, elect to receive...


Um, looks like John Henderson started in place of Seymour, not Bryant.


Raiders blitz on consecutive plays, sack Bradford twice. First by Wimbley, then by Branch. Both safeties came on that blitz.


Johnnie Lee Higgins then returns punt 53 yards to Rams' 25-yard line.

But on 4th and inches from the 6, Marcel Reese stuffed for no gain and Rams take over with 8:28 remaining in the 1st quarter.


Rams drive to the Raiders' 5-yard line, then Lamarr Houston sacks Bradford, pushing Rams back to the 18.

Josh Brown then shanks 36-yard field, wide right.


Raiders take over on Rams' 26.


Raiders drive to Rams' 25, then McFadden dropped for a three-yard loss.

On trots Sebastian Janikowski, who promptly misses a 46-yard FGA, left.

September 19, 2010
Raiders-Rams pregame Blog: Hamstrung Seymour, Gallery among the inactives

Greetings from the Coliseum. Overcast and somewhat muggy skies.

Less than an hour before kickoff and looks to be the makings of a VERY sparse crowd for a home opener. In fact, could challenge for smallest announced home opener crowd since the Raiders returned from Los Angeles in 1995. That would be the announced 40,545 vs. the New York Giants in 1998.

Speaking of the L.A. days, this SoCal native is intrigued by the appeal of a QB duel between Jason Campbell and Sam Bradford. But gimme Jim Plunkett vs. Vince Ferragamo any day.


The Rams are just 1-26 in their last 27 games, but as Jerry Mac notes, the last QB St. Louis beat that didn't play for the Detroit Lions was (drumroll, please) Jason Campbell, in 2008, when he played for Washington.


The Raiders have cut OT Erik "I'm Back!" Pears, and promoted fan favorite S Stevie Brown from the practice squad.


DL Richard Seymour and LG Richard Seymour are among the inactives with their hamstring injuries.

As such, Daniel Loper will start in place of Gallery and Desmond Bryant starts for Seymour.

The rest of the inactives - RB Michael Bush (thumb), S Hiram Eugene (hamstring) CB Walter McFadden (ankle), LB Travis Goethel (back), WR Chaz Schilens (knee) and QB Kyle Boller (3rd QB)

That means WR Nick Miller is active for first time in his young career.

Raiders captains - Darren McFadden, Kamerion Wimbley, Jon Condo

September 16, 2010
Raiders game-day announcements for fans

The Raiders have announced a slew of Game Day activities for fans and, as a service to you, the fans, here they are:


Raiderville, an immensely popular pregame tailgate party that made its debut in 2009,
returns in 2010.

Raiderville officially re-opens this Sunday, September 19, before the Raiders open this
year's regular season home slate vs. the St. Louis Rams at the Oakland-Alameda
County Coliseum.

"Raiderville is a fantastic tailgating experience that introduces the Raider Nation to
some outstanding brands in the market," Raiders Marketing Director Robert Kinnard
said. "Raiderville will be open throughout the regular season at every Raiders home

Raiderville, presented by the Raiders official beer, Bud light, is located in Parking Lot B
and is free to the general public. Raiderville features the Bud Light bar with a host of flat
screen televisions, a live remote with the Raiders' Flagship Radio Station LIVE 105
(105.3 KITS-FM), and the popular station's air personality No Name.

Fans who visit Raiderville can also purchase new Raiders Scratchers from the
California Lottery, watch early NFL games on two giant nine-foot LED screens, and
meet and obtain autographs from Raider Legends and Raiderettes, Football's Fabulous
Females. Raiderville will also have its own exclusive list of tasty foods--tri-tip
sandwiches, pretzels, kettle corn, cotton candy, and much more.

An exciting new addition to Raiderville in 2010 will be a Family Zone, where youngsters
will have the opportunity to participate in arts and crafts, play video games, get their
face painted, and participate in inflatable attractions and obstacle courses.
Raiderville is located on the South side of the Coliseum, in Parking Lot B, and will be
open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Log on to for more information.



For the fourth straight season, the Oakland Raiders have teamed up with Capitol
Corridor to provide Raiders fans an easy and environmentally friendly transit to Raiders
home games.

