Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 20, 2011
Raiders obviously have some work to do

SAN FRANCISCO - If any play sums up the Raiders and their offensive issues thus far, it came in the second quarter.

The Raiders had first-and-goal from the 49ers two-yard line, and Jason Campbell rolled to his left on a run-pass option play.

Tight end Kevin Boss appeared to be open in the back of the end zone. Campbell however didn't lob the ball to the 6-foot-6 target. Instead Campbell tried to run and was tackled for the loss of a yard.

After the game Campbell said that's a play he'd like to have back.

Boss said that's a play that will work as the team has more time together.

"It's early in the process," Boss said. "By the time it's the regular season that'll be an easy touchdown. Jason thought he could get in the end zone by running or didn't like the look but I'll have to look at it on film. I don't know if I was open or not."

Said Campbell: "The only play I remember from tonight is probably that one."

Campbell left the game before halftime after taking a knee to the head from 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks while trying to recover a fumble.

Campbell said he'd be taking a concussion test.

Before that Campbell believed the offense was beginning to find itself.

"We started getting our groove on and then comes the knee to the head," Campbell said. "The rest is history."

Campbell noted things should improve when the likes of Darren McFadden return and that in all he's only had five series in the preseason.

But to this point the first-team offense hasn't scored a touchdown in spite getting close to the end zone in both exhibition games.

I like the Raiders going for it on fourth and goal in the second quarter, too. We know Sebastian Janikowski can make a 20-something-yard field goal. So it's best to get as much work in those situations as possible even if it ended with Campbell being sacked.

I know I didn't cover the team last season, but right now the Raiders are looking a lot like the teams I covered from 2006-08.

*Boss suffered a minor left knee strain.

"It's fine," Boss said. "Just a little stiff and sore right now."

Raiders coach Hue Jackson said safety Jerome Boyd suffered a leg contusion.

*The Raiders were soft against in the run all night. The 49ers piled up 239 yards on 41 carries for a nice 5.8 average. It looked a lot like the defense of recent seasons, where unknown running backs (Kendall Hunter, Xavier Omon) look like stars

True, Hunger and Omon did their work against back ups but the starters didn't look much better. The 49ers had 100 rushing yards at halftime. Not a good look considering how bad the 49ers looked up front last week.

*Jackson decided to let Trent Edwards be the second quarterback tonight. His time on the field was brief. He finished the drive that Campbell was injured on and completed three of six passes for 36 yards and an interception into double coverage.

Kyle Boller finished the game, connecting on six of 11 passes for 56 yards and an interception.

Campbell was 5-of-7 for 74 yards.

*Darrius Heyward-Bey had a good showing with a tough 22-yard grab against tight coverage for one of his two catches for 40 yards. Denarius Moore had two catches for 28 yards.

August 19, 2011
Jackson promises passing game will be better

NAPA -- It's been a while since the Raiders had a wide receiver have a big season. When Randy Moss topped 1000 yards back in 2005, his season was seen as a disappointment.

Considering how the Raiders have looked in the passing game since, Moss' 1,005 receiving yards would be praised.

Raiders coach Hue Jackson said the lack of production from the wide receivers is due to change:

"Somebody's going to jump out of that pack, there's no question. I truly believe that. Somebody will jump out of the pack and have a bang-up season, and I suspect there's going to be a couple players that will do that. Our offense is multi-faceted. We're going to do everything we can to create opportunities for guys to make plays. Guy shows me he can make plays, I am going to keep giving him opportunities to make plays. That's what this is all about."

Who might that player be? Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford are still recovering from injuries.

Chaz Schilens is bothered with a knee injury.

Could Denarius Moore shock us all with a rookie season that would surprise everyone? Then there's Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Last year Zach Miller led the team in receptions. And when the tight end is your leader in receptions and yards, that's usually a sign the offense is not dynamic.

Here's more of Jackson on that:

"We can't be the same offense that we were a year ago. To say that we would be would have meant that he would have led the team in receptions again. It's time for these receivers to step up. It's time for our quarterback to truly step up and it's time for the o-line to step up. Darren McFadden I can't wait until he's back out here because I think he's going to be one of the greatest runners in football this year. I think we have the makings of a very good offensive football team and I think we just need to keep practicing and keep growing and keep working."

August 18, 2011
Injury chatter

NAPA - Raiders coach Hue Jackson began Thursday's media session by needling the media about injuries and our skepticism about what we find out on a daily basis.

This came after cornerback Chris Johnson went from just resting to having surgery:

"First of all I want to address this because everybody's talking about the Raiders' injuries and I really get a kick out of it 'cause I get all this media stuff in the morning. I know everybody's talking about where we are. I want you guys to know I'm extremely happy where our football team is at this point in time. As I told you guys before, I hate whenever there's injuries, but this is the time of year they're going to happen. And I think if you look around the league, I think everybody's having similar issues. I think the difference is obviously ours have been with some of our top-line players. That's going to happen, you know? And I'd rather it happen now than happen later."