Raider fans receive a 25 percent discount on Capitol Corridor train rides to the Oakland-
Alameda County Coliseum during all regular season home games of the 2010 season.
With up to 32 trains a day between Sacramento and the Bay Area, the Capitol Corridor
offers an enjoyable family experience and makes travel simple.

"Capitol Corridor is proud to partner with the Raider Nation and help fans get to home
games a bit easier," Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority Chair Jim Holmes said.
"With our special Raider Nation discount you can save money, save gas and enjoy a
stress-free, comfortable ride without the hassle of driving."

Ticket buyers can log on to and enter code H842 to take
advantage of the 25 percent discount offer, or call 1-877-9-RIDECC (1-877-974-3322)
for details.



The Oakland Raiders have once again teamed up with the Altamont Commuter Express
(ACE) train to offer an economically and environmentally friendly set of ticket packages
to Raiders fans from the Sierra foothills and Central Valley.

ACE train is chartering an exclusive train experience for the Raiders' regular season
home opener against the St. Louis Rams on September 19. Beginning in Stockton, the
train will make five stops including Lathrop and Livermore, and ultimately deliver fans to
the foot of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The Raiders are offering two packages for sale. The $50 Starter Package includes one
game ticket located in an Upper East Side location and one round-trip ticket for travel to
the Coliseum on board the ACE train. The $70 MVP Package includes one game ticket
located in a West End Zone location as well as a round-trip ACE train ticket. For an
additional $15, entrance into a tailgate party held at the Stockton ACE station can be
added to either package. The tailgate will include a buffet-style food spread as well as
access to Raider Legends.

All packages provide fans transportation on a Raiders-themed ACE Train featuring
appearances by Raider Legends, contests, and an enjoyable ride to the Coliseum.

Tickets are available for purchase online at A full list of
departure locations and exact schedule information can be found on
Book early as space is limited.



New Amsterdam Gin Bar
- New Sponsor
- New Design Lounge Bar in the East Side Club South Bar
- Hip, Trendy, lounge bar

Hennessy Black West Side Club
- New Sponsor
- Has Naming Rights to the West Side Club
- Now known as the "Hennessy Black West Side Club"
- Sophisticated and hip with a live DJ

September 16, 2010
Explaining Sunday's Raiders-Rams blackout

As you've no doubt heard by now, Sunday's home opener against the St. Louis Rams did not sell out by today's 1:05 p.m. deadline and thus, will be blacked out on television locally.

That the Raiders did not request an extension to the 72-hour deadline shows how far from a sellout they were. It is the first home opener to be blacked out since 2004, when Buffalo came to the East Bay.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, this is the 77th black out in 121 home games (63.6%), and the eighth straight, since the team returned to Oakland in 1995, after 13 seasons in Los Angeles.

And if you're still confused why Sacramento is blacked out, I've re-posted and tweaked a Blog from last September:

Still confused as to why Sacramento is blacked out from the Raiders' game Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, even though Sac Town's city limits are more than the 75-mile radius from the Oakland Coliseum?

So was I, until I emailed NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, who wrote:

"Any television station's signal that penetrates a 75-mile radius around the stadium is blacked out if the game is not sold out 72 hours in advance (or by the deadline if it is extended). That has been the longstanding procedure."

Meaning, because Sacramento's Fox affiliate, KTXL Channel 40, has a signal that reaches within 75 miles of the Coliseum, that affiliate is blacked out on such an occasion.


More Thursday nuggets later, as well as announcements from the Raiders' game-day experience for fans.


For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

September 12, 2010
Raiders-Titans in-game Blog: 4th quarter, FINAL, Titans 38, Raiders 13

Vince Young with the play-action, hits Bo Scaife for the one-yard TD pass over Tyvon Branch on the first play of the 4th quarter.


Darren McFadden rewarded for his hard play, scores on a 7-yard catch and dive.


Raiders can't convert on 4th and 10, or 4th and 1



September 12, 2010
Raiders-Titans in-game Blog: 3rd quarter, Titans 31, Raiders 6

Raiders force a three-and-out....

Campbell hits Zach Miller for first time today, across the middle for a 26-yard pickup.

But Janikowski hooks 53-yard field goal attempt, wide right.


Titans take over, drive down the field and score again, this time a 5-yard dash by Chris Johnson.


Yes, it's a small sample size, but the Patriots have to like what they see from the Raiders. Remember, they own their first-round pick come April.


Campbell throws behind Zach Miller, picked off by Chris Hope at the. He returns it to the 2 and after two runs gets the Titans to the 1, the quarter ends.

September 12, 2010
Raiders-Titans in-game Blog: 2nd quarter, Titans 24, Raiders 6

Javon Ringer with 15-yard dash up the middle to give Titans a 17-3 lead with 3:45 to play in half.

Titans convert a pair of third-down conversions on drive.


Chris Johnson finally breaks one, 76 yards to the house. This is getting embarrassing.


Raiders offense finally showing some signs of life. Campbell looks to have picked up the energy, McFadden and receiving like a featured back. SeaBass with 31-yard field goal makes it Titans 24, Raiders 6 at the half.

September 12, 2010
Raiders-Titans in-game Blog: 1st quarter, Titans 10, Raiders 3

Raiders go up 3-0 on Sebastian Janikowski's 34-yard field goal, with 6:17 remaining in 1st quarter.


Raiders went three and out on offense, then Kamerion Wimbley's sack of Vince Young forced a fumble, recovered and advanced by Richard Seymour.

Drive seemed to stall on a sack, but Titans called for roughing Campbell on the "Tom Brady Rule."

Then, Janikowski misses wide right on 39-yard FGA, but Titans offsides. Janikowski then nails 34-yarder.


On ensuing Titans drive, Tyvon Branch called for pass interference on 3rd and 9. Next play, Branch bites HARD on play-action and Young hits Nate Washington for 56-yard TD.


Campbell loses fumble on sack, Titans score. But upon further review, Michael Griffin ruled down in touching Mario Henderson.

Rob Bironas with 43-yard field goal, 1:39 remaining in 1st quarter

Quarter ends with Jason Campbell costing himself a first down, sliding too soon on a 9-yard pick up on 3rd and 10

September 10, 2010
Bush practices, remains "game-time decision" and other Friday-before-opener nuggets

Michael Bush and his surgically-repaired left thumb practiced "limited" today and remains a "game-time decision," according to coach Tom Cable.

Still, not many observers are holding their breath in hopes of the running back playing in Sunday's opener at Tennessee.

Plus, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (elbow) is also a game-time decision.

"They've improved a ton from yesterday to today," coach Tom Cable told reporters following Friday's morning practice, "and if we can get that kind of improvement, then we've got a shot. So we'll wait until Sunday morning, make that decision then."


While Bush and Bryant were listed as "questionable" on the injury report, receiver Chaz Schilens (knee), linebacker Travis Goethel (back) and cornerback Walter McFadden (hamstring) are all "out" against the Titans.

No surprises there.


New kick and punt returner Yamon Figurs, on how he balances the desire to get a good 10-12 yard return versus risking it by trying to break a long one: "Just let it come to you. That's what you do. Get over the 10 yards and then let everything else happen itself. We've got a great special teams of blockers and all the guys out there. It's basically my job to get the 10 yards and then let everything else come to me."

Said special teams coordinator John Fassel: "I was with (Figurs) his rookie season in Baltimore...he's a light, fast guy, and if he gets a crease then he's somebody that has the speed that can score for you. So that's exciting. I think that's what he can bring for us as a dual punt returner and kickoff returner. And then he's got his things he's got to work on, but to me as a cover team, you've got to be a little bit concerned about his ability because of the speed."

And rookie burner Jacoby Ford continues to wait in the wings.


Defensive tackle Richard Seymour spoke with WGFX in Nashville and talked about JaMarcus Russell, the differences between playing in the 3-4 defense versus the 4-3 and what new QB Jason Campbell has meant to the Raiders.

On Russell: "I think it's very unfortunate. I think obviously if he could change a few things, I think he would. I think it's definitely been an unfortunate situation as talented a guy as he is. Talent only gets you so far in this league. I think he understands that now and he's willing to put in the work to turn things around. I know personally, just from being around him, he's a really good guy...I think he's always been that talented guy that maybe didn't have to work as hard in high school or in college because he was always better than everybody. At the quarterback position, being around guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and seeing those guys put in the work, and even Jason Campbell now, it's a level that the quarterback has to be a coach on the field. He was still developing into that player, into that guy. But, that didn't happen fast enough for the organization."