Jackson isn't one to make any injury sound too serious unless it's something like Hiram Eugene's dislocated hip. He laughs about how the media gets a kick out of saying a player is "nicked" when those nicks end up being a fractured orbital bone (Darren McFadden).

But Samson Satele is fine for this weekend after sitting out practice today, Jackson said. Rookie cornerback Chimdi Chekwa will play Saturday against the 49ers and Jackson expects most injured players back in the near future.

But in some cases it doesn't appear we'll be getting the details on some injuries. Satele said the coach would have to say what was wrong with him. Johnson said he got an "oil change."

Jackson said the NFL lockout contributed to injury issues across the league:

"Sometimes you go in there and you check something and 'Oh this needed to be done.' We had no way of knowing that. That's just where the league is. It's not so much just the Raiders, it's every football team across the league because you couldn't talk to the players, you couldn't deal with the players. You're finding out after a week of running that maybe something needs to be taken care of and that's what we're doing. It's no fault of the players, it's no fault of the organization but the thing that I love that we're doing we're being very aggressive making sure these guys are taken care of."

August 15, 2011
Raiders add two safeties

The Raiders signed safeties Matt Giordano and Josh Bullocks today.

The Raiders depth at safety has taken a hit lately. Safety Hiram Eugene dislocated his hip in last week's exhibition-season opener against Arizona and safety Stevie Brown limped off the practice field yesterday.

Giordano played at Cal and was drafted by Indianapolis in 2005. He played four seasons with the Colts before spending 2009 with Green Bay. He played for New Orelans last season.

Bullocks began his career in 2005 with New Orleans and spent the last two seasons with Chicago.

August 14, 2011
More O-line chatter

The story for tomorrow's paper is about the offensive line so I figured I'd add a few extra tidbits about the offensive line here:

*During Sunday's practice rookie offensive tackle took exception to defensive end Tommie Hill going after his legs and let him know that with his fists.

"It happens, man," Barksdale said. "That was actually self defense. I didn't start that, if you were watching. But it happens, it's unfortunate. We are teammates and at the end of the day we're still cool. It gets hot. Things happen."

Barksdale has been receiving plenty of praise from coach Hue Jackson.

There were concerns about rookies adjusting without a training camp, but I'm not sure how much that really affects an offensive lineman. It might slow his progress in learning the plays, but it's not like linemen can hit during minicamps and I'm of the belief it's not fair to judge them when they can't go all out.

For all the praise he's received publicly, Barksdale said his coaches aren't always so kind in the meeting rooms.

"Oh, yeah, it's not a coaches job to uplift you," Barksdale said. "It's their job to try to help make you better. That's what I want. I don't want somebody to tell me I'm doing a great job when I'm not. I'm here to get better and do whatever I can to help this football team."

*Stephon Heyer appeared to be making a good impression but sat out Sunday's practice after straining his right triceps blocking in Saturday's practice.

Before the injury Heyer was playing guard and a lot of right tackle.

"I felt good," Heyer said. "Moving around better. Felt like I'm in good shape right now. Definitely was making strides at either position. Just a minor setback. I'll get some time here to heal up a little bit and get back to work."

*Offensive lineman Bruce Campbell (knee) practiced for the second consecutive day Sunday. At times he didn't look comfortable moving around while wearing a sleeve on his right knee.

August 12, 2011
O-Line looks good to Jackson

The conference call with Hue Jackson included some recurring themes (needing to improve scoring in the red zone, cutting down on penalties) along with some praise for the three quarterbacks and the offensive line.

Here's Jackson on the O-line:

"I think when I go back and I watch the tape, I really thought that Sammy Satele played good, I thought (Stefen) Wisniewski did an excellent job, I mean, unbelievable job. I thought that Stephon Heyer did some really good things. I thought that even Joe Barksdale was in there battling. I thought our second group, 'cause they played more football, obviously than the ones, those guys really showed up. They did a good job. I mean, our quarterback, there was one sack that we had, which was a communication issue and the other one was right before the half, which never should have been a sack. So for the most part, they kept the quarterback pretty clean. And that was good to see. Do we need to continue to get better? No doubt. But I think our guys, that front, is really starting to come together."

If Satele and Wisniewski continue to play well with the first and second teams respectively, it should be a matter of time before Satele and Wisniewski take first-team snaps together with one at guard and the other at center.

Jackson added this about left tackle Jared Veldheer when asked if he played well against Arizona's outside linebacker Joey Porter.