On the 3-4 vs. the 4-3: "As a defensive lineman, you want to pride yourself as the type of player that can play in any system. Whether it's the 3-4, the 4-3, you want to say, 'Hey, I'm a guy that can stay on the field versus the run, versus the pass, short-yardage situation, long-yardage passing situation.'

"You don't have the opportunity to make as many big plays in the 3-4 defense. Because in the 4-3, you penetrate, get up the field, be more disruptive. In the 3-4 defense, you are still knocking the guys back, but it's a situation where the linebackers are really making more plays in the defense. You need to be a team guy to do it. I did that eight years in New England. If you look the success that we had, it wasn't about one guy. It was about the total team success. For me personally, I'll give up some personal success if it can put some rings on your finger."

On Campbell's effect: "It's really been good. Last year, teams were able to just run the clock out - some guys in the second quarter, going into halftime. Offensively, I think we have definitely made some strides and I think Jason's been a leader for us and we are going to need that. I always feel that our best defense is keeping the offense on the field and continue to sustain drives."


The Titans are wearing their home whites Sunday, meaning the Raiders will be in black in the heat and humidity of Nashville. A little gamesmanship by Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, perhaps?


I will be on CSN Bay Area's "Chronicle Live show today at 5 p.m. No doubt there will be some Raiders talk. But with Greg Papa on the team plane with the Raiders, Dave Benz will be the host. Other Raider-affiliated guests include CSN California analysts Bill Romanowski and Tony Bruno.


For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

September 8, 2010
Raiders sign Alford, cut Pears, move Scott back to DE, name Groves starting WLB and assign kick-return duties to Figurs

The Raiders reinforced their defensive line Wednesday by signing former New York Giants DT Jay Alford.

But they may have also weakened their offensive line and tight end corps by released OT Erik Pears in the corresponding roster move.

Maybe. You see, the Raiders only have two tight ends on the 53-man roster - Zach Miller and Brandon Myers - and it was Pears who often lined up in "tackle-eligible" plays.

Coach Tom Cable said Khalif Barnes is now the back-up offensive tackle on both the left and right sides and specifically mentioned Koming Loper as being able to play that "power tight end" spot, ala Pears.


So what does Alford, a third-round draft pick out of Penn State in 2007, offer the Raiders?

"He certainly showed today he has some quickness, some pass rush ability," Cable said of Alford. "It gives us some pass rush ability. It gives us another big body in there. A big guy that can be multiple and play both tackle and end."

Cable added that he thought the 6-foot-2, 280-pound Alford might be able to play in the opener at Tennessee, especially since he has previous experience with D-line coach Mike Waufle, who coached him with the Giants.

Alford, though, missed all of the 2009 season after blowing out a knee in the preseason. He insists he's healthy now, though, and sees himself thriving as a pass-rushing DT in Waufle's schemes.

"It's more attack and cause havoc in the backfield," Alford said. "That's my place, so I like it."

Not only did Alford serve as the Giants' long snapper as a rookie, he also had a key sack of Tom Brady late in Super Bowl XLII. And as Associated Press reporter Josh Dubow observed, the Raiders are ultra-deep at long snapper now, what with both a Pro Bowl long snapper in Jon Condo and a Super Bowl-winning ling snapper in Alford.


Most Interesting News Item of the Day, Part 1 - Cable confirming that weak-side linebacker Trevor Scott would indeed move to right defensive end, supplanting Matt Shaughnessy, while new Raider Quinten Groves, seen as being on the bubble to make the team by many observers, will start at WLB.

"Originally, just getting the best 11 players on the field, that's really what it comes down to," Cable said when asked what went into the decision. "And not that Matt Shaughnessy's not, because he's a dynamite player, this just gives us more quality depth to have on the field at all times."


Most Interesting News Item of the Day, Part 2 - Cable also said that Yamon Figurs would serve not only as the Raiders' kick-off returner, but also as their punt returner.

This after Figurs returned eight punts for 26 yards (3.3 yard-average), with a long of 16 yards. He also returned six kickoffs for 141 yards (23.5 yard-average), with a long of 34 yards in the preseason.

He also fumbled a kickoff against the 49ers and badly misplayed a punt against Seattle.

So what impressed the Raiders enough to hand him both jobs?

"Probably just the explosiveness," Cable said. "He touches it, and you got a chance for something big every time. That's a dimension, as we talked about at the end of last season, all through the spring, OTAs, through camp, was developing a return game. We have a number of good returners here. I just think right now, he's the guy we'll go with."

And what about his ball security issues?

"I just think the one, against Seattle, was more kind of misplaying the ball more than anything else," Cable said. "And I think some of that is first time, him being in our stadium and being able to handle it, didn't get the opportunity the week before against San Francisco. He was returning kickoffs. So, not too concerned about it. We kind of put him in that situation here this week and feel good about it."

Fans waiting on rookie Jacoby Ford, the fastest receiver at the Combine, will have to wait some more.


For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

September 3, 2010
One man's guess at the Raiders' 53-man roster

Final 53-man man rosters will be announced by 3 p.m. Saturday, meaning the Raiders need to cut 22 players. Here then, after a mostly positive 3-1 preseason of observation, deduction and pure gut feeling, is one man's guess at the Raiders' Final 53. Feel free to chime in, agree or mock.
*-projected starter

They're here - *Jason Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller
They're gone - Charlie Frye, Colt Brennan
The thinking - The only real drama here was between Gradkowski and Boller for No. 2, what with Frye going on the IR following right wrist surgery and Brennan, signed late in camp after Washington cut him, a prime practice squad candidate. But Gradkowski quickly answered Boller's challenge, and with aplomb. Will be interesting to see how fans react should Campbell, dinged by a neck stinger and sore right wrist in the third exhibition game, get off to a slow start.

They're here - *Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Michael Bennett, Rock Cartwright, Marcel Reese
They're gone - Luke Lawton, Manase Tonga
The thinking - Bush's fractured left thumb and an uncertain timetable for his return have this position in flux, especially since the thus-far brittle McFadden becomes the unquestioned feature back and leaves the Raiders with only one true fullback in Reese. Still, the bowling ball-like Cartwright could be a lead blocker and Lawton still has two games to serve on a PED suspension. Tonga, who had a nifty 32-yard catch-and-rumble score in the exhibition finale, is a nice practice squad candidate.

They're here - *LT Mario Henderson, *LG Robert Gallery, *C Jared Veldheer, *RG Cooper Carlisle, *RT Langston Walker, Khalif Barnes, Samson Satele, Bruce Campbell, Erik Pears
They're gone - Chris Morris, Daniel Loper, Brandon Rodd, Alex Parsons
The thinking - The massive rookie Veldheer (6-foot-8, 315 pounds) has been the surprise of the preseason and appears to have beaten out Satele at center. Pears, meanwhile, gets the edge over veteran Chris Morris because Pears is synonymous with "tackle-eligible" plays.

They're here - *Zach Miller, Brandon Myers
They're gone - John Owens
The thinking - Radical for the Raiders to carry only two tight ends? Sure. Insane? Not quite. Not when you consider the third tight end in a zone-blocking scheme, which is sure to be trotted out in the regular season after being in hibernation in the preseason, is a glorified blocker. By keeping Pears (see above), the Raiders have accomplished this.

They're here - *Darrius Heyward-Bey, *Louis Murphy, Chaz Shilens, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jacoby Ford, Nick Miller
They're gone - Yamon Figurs, Todd Watkins, Shaun Bodiford, Jonathan Holland
The thinking - It's always dangerous to apply logic when discussing roster moves, but here goes - if the Raiders kept an injured Miller on the roster practically the entire season last year, then shouldn't they definitely keep a hale and hearty Miller this time around? Plus Figurs' uneven exhibition finale may have seals his fate. Also, the sooner Ford takes over kick-return duties, the better. Holland is on IR.

They're here - *LE Lamarr Houston, *LT Richard Seymour, *RT Tommy Kelly, *RE Matt Shaughnessy, Jay Richardson, Desmond Bryant, John Henderson, Chris Cooper
They're gone - Greyson Gunheim, William Joseph, Alex Daniels, Kellen Heard
The thinking - Seymour said he actually prefers being on the inside while Henderson is the designated run stopper. Cooper's history with returning DL coach Mike Waufle tilts things in his favor but Gunheim is the wild card, especially if Richardson is unable to return from training camp knee surgery. Daniels, who made a run at fullback in camp, might resurface on the practice squad.