"There's no question, and I feel remiss to not mention him. He did a great job, too, I mean, Stephen, Jared, Sammy, Barksdale, those guys all did a real good job, and obviously Heyer. I thought those guys battled last night and I think they'll get better as we go."

*I touched on the competition between Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Jason Campbell in the notebook for tomorrow's paper.

Of course, if I were rooting for someone, it would be the Cal grad (Boller) and not the guy from that school in Palo Alto (Edwards).

Edwards showed well for himself Thursday playing with backups all night and being newest to the Raiders.

Jackson on all of the quarterbacks:

"I was impressed with all of them. Obviously Jason did a fabulous job of running the first team and getting the ball to different people. That's what we were trying to do last night is get everybody an opportunity to touch the ball. Got Kevin Boss involved real early, tried to get Marcel involved real early, got Darrius Heyward-Bey involved early and Jason did a great job of spreading the ball around. Kyle came in and he lit it up, (7 of 8), he was spectacular. That's what I expect from him. Obviously Trent, who hadn't been here very long, I was so impressed with him because here he is getting the information from me and trying to figure it out in his mind and then going out and executing pretty flawlessly. I thought he did an excellent job. There's a couple of throws he wish he had back but I thought all three of those guys showed me the poise, showed me the hard work they put into this and they have the ability to lead this football team."

Jackson said at some point Edwards would have a chance to play with the second group and Boller with the third group.

*There was no update on injuries to wide receiver Chaz Schilens (knee) or safeties Zac Etheridge (knee) or Hiram Eugene (dislocated knee).

I think we can assume Eugene will be out for a while. Jackson said there should be an update on Schilens and Etheridge in the coming days.

August 11, 2011
Eugene dislocates hip, Schilens to have knee evaluated

OAKLAND - We're having some internet issues out here so I wanted to get these up on the blog before I head home since I had to file a game story as soon as the game ended. In case you missed it, the Raiders lost to the Arizona Cardinals 24-18:

*Safety Hiram Eugene suffered a dislocated hip at the start of the second half. Wide receiver Chaz Schilens will have his knee evaluated, coach Hue Jackson said. Jackson didn't sound as if he thought Schilens' knee was a major problem.

*The three things Jackson pointed out as problems from the game have been Raider problems for a while: penalties, giving up explosive plays and failing to score in the "scoring zone."

*The Raiders had 10 penalties for 84 yards. Jackson said Khalif Barnes' three false starts were the result of a lack of concentration.

*The Raiders gave up two pass plays of more than 40 yards (43, 41) and a 28-yard touchdown pass.

*The Raiders settled for a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 21-yard field goal in the third quarter instead of touchdowns.

That's an area where no offseason program shows up.

"That's just a matter of spending more time down there," Jackson said. "We're trying to get so many things done in a rushed period of time. That's not an excuse but you've still got to spend more time in that area of the field because it's so important."

*Here's how the Raiders ended up kicking off to start both halves:

"Our players went out there and went to defer, we wanted to kickoff," Jackson said. "And when they were talking amongst each other I guess the referee said what do you guys want to do and do and one of the guys says kickoff and the other guys says defer....he just took that we wanted to kick off and if you just say you want to kickoff obviously the other team gets to have the ball twice."

Jackson said the captains need to be more vocal in that situation, but the official said he should have asked the players to clarify whether they wanted to kick or defer.

*Jackson on the play of the first-team defense playing one series:

"We got the other team off the field and they were all kind of griping at me because they wanted to play a little more but that's OK, we're going to have some of that."

August 10, 2011
Jackson says no rotation is set

NAPA - It would seem to be logical to assume starters would play more than normal in tomorrow's exhibition opener against the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum.

With no offseason program because of the NFL lockout, getting players ready to play in a month would seem to take precedent over developing young players.

If that's the plan, Raiders coach Hue Jackson hasn't let on that's what he will do.

"I think you have to think through all that," Jackson said. "Do you give them more? Do you give them less? Is a guy really, truly ready to play. It's a lot of decisions that go into that. That's what I'll spend the back part of my day really thinking about before we make those decisions because we do have a veteran group that need to get ready to play and they need to get out there and play in a game, under the lights, in our stadium. We also have another group that we need to evaluate, that needs to go play because I don't know a lot about them other than what I've known over these 10 practices, 11 practices. So there's a fine line there. We're going to make the best decision that best helps this organization and this football team."

Players definitely out include running back Darren McFadden (eye) and wide receivers Jacoby Ford (hand) and Louis Murphy (undisclosed injury).

Jackson said how long players stay in had yet to be determined after today's practice.

"I want to gather all the information, understand where we are, make sure I check with our coaches and all our doctors," Jackson said. "And then I'll make that decision tonight about how long they're going to play."