They're here - *WLB Trevor Scott, *MLB Rolando McClain, *SLB Kamerion Wimbley, Ricky Brown, Quentin Groves, Sam Williams, Thomas Howard, Slade Norris
They're gone - David Nixon, Travis Goethel
The thinking - The most improved unit on the team would also be one of its most diverse and deepest, should they keep eight linebackers as Wimbley and Scott can both play on the line as pass rushers. The Raiders gave up something to acquire Groves, so he makes it. Howard seemed to be on the bubble before the exhibition finale and Norris is intriguing enough to make the team if they so go with eight. Goethel sat out the exhibition finale with an undisclosed injury so he seems practice squad-bound.

They're here - *Nnamdi Asomugha, *Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, Jeremy Ware, Walter McFadden
They're gone - Joe Porter, Joey Thomas
The thinking - Johnson's woeful showing against Seattle in the exhibition finale - he surrendered 120 yards on four catches to four different receivers - all but handed the starting gig opposite Asomugha to Routt. Rookies Ware and McFadden, meanwhile, have been preseason revelations.

They're here - *SS Tyvon Branch, *FS Michael Huff, Mike Mitchell, Stevie Brown
They're gone - Hiram Eugene, Jerome Boyd
The thinking - You've been looking for the so-called "stunning" cut? Hiram Eugene, who has started 14 of the 30 games he's played in the past two seasons, fell mightily out of favor this preseason. Because no matter how you play with the numbers, a veteran had to be on the block and for me, it was between Eugene, linebacker Howard and defensive lineman Cooper.

They're here - PK Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Condo
They're gone - P/PK Swayze Waters
The thinking - The strongest leg in the placekicking game, the best statistical punter in the history of the game and a Pro Bowl long-snapper. Any questions? At least Waters got to show his wares for the UFL.


Follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

September 2, 2010
Raiders-Seahawks exhibition post-game Blog: Raiders 27, Seahawks 24

Sitting here in the Coliseum press box, watchin the grounds crew convert the chewed-up field back into a baseball park for the A's.

A few notes and observations off the Raiders' exhibition finale...

Sorry for the lack of updates in the third and fourth quarter, but with the late start and a looming deadline, I had to write for the paper.

Coach Tom Cable gave the Raiders a "B-plus" for their play in going 3-1 in the preseason.

"There's a couple things I'm disappointed in," he said. "Our coverage teams. There's no way that's acceptable. Two returns for touchdowns in the preseason, up until tonight I wasn't really worried having much concern with penalties, I felt our discipline was moving in the right direction.

"But there's a lot of good things. I think we've developed a passing game. I think we've developed a mindset of team defense. We tackled better tonight than we had, really in the previous three weeks. So there's a lot of positive things. I like where we're at. We'll get a little bit healthier here as we get ready to start the regular season and we'll go for it."


The Travis Goethel mini-mystery was solved, kinda, as his name was on the lips of almost everyone in the press box during the game because we could not spot him on the sidelines.

Cable confirmed he was not in the stadium but said he was still on the team. Asked if he could explain the situation, Cable said, "There's an injury issue, but we'll talk about all that when we talk next week."


Darrius Heyward-Bey had the catch of the night, a beautiful 34-yard pickup down the right sideline in the first quarter in which he was completely outstretched and caught the ball with his hands.

So I asked him if he could have made that catch last season.

"In my dreams," he said with a laugh.


Jason Campbell watched in his civies and offered up a few thoughts on the game.

"I like the way the guys played tonight," he said. "A lot of the starters weren't in there, but at the same time you're talking about if guys get hurt and guys can't play, those are going to be the guys stepping up in there. It's always good to see the team win. It doesn't matter if it's a preseason game or regular season game. Winning is an attitude and winning is something that can become contagious."

Campbell was also asked if he would be ready to go in the season opener on Sept. 12, what with the neck "stinger" and sore right wrist suffered Saturday against the 49ers.

"Right now I can't talk about the injuries or anything," he said. "But come the Tennessee game, I'll be ready."