• Today was rookie haircut day. Offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale left with a version of a flattop reminiscent of the what the old WWE wrestler Ludwig Borga used to wear. His was the most civilized of the haircuts. Nevertheless Barksdale said he planned to cut all the hair off before tomorrow's game.

Barksdale might have been the smartest of the rookies. He said he grew his hair out knowing this day would come so that he wouldn't be mad afterward.

• I guess there's practice for everything. The Raiders practiced pregame introductions at the start of practice.

August 8, 2011
Heyward-Bey returns to practice

NAPA - Wide receivevr Darrius Heyward-Bey took part in team drills for the first time during training camp Monday after being out for undisclosed reasons.

Hewyard-Bey said he knew Saturday that today would be the day he'd take the field with the team.

Heyward-Bey's day was a mix of good and bad. He caught a pass from Jason Campbell on a crossing route and to go along with another catch in traffic.

The bad came on that on the catch across the middle when Heyward-Bey had the ball punched out from behind by cornerback Chris Johnson.

There was also a slant Heyward-Bey wasn't able to hold on to that ricocheted off his shoulder pads for an incompletion.

Heyward-Bey said there are no ill effects from whatever ailed him.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "I wish C.J. didn't knock that ball out, but I felt pretty good for the most part. Me and Jason connected twice and it felt good."

Heyward-Bey said frustration about not getting on the field sooner didn't get to him. He expects to be fine for tomorrow's practice, too.

"You definitely want to be out there, but I had a job to do and I was getting everybody ready," Heyward-Bey said. "Making sure everybody was getting reps and it was helping me learn. When you're just doing walk through and not having practice, calling out the plays to the guys, that helps. I felt like I was involved."

August 3, 2011
Raiders eyeing Miller's replacement?

NAPA - As part of my NBA lockout duties I'll be checking in on my old beat, the Oakland Raiders. I just filed a story about tight end Kevin Boss working out for the Raiders as the team looks to fill the void left by Zach Miller's departure.

Boss is one of the better options available to replace Miller, assuming the New York Giants don't become more aggressive in re-signing Boss following today's workout.

Boss has stated he'd like to be back in New York.

But on to some quick hits about today's practice:

*Rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore had a good practice today. He showed off some good hands, especially on a slant route from Kyle Boller, and beat Stanford Routt deep on a pass from Jason Campbell.

"I feel like I'm starting to get the groove of things, starting to get the plays down play by play, day by day," Moore said.

Here's quarterback Jason Campbell on Moore:

"Denarius Moore is like another Jacoby (Ford). He's like one of those those guys that you pick up late in the draft, and you wonder, how did this guy fall? He's so talented, he's so athletic. When you see Jacoby it's kind of like you have to do a double-glimpse, make sure it's him or 17. The guy's playing hard. He runs hard in practice, he has that factor, some things you just can't coach, he has about him. He's a guy that can add a lot to our offense this year and what we do."

*Running back Darren McFadden left practice with what coach Hue Jackson described as a "nick" and didn't' seem too concerned about it. Other "nicked up" players included Cooper Carlisle and Louis Murphy.

*Offensive lineman Bruce Campbell said he's close to practicing.

"It's really frustrating with the new CBA and everything else. It's like, I want to be out here but I can't and I'm looking at everybody else, like the free agents that can't practice 'til a certain date and it's like, I feel like I'm just missing out on an opportunity. But it's football. It's going to come so, just waiting."

Campbell said he doesn't know if he'll be playing guard or tackle or if he'd be on the left or right side of the line.

*Re-signed center Samson Satele said his goal was to return to the Raiders:

"I know they drafted a center and everything but Robert left so there's another open spot. And Langston's not here so they only have me and Coop from last year. If me and Coop can work together then the other there guys can (play) off of us. I wanted to come back because I know this offense. I've been in three different offenses in four years and it's been kinda hard but it's all crammed up into one offense and this is the offense so I kinda know what's going on."

*The Raiders practiced in pads for about an hour. Jackson didn't like what he saw after the team took the pads off.


"That wasn't a Raider practice. I told them that. One thing I am going to always do is be very honest with my team. I took the pads off and all of a sudden we decided we wanted to take some plays down. But that's ok. I think you're going to have some of those days. That's part of the process. They had a day off, and all of a sudden your bodies try to get back, they're adjusting to all of this ... The veteran players understand where I am coming from, because I can see them talking about it. If we're going to be the type of team that I tell you we're building, it doesn't matter if it's raining, hot, mud - it just doesn't matter ... we come out and we get after it. But today we didn't. As well as I would have liked to. I know these guys will respond tomorrow."

So why take pads off?

"We've got some nicks here and there, and we're down at some positions now. We only had five linebackers ... what you do is everything you can do to make sure your team finishes practice. I didn't want all of the banging at that time, so let's take them off and continue to get the process that we're in. The intensity needs to be higher when we do it."



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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