Michael Bennett might have solidified his spot on the roster with 92 yards rushing on 25 carries, especially with Michael Bush out with his surgicallly-repaired left thumb. He also likes having four capable running backs with Bush out.

"To see such a guy like that go down, he's been through a lot," Bennett said of Bush. "When he's in there, he's a hell of a player, so, hopefully, everything heals right for him and he can come back because he's what they call the bell cow.

"He's a big, strong, physical back and he's a very good athlete. So, hopefully things go well. But to have four of us to be able to go out there and pick up if somebody else is down is definitely key in this league because it's a week-to-week league and you never know what can happen on every given Sunday."

Bennett also spoke of the qualities each guy brings.

"To go from Bush, the big, strong, powerful back...from Darren (McFadden), the lean, fast back who can play receiver, you can put that guy anywhere, and he's going to light it up," he said. "Myself, I call myself a wise, old veteran. Me and Rock (Cartwright), we have our own unique styles that help the offense. We're a good mix of four backs, so, hopefully everything works out for us. We'll have a great backfield."


Second-year safety Mike Mitchell, who had teh hit of the game in lighting up Justin Forsett, is taking a pragmatic approach to Saturday's cuts.

"We have had a tough competition at safety and they have some tough decisions to make," Mitchell said. "I am just hoping I can make the team.

"We're all ready. We know what's at stake. We want to go into Tennessee and prove a point. Send a great message: We're here, we're going to stop the run and we're going to tackle and beat you up. That's where this defense is headed. We have big, big linebackers and a big front seven that's going to put a lot of pressure..."


For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

September 2, 2010
Raiders-Seahawks in-game Blog: 2nd quarter, Raiders 17, Seahawks 16

Mare's 34-yard FG makes it #Raiders 17, #Seahawks 6


Mike Williams ('member him?) and Golden Tate just handed a starting Raiders cornerback job to Stanford Routt after using Chris Johnson


Raiders Mike MItchell lights up Seahawks Justin Forsett like a Christmas Tree...or a Menorah. Take your pick


Deon Butler makes Ricky Brown look silly...scores on a 26-yard catch and run. Raiders 17, Seahawks 13. 7:43 remaining in half


Raiders CB Chris Johnson has given up 120 yards on 4 receptions by 4 different receivers thus far. Shades of Elvis "Toast" Patterson


Mare's 46-yard FG makes it Raiders 17, Seahawks 16 with 1:06 to play in 1st half


Seattle's Hail Mary answered, then denied, by penalty. Halftime Raiders 17, Seahawks 16

September 2, 2010
Raiders-Seahawks in-game Blog: 1st quarter, Raiders 17, Seahawks 3

Starters not playing

Raiders go 69 yards in four plays in 1:35, scoring on Gradkowski's pass to rumbling fullback and practice squad candidate Manase Tonga


Wow...Gradkowski hits a leaping and outstretched DHB down the right sideline for a 34-yard pickup. DHB caught the ball with his hands


Swayze Waters with a 41-yard field goal... Raiders 10, Seahawks 0


By definition, only 5 "starters" started for #Raiders - DHB, Samson Satele, Lamarr Houston, Trevor Scott and Chris Johnson


Seattle rides long kickoff return - an issue for the Oakland - to a field goal. Raiders 10, Seahawks 3, 7:00 remaining 1st quarter


Stevie Brown recovers a muffed punt. 7th-rounder has a nose for the ball. Yes, I have him on my 53-man roster.


Gradkowski hits JLH for 9-yard TD pass on busted play. #Raiders 17, #Seahawks 3, 3:50 remaining 1st quarter

September 2, 2010
Raiders-Seahawks exhibition pregame Blog

QB Jason Campbell (neck stinger and right wrist) did not dress. Should be noted, however, his wrist was not wrapped or taped.


Punter Shane Lechler was presented with the "Golden Toe Award" by Pro Football Weekly. In front of what surely will be the smallest crowd of the season. Lechler was gracious, though.

"It's been a fun 11 years," he told the sparse crowd. "Hope I can give you 11 more."


Raiders scratches - Jason Campbell, Michael Bush, Joey Thomas, Alex Daniels, Chaz Schilens, Desmond Bryant, Jay Richardson

Raiders captains Darren McFadden, Tyvon Branch, Sebastian Janikowski.

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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